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Worlds Without End Blog

2017 David Gemmell Legend and Morningstar Awards Shortlists Posted at 8:00 AM by Dave Post

Dave Post

The finalists for the 2017 David Gemmel Legend and David Gemmel Morningstar awards have been announced. Voting is open until midnight on June 2, 2017 (GMT).

 

Wrath Nevernight The Wheel of Osheim The Bands of Mourning Warbeast David Gemmel Legend Award

The Legend Award for Best Fantasy Novel:

 


Infernal Duskfall Steal the Sky Snakewood Hope and Red David Gemmell Morningstar Award

The Morningstar Award for Best Fantasy Newcomer:

 

The winners will be honored at a ceremony July 15, 2017 at Edge-Lit 6 in Derby, UK. For more, see the official Gemmell Awards website.

What do you think of these finalists? Anything surprise you on the list? What are your picks?

2016 Philip K. Dick Award Winner! Posted at 7:00 AM by Dave Post

Dave Post

The Mercy Journals Unpronounceable

The winner of the 2016 Philip K. Dick Award for distinguished original science fiction paperback published for the first time during 2016 in the U.S.A. is: The Mercy Journals by Claudia Casper.  Special Citation was given to Unpronounceable by Susan diRende.

The PKD Award was presented at Norwescon 39 on March 26.  Here’s a link to a video recording of the event: PKD Award ceremony – 2016

Our congrats to the winner and all the nominees.

2016 BSFA Award Winner! Posted at 12:51 PM by Dave Post

Dave Post

BSFAEurope in WinterThe British Science Fiction Association is delighted to announce the winners of the BSFA Awards for works published in 2016.

In the Best Novel category the winner is Europe in Winter by Dave Hutchison.  Our congrats to Dave and all the nominees:

 

See the official press release for more details.

What do you think of this result?

2016 Aurealis Award Winners Posted at 10:28 PM by Dave Post

Dave Post

The winners of the 2016 Aurealis Award have been announced. The winners in the SF, Fantasy, and Horror novel categories are:

Gemina

BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

  • WINNER: Gemima by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (Allen & Unwin)
  • Watershed by Jane Abbott (Penguin Random House)
  • Confluence by S.K. Dunstall (Ace)
  • Squid’s Grief by DK Mok (self-published)
  • Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley (HarperCollins)
  • Threader by Rebekah Turner (Harlequin Australia)

 

Nevernight

BEST FANTASY NOVEL

 

The Grief Hole

BEST HORROR NOVEL

 

Locus has the details for the winners in all categories.  Looks like a banner night for Jay Kristoff who won the Fantasy Award and the SF Award as co-writer with Amy Kaufman.  Well done, Sir.  Our congrats to all the winners and nominees.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Official Teaser Posted at 1:15 PM by Dave Post

Dave Post

Well, it looks great — as most things Star Wars do — which mean it will disappoint — as most things Star Wars do. Still, it could be good.

Thor: Ragnarok Teaser Trailer [HD] Posted at 8:38 AM by Dave Post

Dave Post

Oh my. Thor is in trouble this time. Looks like fun to me. What say you?

Life Imitates Art Posted at 8:16 AM by Rico Simpkins

icowrich

Presented without comment:

Hat tip: Tom Gauld (for Friday’s Guardian Review).

2017 Hugo Award Finalists Posted at 8:33 PM by Dave Post

Dave Post

All the Birds in the Sky A Closed and Common Orbit Death's End Ninefox Gambit The Obelisk Gate Too Like the Lightning

The 2017 Hugo Award finalists have been announced. The noms in the Best Novel category are:

See the full list of noms in all categories on the Locus website.

Our congrats to all the finalists. What do you think of this crop of books? Any favorites in the list?

Cuteness in Science Fiction Posted at 1:30 PM by James Wallace Harris

jwharris28

I recently reread Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper and realized it’s success was probably due to cuteness. Cuteness is hard to define but generally deals with little creatures like kittens, puppies, babies, and toddlers. In the case of science fiction, cuteness comes in the form of little aliens or small robots.

Little Fuzzy was a read for my science fiction book club and most of the members enjoyed a story about cute critters being discovered by a gem miner on a distant planet. Piper’s plot examined what makes a being sentient, which is a serious, non-cute subject. However, because of the enduring popularity of fuzzy stories, we could also say Piper explored the concept of cuteness in science fiction. If you want to know more about the series read “The Fuzzy Story.”

I always pictured fuzzies sort of like Gizmo from Gremlins. Big eyes, small, furry – all the elements of cuteness. Big eyes seem to be a major element of anime. And, furry leads to furry fandom. I wonder if furries were inspired by Piper’s fuzzies? I’m not a fan of anime or furry so I’m not sure how they emerged, but I have to assume some form of cuteness was at the heart of their inspiration. Science fiction has always appealed to the young, and young at heart, so such subgenres of cute F&SF have their fans. I’m not one, but I do see cuteness as a hook for writers.

John Scalzi wrote a remake called Fuzzy Nation that has sales-appeal because of the cuteness of fuzzies.
Science fiction is seldom about cute – but when science fiction does get cute, those stories are often fondly remembered. Just think of “Trouble with Tribbles,” David Gerrold’s classic Star Trek episode. Of course, I thought Tribbles were a rip off of Flat Cats from The Rolling Stones by Robert A. Heinlein, which had its cuteness appeal. And I have to assume the idea of cute critters that multiply quickly wasn’t original with Heinlein. One of the flat cats was named Fuzzy Britches. So fuzzies might have also come from flat cats.

