Cécile Matthey’s Vector 271 cover art

Back in May of last year, when I put out a request for help with images of London for Vector 271, Djibril al Ayad, editor of The Future Fire, pointed me to a piece which Cécile Matthey had done for a story published there, “The Recycled Man”, by Rob Sharp. (Image is on the story’s second page.) Cécile not only gave us permission to use her image for Vector, but kindly scanned it in at a higher resolution so it would be viable as cover art.

Ian Whates has taken on a cover art project for future issues of Vector. He’s soliciting artwork to use on future Vector covers, together with interviews with their artists, the better to showcase science fiction artists working in the British science fiction community. His work is for future issues, but Djibril interviewed Cécile about her work as a freelance and scientific illustrator just last year, so in the spirit of the new cover art project, I’ll link you to that instead.

Vector 271

Vector 271: the London issue, along with the latest guest-edited Focus, has shipped! The last issue of 2012 (technically) is an exciting one, even if it is arriving in your post boxes nearly half a year after its originally-intended completion date. How exciting is it? Well, read the table of contents for yourself.

271-cover

 
Features
FantasticLondon.co.uk – Edward James
The Shapes of London – Paul Cornell
Memories of Future London – Philip Reeve
London is Fractal – Sophia McDougall
The future of London is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed: A user’s guide to William Gibson’s London – Tom Hunter
Danie Ware Interview – Tom Hunter

Columns
Foundation Favourites: Proud Man – Andy Sawyer
Kincaid in Short: The Cold Equations – Paul Kincaid
Picture This: No Marvel or DC – Terry Martin
Resonances: Where exactly is Zoe Heriot’s Wheel in Space? – Stephen Baxter

Plus, of course, The BSFA Review, edited by Martin Petto (né Lewis).

My very great thanks to Ben Jeapes who finished getting this issue laid out, as well as to all the generous readers of Torque Control back in May and June who enabled the images in this issue. As well as (of course!) the writers who contributed the features, columns, and reviews. This issue really was even more of a group effort than usual.

This issue was originally suggested by James Bacon, in support of the UK in 2014 Worldcon bid, and now in support of the very real Loncon3. (Only 558 days to go, says its website!)

Vector 271 goes to press!

Vector 271, the last issue of 2012 (technically), is now at the publishers, along with the latest issue of Focus! They’re still on track to be delivered in January.

Speaking of BSFA mailings, we’ll be sending out the BSFA Awards Booklet in late February/early March, regardless of whether or not Vector 272 is ready to go then, to make sure members receive the booklet in plenty of time before Eastercon and the voting deadline.

What will you be voting for? Well, that depends on what’s nominated – and how frequently it’s nominated – in the first place. You have until THIS Friday, January 11th, to submit your nominations for the best novel, short story, artwork, and non-fiction work of 2012.

Updates

Vector

Thanks to the assistance of yet another layout volunteer, Vector 271, the last issue of 2012, will be coming out in January 2013, along with a guest-edited version of Focus. Vector 272 should follow a month or two later, along with the BSFA Award Booklet.

BSFA Awards Nominations

The deadline for the BSFA Awards Nominations is January 13, 2013. BSFA members should nominate early and often!  Works currently nominated are available to peruse here. Don’t take for granted that if your favourite sf book, short story, work of non-fiction, or artwork is on that list that it will receive enough nominations to make the shortlists. Equally, if a work worthy of nomination isn’t on that list, consider it your personal responsibility to nominate it so that it is.

Divine Endurance: Flowerdust Edition

Gwyneth Jones has revised her first sf novel, Divine Endurance, collating it with its companion novel Flowerdust. Divine Endurance was the first novel published under her own name, in 1984. The edited pair are available and, more specifically, available for free today on Amazon.co.uk!

Elusive Vector

There are still Vectors forthcoming!  When, I am not currently certain, as our third layout volunteer has succumbed to a bad case of Life, with the current issue mostly done.

A large part of the complication is that the role currently includes image-wrangling, which is not what our layout volunteers had thought they were volunteering for. (And quite rightly, what with image-wrangling not being layout.)

Still, Martin Lewis, reviews editor, and I are continuing to work on content for future issues, so if all goes well, there may be a cluster of magazines winging their way to mailboxes soon. But I won’t count our publications before they’re printed at this point. Not even Focus, which is looking on target to go out with the first mailing of 2013, with a guest editor.

