Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: “Shore Leave”

“Shore Leave”
Written by Theodore Sturgeon
Directed by Robert Sparr
Season 1, Episode 17
Production episode 6149-17
Original air date: December 29, 1966
Stardate: 3025.3

Captain’s log. The Enterprise has been in space for three months. They arrive at a planet, and Sulu, McCoy, and a bunch of others take a landing party down to investigate it. Kirk is tired and needs sleep, something he’s been told by McCoy as well as Yeoman Tonia Barrows. (He complains of a kink in his back, and Barrows gives him a massage; Kirk thinks it’s Spock, but when the first officer moves to stand next to him and he’s still getting the backrub, Kirk quickly tells her to stop. This, children, is how slash fiction gets started.)

[My dear girl, I am a doctor. When I peek, it’s in the line of duty.]

Series: Star Trek: The Original Series Rewatch


A young Puritan woman travels to the New World with her unwanted new husband. Alan Turing, the renowned mathematician and code breaker, writes letters to his best friend’s mother. A Jewish refugee and professor of computer science struggles to reconnect with his increasingly detached wife. An isolated and traumatized young girl exchanges messages with an intelligent software program. A former Silicon Valley Wunderkind is imprisoned for creating illegal lifelike dolls.

Each of these characters is attempting to communicate across gaps—to estranged spouses, lost friends, future readers, or a computer program that may or may not understand them. In dazzling and electrifying prose, Louisa Hall explores how the chasm between computer and human—shrinking rapidly with today’s technological advances—echoes the gaps that exist between ordinary people. Though each speaks from a distinct place and moment in time, all five characters share the need to express themselves while simultaneously wondering if they will ever be heard, or understood.

In a narrative that spans geography and time, from the Atlantic Ocean in the seventeenth century, to a correctional institute in Texas in the near future, and told from the perspectives of five very different characters, Louisa Hall’s Speak considers what it means to be human, and what it means to be less than fully alive. Available now from Ecco Books!

[Read an excerpt]

Not the Kryptonian Bees!

We often daydream about what other wonders unfolded in the universe where Nicolas Cage played Superman. Soon we’ll get to see at least a few of them, because a group of Bizarro-World anthropologists are compiling a documentary about that lost timeline called The Death of Superman Lives, and it will be available on July 9th. Check out the preview footage over at Blastr!

Afternoon Roundup brings you news of the new robotic age, a great visualization of diversity issues in the movies, and sci-fi writing advice!

[Plus, Vincent Price meets Ant-Man!]

The Wheel of Time Reread Redux: The Great Hunt, Part 7

Reread Redux, Reread Redux, Reread Redux… the words have lost all meaning!

Today’s Redux post, nevertheless, will cover Chapters 9 and 10 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!

[It’s called “semantic satiation”, and it sounds way dirtier than anything you might do with a badger]

Series: The Wheel of Time Reread

Visit First Second at SDCC 2015!

First Second Books will be exhibiting at San Diego Comic-Con at Booth #1323! But that’s not all – they also have a great group of authors and comics professional appearing at panels on each day of SDCC, plus a day of informative programming scheduled for Saturday’s special “Kids Comics Publishers Library Day at San Diego Central Library”!

Be sure to stop by and say hello, and check out all of their programming below!

[So many panels!]

Bet You Didn’t Know You Could Get Into This Much Trouble Using Calculus: “The Dreams in the Witch House”

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 Dreams in the Witch House,” written in January and February 1932, and first published in the July 1933 issue of Weird Tales. You can read it here.

Spoilers ahead.

[ “He seemed to know what was coming—the monstrous burst of Walpurgis-rhythm”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

Sleeps With Monsters: Go Watch Sense8

I have just seen the first six episodes of Sense8. And I may be in love.

My constant refrain as I was watching it was how can this be so good? Because on the face of it this is a show I should’ve struggled to enjoy: it doesn’t have nearly as much murder and/or explosions as I normally enjoy in a television show. (Although it does have at least a little murder.) What it has, instead, is a long slow build of an interesting conspiracy, and characters worth the price of entry.