Cuteness is often linked to humor, like a cousin to comic relief. If the fuzzies hadn’t been cute, would Piper’s story had been as successful? Some stories can be improved with a dash of cuteness, but too much can be cloying. Most of the humor in “Trouble With Tribbles” seems strained today. It was saved by the cuteness of tribbles. I tend to think the cute fuzzies saved Piper’s story. It was reasonably well written for its time and market but it wasn’t that original. Piper was a solid genre writer back then, but isn’t well remembered today, except for creating fuzzies.

Pixar and Disney depend on a certain amount of cuteness to drive their genre and non-genre films. If there’s too much cuteness their stories will only appeal to children. Blockbuster animated films depend on attracting audiences of all ages.

My first encounter with cuteness in science fiction came from Willis, the Martian “bouncer” in Heinlein’s Red Planet. Willis was fuzzy and round like a medicine ball. Willis could protrude eye stalks or other appendages. He whistled. Which reminds me of R2D2. That’s another area of cuteness in science fiction, small robots like R2D2, WALL-E, and the little robots in Silent Running, Huey, Dewey, and Louie (for those people who remember really old science fiction).

So cute isn’t always fuzzy, it can be metallic, if small. The Heinlein juveniles had a number of strange alien creatures, but most of them were not cute. Often, cuteness in science fiction is repackaged puppies and kittens, reshaped, with a bit of mischievous intelligence. Hardly original, but it does tap into our fondness for cuteness.

One of the ironic aspects of Little Fuzzy was the main characters wanted to prove fuzzies were sentient, yet they also wanted to own them, treating them like pets. In some science fiction stories, humans have been pets to advanced aliens and we think that evil. Why is it okay when we do it?

Cute brings out our maternal and paternal instincts, which is a driving force in the pet industry. However, we’ve cruelly enslaved many species that aren’t suited to domestication. I haven’t read the sequels to Little Fuzzy, but I have to wonder if Piper explored fuzzy exploitation. Cuteness isn’t a great trait for many animals because we’ll cage them for our idle moments when we feel the need to be amused by something small and cute. We also tend to want our kids not to grow up and leave their cute stage, which is unfair. And doesn’t anime and furry fandom encourage arrested development?

We might not see a lot of cuteness in science fiction because it’s something we should limit. Our reality isn’t cute. Maybe I’m an old curmudgeon because I thought the best parts of Little Fuzzy were its serious aspects, and the cute aspects were misguided. Shouldn’t the humans have left the fuzzies alone, and just observed them? Shouldn’t the Prime Directive apply to cute critters too?

Flight Proven Posted at 3:38 PM by Rico Simpkins

icowrich

One of the reasons we read science fiction is to find out what happens next. My favorite science fiction sub-genre is near future, precisely because I want someone to tell me what to expect a decade from now, a year from now, a month from now.  Half the fun is discovering the future through speculative fiction. The other half is watching it come true. That is why I started writing this series of blog posts about near future developments, starting with last year’s Greetings Carbon Based Gases.  Today’s topic:  the gravity well.

Tonight, sometime between 2227-0030 GMT (6:27-8:30 p.m. EDT), SpaceX will launch a “flight proven” rocket for the first time.  “Flight proven” is Elon Musk’s euphemism for “used.”  It was only last April when the rocket in tomorrow’s launch performed its last mission, The CRS-8:

If and when that rocket launches successfully, today, Musk will have accomplished something thought impossible not too long ago, even quite recently.  As we reported in 2012, it costs $10,000 per pound to launch something into orbit.  At least, it did back then.  Today, Musk says he charges $2,500/lb and aims to have that down to $1000/lb this year, when the Falcon Heavy comes online.  Knocking one zero off of NASA’s flight costs is a remarkable achievement, but Musk has predicted he’ll do it again ($100/lb), and some have even speculated a fantastical cost of $10/lb in about 8 years.

Even if that last prediction doesn’t pan out, the consensus seems to be that $100/lb is the point at which many of our sci fi fantasies could come true.  That’s good news for science fiction writers, who Neal Stephenson has said have been too pessimistic, as of late.  So, what can budding new sci-fi writers reasonably predict in the wake of tonight’s launch?

Ryan Faith over at Vice had one idea of how it would go (bolded emphasis added by mois):

“SpaceX wants to get prices down far enough to encourage new users because that’s how they can really start incorporating space in the economic mainstream. Such a change could allow for economies of scale, getting a meaningful slice of global capital flow, industrial synergies, and more.

Once you get to that point, you can start talking much more seriously about building big space stations — the kind of thing dreamed up by 2001: A Space Odyssey. It wouldn’t be like the International Space Station, but more like a big Hilton with a fancy cocktail bar. Granted, drinks at that interstellar cocktail bar could be twice as expensive as normal because of shipping costs — but hey, the views of Earth would totally make up for it.”

In the spirit of Mr. Musk’s iterative approach, I will add more ideas as the evening wears on.  Please feel free to add more in the comments section.

As I type this, it is T-minus 2 hours to the launch window, so I’m going to hit “publish,” for now.  Check this post for post-launch updates.

UPDATE: In case you missed it, watch the day’s coverage of the launch here:

UPDATE: Success!