Abandon the Newspeak and Drink the Soma: Aldous Huxley Humble-Brags in a Letter to George Orwell

When George Orwell finished his classic dystopia, Nineteen Eighty-Four, he eagerly had a copy sent off to his high school French teacher.

His high school French teacher, Aldous Huxley.

When the author of A Brave New World wrote back, he praised his former student’s book as “fine” and “profoundly important”—but he also seemingly couldn’t resist writing (at some length!) about how his own vision of the future was better (or at least more accurate in its predictions)…

[Read the full letter]

Pull List: The Vision

I absolutely adore this trend in comics of showing superheroes off duty and dealing with day-to-day issues, where it’s less about physical prowess and more about the ramifications of using their abilities. It’s more interesting to me to see the powerful confront their powers and the effect their powers have on the powerless. Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye is hard to beat, but Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s The Vision comes close. This isn’t a story about Vision kicking ass and taking names but a smaller scale tale of ethics versus morality, family versus friends, interlopers versus denizens.

[“Vision thought he could make a family. A happy, normal family.”]

The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years Sweepstakes!

The second volume of Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman’s oral history of Star Trek, The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years: From The Next Generation to J. J. Abrams: The Complete, Uncensored, and Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek, is available August 30th from Thomas Dunne Books—and we want to send you a copy!

This is the true story behind the making of a television legend. There have been many books written about Star Trek, but never with the unprecedented access, insight and candor of authors Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross. Having covered the franchise for over three decades, they’ve assembled the ultimate guide to a television classic.

The Fifty-Year Mission: Volume Two is an incisive, no-holds-barred oral history telling the story of post-Original Series Star Trek, told exclusively by the people who were there, in their own words—sharing the inside scoop they’ve never told before—unveiling the oftentimes shocking true story of the history of Star Trek and chronicling the trials, tribulations—and tribbles—that have remained deeply buried secrets… until now.

The Fifty-Year Mission: Volume Two includes the voices of hundreds television and film executives, programmers, writers, creators, and cast, who span from the beloved The Next Generation and subsequent films through its spin-offs: Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise, as well J.J. Abrams’ reimagined film series.

Comment in the post to enter!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States and D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec). To enter, comment on this post beginning at 1:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on August 24th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on August 28th. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Tor.com, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

Borrowing From Pickman’s Library: Robert W. Chambers’s “The Yellow Sign”

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

Today we’re looking at Robert W. Chambers’s “The Yellow Sign,” first published in his 1895 The King in Yellow collection. Spoilers ahead.

[“Oh the sin of writing such words—words which are clear as crystal, limpid and musical as bubbling springs…”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

Joseph Fiennes Joins Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale as The Commander

Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale is getting its cast together before it commences production this fall. Deadline reports that Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in LoveCamelotAmerican Horror Story) will play Commander Fred Waterford—the Fred in Offred, the name of the eponymous handmaid played by Elisabeth Moss.

[Read more]

Join Author Nisi Shawl on her Everfair Tour!

Next month, Nisi Shawl is heading out on tour with her new novel, Everfair, a Neo-Victorian alternate history that explores the question of what might have come of Belgium’s disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier. Shawl tells her story through a multiplicity of characters from Africans to Europeans to East Asians to African Americans, all in complex relationships with one another, in a compelling range of voices that have historically been silenced.

Everfair is available September 6th from Tor Books, and you can read an excerpt from the novel here on Tor.com. Click through for the full September tour schedule to see if she’s coming to your town!

[Click through for tour dates!]

Maria Dahvana Headley and Victor LaValle in Conversation Over Frankenstein

This summer marks the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein—and it holds a special place in our hearts as one of the forerunners of modern science fiction. While the book wasn’t published until 1818, the story was first conceived in 1816 during an iconic tale-spinning session she shared with Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, Claire Clairmont, and John Polidori while on a particularly rainy holiday in Geneva.

We wanted to take a moment to celebrate the novel, and we could think of no better way than asking authors Victor LaValle (The Ballad of Black Tom) and Maria Dahvana Headley (Magonia) to talk about Mary Shelley, Victor Frankenstein, and their various creations. Victor and Maria were kind enough to meet with me, Katharine Duckett (of Tor.com Publishing), and Irene Gallo for a lunchtime chat about monsters, motherhood, and Promethean desires, and I’ve done my best to round up the highlights of our conversation below!

[Read more]

Everything Was Going Great Until He Died in the Snorlax Pit

The resurgence of Poké-popularity has brought us many wonders, but maybe our favorite so far is the stunning mashup Bulba Fett. Bootleg Star Wars toys are always fun, but this is perfection. So simple, so pure.

And yet it raises a serious question: when you combine the Great Bounty Hunter Of All Time with a Pokémon, are you the one catching ’em all… or will you be the one caught?

[via Nerd Approved!]

What James Tiptree Jr. Can Teach Us About the Power of The SF Community

Ordinarily when I write an On This Day tribute, I find a theme to discuss. When you get to James Tiptree, Jr., however, finding a single theme becomes difficult.

Tiptree was born a century ago, on August 24, 1915, and then again in a grocery store in 1967. Over her life she was known as Alice Bradley, Alice Bradley Davey, Major Alice Bradley Sheldon, and Dr. Alice B. Sheldon, and she wrote as both James Tiptree, Jr. and Raccoona Sheldon. Throughout her life she performed a high wire act that combined genderfluidity with mythmaking. Some writers and fans have found the Tiptree theme to center on gender, on feminist history, on the power gained from anonymity, on queer identities in SFF. Obviously none of these themes are incorrect; what I’m focusing on, however, is the extraordinary story of Tiptree’s relationship to the SF community as a whole.

[Read more]

Series: On This Day

Rereading Kage Baker’s Company Series: Mendoza in Hollywood, Chapters 4-7

Welcome back to the Kage Baker Company Series reread! In today’s installment, we’ll cover “chapters” 4 through 7, so from the end of what we covered in last week’s post up to the end of the San Pedro trip, ending on “I’d have wrung the bird’s neck after the first hour.” (Pages 54 to 97 in my Avon Eos edition.)

As always, you can find all previous posts in the reread on our index page. Also, beware spoilers: this reread will discuss plot details up to and including the very end of the series, so be careful if you haven’t read all the books yet.

And with that, we’re off! For your rereading enjoyment, today’s suggested soundtrack is Manuel de Falla’s El Amor Brujo, briefly mentioned in chapter 4 of this novel.

[That world didn’t even exist yet, that innocent place, and it was already lost.]

Series: Rereading Kage Baker

Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: “Wink of an Eye”

“Wink of an Eye”
Written by Lee Cronin and Arthur Heinemann
Directed by Jud Taylor
Season 3, Episode 13
Production episode 60043-68
Original air date: November 29, 1968
Stardate: 5710.5

Captain’s log. The Enterprise responds to a distress call on Scalos. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and two security guards beam down to the location from which Uhura is receiving the distress call. But while the locations match, Kirk sees nobody at the beam-down site, and Uhura still only sees the Scalosians in the broadcast of the distress call. McCoy isn’t picking up any animal life at all, though Kirk hears what sounds like an insect buzzing.

There is an abundance of art and literature and architecture, and some of the latter was obviously occupied recently, though other parts were abandoned.

Suddenly, Compton, one of the security guards, disappears, right after he took a sip from a fountain.

[I want to keep this one a long time. He’s pretty.]

Series: Star Trek: The Original Series Rewatch