The 20th Spectrum Fantastic Art Awards were announced this evening at the awards ceremony at Spectrum Live, a weekend long celebration of fantastic art, in Kansas City. Congratualtions to all the nominees and winners!
Recently, everyone and their grandmother are trying to place steampunk in the grander scope of things. Most of pop culture has poked at it at this point. Many in the SF/F community gives the subculture a passing nod (or are slowly edging away, since, being early adapters by nature, quite a few in sci-fi are tired of it already).
Still, questions about steampunk have set people in pursuit of the deeper meanings behind the aesthetic movement. Two years ago, Intel’s futurist Brian David Johnson wanted to answer the biggest one about steampunk’s rise: “Why now?” He was joined by a cultural historian James Carrott and they filmed a documentary, which permutated into a book by the same name: Vintage Tomorrows (or two books, actually. Steampunking Our Future: An Embedded Historian’s Notebook is the free e-book companion you can get online).
People tend to pay attention to big animals when they go to the zoo or museum. They go to see the gorillas, or the tigers, or the dinosaur bones. I get it; dinosaurs are awesome. The problem is that charismatic megafauna tell only a very narrow story about evolution and biology. Again, admittedly an awesome one—dinosaurs!—but there are plenty of other neat stories that smaller critters can tell. The lives of rodents, or the humble honey bee, of fungi who infect ants and drive them to literal lunacy. Focusing on all those oddball forms of life, big or small, can lead people to overlook the unsung heroes of the ecosystem. June’s Scientific American doesn’t fall into that trap, with its article on the “Tiny Plants That Once Ruled the Seas” being a bit of a love letter to...plankton. In particular, that the rise of modern sea life, in the wake of the Permian-Triassic Extinction Event, can be traced to phytoplankton, which literally fueled the bloom of diversity in the Mesozoic (that’s dinosaur times!) and Cenozoic (that’s now). In doing so, the authors Ronald Martin and Antoinetta Quigg also tie the rise of phytoplankton into the threat of climate change.
For the past twenty years, the Spectrum Fantastic Art Annual has been the gold-standard of fantasy and science fiction art. Cathie and Arnie Fenner created Spectrum as means to celebrate genre art in an era when it was largely overlooked by the mainstream illustration industry. Since then it has grown to become the most widely distributed and anticipated annual publication of contemporary illustration on the shelves.
Today, at the second annual Spectrum Live convention, the Fenners announced that it was time hand the reins over to another publisher.
Written by Peter Allan Fields and D.C. Fontana
Directed by David Carson
Season 1, Episode 7
Production episode 40511-408
Original air date: February 14, 1993
Station log: Dax and Bashir are having dinner. Bashir is flirting aggressively, and Dax is studiously ignoring his advances. Dax excuses herself; Bashir offers to walk her to her quarters, which she says isn’t necessary. After she goes off, Bashir grins and rationalizes that not necessary means not forbidden, either, thus cementing his skills as a stalker.
He turns a corner to see Dax struggling with two thugs in hoods. Rather than call security, Bashir instead wades in, clubbing the thugs’ boss in the jaw and then getting his ass kicked by those same thugs. Dax does try to struggle free, and also tries to call for help, but it’s for naught. By the time Bashir comes to and it finally occurs to him to use the combadge that’s right there on his chest, Dax and the kidnappers are gone.
Who better to interview a living legend than another living legend? “Talking with Tom” is the third installment of a Tor.com series in which Tor publisher Tom Doherty chats with one of the many authors and industry icons whose careers he influenced. Previous installments covered conversations with L.E. Modesitt Jr.and Harriet McDougal.
Please enjoy this fascinating and wide-ranging conversation between Tom Doherty and award-winning science fiction author Gregory Benford.
Welcome back to A Read of Ice and Fire! Please join me as I read and react, for the very first time, to George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.
Today’s entry is Part 29 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover Chapter 49 (“Catelyn”) and Chapter 50 (“Arya”).
