Fiction: 'Alf' by Mazin Saleem

Pornokitsch

Time travel was invented twice. First, by the woman who burst into the lab of Rosa Maravu looking like an older version of her. She gave the young physicist a hand-drawn plan, sobbed, then disappeared. Rosa worked on this plan but also became convinced of something: her own indestructibility, at least till that point in her future when she’d travel back and hand the plan to herself. Quashing her nervous nature, she took to parasailing and was struck by lightning (tow rope sizzling to the boat deck in an exclamation mark). Time travel was invented by her lab partner, Maria Seini; it appeared that the present was an ultimate point, forever unfurling. All that existed: the glacier of the past.

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A Matter of Oaths: An interview with Helen S. Wright

Power by Paul Calle (1963)A Matter of Oaths highres When A Matter of Oaths was first published in 1987, featuring an older woman as a space captain and centring on two men of colour in an intense, romantic relationship, it was a hard sell: 'I have a rejection letter from a well-known editor saying that they wouldn’t buy the book because the gay relationship was so integral to the plot, even though they weren’t a homophobe, nor were many in the SF audience (!). Apparently, I wasn’t "breaking new ground" and risked "alienating some readers."'

The book follows Rafe, a young webber with a mysterious past, who joins the crew of Bhattya, a patrol ship under the command of Rallya, an aging, grumpy, and talented woman in denial about the end of her career. As an oath breaker, Rafe is shunned by many, but aboard Bhattya, not only is he given a second chance, he also finds support in his quest for his own identity.

When I read the first few chapters of A Matter of Oaths, I realised instantly that it was right up my street. Discovering that it was tragically out of print, I knew I had to track Helen down and see if there was anyway she’d want to work with us (reader, I signed her). To my complete delight, we are going to be republishing her book, bringing it to a new generation of readers, and I wanted to find out what Helen thinks about the changing landscape of science fiction from then to now, and also pick her brain about her writing.

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He Said/She Said: Star Trek, Reboots, Discovery and The Final Frontier

Star Trek Discovery

In He Said / She Said, we're too lazy to write things properly, so we interview one another. A bit like a podcast, but with much worse production quality. 

Jared: Star Trek is something we talk about every now and then (including a whole theme week in 2009!), but even then, we've only ever scratched the surface. I mean, there's a lot of Trek: TOS, TNG, DS9, Voyager, Enterprise (which I had completely forgotten ever existed), Discovery, a whopping 13 films, and a vast ecosystem of merchandise, books, games and other spin-offs. 

From this whirling mass... which is your Star Trek? When someone (like me) says 'let's talk Star Trek', what comes to mind?

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A Field Guide to Mary Stewart's Romantic Suspenses

My Brother Michael

Stewart introduced a different kind of heroine for a newly emerging womanhood. It was her 'anti-namby-pamby' reaction, as she called it, to the "silly heroine" of the conventional contemporary thriller who "is told not to open the door to anybody and immediately opens it to the first person who comes along". Instead, Stewart's stories were narrated by poised, smart, highly educated young women who drove fast cars and knew how to fight their corner. (Guardian)

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