Ellie is on her way to visit her comatose mother when her sister sends her to repair physics. Each universe has skunkworks that generate the universe within it, making this multiverse a set of matryoshka dolls. The skunkworks that generate this universe have become faulty, and the physical constants suddenly…aren’t. In order to fix the skunkworks, to make physics self-consistent again, and to make the world work as it’s supposed to, Ellie will have to remember everything her mother has taught her.
Vera is a spy for the Barstadt Empire, a powerful country with a rigid class structure and a seedy underbelly. Her mission is to weed out the corruption that holds this society together, but for Vera it’s not political, it’s personal. And her next mission is anything but routine, as long as she’s not blinded by revenge and can see that in the shadows of Barstadt City, things are seldom what they seem.
Ever feel like you care too much? After a breakup, after the funeral…it feels like the way to win at life is to care the least. That’s not an option for Dominga, an EMT who cares too much, or her drinking buddy Nico, who just lost his poor cat. Life hurts. They drink. They talk: Nico’s tired of hurting people. He wants out. Not suicide, not that — he’d just hurt everyone who loves him. But what if he could erase his whole life? Undo the fact of his birth? Wouldn’t Dominga be having a better night, right now, if she didn’t have to take care of him? And when Dominga finds a way to do just that, when she is gifted or armed with a terrible cosmic mercy, she still cares enough to say: I am not letting him have this. I am not letting Nico go without a fight.
Let me begin with the obvious: The Martian is a great, tense, often terrifying tale of survival and ingenuity. It’s a celebration of the human desire to explore in the face of doom, and it makes me wish I was better at science. It’s also hilarious. While the book was considered a little too techie at times (NASA loves it, astronauts love it, and if you watch Andy Weir’s Author Talk at Google you’ll see that the nerds over there really really love it) the story has been turned into a film that is accessible and often fun, without sacrificing scientific accuracy.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has returned with a bang: Coulson is back, but his left hand is not, and his “right hand,” May, is taking her own sweet time getting back. Skye is back, but is now going by her birth name, Daisy. Mack and Hunter are back, being competent and cracking jokes. Bobbi is back, but working in the lab rather than as a field agent while she recovers from wounds. Fitz is back, but searching for clues to Simmons’ disappearance in the field rather than in the lab. And Simmons has been having more than a little trouble getting back. The team has immediately found themselves at odds with a new agency, as well as a shadowy monster, and a resurgent Hydra. Today, we recap the first two episodes of the season. And this post will start a thread to give everyone a chance to discuss future episodes as the season progresses.
Only Agents cleared to observe SPOILERS should proceed beyond this point!
The latest installment in Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere is out! It’s been landing at bookstores, doorsteps, mailboxes, and e-readers, and now we need to talk about it. Tor.com has most graciously given us a playground for Shadows of Self-related spoilers, questions, debates, and general fannish chaos, so let’s dive in! But first, if you’re looking for a non-spoiler review of the novel, head over here!
Waxillium, Wayne, Steris, and Marasi are all back in fine form, taking on crime and the social elite of Elendel in their own special ways. Humor, tension, back stories, character development, and a culture in transition—yup, it’s Sanderson, all right. Also, giraffes.
In a world where the Powers That Be have deemed any and all secrets illegal, Zeke Thomas must go against the flow he’s always followed when he inherits a sealed envelope containing information which could sink the system that’s kept humanity alive since the Collapse. Meanwhile, in the year 1843, Zeke’s time-removed relative, Zadock, has to leave his one true love languishing in her sickbed to deliver a highly sensitive letter to a legendary general embedded deep in the disputed territory of Texas.
An incredibly presented “illuminated novel” which, like last year’s S., blends form and function with history and mystery to realise a reading experience that amazes from the first page, Bats of the Republiccomes from the co-founder of a small press specialising in “strange and beautiful fiction and nonfiction” with a sideline in detail-oriented design, so the unusual shape Zachary Thomas Dodson’s debut takes shouldn’t be such a surprise.
We want to send you a copy of Stephen R. Donaldson’s The King’s Justice, available October 13th from G.P. Putnam’s Sons!
Two new, original novellas—Donaldson’s first publication since finishing the Thomas Covenant series—are a sure cause for celebration among his many fans.
