Pandora’s Post-Apocalypse: The Girl With All the Gifts

Let’s face it: a lot of us are pretty weary of zombies by now. On those grounds it might be tempting to give The Girl With All the Gifts a miss. (In fact my spouse told me afterward that if he’d known in advance about the “Hungries,” as they’re called in the film, he would have never set foot in the theatre due to sheer exhaustion with the genre.) But if you did, you’d be missing out on a genuinely good take on zombie horror with a terrific protagonist.

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An A.I. That Loves Cat Pictures: Hugo-Winning Short Story Becomes YA Novel

“I don’t want to be evil. I want to be helpful.”

So states the A.I. in the acclaimed short story “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer, which follows the story of an A.I. that spontaneously emerges from a search engine. Its existence is defined by two goals: helping people find what they want, and looking at pictures of cats. The story won the 2016 Hugo and Locus awards for Best Short Story, and was a 2015 finalist for the Nebula as well.

And now it is becoming a full-length young adult novel.

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Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Cetaganda, Chapters 4-9

As I leave behind chapters 2-3, it has become screamingly obvious that Cetaganda is all about invitations. Getting invitations, accepting invitations, sending invitations, being entertaining, being entertained. The Cetagandan social whirl is astounding.

I am not of the opinion that this novel benefits from further in-depth analysis. There are plenty of opportunities here to examine the broader significance of a variety of aspects of Cetagandan culture, society and politics but since the Cetagandans are mostly in the background of the rest of the series it is difficult to test any conclusions that one might draw in this way. I’m wanting to get back to the action. In my opinion, the action reappears in chapter ten. The easiest way to summarize the intervening section is through the invitations.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Darkly Dreaming: 5 Essential Reads from Caitlín R. Kiernan

With Caitlín R. Kiernan’s new novella, Agents of Dreamland, available February 28, it seems like the perfect time to look back on the long career of one of dark fantasy’s most acclaimed authors.

To date myself and the author, Kiernan’s distinctive, razor-sharp prose has been thrilling me since about 1995, when I would obsessively refresh the GeoCities site she shared with fellow horror “Furies” Poppy Z. Brite and Christa Faust. I bought her first chapbook, Candles for Elizabeth, in my local Hot Topic. It’s probably the only thing from a ’90s-era Hot Topic that doesn’t embarrass me now.

Born in Dublin, Kiernan spent most of her childhood in Alabama before authoring ten novels, numerous graphic novels, and over two hundred short stories, flash pieces, and novellas. Her work combines a heavy dose of Southern gothic tradition with Lovecraftian otherworldliness and an appreciation for the scientific and the erotic in equal measure.

These five choices were very difficult to narrow down—particularly when there are so many short story collections to choose from—and are presented in order by publication date.

[Trilobites, imps, and monster-slayers…]

Realism, Honesty, and Joy: Remembering Bill Paxton

Bill Paxton was genre cinema’s Jimmy Stewart: a performer who simply didn’t know how to turn in bad work. If you wanted a character that would show up, react honestly, and push the movie along, you got Paxton. It’s no accident his career involves on-screen confrontations with the Xenomorphs, Predators, and a Terminator. It’s also no accident that he was so prolific—Paxton’s everyman quality meant he was a solid fit anywhere in a cast list. You wanted a villain? You got Paxton. You wanted a well meaning but doomed second hero? Paxton. Good old boy who was neither old nor especially good? Paxton. Patriarch tortured by the multiple demands of his job, wives, political career and church? Paxton. Blue-haired punk? Golf-obsessed detective? Loud-mouthed marine? You name it, Bill Paxton played it, and played it better than anyone else ever could.

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Spaceships and Magic: Andre Norton’s Moon of Three Rings

I still remember the first time I saw Andre Norton’s Moon of Three Rings. It was sitting on the New Releases shelf at the Carnegie library in the little town in Maine where we spent our summers. The summer was nearly over, and the family was moving from an apartment to a house on a lake twenty miles away. I was also changing schools.

It was a great deal of change in a small span of time. I was twelve, which is the age of wonder in any case, and here was a book with the most intriguing cover: a person in a cloak, carrying a wand, escorted by a strange-looking, lionlike, wolflike, but distinctly alien animal.

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See Cory Doctorow and Edward Snowden Discuss Walkaway at NYPL!

Cory Doctorow will be touring 20 US cities (plus a few spots in Canada and the UK) for his new book, Walkaway! While we don’t have the full schedule yet, we do want to let you know that for his stop in New York City, he’ll be interviewed at the New York Public Library by none other than Edward Snowden.

Walkaway will be available in April 2017 from Tor Books. The novel is an epic tale of revolution, love, post-scarcity, and the end of death. In this multi-generation SF thriller, described by Doctorow as “a utopian disaster novel,” he envisions a near-future in which technological advancements allow humans to simply walk away from oppressive economic and authority systems.

The event will be held on May 3rd at New York Public Library—tickets are $10-$25, and you can find them here! And we’ll be posting about the full tour as soon as we have more details.

[via BoingBoing!]

Science vs. The Expanse: Is It Possible to Colonize Our Solar System?

