Monthly Archives: November 2008

The future of Science Fiction

November 13, 2008

A hat-tip to Adrian for pointing me in the direction of this interesting article at the New Scientist website.

In a nutshell the concept of the article is this: What place is there for science fiction when the world we live in is already more futuristic than that imagined? It’s an interesting article, particularly as it gets opinions from some leaders in the field. I was particularly interested in William Gibson and Ursula K Le Guin’s bits. Also, Kim Stanley Robinson said that “Science fiction is now simply realism, the definition of our time. You could imagine the genre therefore melting into everything else and disappearing. But stories will always be set in the future, it being such an interesting space, and there is a publishing category devoted to them. So there is a future for science fiction.”

I agree. Regardless of how advanced we become, there is always the further frontier. To put it very simply, if we colonise the moon, Mars colony stories are still going to be sci-fi; if we colonise Mars, beyond the Solar System yarns are going to be de rigeur again. And that’s not including the really cool style of sci-fi from people like Iain M Banks that goes way beyond the usual boundaries. To consider that we’re now living in a sci-fi future is very limited thinking. Sure, my mobile phone does way more than Captain Kirk’s communicator ever did, but I’ve yet to travel through a wormhole to the Delta quadrant. We are a long way from the places sci-fi authors have imagined. And, as Kim Stanley Robinson said, stories will always be set in the future.

The article also ran a poll asking for sci-fi favourites. I was very pleased to see that Blade Runner came in as the number one favourite sci-fi movie (and deservedly so, being the best film ever made). Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey came in second with Joss Whedon’s excellent Serenity taking third. Forbidden Planet and The Matrix take fourth and fifth. It would appear that these particular pollsters have impeccable taste.

As for the books poll, we have Frank Herbert’s Dune in at number one with Asimov’s Foundation series coming second. Then it’s The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game (I really must read this some time – it comes up again and again) and Dan Simmon’s Hyperion series rounding out the top five. Another damn fine list.

When you look at the variety in those poll results and the quality of both books and films listed I think it’s fairly clear that sci-fi has a pretty robust future.


Sydney Futurians Freecon 2008 report

November 9, 2008

This weekend I attended the 2008 Freecon, a sci-fi and fantasy convention organised by the Sydney Futurians. I was very kindly invited by the organiser, Garry Dalrymple, to go along and take part in some discussion panels and do a reading from one of my books.

The Freecon is a small event – let’s call it intimate – but it’s a good one. The people there really care about their spec fic in books, movies and tv and there were a number of entertaining and informative panel discussions with topics ranging from “Why are there so many vampires around at the moment” to “Is fantasy all just the middle ages retold”. Enthusiasm was maintained all day Saturday and Sunday, right to the end where the final panel, a discussion on Dark Fantasy, led to a hearty debate on the moral obligations of writers and whether they should be feeding a market for the darker things in human nature. I found myself on the discussion panel indirectly defending my own work as definitions of dark fantasy, horror, schlock and more were deperately sought. It was all highly enjoyable.

I had the opportunity to read to the convention and chose to read the opening passage of RealmShift. It went down fairly well and I sold a few books. Always a good sign. I got to talk about the forthcoming sequel, MageSign, and the nature of self-publishing, small press and the new Blade Red Press mission.

It was an honour to spend the weekend in the company of some great authors, and to be included in their number. We had panel discussions and readings from Richard Harland, Pamela Freeman, D M Cornish, Bruno Bouchet, David Kowalski, Gillian Polack and Gerry Turcotte as well as myself. It was a great mix of people and styles, with representatives from big publishers right through to small press. There was kid’s sci-fi, epic fantasy, urban dark fantasy and even a sneak preview from Richard Harland of his forthcoming steampunk novel.

Hopefully there’ll be some pictures around somewhere – there were a few cameras going on both days. If I find any shots anywhere I’ll link them up from here. I strongly encourage anyone to go along and support this event – it’s on every year – and, as the name suggests, it’s free. Having any kind of Sydney convention, however intimate, is really worthwhile and the more we support these things the bigger they can grow, which is good news for fans and authors alike. Hopefully I’ll get invited again next year – I’ll be more than happy to get involved again.


