Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: “This Side of Paradise”

“This Side of Paradise”
Written by Nathan Butler and D.C. Fontana
Directed by Ralph Senensky
Season 1, Episode 25
Production episode 6149-25
Original air date: March 2, 1967
Stardate: 3417.3

Captain’s log. The Enterprise arrives at the colony on Omicron Ceti III. The planet is bathed in Berthold rays, a form of radiation that is new to the Federation, so they don’t know its full effects, but extended exposure disintegrates living tissue. It is unlikely that there are any survivors of the colony—led by Elias Sandoval—a likelihood that is increased by the complete lack of response to Uhura’s hails.

However, Kirk beams down a landing party—Spock assures him that limited exposure is safe—including himself, Spock, McCoy, Sulu, DeSalle, and Kelowitz. The settlement is intact, but there’s no sign of any habitation. Kirk waxes rhapsodic on the tragedy of these people travelling all this way, including a year in space to reach the planet, only to die.

And then three people from the colony, including Sandoval, show up alive and well, and doesn’t Kirk feel foolish? Sandoval thinks they came because their subspace radio is on the fritz.

[What can you expect from a simpering, devil-eared freak?]

Series: Star Trek: The Original Series Rewatch

The Fifth Dragon is pleased to present Ian McDonald’s “The Fifth Dragon” to celebrate the forthcoming September publication of Luna: New Moon. “The Fifth Dragon” was originally published in Reach For Infinity, a 2014 anthology from Solaris Books, edited by Jonathan Strahan, of stories about humanity taking its first steps off of Earth.

From Niall Alexander’s review of Reach For Infinity: “The Fifth Dragon” is about a pair of new moon workers, Achi and Adriana, who find comfort in this alien place in one another’s company, only to learn that their time together is strictly limited. ‘The Fifth Dragon’ flies back and forth between their first days as a pair and their final moments as friends, underscoring that the end of everything is inevitable.

[Read “The Fifth Dragon” by Ian McDonald]

Literary Sword-and-Sorcery: The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson

Kai Ashante Wilson’s The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps is, if you haven’t been paying attention, the very first novella to emerge from Publishing. As to be expected from the author of “The Devil in America,” it’s complex, powerfully written piece of work, with an ending whose ambiguity only adds to its curious impact.

I say novella—but let’s be honest, the ARC I have clocks in at 208 pages. We’re really talking something closer to a short novel. And Kai Ashante Wilson has packed those pages with the worldbuilding of a much longer work. The world of The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps feels big. It feels deep. It feels like we’ve barely scratched the surface: There’s as much depth of field here as there is in many trilogies, for all that the narration stays tightly focused on one character.

[Read more]

Sorcerer to the Crown

The fate of English magic lies in their hands…

In Regency London, Zacharias Wythe is England’s first African Sorcerer Royal. He leads the eminent Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, but a malicious faction seeks to remove him by fair means or foul. Meanwhile, the Society is failing its vital duty—to keep stable the levels of magic within His Majesty’s lands. The Fairy Court is blocking its supply, straining England’s dangerously declining magical stores. And now the government is demanding to use this scarce resource in its war with France.

Ambitious orphan Prunella Gentleman is desperate to escape the school where she’s drudged all her life, and a visit by the beleaguered Sorcerer Royal seems the perfect opportunity. For Prunella has just stumbled upon English magic’s greatest discovery in centuries—and she intends to make the most of it.

At his wits’ end, the last thing Zachariah needs is a female magical prodigy! But together, they might just change the nature of sorcery, in Britain and beyond.

The first installment in the Sorcerer Royal series, Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown is available September 1 from Ace Books (US) and September 10 from Pan Macmillan (UK).

[Read an excerpt!]

The Wheel of Time Reread Redux: The Great Hunt, Part 15

Intrigue! Deception! Suspicious feats of juggling! This Wheel of Time Reread Redux has got it all!

Today’s Redux post will cover Chapters 25 and 26 of The Great Hunt, originally reread in this post.

All original posts are listed in The Wheel of Time Reread Index here, and all Redux posts will also be archived there as well. (The Wheel of Time Master Index, as always, is here, which has links to news, reviews, interviews, and all manner of information about the Wheel of Time in general on

The Wheel of Time Reread is also available as an e-book series! Yay!

All Reread Redux posts will contain spoilers for the entire Wheel of Time series, so if you haven’t read, read at your own risk.

And now, the post!

[“Is there anyone at this court who isn’t my enemy?” “Not if I can help it.”]

Series: The Wheel of Time Reread

The Complete Wheel of Time is $44.99 For This Weekend Only!

For this forthcoming Labor Day weekend—and only this weekend—Tor Books is making the complete Wheel of Time series available in ebook for only $44.99!

