Rereading Frank Herbert’s Dune: Dune, Part Thirteen

This week we’re going to kill someone we barely know in hand-to-hand combat! Yeesh. So… just an average week on the Dune Reread?

Index to the reread can be located here! And don’t forget this is a reread, which means that any and all of these posts will contain spoilers for all of Frank Herbert’s Dune series. If you’re not caught up, keep that in mind.

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Series: Rereading Frank Herbert’s Dune

Sleeps With Monsters: Queens of Ice and Fire

I first heard of Sarah Fine’s The Impostor Queen in a blogpost about forthcoming books featuring queer main characters. (That blogpost wasn’t talking about The Impostor Queen, but rather its companion novel, The Cursed Queen, which has only just come out.)

The Impostor Queen is an entertaining tale of a young woman, raised to believe she will inherit the magic that keeps her people, the Kupari, safe—but when that doesn’t happen, the priests who raised her turn on her. Elli is forced to flee in order to save her life. She ends up with a ragtag group of outlaws and rogue magic wielders, and discovers that the priests who were raising her, and—she thought—teaching her, were actually using her and all her predecessors as Valtia (that is to say, magic queen) for their own ends. Elli’s the subject of a prophecy—the most powerful Valtia ever is supposed to be born in her generation. But it turns out that Elli is only half the Valtia of her generation. She can balance the powers of ice and fire that magic-wielders hold, and that the Valtia is supposed to simultaneously carry, and she can amplify them: but on her own, she can’t light a candle or freeze a raindrop.

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Series: Sleeps With Monsters

Announcing the 2016 Aurealis Award Finalists

The Western Australian Science Fiction Foundation (WASFF) has announced the shortlist for the 2016 Aurealis Awards, which recognize the achievements of Australian science fiction, fantasy, horror, young adult, and children’s fiction writers. Winners of the 2016 Aurealis Awards and the Convenors’ Award for Excellence will be announced at the Aurealis Awards ceremony on April 14, as part of the SwanCon convention at the Metro Hotel in Perth, Western Australia.

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Belle Sings of Her Provincial Life in a New Clip from Beauty and the Beast!

The live-action Beauty and the Beast has just kicked off their press tour with a lovely Parisian photo, plus a new clip from the film! The film’s stars, Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Josh Gad, and Luke Evans, joined director Bill Condon and composer Alan Menken in front of the Eiffel Tower to celebrate the film’s French origins.

The filmmakers have also released a new clip from Beauty and the Beast, so if you’d like to hear Belle lamenting her provincial life, watch the full clip below.

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Collecting Philip K. Dick: Science Fiction’s Most Powerful Gateway Drug

“‘…what do you mean when you use the term science fiction?’ …I could spend the rest of my life answering that one question.”Philip K. Dick

I first heard the name Philip K. Dick (PKD) from my gaming group while growing up in Hawaii. I was a 15-year-old teen, in a group of men and women who were in their mid-30s. One of them was an especially talented gamemaster named Nikkan. He had many inventive ideas, was knowledgeable, and ran particularly deadly scenarios where players would get killed off with ease. On more than one occasion I had played a character who was obliterated in a hail of bullets or sorcerous hellfire.

One afternoon, I asked if he could suggest some great science fiction writers I ought to read. He created a list that included legends like Theodore Sturgeon, Frank Herbert, Clifford D. Simak, and Philip K. Dick. He pointed to that name and said, “Anything by PKD is worth reading.”

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Announcing George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards: The Reread!

With three new books and a TV series on the way, we are delighted to announce that our official reread of George R.R. Martin’s acclaimed Wild Cards series will begin on Wednesday, March 1st!

Begun in 1986, the Wild Cards world unfolds in numbered anthologies, all of them featuring short stories by notable sci-fi/fantasy authors; the shared world is guided by GRRM and Melinda Snodgrass. Each month, our resident expert Katie Rask will explore the stories and characters that drive the shared universe, one book at a time, beginning with 1987’s Wild Cards.

