Tor.com content by

Natalie Zutter

George R.R. Martin Teases “A Westeros Book” in 2018 That May or May Not Be The Winds of Winter

George R.R. Martin’s most recent blog post, concerning release dates for his various “fake histories” of Westeros, also included an update for The Winds of Winter, the highly anticipated sixth volume in A Song of Ice and Fire. Although he had said in January of this year that he thought the book could be out in 2017, now it looks as if late 2018 will be the earliest that readers might be able to obtain Winds—perhaps even later than that.

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“Kara Danvers Was a Mistake”: Watch the Supergirl Season 3 Trailer

“If the theme of season 2 was ‘can Kara and Supergirl have it all,'” new Supergirl showrunner Jessica Queller said at the San Diego Comic-Con panel, “then the theme of season 3 is ‘what does it mean to be human?’ All of the characters will be exploring that question, especially Kara.”

The tension between human and alien certainly seems to be coming to a head for Kara, who is heard intoning over the new trailer that “Kara Danvers was a mistake.”

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Arrival Screenwriter Eric Heisserer Adapting Another Ted Chiang Novella

Eric Heisserer, who adapted Ted Chiang’s Hugo-nominated and Nebula-winning novella “Story of Your Life” into the acclaimed film Arrival, is returning to source material he clearly has a knack for. His next project will be to adapt Liking What You See: A Documentary, about a futuristic technology that erases discrimination based on beauty, as a television series for AMC.

Heisserer tweeted the news during San Diego Comic-Con:

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Two Families Come Together in The Gifted SDCC Trailer

The first trailer for The Gifted, Fox’s forthcoming X-Men universe television drama, introduced the Strucker family: Kate (Amy Acker), Reed (Stephen Moyer)… and their children Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind) and Andy (Percy Hynes White), who all of a sudden are beginning to manifest mutant powers. Fox just shared an extended trailer at San Diego Comic-Con showing what happens when the Struckers have to go on the run, and when the only people they can turn to are fellow mutants.

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It’s Happily Never After in The 100 Season 5 Teaser

It’s only fair that I warn you that The 100 sizzle reel that Warner Bros. Television showed at San Diego Comic-Con shows very little of the upcoming fifth season, as it’s mostly a recap of the first four. However, how they go about it is interesting, as everything from Mount Weather to the City of Light is retold through the eyes of Madi, Clarke’s little protégé slash daughter, treating the post-apocalyptic series as a dark and twisted fairytale.

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Kushiel’s Dart is the Sex-Positive Fantasy We Need

There’s an amusing running joke in The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, Diana Wynne Jones’ faux-encyclopedia/travel guide to fantasy tropes: the entry for “BATH” warns travelers to “take care, however. Baths are the occasion for SEX with one of more of your FELLOW TRAVELERS. No matter how irritating you have found her/him up to then, after or during the Bath you will find her/him irresistible. It is probably something in the WATER.” Later entries for SEX and VIRGIN include a note to “see also BATH.” Travel through the fantasy genre itself, and you’ll find that often sex has been reduced to little more than a tired, predictable cliché, usually at the expense of the fairer sex. Female characters are routinely raped in the name of “character development.” Or femme fatales use their wiles to manipulate men. That’s assuming readers even get the female perspective; as with the erotically charged “bath”, sex in fantasy may serve as little more than a foregone conclusion for the male hero’s relationship arc, at which point the action “fades to black” and whatever happens after seems to be of no import.

Then there’s Jacqueline Carey’s epic fantasy Kushiel’s Dart, which is about sex from the cover: a topless woman artfully concealing her nakedness while showing off the inked marque that represents her indentured servitude and her service to the goddess of pleasure. It’s about sex from page 1, in which Phèdre nó Delaunay, “a whore’s unwanted get,” is sold into bondage in the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers, facing a similar, if tedious, future as just another warm body in a brothel. It’s still about sex 700 pages later, when Phèdre, now a famous courtesan, channels the goddess Naamah by offering up her body to foreign rulers to avert war. But Kushiel’s Dart rises above other entries in the genre by first demystifying sex and then tapping into the nuances of the act and how it affects the characters’ every other action: celebrations, murders, alliances, battles, and victories.

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Everything You Need to Know About Kushiel’s Dart

Jacqueline Carey’s epic fantasy trilogy Kushiel’s Legacy is lush in every way, unfolding over a dreamy country populated by the descendants of angels possessed of otherworldly beauty, where all forms of love are considered sacred. Through the eyes of gods-marked courtesan-spy Phèdre nó Delaunay, readers experience every corner of the fantasy land Terre d’Ange, from the bedchambers of nobles to the sumptuous brothels of the Night Court, and the courtly intrigues taking place therein.

The best way to enjoy this story is to simply sink into it and let the narrative play out. But Kushiel’s Dart, the first volume detailing Phèdre’s coming of age, is over 900 pages. And between the intricate worldbuilding, complicated game of thrones, and blush-inducing sex scenes, there is a lot to take in. So, we’ve assembled a who’s-who and what’s-what of Terre d’Ange: how it was founded, its central tenets, and the major players on both sides of the proverbial chessboard.

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The Handmaid’s Tale Gains New Voices in the Season Finale

What’s fascinating about The Handmaid’s Tale finale is that, after a season of building out Margaret Atwood’s dystopian world, it ends in the same place as the book. Though true to the series’ penchant for expanding the novel, it took the final two chapters of Offred’s story basically verbatim but then split them into bookends. Or, to take a metaphor from the episode, the first and final scenes were like the wrapping and string on Mayday’s package. Cut them apart, and the entire episode comes spilling out in little, radical, heartbreaking, inspiring moments.

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The Handmaid’s Tale is Reclaiming the Power of “Bitch”

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum, the faux-Latin rallying cry in Margaret Atwood’s novel, gets a whole episode devoted to it in the TV series. But at the end of that episode, after learning that “don’t let the bastards grind you down” was nothing more than a schoolboy joke to the Commander, Offred silently rallies her fellow Handmaids with an appended version: “Nolite te bastardes carborondorum, bitches.” It’s a jarring line that, when I first heard it, took me entirely out of the emotional payoff of that episode. It felt too glib, too smug, too oddly anachronistic for a dystopian story; Vox called it “a rare false note.” It seemed as much of a misstep as the use of the peppy song (Penguin Cafe Orchestra’s “Perpetuum Mobile”) that backed it over the credits.

That was episode 4. The next time “bitch” is used at a key dramatic moment comes near the end of the season, when Moira shakes off her defeat to procure a dangerous package for Offred. This puzzle piece of Mayday’s larger plan comes with a note that signifies Moira’s return to the resistance: Praised be, bitch. Here’s your damn package. And suddenly, it all clicked.

No spoilers for The Handmaid’s Tale season finale.

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The Theme of Orphan Black’s Final Season is Protest

For the past four seasons of Orphan Black, the Clone Club has encountered Neolution in all of its mutations and side evolutions: the ominous Dyad Institute monitoring Project Leda, the religious Proletheans battling what they saw as the sins of science, and everything from the body-modification Neolution club to the creepy eugenics of the BrightBorn fertility clinics. But now, the premiere of the fifth and final season purports to cut all of that away to get to the true heart of Neolution: Revival, a secretive and highly controlled remote community devoted to improving the human species—beginning with prolonging the lifespan. But is this the answer to all of the Clone Club’s questions from the last five years, or just another detour on a season being billed as The Final Trip?

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