[Read more]

Series: Sleeps With Monsters

Send in the Clones! Thirteen Books About Genetic Duplicates

We love stories about clones because they can go in so many different directions. Are the clones the heroes, oppressed people just fighting for understanding? Or are they not-quite-human usurpers, looking to replace a human in their own life? Were they created to save humanity from an apocalyptic future? Or are they a doomed immortality scheme, teaching us mortals the folly of tampering in God’s domain? It should come as no surprise that sometimes these tales are all of the above…

We’ve rounded up thirteen of our favorite clone stories below, but be sure to add your own picks in the comments!

[Read more]

How Can We Use Mistborn’s Allomancy to Travel Faster Than Light?

In the fantasy world of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn book series, magic users known as Allomancers, Feruchemists, and Hemalurgists can bounce themselves back and forth between metals, store their own luck away for a rainy day, or (bloodily) steal these powers away from others. In the first Mistborn trilogy, the characters with these powers make war in a somewhat Victorian setting and not once does an Allomancer think “what if I propelled myself so far and so fast that I left this entire planet entirely and visited another star system?”

But we do. Because an Allomancer’s magical manipulation of a fundamental aspect of the universe may hold the key to connecting ALL of Brandon Sanderson’s books!

[Read more]

Awesome Dad Conquers Ms. Marvel Cosplay!

G. Willow Wilson shared this tale of the Comicdom’s Greatest Dad! When Captain Milkshake’s daughter wanted to attend the “superhero-themed birthday party for Thor Odinson” as Ms. Marvel, he naturally checked online to find the proper costume. Imagine his surprise when he discovered that while people were selling Sexy Batgirl and Sexy Red Robin as well as a pink (??!!) version of Spider-Girl, there were no Ms. Marvel outfits to be had! The story has the happy-ish ending that after searching multiple thrift shops he was able to create the costume you see here, but he makes the point: “…it’s great that we get to buy cool toys that allow us to shoot silly string webbing from our wrists, or smash things with over sized green fists, but maybe Ms. Marvel Embiggened Fists is what we need to see on the shelves as well as her angry green counterpart’s.”

Morning Roundup checks in with Hannibal‘s RavenStag, sympathizes with poor, battered Bruce Campbell, and disagrees with the relative importance of DeLoreans to phone booths!

[Read more]

A Sober and Verbose Reflection on Robert A. Heinlein

Today we commemorate Robert A. Heinlein, who was born on this day in 1907. He is a giant in the science fiction genre, but like most giants, his path to literary greatness was tangled and circuitous. His naval career ended in the 1920s when tuberculosis scarred his lungs. He attempted real estate and silver mining, ran for political office in California, and only began writing to make a mortgage payment. His first story, “Life-Line,” was published in the August 1939 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, after Heinlein realized that Astounding paid more than the prize money for the contest he had originally entered. This began a long relationship with Astounding’s editor, John W. Campbell, who published much of Heinlein’s work through the 1940s.

[Read more]

Series: On This Day

Fiction Affliction: July Releases in Fantasy

Thirty new fantasies launch in July, with political takeovers galore and an alarming resurgence of fairy tale characters. New releases including series additions from, among others, E.C. Blake (Masks of Aygrima); C.S. Pacat (Captive Prince); Anthony Ryan (Raven’s Shadow); Chris Willrich (Gaunt and Bone); Django Wexler (Shadow Campaigns); Max Gladstone (Craft Sequence), and Joe Abercrombie (Shattered Sea).

Fiction Affliction details releases in science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and “genre-benders.” Keep track of them all here. Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.

[Read about this month’s fantasy releases!]

Mo’s Turn: The Annihilation Score by Charles Stross

The Annihilation Score is the sixth installment of Charles Stross’s “Laundry Files” series. And, for a change of pace that I found delightful, the narrator this time around isn’t Bob Howard: this story is Mo’s, and it picks up exactly where The Rhesus Chart left off.

The gist of the problem is that due to the confluence that is the beginning of Case Nightmare Green, regular humans have started cropping up with talents that they perceive to be superpowers. Mo, as a representative of the Laundry, has to find some way of managing this suddenly very public appearance of the paranormal. She’s also dealing with the increasingly unpleasant task of being the holder of the Eric Zahn original violin she calls Lecter—one cause for the separation that means Bob is more or less entirely out of the picture in this book.

[A review.]

About a Girl

Eighteen-year-old Tally is absolutely sure of everything: her genius, the love of her adoptive family, the loyalty of her best friend, Shane, and her future career as a Nobel prize-winning astronomer. There’s no room in her tidy world for heartbreak or uncertainty—or the charismatic, troubled mother who abandoned her soon after she was born.