The series is primarily set in an alternate history version of the United States, in which some humans have contracted the alien “Wild Card virus,” which causes mutations ranging from utter incapacitating physical conditions (Jokers) to superpowers (Aces). Wild Cards, the original anthology, features stories by Roger Zelazny, Walter Jon Williams, and Martin himself, and explores a world grappling with unimaginable disaster, unthinkable loss, and new, extraordinary powers.

And that’s just the beginning.

[More about the series and Wild Cards stories below!]

Series: George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards: The Reread

Why Coming Into a Fandom Late Can Be Worth Getting Spoiled

Please enjoy this encore post on The 100 season 3 and entering a fandom after being spoiled, originally published March 2016.

On March 3 of this year, The 100 aired the episode “Thirteen.” By the next day, fan outrage began appearing all over Twitter, Tumblr, and other communities over the show’s polarizing plot twist. A few days later, I began binge-watching The 100, in a desperate attempt to plow through all (at the time) 36 episodes before I got spoiled by whatever had happened.

I failed. When you write about fandom, SFF, and Internet culture for a living, your Twitter timeline (carefully calibrated to pick up on the latest breaking news in the aforementioned spheres) is a spoiler minefield. When you also happen to follow the TV writer who penned that episode, it’s impossible to miss his responses as he begins defending himself to heartbroken fans. And in modern pop culture, when an under-the-radar beloved television series kills off an LGBT character, it becomes trending news.

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The Unlikely Philosophy of Joe Versus the Volcano

Please enjoy this repost of an article that originally ran on April 12, 2016. 

At the dawn of the ’90s, a film was released that was so quirky, so weird, and so darkly philosophical that people who turned up expecting a typical romantic comedy were left confused and dismayed. That film was Joe Versus the Volcano, and it is a near-masterpiece of cinema.

There are a number of ways one could approach Joe Versus the Volcano. You could look at it in terms of writer and director John Patrick Shanley’s career, or Tom Hanks’. You could analyze the film’s recurring duck and lightning imagery. You could look at it as a self-help text, or apply Campbell’s Hero Arc to it. I’m going to try to look at it a little differently. JVtV is actually an examination of morality, death, and more particularly the preparation for death that most people in the West do their best to avoid. The film celebrates and then subverts movie clichés to create a pointed commentary on what people value, and what they choose to ignore. Plus it’s also really funny!

[May you live to be a thousand years old.]

Passing for Human: Nowhere Near You by Leah Thomas

Leah Thomas’ blunderkinder are back, and they are as impossible and miraculous as ever. Ollie and Moritz forged an unbreakable bond in Because You’ll Never Meet Me, exchanging letters from across the globe. Ollie’s allergy to electricity means he’ll never see Moritz—equipped with a pacemaker and a love of EDM to boot—in person. Or, at least, not yet. Nowhere Near You, the second installment of Thomas’ as-yet-unnamed-Blunderkinder series, begins with Ollie’s greatest adventure so far: leaving his little house in the woods and venturing into the electric horizon of the open road.

Ollie doesn’t just leave home in a rubber suit for kicks, though. He wants to find other weirdos like him and Moritz, to hear their stories, and to make connections the likes of which a power line could never dream. Moritz, on the other hand, has enough to contend with in his own story. As if a new school and a new romance weren’t tricky enough, his memories of the human experimentation that produced him and Ollie are heavy and harrowing. At odds, as always, in both tone and timing, Moritz and Ollie write one another into their lives. Propelled by their love for one another and for the terrifying new worlds that they’re exploring, the two friends are drawn closer together even as they’re kept inexorably apart.

If Because You’ll Never Meet Me broke your heart and put it back together again, get ready for Nowhere Near You to put it through a blender.

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Finding the Right Book at the Right Time

Please enjoy this encore post from April 2016.

