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Science Fiction and its Influences

Dragonlance At one time the SF/Fantasy genre was almost an island. Authors looked to their peers for inspiration, and you could cover nearly every event of significance in the field with a handful of book and magazine reviews. But SF and Fantasy ceased to be isolated cultures when Star Wars burst on the screen over twenty years ago. Since then, popular series in television, comics, gaming and motion pictures have arguably had a greater influence on the genre than the combined work of our most respected authors. The popular Star Trek and Star Wars books of the mid-eighties caused a licensing boom in the industry which has all but taken over the racks at your local bookstore. And much of the remaining space is occupied by gaming tie-in books such as TSR's Dungeons and Dragons series, BattleTech and Shadowrun books, and many others. Even much of the supposedly original work being published today has been so heavily influenced by the D&D/Role Playing craze of the seventies and eighties that's it's hard to predict what the field would look like today had it never happened.

Plenty of old-time fans use this as conclusive evidence of the imminent Downfall of Western Civilization. We're not quite so negative. For one thing, it seems obvious to us that the media-inspired SF reader boom has introduced fresh new faces to the work of Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and William Gibson. And besides, we're the kind of folks who enjoy a good Star Trek book now and again. But it has affected our editorial policies, and it's about to do so again.

Science Fiction Gaming

We've had tremendous success at the SF Site with our book coverage. While we offer topical lists on subjects as diverse as Japanese animation, art galleries, audio, and many other areas, it's no secret that our primary focus continues to be print, and primarily original, non-licensed fiction. There are already plenty of terrific sites out there devoted to Babylon 5, Star Trek, or The X-Files. Instead, the SF Site is dedicated to bringing you news of the best new arrivals in the genre, both in the bookstore and on the Web.

White Wolf However, there's plenty of room in our charter to expand our feature coverage to include those genres with proven influence on SF and Fantasy. And expand it we will. We're going to start with one of the most fertile provinces to pump new ideas into the genre in the last two decades: SF and Fantasy gaming.

In the last few weeks we've had a number of features on computer games, and popular science fiction game systems such as FASA's BattleTech. Not surprisingly, they've proven quite popular with our readers, and we've decided to make our expanded coverage of genre gaming official. You'll see regular reviews and articles on science fiction and fantasy gaming in our features section starting next month.

In the coming weeks we'll have feature articles on the enormously popular Cthulhu Mythos gaming products from Chaosium, an extensive look at the resuscitated TSR, and the creative line of fantasy gaming products from White Wolf. As well, we'll have more in-depth pieces on FASA's Shadowrun game system, and a look at some of the big computer gaming titles for Christmas.

The Dark Tower IV: Wizard & Glass

Stephen King Dark Tower cycle is one of his most original works, and it's certainly his most ambitious. That alone makes it a major genre event. September saw the first publication of the fourth volume in the lengthy series, Wizard & Glass, in a beautiful hardcover format from small press mastermind Don Grant, illustrated with color plates by Dave McKean. The book is already sold out at most major booksellers, including amazon.com. Dutton will be releasing the trade paperback edition this month, and to celebrate they've launched a major website and contest.

Stephen
King

The site is www.darktowerIV.com, where you can find sample chapters for the book, download a set of four free exclusive screensavers based on McKean's original art, chat with other readers and fans, and take the Dark Tower Trivia Challenge, a sweepstakes offering such prizes as a trip to the Overlook Hotel (site of The Shining), t-shirts, baseball caps, jackets, and more. The site goes up on Oct 15, so check it out today.

Next issue

The SF Site continues to publish on a bi-weekly basis, with new issues posted on the first and fifteenth of every month. In our November issue we'll have the first part of an extensive survey of Chaosium's Cthulhu gaming products, based on the horror work of H. P. Lovecraft, and reviews from novelists Ann Benson and Victoria Strauss.

Thanks for listening, and be sure to join us on Nov. 1. We'll be here. As always, let us know what's on your mind.

John O'Neill
Managing Editor


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