Previous entries are located in the Index. The only spoilers in the post itself will be for the actual chapters covered and for the chapters previous to them. As for the comments, please note that the Powers That Be have provided you a lovely spoiler thread here on Tor.com. Any spoileriffic discussion should go there, where I won’t see it. Non-spoiler comments go below, in the comments to the post itself.
And now, the post!
Welcome to the Malazan Re-read of the Fallen! Every post will start off with a summary of events, followed by reaction and commentary by your hosts Bill and Amanda (with Amanda, new to the series, going first), and finally comments from Tor.com readers. In this article, we’ll cover Chapter Nine of Toll the Hounds (TtH).
A fair warning before we get started: We’ll be discussing both novel and whole-series themes, narrative arcs that run across the entire series, and foreshadowing. Note: The summary of events will be free of major spoilers and we’re going to try keeping the reader comments the same. A spoiler thread has been set up for outright Malazan spoiler discussion.
I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted after last week’s half-chapter. Breaking into the mint, breaking out of the mint, carrying 160,000 kilogrammes of gold back and forth… makes me nostalgic for quieter days of plague and assassination.
This week—and this half-chapter—the Vesani get their revenge. For our intrepid bank robbers have made a terrible mistake. There are only three real blunders, you see. Never get involved involved in a land war in Asia. Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line. And never, ever mess with Basso’s money.
Whenever a television show makes it beyond four of five seasons, viewers have cause to be impressed, but commonly worried as well; often a series has played out their greatest themes by then, most of the arcs have come full circle, and whatever the narrative was trying to say has been shouted at you, or possibly sung as a libretto. It’s done its thing, and now wants the three act play to become six or possibly twelve acts.
Supernatural is on its way to a ninth season. And besides finding new, improbable ways to keep their universe fresh and untested, the show also seems to have realized the key to infusing the story with new life—by allowing its main characters, who started the show at ages 22 and 26, to grow up. And what that has meant for the eldest Winchester brother, Dean, is a glorious transformation from posturing, macho alpha dog to… well, something that is no longer capable of being pared down into a caricature. It’s been an awesome ride.
There is some corner of England that will forever be a foreign field—creepily familiar but horrifyingly other. Welcome to Scarfolk; you might even survive the experience.
Scarfolk is the latest stop on a psychogeographical tour of the United Kingdom that probably starts on the Summerisle of the original Wicker Man movie and chugs off—watched by silent villagers in animal masks—towards the Royston Vasey of the League Of Gentlemen TV series.
Is Mark Hamill actually sleeping in this picture? Does Star Wars bore you sir? Do you have a problem with Star Wars? Fine, we’re going to cast someone else as Luke Skywalker! Good day, sir!
Your collection of daily offsite links imagines a universe where Luke wakes up and was dreaming of all of us. Highlights include: The Wrath of Gonzo, Brad Bird dishes and more!
Beneath the skin of the world you know, a terrible machine grinds and gnashes its gears. Its cogs range in size from the flap of a butterfly’s wings to the meteor that killed the dinosaurs. The God-Machine’s tools are timeclocks and angels, crushing banality and outrageous supernatural intervention; these contradictions are unified in the alien-clockwork of its inevitability. Azathoth is not a screaming, pulsating tumor of chaos at the center of reality; it is rust and cold and wire, soldered together. The factory assembly line for the banality of evil. Darkseid’s Anti-Life Equation, made from iron and clockwork and tesla coils. This is the premise behind The God-Machine Chronicle, the newest major World of Darkness offering (and its attendent short fiction anthology). Based on the piece of flavor text that began the core World of Darkness book, The God Machine Chronicle also introduces a number of major rules updates.
The third and final installment of Chris Moriarty’s Spin Trilogy, Ghost Spin, releases at the end of May—nearly seven years after the initial release of Spin Control, itself the brilliant follow-up to her debut novel, Spin State. In much the same way that the second book differed significantly from the first in tone, focus, and structure, Ghost Spin is an ambitious attempt to once again provide a fresh angle on this universe and its problems—this time with space pirates, fractured AIs, and a desperate two-pronged search for answers to questions that are at first personal, but are ultimately the force that will shift the direction of the future.