The Wheel of Time Companion is only two months away from release and is, in the words of Wheel of Time series editor, “an alphabetized adjunct that will allow the reader to check on characters, locations, herbs, kinship structures and many other things that appear in the series.” It’s an ideal volume to electronically pore through for specific terms, and interested readers would naturally want to pair it with the ebook version of the series itself in order to be able to full cross-reference the available information.

Aside from that, The Complete Wheel of Time ebook is also a great way to introduce a friend to the completed series! The Complete Wheel of Time includes all fourteen volumes of the main series, as well as the prequel novel New Spring.

[More details]

The Year of the Goat is a Lot Worse than Mercury Retrograde: “The Tree on the Hill”

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s original stories. Today we’re looking at “The Tree on the Hill,” a collaboration between Lovecraft and Duane W. Rimel written in 1934, and first published in Polaris in 1940. You can read it here.

Spoilers ahead.

[“Surely you don’t think that the world is a rule for measuring the universe.”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

Change the Language, Change the World

A Note from Liz Bourke: I’ve asked Fran to write this week’s Sleeps With Monsters column because I really like her novel Updraft. Let her tell you something about how she went about writing it.

“… in daily speech, where we don’t stop to consider every word, we all use phrases like ‘the ordinary world,’ ‘ordinary life,’ ‘the ordinary course of events’ … But in the language of poetry, where every word is weighed, nothing is usual or normal. Not a single stone and not a single cloud above it. Not a single day and not a single night after it. And above all, not a single existence, not anyone’s existence in this world.”

Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska, in her 1996 Nobel Prize speech about the work of poets, concluded the above paragraph this way: “It looks like poets will always have their work cut out for them.”

All writers do this work in some fashion, even if poets get to use the prettiest knives. Part of the work is a constant re-honing of language; making us think about its power, and the uniqueness of everything we use language to describe, lest its opposite deaden our response to the world around us.

[Read more]

Strange Antecedents: A Personal Appreciation of Margo Lanagan’s Novels

This is the story how one of my favorite novelists, Margo Lanagan, first came to my attention. Lanagan is a “writer’s writer,” which means the many excellences of her work have a great deal to teach the rest of us writers. I’ll talk some about that too, how new fiction comes to be assembled from the building blocks of prior works.

Sometime in 2010, I became aware of the controversies raging in a corner of the science fiction/fantasy bibliosphere I knew nothing about: young adult literature. “YA is wretched, poor stuff, and the young people reading it will be ruined for good books!” “No! YA is the long-awaited return of joy, action and clarity to fiction, and, indeed, the salvation of us all!” “Actually, it’s the adults who shouldn’t be reading YA. O shame, shame, shame!”

Wow, I thought: with the opinions all so extreme and contradictory, I’d better read some of this YA stuff like pronto, and see for myself! So I bought three YA fantasy titles that were getting a lot of buzz around then, and began reading.

[The verdict?]

Series: That Was Awesome! Writers on Writing

Your Kids Can Get to Know Their Universe with Science Comics!

First Second Books is launching a new series of SCIENCE! COMICS! designed to introduce parents, kids, and everyone in between and around to the tremendous discoveries humanity has made in the past few centuries.

The first graphic novel in the series, Science Comics Dinosaurs, debuts next spring and you can get a first look at it right here. Who knew something as boring as digging a canal could unveil an entire lost world?

[Read more]

Against a Brightening Sky! Sweepstakes

Against a Brightening Sky by Jaime Lee Moyer comes out from Tor Books on October 6th, and we want to send you a galley now!

By 1919 the Great War has ended, peace talks are under way in Paris, and the world has been forever changed. Delia Martin, apprentice practitioner of magical arts, and her husband, Police Captain Gabriel Ryan, face the greatest challenge of their lives when fragments from the war descend on San Francisco.

Check for the rules below!
[Read more]

Throw These Post-Apocalyptic Titles in Your Go Bag!

September is Preparedness Month, and what better way to celebrate than with a roundup of post-apocalyptic fiction? After all, if you’re prepared for that, you can handle pretty much anything. From literary looks at post-plague North America to ominously rumbly supervolcanoes to dystopian fantasy realms in need of a prophesied hero, we’ve covered every disaster and catastrophe we could think of, and ended up with some great titles for you to throw into your backpack/duffel bag/shopping cart before you head out onto the road (or, as the case may be, The Road). But, since we’ve probably missed at least a few, be sure to add your own favorites in the comments!

All of these titles can be found in the Tor Store on iBooks!

[Read more]

Telling Time with Tesla!

This Tesla watch allows you to be on time for appointments while simultaneously honoring one of the greatest scientific minds in all of history! ThinkGeek has allowed itself to be the commercial conduit for this steampunk wonder, which lights up and everything!

Morning Roundup brings you tributes to Oliver Sacks, Wes Craven, and Velvet Goldmine, plus N.K. Jemisin and Ursula K. Le Guin share wisdom, and we look at the true heroism of parenting!