Trees in the forest

Trees have been falling in the BSFA’s metaphorical forest, but I haven’t had the capacity this summer to keep Torque Control updated to tell you about them; so I am particularly grateful to Tony Keen who has been doing so.
As BSFA members will know, the summer Vector didn’t happen; life intervened in a variety of ways which collectively waylaid the issue for both me and those involved in laying out the issue. I’m delighted, therefore, that the London & SF issue of Vector is due to come out in October, at long last, in the BSFA’s fourth mailing of the year. I already have much of the material in-hand for January’s issue as well, for that matter.

My much more finite-than-usual time in particular was the result of having offspring. Little Grouting-in-the-Fields (as we’re calling her online) has been inadvertently teaching me a great deal about time management: nap whenever possible time comes in small, valuable units, and without prioritization and seizing those moments, I won’t get anything done. I never quite appreciated that routine, generic advice to the degree I have recently. Vector won out over Torque Control. I couldn’t previously have told you they were even in contention with each other.

Ian Whates has generously arranged for a series of posts to be hosted here, beginning with one on the Kitchies.  I’ll be posting them, and, if necessary, passing on comments back to him. If I’m really organised, I’ll be posting more regularly in my own right too.

Imagining London

I apologise for recent silence around here. On top of various bits of Life, I was thrown by the resignation of Martin McGrath.

If anyone could have been said to have been doing too much for the BSFA, it was he, inasmuch as he was single-handedly dealing with a good half of the organisation’s day-to-day business, from editing Focus, to storing any extra publication copies, to mailing out new member’s packs, to doing all design and layout for all of the BSFA’s publications and liaising with the printer. (And that’s not all.)  It’s far more than any one person should need to do for one organisation, and it’ll take at least three new committee members to replace him!

Insofar as Vector is concerned, his resignation meant that the publication schedule for the next issue (due out in June or early July) was put in doubt, as at least some of its contributors are aware.

The good news is that we now have a volunteer, as a one-off, to do layout for this next issue of Vector: so this issue definitely happening, and on schedule too at this rate! And I’m excited about the contents – this issue has articles from an exciting group of contributors! (To whom I still owe many edits – coming soon, now that the issue is back on track!) (This is no guarantee that the following issue of Vector will be coming out on time, however. That depends on one or more additional, as yet not-found, volunteers.)

However, as a caveat, it’s up to me, as features editor, and any other willing volunteers, to track down, volunteer, and recruit any and all images to be used in this issue, from the cover art to all the interiors. Without imagery, the issue can still go ahead – but it will look notably image-free!

The theme of this forthcoming issue is “London & SF”, as proposed by James Bacon, as a tie-in to the London in 2014 Worldcon bid.

The cover art will be in full colour, but otherwise, reproductions will be in black and white.  Do you have drawings, photographs, and paintings you’ve made yourself and can grant permission for their use in this one issue of Vector, whether in print or PDF?  Suggestions of artists who might be willing to contribute to this issue? Ideas of other legal and appropriate ways to illustrate this issue?

Can you help?

Do Vector readers read comics?

In the next issue of Vector, #270, columnist Terry Martin (of Murky Depths) writes,

When I recently asked one of our prolific comic writers if he was enjoying these columns he answered that I should be giving the mainstream titles, such as those published by Vertigo, more publicity. In actual fact I have covered the likes of Fables and The Unwritten, both Vertigo titles – and the later is one of my favourites. Most Vector readers, he claims, aren’t comic readers, and that I should be directing you to the ‘popular’ comics. I’d be interested to know if you read comics. If you don’t, you‘re missing out.

So, Vector readers: do you read comics?

Should Vector consider providing more coverage of mainstream comics? Obscure comics? Ever since Matrix ended, Vector‘s mandate has de facto encompassed media other than novels and short stories, even if it hasn’t  been the magazine’s biggest strength. But rather than getting sidetracked on the bigger issue of representing a broader diversity of media: what about comics in particular?

 

Updates: Guess the Clarke shortlist, BSFA Awards, Spirit

It’s been an exciting week, with the guesses coming in as to what will be on this year’s Arthur C Clarke Award shortlist.