Amazon Editors’ choice Best Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books of 2008

November 6, 2008

I saw this over at S F Signal. Amazon has listed its editors’ choice of the best SF/F books of 2008.

The top ten:

1. Liberation: Being the Adventures of the Slick Six After the Collapse of the United States of America by Brian Francis Slattery
2. The Drowned Life by Jeffrey Ford
3. The Resurrectionist by Jack O’Connell
4. Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
5. Anathem by Neal Stephenson
6. Last Dragon by J.M. Mcdermott
7. Black Ships by Jo Graham
8. The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson
9. Matter by Iain M. Banks
10. Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik

I haven’t read any of these, so can’t really vouch for the quality of the list. You can see the Amazon page here.


More news on MageSign

November 5, 2008

For those of you waiting for the release of MageSign (sequel to RealmShift) you’ll be pleased to know that it’s going to be available to buy any time now. The proof has been approved and I’ll let you know soon when it’s up on Amazon. I’m really pleased to be able to announce this after so long.

In the meantime, I’ve set up a MageSign page. You’ll see a new button in the Navigation panel on the left. On that page are a few reviews and a free PDF of the first three chapters for you to have a sneak preview. Get into it and let me know what you think.

Also, the new edition of RealmShift is now available on, further outlets to follow. Click here for RealmShift on


RIP – Michael Crichton

November 5, 2008

Michael Crichton, author of more than two dozen novels, died on Tuesday from cancer. He was only 66. Another very sad loss. As famous for the movie adaptations of his books as for the books themselves, Crichton is a perfect example of how an author can really succeed. And he was nearly seven feet tall (six foot nine inches, I think). I know that’s not really relevant to his death, but it’s pretty cool.

Vale Michael.

Story from here.

Movember 2008

November 3, 2008

This is a slight abuse of the blog, but it’s my blog so i can do what I like. And it’s a very good cause. My sister in law, in an effort to make me look ridiculous, challenged me to grow a moustache for Movember this year. I got her back by challenging her husband. So now we’ll both look ridiculous for a month.

Anyway, it really is a good cause and you can donate directly online, with all donations over $2 being tax deductible. I’ll post a photo of my starting face, after a shave on November 1st and at the end of the month I’ll post a photo of my (more) ridiculous face.

Here’s the official wording of the plea for donations, with the relevant links:

Hi All,

During Movember (the month formerly known as November) I’m growing a Mo. That’s right I’m bringing the Mo back because I’m passionate about tackling men’s health issues and being proactive in the fight against men’s depression and prostate cancer.

To donate to my Mo you can either:

1. Click this link and donate online using your credit card or PayPal account, or

2. Write a cheque payable to ‘Movember Foundation’, referencing my Registration Number 1673861 and mailing it to:

Movember Foundation
PO Box 292
Prahran VIC 3181

Remember, all donations over $2 are tax deductible.

The money raised by Movember is used to raise awareness of men’s health issues and donated to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and beyondblue – the national depression initiative. The PCFA and beyondblue will use the funds to fund research and increase support networks for those men who suffer from prostate cancer and depression.

Did you know:

* Depression affects 1 in 6 men….most don’t seek help. Untreated depression is a leading risk factor for suicide.
* Last year in Australia 18,700 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 2,900 died of prostate cancer – equivalent to the number of women who will die from breast cancer annually.

More information is available at

Movember is proudly grown by Holden and Schick.

Movember is proud partners with the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and beyondblue – the national depression initiative.

And here’s the opening photo:

That chin hasn’t seen daylight for over a decade!



The website of author Alan Baxter

Alan Baxter, Author

Author of horror, dark fantasy & sci-fi. Kung Fu instructor. Personal Trainer. Motorcyclist. Dog lover. Gamer. Heavy metal fan. Britstralian. Zetetic.

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