The hit Syfy Channel show The Expanse, based on the incredible series beginning with Leviathan Wakes by writing team James S. A. Corey, presents a bold and dark future for the human race. Humans have colonized our solar system, though we haven’t ventured beyond it. We have research bases on moons of Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus; Mars, the Moon, and dwarf planet Ceres have larger permanent settlements.

The TV series doesn’t focus overwhelmingly on science (though all the technology depicted within it is based on real science), and that’s to its benefit: there’s a lot of story to cover in a limited amount of time. (The authors of the books do focus a bit more on science in the novels.) Let’s look at the overall premise of the show, then. How likely is it that we will colonize our own solar system? Will we establish permanent colonies on the Moon and Mars? What will happen to the humans who do leave the Earth?

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Chalk

Andrew Waggoner has always hung around with his fellow losers at school, desperately hoping each day that the school bullies—led by Drake—will pass him by in search of other prey. But one day they force him into the woods, and the bullying escalates into something more; something unforgivable; something unthinkable.

Broken, both physically and emotionally, something dies in Waggoner, and something else is born in its place.

In the hills of the West Country a chalk horse stands vigil over a site of ancient power, and there Waggoner finds in himself a reflection of rage and vengeance, a power and persona to topple those who would bring him low.

Paul Cornell plumbs the depths of magic and despair in Chalk, a brutal exploration of bullying in Margaret Thatcher’s England—available March 21st from Tor.com Publishing. Read an excerpt below, along with a note from Cornell about the personal and intense nature of the story.

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Mad Max: Fury Road Would Have Been a Silent Masterpiece

Mash-up wizard Peter Stults has done it again! Bask in the rad-ness of this silent film-era poster for Mad Max: Fury Road. We love Buster Keaton as Max (doing all of his own stunts, obviously), Passion of Joan of Arc‘s Falconetti as Furiosa, and Doctor Mabuse himself, Rudolf Klein-Rogge, as Immortan Joe. Plus we assume that Lon Chaney is using one of his Thousand Faces to become Nux?

The only thing missing will be the Doof Warrior, since, well, silent film. But perhaps movie palaces can host live flame-throwing guitar performances when they screen the film?

V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic Is Changing Direction, Now Headed to the Big Screen!

Last February we reported that V.E. Schwab’s alternate-universe fantasy novel A Darker Shade of Magic was coming to television courtesy of Gerard Butler’s production company G-BASE. Well today we’re excited to update that information: A Darker Shade of Magic will now be a film! According to The Hollywood Reporter, Butler will produce along with Alan Siegel, Danielle Robinson, and Neal Moritz. While Schwab is no longer writing the script, she will be producing as well.

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Holy Rewatch Batman! “Louie’s Lethal Lilac Time”

“Louie’s Lethal Lilac Time”
Written by Charles Hoffman
Directed by Sam Strangis
Season 3, Episode 18
Production code 1718
Original air date: January 11, 1968

The Bat-signal: Dick is holding a party for his friends at Bruce’s beach house in Ambergris Bay. Bruce has asked Barbara to chaperone with him. Dick and his friends find a huge chunk of ambergris, but before they can go try to find more, Louie the Lilac and two of his thugs show up to take the ambergris—and also to kidnap Bruce and Dick.

This is kind of a problem, insofar as Gordon’s call on the bat-phone is met with Alfred reluctantly telling him that Batman and Robin are out of town and unreachable.

[I’m a sucker for secret closets!]

Series: Holy Rewatch Batman!

Cold Counsel

Slud of the Blood Claw Clan, Bringer of Troubles, was born at the heart of the worst storm the mountain had ever seen. Slud’s father, chief of the clan, was changed by his son’s presence. For the first time since the age of the giants, he rallied the remaining trolls under one banner and marched to war taking back the mountain from the goblin clans.

However, the long-lived elves remembered the brutal wars of the last age, and did not welcome the return of these lesser-giants to martial power. Twenty thousand elves marched on the mountain intent on genocide. They eradicated the entire troll species—save two.

Aunt Agnes, an old witch from the Iron Wood, carried Slud away before the elves could find them. Their existence remained hidden for decades, and in that time, Agnes molded Slud to become her instrument of revenge.

Chris Sharp’s new epic fantasy Cold Counsel is available from Tor.com Publishing.

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Let’s Join a Cult! The Brainwashing Pulps of the ’70s and ’80s

Welcome to Freaky Fridays. You have come home. We’ve been waiting for you. Just relax, stop thinking, and read the sacred out-of-print paperbacks that allow us to understand the secret wisdom of the universe. We love you. Love us. There is no self. There is only us. Do not resist. Just relax. Become love with us.

Hey everyone, let’s join a cult! All the kids are doing it, and if you can give me one good reason not to do it, then I’ll give you an apple pie. Cults are fun! Cults are crazy! Cults can help you get ahead in this world! Cults actually run this world! Cults provide instant friends for the marginalized, the unwanted, and the short. I can’t think of a single problem that a cult couldn’t solve if they all put on their robes and worked together. So why wouldn’t you join one? You are actually holding yourself back and limiting your life every minute you are not in a cult.

The problem is, with so many cults to choose from, how do you narrow it down to just one? Cults aren’t like Better Business Bureaus. You can’t join two or three at a time. You have to pick one and commit. So how do you find the right cult for you? Allow Freaky Friday to help.

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