[Plus, a very shy octopus.]

A Post-Mortem for Hannibal, the Greatest Television Show of All Time

I’m not going to try to give you a Hannibal finale recap. First of all, there’s nothing I could say that wouldn’t be a spoiler. But more importantly, the finale was such a perfect consummation of three years of storytelling, and such a jewel of thematic elements playing out through characters’ decisions, that I think the time is better spent A) telling all of you out there who haven’t watched the show why you should have been watching it, and B) imploring you to go catch up on it all now. Because it isn’t necessarily over, and if enough of us pour out our love through Hulu binges and Blu-ray sales, we might still get a movie or follow-up miniseries. Also, Bryan Fuller’s next project is American Gods, and if anyone cancels it before it comes to its full, Fuller-approved fruition, I may have to quit media entirely. And I need to pay rent, people.

[So trust me when I tell you that this finale was on the Breaking Bad end of the spectrum, not the Dexter, and we’ll move on from there.]

Sorcerer to the Crown Sweepstakes!

Zen Cho’s debut novel, Sorcerer to the Crown, comes out from Ace Books in the U.S. tomorrow, and we want to send you a copy now! (The U.K. edition releases September 10th from Pan Macmillan.)

The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, one of the most respected organizations throughout all of England, has long been tasked with maintaining magic within His Majesty’s lands. But lately, the once proper institute has fallen into disgrace, naming an altogether unsuitable gentleman—a freed slave who doesn’t even have a familiar—as their Sorcerer Royal, and allowing England’s once profuse stores of magic to slowly bleed dry. At least they haven’t stooped so low as to allow women to practice what is obviously a man’s profession…

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers and eminently proficient magician, ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up. But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…

Comment in the post to enter!

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Cross of Confusion: A Cold Silence by Alison Littlewood

Hard to believe it’s only been three years since A Cold Season launched Alison Littlewood into modern horror’s hallowed halls, given the indelible impression she’s made to date. Her debut, selected as it was for the Richard and Judy Book Club, was widely-read and basically beloved; the British Fantasy Society deemed Path of Needles one of the best novels of the year of its release; and The Unquiet House was shortlisted for a Shirley Jackson, which award Littlewood just won for her contribution to the inaugural Spectral Book of Horror Stories.

Long story short, this lady’s going places. But first, because her fans demanded it, I gather, A Cold Silence ushers us back to Darnshaw—in the company of the central characters who visited that village of vacuum black and icy white in A Cold Season, even—for a deal with the devil that did next to nothing for me, I’m afraid.

[Read more]

Catch a Rising Wind with Fran Wilde’s Updraft

Kirit and her best friend Nat are on the verge of an important rite of passage, their world’s equivalent of taking a run at the driving exam. If they pass the test, they will be allowed to fly alone, on wings made of bone and leather, between the bone towers of their city. Failure means having to be accompanied by a responsible adult. It is the gateway to an independent future. Kirit hopes to apprentice as a trader to her mother, Ezarit, whom she idolizes. She envisions a future of travelling from tower to tower, mother and daughter, doing deals together and delivering vital goods.

The world of Fran Wilde’s new novel Updraft is a complex aerialist’s paradise, albeit a paradise besieged by monsters called skymouths. It is a single city, one subject to arbitrary-seeming laws, and its towers are living bone structures that grow ever higher. The hollow chambers within these spires shelter the citizens, but over time they grow cramped, closing on the lower levels, forcing the population into a perpetual scramble for altitude. Who you are, what you do, and where you’re located within your home tower are matters rigidly controlled by the Laws everyone is taught to sing in school.

As for people who defy this established societal order, they are given citations—tickets, if you will—that literally weigh them down.  The heavier a person’s crimes, the more likely that they will drag them out of the air and below the clouds, where certain death awaits.

[Read more]

These Superhero/Dragon Ball Z Mashups Are Over Nine Thousaaaand!

Anyone notice something a little different about Wolverine? Something about his face looks fiercer, or like he’s been fused into an even more powerful character… That’s exactly what French artist Pierre-Marie Lenoir did with his “Fusions” series, in which he combines iconic superheroes with equally unmistakable Dragon Ball Z characters. Check out more mashups—we’re fans of his Batman and Robin—at his website! (Hat-tip to Nerd Approved for finding these.)

Afternoon Roundup brings you the truth behind Bill Murray’s Ghostbusters cameo, some lesser-known dystopian adaptations, and the loveliest way to get around!

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Fear the Walking Dead, S1 E2: “So Close, Yet So Far”

The series premiere of Fear the Walking Dead last week smashed the record for best cable premiere ever, with more than 13 million people watching (albeit still shy of its parent property’s average viewership). With ratings like that, it’s safe to say we’re stuck with Fear whether we like it or not. And if last night’s episode is anything to go on, the ride won’t be so bad after all.

[“This doesn’t end.”]