Sometimes a book comes into your life at just the right moment. There’s something in it that speaks to your specific place in space and time, like the heavens aligning for an eclipse.

I spent my 16th year as an exchange student in France, living with a French family, attending a French school, and being completely immersed in the language—which I barely spoke a word of when I arrived. Even though I was an obsessive reader, I left my books at home. The whole point, I’d reasoned, was to forsake English for a year while I learned a different language. I rapidly realized my mistake—I was forlorn without books that I could understand.

So I wrote a letter to my Great Aunt Joan. In my reading life, my Aunt Joan was the Gandalf to my Frodo, the Merlin to my Arthur. She was responsible for most of the great literary loves of my childhood: the Moomins, Oz, the Dark is Rising series—all of them came from her. I wrote to her and I told her how forsaken I felt without any books that spoke to my heart.

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The Joy of Being a Nerd: What Real Genius Reminds Us About Geek Culture

It’s interesting to me that Revenge of the Nerds, while still full up of the nostalgia that the 80s lends us, is lately being repositioned in the zeitgeist. What was viewed for many years as a bit of harmless fun that waved the banner for nerds everywhere is finally being called out for exactly what it is; an Us vs Them revenge fest that never lets go of racism or misogyny, and damages the image of geek culture more than it applauds for it. That shouldn’t be surprising—RotN was always just a frat house comedy with a thin nerdy gloss applied to it. And that’s fine with me, because that was never my go-to movie for feeling the geeky solidarity.

No, my friends. That movie was Real Genius.

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Announcing the 2016 Nebula Awards Nominees

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America are pleased to announce the 2016 Nebula Awards nominees (to be presented in 2017), for the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, and the nominees for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.

The winners will be announced at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s 51st Annual Nebula Conference in Pittsburgh, PA, which takes place from Thursday, May 18th through Sunday, May 21st at the Pittsburgh Marriott City Center.

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The SFF Equine: Troublesome Tropes About Horses

Just about everybody knows what a horse is. Equus caballus. Odd-toed ungulate. Large herd animal. Prey animal. War machine. Transportation. Companion animal. Sports equipment. Racing vehicle. Semi-mythical beast. Not nearly as many people know what a horse is not. The horse in song and story, not to mention in film, sometimes bears only a tangential resemblance to the animal on the hoof.

We’re firm believers in positive thinking here—believe me, when you work around horses, negativity can get you splatted in three seconds flat—but sometimes it’s useful to talk about the ways in which the equine demographic is misrepresented or misunderstood in popular culture. Here we go, therefore, with a brief roundup of what the horse is not, as a pointer toward what he really is. (And as always, dear readers, please add your own experiences in the comments.)

[A horse is not…]

Roshani Chokshi Prize Pack Sweepstakes!

Roshani Chokshi’s A Crown of Wishes is available March 28th from St. Martin’s Griffin–and we want to send you a galley copy of it, along with a copy of her first book, The Star-Touched Queen!

In A Crown of Wishes, Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes – a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels.

Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

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 10:30 AM Eastern Time (ET) on February 20th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on February 24th. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor:, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

Ten Authors on the ‘Hard’ vs. ‘Soft’ Science Fiction Debate

Please enjoy this encore from January 2016, in which ten authors discuss the broad categories of science fiction.

In the wake of big-screen success stories like The Martian and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, debates about whether one movie or another is scientific enough have been cropping up in various corners of the internet. Is a deeper, harder line being drawn in the sand about “hard” science fiction than usual? Or are we discovering that perhaps there’s a whole lot more sand available with regards to how imaginative and future-looking fiction can develop, and even entertaining the possibility that these developments could become blueprints for future-fact?

I asked ten science fiction authors about their definitions of “hard” and “soft” science fiction, and how they see science fiction (hard, soft, and otherwise) in today’s terms. They returned with ten fascinating—and not surprisingly, entirely different—answers.

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