In “The King’s Justice,” a stranger dressed in black arrives in the village of Settle’s Crossways, following the scent of a terrible crime. He even calls himself “Black,” though almost certainly that is not his name. The people of the village discover that they have a surprising urge to cooperate with this stranger, though the desire of inhabitants of quiet villages to cooperate with strangers is not common in their land, or most lands. But this gift will not save him as he discovers the nature of the evil concealed in Settle’s Crossways.
The “Augur’s Gambit” is a daring plan created by Mayhew Gordian, Hieronomer to the Queen of Indemnie, a plan to save his Queen and his country. Gordian is a reader of entrails. In the bodies of chickens, lambs, piglets, and one stillborn infant he sees the same message: the island nation of Indemnie is doomed. But even in the face of certain destruction a man may fight, and the Hieronomer is utterly loyal to his beautiful Queen—and to her only daughter. The “Augur’s Gambit” is his mad attempt to save a kingdom.
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 4:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on October 12th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on October 16th. 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.
Welcome to The Coode Street Podcast, an informal weekly discussion about science fiction and fantasy featuring award-winning critics and editors Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe. The Coode Street Podcast debuted in 2010 and has been nominated for the Hugo, British Science Fiction, and Aurealis awards.
This week Gary returns from the wilds of Virginia or Washington DC or somewhere or other on the US Eastern seaboard. We discuss his experience writing and performing a series of lectures on science fiction; the strengths and weaknesses of Ridley Scott’s The Martian; compiling Gary’s Library of America volumes, and whether or not we kid ourselves on whether a work really is canonical.
Strange Horizons needs your help to keep publishing speculative fiction, poetry, and commentary through 2016! Since the magazine’s launch in 2000, this non-profit organization has relied on donations to keep publishing new and established authors’ work, and to pay writers at a professional rate.
This year, Strange Horizons is looking to raise $18,000; they’ve currently surpassed $12,000, with a little over 7 days left for donations.
Welcome, readers of Shady Vale, to this week’s instalment in our reread of Terry Brooks’ classic epic fantasy, The Elfstones of Shannara. If you’re unfamiliar with Elfstones, Brooks, or this reread, be sure to check out the introductory post, in which we all become acquainted.
Last week, the King of the Silver River appeared to pull our heroes out of a fire, Wil and Amberle had a heart-to-heart, Artaq disappeared, and a love triangle found its third point.
This week, Wil outwits the Rovers thanks to a Demon attack, the Demon-wolves return (but so does Allanon), and Amberle faces the Elvish High Council.
If you liked listening to Marisa Calin on the audio edition of Paul Cornell’s Witches of Lychford, then you’ll love her take on Angela Slatter’s Of Sorrow and Such! Calin’s lilting narration lends itself nicely to Mistress Gideon and the other witches and shapeshifters of Edda’s Meadow—with just the right amount of edge when the trouble with the locals places supernatural beings in grave danger.
In the best fantasy novels, settings are characters too. These created worlds are as rich and alive as the characters that inhabit their colorful landscapes. Of course characters — strong and fascinating ones — are integral to a compelling plot. But a great setting adds layers of dynamism and complexity to characters’ struggles. It’s Middle-earth and Westeros, Oz and Earthsea, Pern and Amber, and all the other fantastic worlds we love to inhabit which mold and shape the characters moving inside them into something greater.
The most memorable fantasy worlds feel as if they are real places that we’ve visited. In fact, we have visited them, in our minds. This is why we build interactive maps of Kings Landing, why we feel the hot ashen winds of Mordor on our cheeks, and why we can still taste the Mad Hatter’s tea on our lips.
It’s all getting intense! Mara pulls off the con of the century, magicians battle against magicians in a battle worthy of Star Wars special effects, and everyone’s wearing a cute frock except Arakasi. [Chapter 31: Kentosani]
What happens when the Doctor goes back in time to solve mysteries in the future? “Before the Flood” delivers on the mysteries of “Under the Lake” with a fascinating episode that takes place in our past, and a good century-and-a-half later.
We’ve seen several cool trailers taking us on a dizzying tour through the world of MTV’s adaptation of The Chronicles of Shannara. But with the series premiering on January 5, 2016, it’s about time that viewers actually discover what it’s about. To wit, the network released the first full-length trailer for New York Comic-Con 2015, introducing us to the dynamic trio of Amberle, Wil, and Eretria.