The story revolves primarily around Catherine Li and Cohen, with the addition of other narrators, including ex-Navy captain, now-pirate William Llewellyn. In the opening chapter, Cohen is trapped on a backwater planet recently taken over by the UN—and, as a security team closes in on him, he commits suicide. His component parts are auctioned off almost instantly, as is the usual procedure for decoherent AIs; however, he’s left a trail of clues for Li, and the only hope for what he was trying to do, to save, is that she’ll find and pursue them. Li herself, without Cohen’s protection, is also in plenty of danger—from Nguyen, from the Syndicates demanding her extradition, and elsewhere. The question of what Cohen was up to, as well as how she can finish the job and put him back together, drives Li to make a series of dangerous and significant decisions that might alter the course of humanity’s future.
Season 8, Episodes 20 and 21: “Essence”/“Existence”
Original Airdates: May 13 and May 20, 2001
If it seems like we keep ending eras, we do. We do keep ending eras. We’ve said goodbye to the Consortium, and we’ve said goodbye to regular appearances from Agent Mulder, and, well, you know. It’s been a lot of change, a lot of goodbyes, and honestly I think we’ve handled it pretty well! But you guys, I hate to break it to you, we’ve got to do it again. We’ve got to say goodbye to the show as we know it, to the show that’s about Mulder and Scully solving cases together. This is it. This is the end of that. Are you ready? Better yet: is the show ready?
So the story is that there’s an interdimensional portal under the sea and something—maybe us?—accidentally opened it and WE’RE SORRY. WE DIDN’T KNOW. And now monsters. To which the only logical solution is to build robots to punch them. We like this plan! We’re excited to be a part of it!
Watch the new trailer for Guillermo Del Toro’s thought-vacation Pacific Rim. Because it is awesome. See that guy in the picture up there? We have no idea who he is. And we don’t care. Do you care? The monster is staring at him. That is what we care about.
A few weeks ago, IGN took a stab at highlighting a few of the best vendettas in video game history. While a few inescapable classics will make almost any list largely based on tradition and recurrence (see: Nintendo and Sega’s brand-defining characters), we decided to highlight a few of our own favorites this week and volunteer them into the discussion.
Well everyone, we’ve completed our 12 book re-read of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books. Thanks for sticking with me! But we can’t end this journey without discussing the long-awaited conclusion, book thirteen—Dead Ever After. Unfortunately, there were a number of spoilers released before the publication date, which I studiously avoided. After committing to thirteen books in this series, there was no way I would spoil the ending! But now that the book is out, permit me to spoil it now? I’ll give a short recap and then let’s discuss this potential HEA.
The most recent season of Doctor Who has been one hell of a rollercoaster, dramatic within and without. First it was split in two, then Clara showed up early, then Amy and Rory left, then news about the 50th anniversary started overshadowing the season, then the show’s producer abruptly quit, then the Tenth Doctor came back, then the Ninth Doctor didn’t, then the final episode leaked early....
The quality of the episodes themselves has been markedly variable, as reflected in our own reviews, and it’s getting harder and harder not to feel so down about the show. But Doctor Who is still the best damn sci-fi show on television, so before the season closes we thought we’d get back in the spirit and comment on our favorite Eleventh Doctor episodes from the Moffat era.
Welcome back to the Way of Kings reread! We’ve reached Chapter 11, and with it the end of Part One. As such, I’ll only be covering one chapter this week, but will also offer my impressions on the entirety of Part One. I’ll discuss the characters introduced, how they developed, how the Part functions as a whole, and more.
In addition to that, I have stories from Brandon Sanderson’s visit to Tor headquarters, a special (and incredibly limited) giveaway of The Rithmatist, and more, all below the cut.