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December 1998

FTC to Review Barnes & Noble Purchase of Ingram

The US Federal Trade Commission will conduct an extensive review of the proposed $600 million acquisition by Barnes & Noble Inc. of book distributor Ingram Book Group.

The proposed merger was announced November 6th. The FTC routinely reviews documents filed for merger proposals, but makes requests for additional information in only about 5% of such cases.

The decision to investigate further came following a request to do so from Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee. The review is expected to be complete by Spring, 1999.

Barnes and Noble's acquisition of the world's largest book distributor has been viewed with alarm by independent bookstores and by online competitors to, who fear an unfair advantage. The deal has been protested as anti-competitive by groups including the American Booksellers Association and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (see story last month).

(Sunday 27 Dec 1998)

Sawyer Resigns as SFWA President

Canadian writer Robert J. Sawyer resigned his position as President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America December 22nd. Canadian Regional Director Edo van Belkom also resigned. SFWA Vice President Paul Levinson, who had announced his intention to run for SFWA President next year, is now the new President. Levinson subsequently appointed former SFWA Eastern Regional Director Ann Crispin the new Vice President, Allen Steele the new Eastern Regional Director, and Derryl Murphy the new Canadian Regional Director.

Sawyer, Levinson, and van Belkom took office July 1st. During his tenure, Sawyer conducted a referendum among SFWA members that resulted in a number of rule changes for SFWA membership and Nebula Awards eligibility.

(Tue 22 Dec 1998, amended Sunday 27 Dec 1998)

Sawyer Wins UPC Award, Again

Robert J. Sawyer has won the UPC Science Fiction Award for the second year in a row for ''Block Universe'', a self-contained excerpt from his forthcoming novel Flashforward (Tor, June 1999). The award carries a cash prize of one million pesetas (c. US$7,000). Sawyer won last year (tying with Puero Rican writer James Stevens-Arce) for ''Psychospace'', a short version of his 1998 novel Factoring Humanity.

The Premio UPC de Ciencia Ficción is open to novella-length (25,000 to 40,000 words) manuscripts in Spanish, Catalan, French, and English. The award is sponsored by the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. Manuscripts, of which 134 were submitted this year from all over the world, are judged blindly. This year's jury consisted of Lluís Anglada, Miquel Barceló, Josep Casanovas, Jordi José, and Manuel Moreno (the same as last year).

Runners up were Rodolfo Martínez of Spain, for his story ''Este relámpago, esta locura'', and Gabriel Trujillo of Mexico, for his story ''Gracos''. A third special mention, reserved for a member of the UPC community, was shared by Javier Sánchez-Reys and Pedro A. García Bilbao for their story ''Fuego sobre San Juan''. All three prizes included 250,000 pesetas (c. US$1700).

Sapphire Finalists

The following ten books are the finalists for the 1998 Sapphire Award, honoring the best science fiction romances of the past year. The winner will be announced in January.

  • Daughter of the Blood, Anne Bishop (ROC)
  • Orchid, Jayne Castle (Pocket Books)
  • Crystal Dreams, Astrid Cooper (JB Books)
  • Shadow's Embrace, Astrid Cooper (JB Books)
  • Raven's Heart, Jennifer Dunne (New Concepts Publishing)
  • Oracle, Katherine Greyle (Lionhearted)
  • Burnt Offerings, Laurell K. Hamilton (Ace Books)
  • Blue Moon, Laurell K. Hamilton (Penguin)
  • Mine to Take, Dara Joy (Leisure)
  • A Wizard Scorned, Patricia White (Hard Shell Word Factory)
  • Further information about the Sapphire Award is available at

    John Millard, 1917 - 1998

    John Millard, Chairman of the Friends of the Merril Collection in Toronto, died November 28th, 1998, two days short of his 81st birthday. Millard was an active fan in the Toronto science fiction community, and served as chairman for the Merril Collection for 10 years beginning with its inception in 1980. He was Chair of Torcon II and was honorary chair emeritus of the Toronto in 2003 bid. Contributions to the Friends of the Merril Collection in memory of John Millard may be sent to:

    The Friends of the Merril Collection
    3rd Floor
    239 College Street
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5T 1R5

    (Mon 7 Dec 1998)

    New York Times Best SF of 1998

    The New York Times Book Review's ''Holiday Books 1998'' issue, December 6th, includes the following SF selections on its lengthy list of Notable Books of 1998:

  • Antarctica, Kim Stanley Robinson (Bantam Spectra)
  • Bloom, Wil McCarthy (Del Rey)
  • The Children Star, Joan Slonczewski (Tor)
  • Circuit of Heaven, Dennis Danvers (Avon Eos)
  • Mockingbird, Sean Stewart (Ace)
  • This Alien Shore, C. S. Friedman (DAW)
  • The SF selections were presumably chosen by Gerald Jonas, the NYTBR's SF columnist, from those titles he reviewed in the past year. Notable titles in the fiction category include several other books that are SF or of peripheral interest, including José Saramago's Blindness, Walter Mosley's Blue Light, Jorge Luis Borges' Collected Fictions, Steven Millhauser's The Knife Thrower: And Other Stories, Ronald Wright's A Scientific Romance, and Gore Vidal's The Smithsonian Institution.

    The nonfiction list includes Thomas M. Disch's The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered the World.

    The Review's top selection of the 11 best books of the year, and some of the other notable titles, are given in Aether Vibrations.

    (Wed 2 Dec 1998)

    James Patrick Kelly, Councilor

    Governor Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire has appointed SF writer James Patrick Kelly to the New Hampshire Council on the Arts, a fifteen member group which has oversight over all the state's arts programs. There are similar councils in all the other states, but Kelly's appointment is remarkable since in some other states SF writers are not recognized by their Councils as artists, much less invited to serve as councilors.

    Welcome to Paradox Marathon

    Kelley Eskridge, who wrote recently about the Sci-Fi Channel's ''Welcome to Paradox'' show, reports that a marathon of 12 of the 13 episodes of the series will be broadcast on December 23rd, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern Time (4 a.m. - 4 p.m. Pacific).

    (Tue 1 Dec 1998)

    Previous News page: November 1998

  • SFWA letter to the FTC re: Barnes and Noble
  • Barnes and Noble buying Ingram
  • Bob Kane, 1916 - 1998
  • Publishers Weekly Best Books of 1998

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