But when a sudden discovery upends her fiercely ordered world, Tally sets out on an unexpected quest to seek out the reclusive musician who may hold the key to her past—and instead finds Maddy, an enigmatic and beautiful girl who will unlock the door to her future. The deeper she falls in love with Maddy, the more Tally begins to realize that the universe is bigger—and more complicated—than she ever imagined. Can Tally face the truth about her family—and find her way home in time to save herself from its consequences?

About a Girl—available July 14th from St. Martin’s Press—is the powerful and entrancing conclusion to Sarah McCarry’s Metamorphoses trilogy.

[Read an excerpt]

We Will Witness You, Animal!

Artist Justin Ponsor gives us “Mad Max Mayhem” because, like all the best people, he sees Muppets everywhere. And while Animal is the best possible choice for Max, and Janice makes a stellar Furiosa, we are deeply, deeply happy that he spared us the sight of Fozzy Bear as Nux. So Shiny. So Wakka.

Afternoon Roundup brings sad news from the Black Panther production, highly spurious news from a comet, and bittersweet news from Terry Brooks!

[Read more]

You Should Know What The Fermi Paradox is Before Reading The Dark Forest

Time for some Real Talk: Cixin Liu’s Three-Body Problem trilogy has trouble presenting non-stereotypical characters but I CAN’T STOP READING IT and that’s because it takes all these great theories about physics and the universe and threads them together into a fantastically epic story that determines the course of all humanity. It’s like someone wrote fanfic based on I Fucking Love Science and it’s GREAT. And knowing just one thing ahead of time makes it that great.

(Mild spoilers for Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem ahead.)

[Read more]

Join John Scalzi on The End of All Things Tour!

Join Hugo-award winning author John Scalzi on his upcoming tour for The End of All Things—set in the Old Man’s War universe and the direct sequel to The Human Division. Humans expanded into space, only to find a universe populated with multiple alien species bent on their destruction. Thus was the Colonial Union formed, to help protect us from a hostile universe…

The End of All Things will be available in hardcover and compiled ebook on August 11, and is pleased to feature excerpts from all four novella-length episodes.

The tour begins this August, so check out the full schedule below and see if Scalzi’s coming to a town near you!

[Check out the dates below!]

By the Sword: The March

In last week’s blog post, Kerowyn committed to hauling herself and her mercenary company from Bolthaven (location unknown, but likely in or near Rethwellan), to Valdemar to fulfill Rethwellan’s promises, defend the realm from the evil sorcery of Ancar of Hardorn and his former nanny, answer the stirrings of Need, and possibly be reunited with her lover, the Herald Eldan.

It’s been a long time since Hulda appeared in the books, even though it’s only been a year or two since the characters on the page had to deal with her. When last we saw Hulda, she was all-but-humping Ancar’s leg while torturing Talia. The time before that, she was plotting evilly with parties unknown (but almost certainly Orthallen) to deprive Elspeth of the throne—she sort of graduated from a plot to ruin the life of an innocent child to a plan to arrange a marriage between that child and another kid who she had more successfully corrupted.

[All Roads Lead to Elspeth]

Series: The Valdemar Reread

Updraft Sweepstakes!

Fran Wilde’s debut novel Updraft, coming out September 1st, is so highly anticipated that even Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane from Game of Thrones did not want to give it up one of the coveted galleys of the book. Check out our excerpt, and then enter to win one an advance copy!

Welcome to a world of wind and bone, songs and silence, betrayal and courage.

Kirit Densira cannot wait to pass her wingtest and begin flying as a trader by her mother’s side, being in service to her beloved home tower and exploring the skies beyond. When Kirit inadvertently breaks Tower Law, the city’s secretive governing body, the Singers, demand that she become one of them instead. In an attempt to save her family from greater censure, Kirit must give up her dreams to throw herself into the dangerous training at the Spire, the tallest, most forbidding tower, deep at the heart of the City.

As she grows in knowledge and power, she starts to uncover the depths of Spire secrets. Kirit begins to doubt her world and its unassailable Laws, setting in motion a chain of events that will lead to a haunting choice, and may well change the city forever-if it isn’t destroyed outright.

Check for the rules below!

[Read more]