In posting her guesses to her blog as to what books might be on that shortlist, Nina Allan wrote,

What matters most about the Clarke is not who wins, but that it acts as a showcase for what is happening in SF now. As such, I believe it should take a pride in presenting writers who are prepared to risk themselves intellectually, stretch themselves imaginatively and hone their skills as writers to produce works of artistic originality and lasting literary power.

It is certainly not clear exactly which six books will be on the shortlist for this year’s, but every guess in the contest (ongoing until Sunday) is a contribution toward the wider discussion of “what is happening in SF now”.

What impresses me in particular about this year’s guesses so far is how wide-ranging they are. About two-thirds of the submitted books have appeared on one or more possible lists so far. It’s entirely possible that one or more of the currently unguessed books will be on that shortlist. Last year, only one person correctly guessed that Declare would be on it, after all.

For those of you who haven’t already entered the contest (and those of you thinking about the state of SF today), here are the currently unguessed-at books for your consideration:

Dead of Veridon by Tim Akers (Solaris)
Novahead by Steve Aylett (Scar Garden)
Sequence by Adrian Dawson (Last Passage)
The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan (Canongate)
Gods of Manhattan by Al Ewing (Abaddon Books)
Final Days by Gary Gibson (Tor UK)
Heaven’s Shadow by David S. Goyer & Michael Cassutt (Tor UK)
The Ironclad Prophecy by Pat Kelleher (Abaddon Books)
Shift by Tim Kring and Dale Peck (Bantam)
Echo City by Tim Lebbon (Orbit)
Nemonymous Nights by D.F. Lewis (Chomu Books)
The Age of Odin by James Lovegrove (Solaris)
The Shadow of the Soul by Sarah Pinborough (Gollancz)
The Straight Razor Cure by Daniel Polansky (Hodder and Stoughton)
Here Comes The Nice by Jeremy Reed (Chomu Books)
The Demi Monde: Winter by Rod Rees (Jo Fletcher Books)
War in Heaven by Gavin Smith (Gollancz)
The Noise Revealed by Ian Whates (Solaris)
Son of Heaven by David Wingrove (Corvus)

The contest is open for entries until this coming Sunday night, 11th March, at 23:59 GMT.

The Clarke Award isn’t the only thing going on right now. Hopefully, many of you are busy reading and examining the shortlists for the BSFA Awards, which will be announced on the Sunday of Eastercon this year. Forbidden Planet is offering discounts on all the novels on the shortlist. Also, the BSFA Awards short story booklet is on track to go out with the next mailing.

Finally, we never quite finished discussing all of the books we had planned to last year, here on Torque Control. We’ll be filling in those gaps this year, starting with Gwyneth Jones’ Spirit, toward the end of March.

Vector, Blind Submissions, and Gender Balance

A slew of commentary, mostly thought-provoking, has come out of Paul Cornell’s declaration yesterday that he would, as a panelist at a convention, actively work towards achieving gender parity on panels he’s on, even if it required taking himself off of the panel. It’s a lovely gesture, but there are all sorts of complications in the details of implementing it and what it requires of women participating in genre.

One of these complications is that, on average, women are less likely to volunteer to be put on panels in the first place.

I can’t speak to panel volunteers, but I can speak to those who volunteer for Vector.  The majority of articles which appear in Vector are commissioned. That means that I ask for them, or, more specifically, talk people into writing them.

A minority of the articles are blind submissions, already-written articles which are sent to Vector on the chance that it’s a suitable home for them. It often is. Vector isn’t that high profile, so it doesn’t receive all that many blind submissions – perhaps eight or so last year.

Every last blind submission I have received – and even, in addition to those, all the articles proposed, unwritten, without prior contact – were all sent or proposed by men.

This was my first year editing the magazine, so I can’t say if this is a necessarily a longer-term trend. I can say that this is consistent with what’s been reported by larger convention organizers, that men are more likely to put themselves forward, rather than waiting for an invitation.

Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate the blind submissions just as much as I appreciate all the people, regardless of gender, who have been willing to write for Vector by request. They all go into making the magazine’s features what they are. And some particular men may be in need of active recruitment, just as some particular women readily volunteer.

Part of the challenge of those working to improve the gender balance of participants, regardless of medium, can be in needing to be more pro-active in recruiting women, and the limited evidence of the blind submissions I’ve received is consistent with that tendency.

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