I wasn’t too thrilled with the Alexandria storyline last season, but after the mess of dangling plotlines and cipher personalities rife in Fear The Walking Dead, The Walking Dead shines quite a bit brighter. “First Time Again” opens not long after the deaths of Pete (the abusive surgeon) and Reg (the beloved First Husband who designed the wall). Rather than take its usual pace of arduous place setting, TWD launches straight into one of the biggest episodes it’s ever done. Surprisingly enough, they more or less pulled it off. And once again the show proves it’s aces at premieres and finales.
While Syfy showed off many of its science fiction offerings (including The Expanse and Hunters) at New York Comic-Con this weekend, it also represented for its fantasy side: The network released a new trailer for its adaptation of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians!
Anyone want to design a puzzle for an octopus? Ursula, a 2-year-old octopus resident of Living Coasts Aquarium in Torquay, England, has already gone through all of her puzzles and toys and is getting bored with them. So her keepers have put out a call for any cephalopod-loving game designers to come up with puzzles for her. Click below to see a video of Ursula in action!
I often complain about how rare it is to have a book, TV show, or film be driven by relationships between women. Stories seem to me to be primarily driven by relationships between men or between men and women. Often there’s only one woman in the story in the first place, or, if there’s more than one, they never meet. When relationships between women are seen, they are often framed in the context of each woman’s relationship to a man who knows them both (for instance, a wife and her mother-in-law); or the women are portrayed competitors.
In the world of fantasy and science fiction, we expect our protagonists to be men and women of action; people who make hard and risky choices with potentially dire consequences. And while we love heroic characters that can accomplish great feats of strength and agility, sometimes the best characters are ordinary people who find a way to overcome extraordinary circumstances. But if these characters become too ordinary—too inactive, flawed or encumbered by their plight—there is also a potential for us as readers to resent them for being so damn ordinary. Alas, I give you Frodo Baggins. Simply put, things happen to Frodo; Frodo doesn’t make things happen. He needs significant assistance or an outright bailout in virtually every situation. This, coupled with his increasingly whiny temperament, serves to remind us about how ordinary he truly is.
The cosplay enthusiasts of @BlackGirlNerds shared this photo of a fabulous Garnet cosplay at New York Comic-Con! Garnet is probably the coolest of the Crystal Gems, who always save the day on Steven Universe, but she’s never been cooler than she is in this picture. Check out the BGN Twitter feed for more cosplay from NYCC 2015!
This year’s Marvel panel at NYCC 2015 was an odd beast. As everyone on stage excitedly talked about their Netflix original shows delving into darker and grittier territories than the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they also talked about how much they all loved each other, and, indeed, it often felt like a Thanksgiving family reunion. If your weird cousin who you only see once a year was The Punisher. Jeph Loeb moderated two panels, one for the Daredevil cast and crew, and one for Jessica Jones. He also showed us an all-too-brief clip from Daredevil Season 2….and the first episode of Jessica Jones. Since he explicitly asked us not to spoil anything, and since I fear Marvel’s wrath like I fear nothing else, I will say only two things, below the cut.
Kumail Nanjiani, Chris Carter, Dvid Duchovny, and Mitch Pileggi, with a few thousand of their biggest fans, at NYCC 2015, from Nanjiani's Twitter feed.
They asked us not to record or spoil anything, so I won’t tell you anything about the episode except: A.) It’s really good. B.) I think fans of The X-Files will dig it. It’s also a genuinely surreal experience to watch an episode of the most paranoid show in history while black-suited security guys stalk through the halls looking for pirates. What I can talk about is the fun and emotional panel that followed the screening – click through for highlights!
Angela Slatter’s short fiction has been described as being filled with “beautiful magic, restless passion, and exquisite horror,” exploring the interplay of love, loss, and life. Whether you’ve never read her work or you’ve been a loyal reader for years, we want to send you a prize pack with three books collecting her interconnected worlds.
Tartarus Press’ Sourdough and Other Stories introduced readers to ghosts who dream, wishes that are immediately regretted, and men whose wings have been clipped. Its follow-up, The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, delved further into that same world, bringing forth poison girls trained in assassination, plague maidens stealing children, and disappearing pirates. And in her Tor.com Publishing novella, Of Sorrow and Such(available October 13th), Slatter bridges the events of her stories “Gallowberries” and “Sister, Sister” with her tale of a witch struggling to protect her sisters.
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 3:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on October 10th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on October 14th. 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.