A Conversation with Matt Hill, Author of Graft—Finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award 2017

Matt Hill's novel Graft is a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award 2017.

Matt Hill’s novel Graft is a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award 2017.

It’s incredibly timely to post this conversation—originally published by Strange Horizons under the title Manchester, A Tale of Two Dystopias—because of two exciting events:

Last week, the Philip K. Dick Award announced that Matt’s novel Graft is a finalist for the 2017 Award. Many congratulations, Matt!

And in two weeks’ time, NewCon Press will publish my novella, The Enclave, written in the world of A Calculated Life—itself a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award in 2013. You can pre-order the Kindle eBook or Paperback/Limited Edition Hardback 🙂 Read more

A Conversation With Speculative Fiction Author E.J. Swift

ejswift_author photo_bw smallI met E.J. Swift last summer when we shared a panel at LonCon 3, with David Hebblethwaite and Adam Roberts, discussing writers who cross the boundary between mainstream fiction and science fiction. Since then, I’ve finished my second novel, Sleeping Embers Of An Ordinary Mind, and E.J. has completed her trilogy The Osiris Project. Not only that…E.J.’s short story “The Spiders of Stockholm” has been long-listed for The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Competition.

We felt it was time for a catch-up chat—about past writing and future plans. Read more

Arthur C Clarke Award #6: 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

I have to admit that I haven’t read Kim Stanley Robinson’s fiction before and on the strength of 2312 I’ll read his Mars Trilogy, which established him as a big hitter, with a literary bent, in the realm of hard SF.

Truth is, I don’t really gravitate to other-world science fiction. I suppose because I’m mainly interested in social science fiction I’ve tended towards Earth-based scenarios. I’m now thinking I should reconsider this bias.

Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312 is the sixth, and final, novel I’ve read on the shortlist for this year’s Arthur C Clarke Award. The winner will be announced tomorrow evening (1 May) at the Royal Society in London. And I’ll be there! Read more

Arthur C Clarke Award #5: The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

A global flu pandemic has decimated the human population and, if that’s not bad enough, the worst effects of global warming are taking their toll. The Dog Stars is set in Colorado nine years after the flu pandemic. Hig, a pilot, has made a life for himself at a remote airfield and he’s coping with his emotional trauma – ‘being at the end of all loss’ – thanks to the companionship of his dog Jasper.

This is the fifth novel I’ve read on the Arthur C Clarke Award 2013 shortlist. The winner will be announced on Wednesday 1st May. Read more

New US Evidence on Climate Change Scepticism: How Does This Stack Up, Boris?

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So, the UK has a cold snap, London experiences proper snow, and Mayor Boris announces he’s a climate-change sceptic, on the basis that… the weather feels colder, not warmer.

Thus, it was fascinating to read the results of new research on climate change scepticism. Polling carried out by the University of New England suggests that people who change their views on climate change at times of unseasonable weather conditions, are likely to be politically independent rather than being aligned to the Democrat or Republican parties.

Of course, Boris isn’t politically independent but maybe this research finding also applies to a maverick (definition: an unorthodox or independent-minded person). In which case, I fully expect Boris to flip-flop on climate change if we have a hot summer.

Personally, I reckon that what Boris says on this subject is not necessarily the same as what Boris believes. I suspect he fully understands that higher global temperatures lead to erratic weather conditions. I guess he made his statement to endear himself to the less scientifically minded sections of the Tory Party.

Or is that a trifle cynical?

Read more

Severn Estuary ‘Wrong Place to Start’ with Tidal

    Scotland turbine
One of the world’s biggest tidal energy turbines being prepared for deployment in Scotland.
A Royal Society report says we’re underestimating the amount of electricity that could be generated from tidal sources, says Matt McGrathBBC Environment correspondent.

In summary – 15% of UK needs could be met from barrages that exploit tidal flow and 5% from planting turbines underwater in fast flowing tidal streams. The report’s co-author, Dr Nicholas Yates of the National Oceanography Centre, says: Read more

Climate Change Sceptics – Media Analysis

newspapers detailThe Green Alliance blog carried this assessment of media scepticism on climate change in a guest post by James Painter of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

In summary: Right wing newspapers in the UK are promoting climate change scepticism through their opinion pieces rather than through their news columns.

The RISJ has conducted research and according to Painter:

This research prompts an array of interesting questions.  One is the obvious and oft-asked one of why climate scepticism is more of a right-wing phenomenon both in the media and in wider society.

But it is also worth asking what the main drivers are of climate scepticism in the media.  Is it newspaper owners or editors pushing an agenda?  Is it journalists concerned with ‘balance’? Or is it the decline of specialist environment correspondents, who have an understanding of where mainstream science consensus lies?

Or are the media merely reflecting wider society, where there are loudly sceptical politicians and lobby groups?

At a time of questioning of journalistic standards in the press, it’s worth wrestling with these questions more.

Read more

Manchester: Climate Change Winner or Loser?

Tuscany

Ah! It would be lovely, wouldn’t it – if Manchester and the north west of England emerged as the new Florence and Tuscany of Europe? Just imagine cypress trees and vineyards scattered among the Pennine foothills and the Cheshire Gap. In A Calculated Life, Mancunians have adapted to a hotter climate and the region’s agricultural patterns have shifted dramatically. Thus climate change forms a backdrop to the novel.

Read more