Friday, October 14, 2011

Comic Cuts - 14 October 2011

I'm still producing screeds of metadata for images that are being posted up on the Look and Learn website on a regular basis - I've now done over 4,500 of them since July. As you know, if you're a regular reader, that hasn't left much time for anything else, although the next Bear Alley Books publication is slowly creeping closer towards completion. I spent last Sunday trying to hustle together notes for the introduction and, fingers crossed, will actually start writing it this coming Sunday.

Apart from a brief mid-week interruption when we had some guys round to fix a problem with the roof, there hasn't been any major excitements this week, so I'm going to plug a couple of things that I hope you'll enjoy.

The latest (3rd) edition of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (SFE) is now available online as part of Orion / Gollancz's huge digital push, which includes the SF Gateway site, home on the Gateway line of e-books. The range of titles is astonishing, with over 1,000 available already; the plan is to build that number to 3,000 titles by the end of 2012 and 5,000+ by 2014, which is a hell of a catalogue of titles by anybody's standards.

Over at the SFE there have been a few teething problems (with the search box, for instance, which doesn't locate authors unless you correctly type in accents, e.g. China Miéville, although he does have an entry) and a few people moaning that their entries haven't been updated (e.g. Robert J. Sawyer, according to File 770) despite plenty of notice on the site that some text has yet to be updated. The second print edition had 1,311,108 words featured in 6,571 entries; the online edition currently has 3,222,920 words spread over 12,230 entries. According to the editors, there are still around a million words to write and there will be monthly updates to the site, updating those entries that have yet to be revised and filling gaps where any gaps are found.

I was involved in writing bits for the previous print edition and did some work on this latest version, although mostly limited to filling in biographical details, starting with 'A' in 2008 and finally reaching 'Z' two years and two months later in 2010 (a lot of the later data will appear as entries are revised). I'm still sending in corrections, often things I turn up when compiling the author galleries.

First thoughts: it's an astonishing achievement, for which John Clute and David Langford should take the vast bulk of the credit, not only for entry writing but for coordinating a posse of other writers and piecing the whole thing together.

The SFE is going to become one of those horrible time-eating sites where I will inevitably follow link after link, eventually surfacing hours later having forgotten the answer to whatever it was I was looking up. There are even a couple of links to bits of research I've written up here on Bear Alley (e.g. Cora Minnett), which I've also slavishly followed to see what I wrote. And now I'm spending even more precious time writing about it.

Steve Moore I've known for many years and I try to pick up everything he writes because he's a damn fine writer. I probably first registered his name in Warrior and Doctor Who Weekly, although I'd read some of his stories in House of Hammer, work in early 2000AD and probably quite a few of his anonymous contributions to various Granddreams annuals; I definitely remember reading 'The Stars My Degredation' in Sounds, although that was credited to Pedro Henry.

While we're all waiting for the release of The Moon and Serpent Bumper Book of Magic from Top Shelf, which Steve is co-writing with Alan ("no relation") Moore, November will see the release of his first original novel, published by Somnium Press in a small hardback format which can be ordered through the Strange Attractor website.

According to the publicity...
Written in the early years of the 21st century, when the author was engaged in dream-explorations and mystical practices centred on the Greek moon-goddess Selene, Somnium is an intensely personal and highly-embroidered fictional tapestry that weaves together numerous historical and stylistic variations on the enduring myth of Selene and Endymion. Ranging through the 16th to 21st centuries, it combines mediæval, Elizabethan, Gothic and Decadent elements in a fantastic romance of rare imagination.
__With its delirious and heartbroken text spiralling out from the classical myth of Endymion and the Greek lunar goddess Selene, Somnium is an extraordinary odyssey through love and loss and lunacy, illuminated by the silvery moonlight of its exquisite language.
__With an afterword by Alan Moore, whose biographical piece Unearthing details the life of his friend and mentor Steve Moore, and includes the circumstances surrounding the writing of  Somnium.
This isn't Steve's first novel: he previously did a fine job of translating the V for Vendetta movie into book form. And I notice that Somnium Press was the publisher of a slim book of poems written by Moore and Moore back in 2004.

Today's random scannery... well, as I've been talking about the SFE and noted a couple of authors, here's a quartet of covers by authors Robert J. Sawyer, China Miéville and David Brin. The Brins I've chosen (a) because I picked them up recently and they're still sitting on the pile of books next to my desk and (b) because they quote the old paper version of the SFE, the quote no longer matching the revised text. However, it's nice to see that author John Clute is still enthusiastic about the series, calling Startide Rising (which is part of the series, not pictured here) "one of the most rousing space operas yet written".

The Sawyer is a tie-in with the TV series which had a lot of promise but was canned after one series. The Miéville has a fabulous cover by 'Edward Miller', the painterly alter ago of Les Edwards. Equally fabulous, the Brin covers are by Fred Gambino.

With Paul Temple coming to an end tomorrow, I suspect we'll be revisiting another Bear Alley favourite next week. The Man Who Searched for Fear is still advertising, so we might be dropping in on his isolated castle on Doomcrest Isle to see what strangers are visiting...

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