Can Fear the Walking Dead Be Saved?

It’s time we as an audience admit that Fear The Walking Dead is not good television. The show is 42 minutes of a wasted premise, unfulfilled potential, and idiotic decisions. It is all of The Walking Dead’s worst attributes magnified. All my worries about the long-term quality of Preacher stems from how quickly TWD capsized, how long it took to finally right that ship, how much of a struggle it’s been to keep it afloat, and how eager AMC was to repeat the same mistakes with the spinoff. Yes, the second season is stronger than the first, but that was an awfully low bar to hurdle. And I’m not the only one to notice the quality issues. The show is practically hemorrhaging viewers. Now, 4.8 million sets of eyeballs is still a great number for AMC (though it pales next to The Walking Dead’s 14.2 mil), but that’s also a loss of nearly half its viewership since the season 2 premiere.

With last night’s midseason finale, we’re at a good point to stop and survey. It’s easy enough to note where FTWD has gone horribly awry, but I’d rather look at how it can improve. The show doesn’t suck (although much of the fun has been sucked out of it for me at this point) but it has a long way to go before it comes anywhere close to being Must See TV.

[“These people are not our friends. Get it through your heads.”]

Dancer’s Lament: Chapter 3

At the heart of Quon Tali lies the powerful city-state of Li Heng, which has for centuries enjoyed relative stability under the guidance of the powerful sorceress known as the Protectress. She is not someone likely to tolerate the arrival of two particular young men into her domain: one determined to prove he is the most skilled assassin of his age, the other his quarry—a Dal Hon mage who is proving annoyingly difficult to kill. The sorceress and her cabal of five mage servants were enough to repel the Quon Tali Iron Legions, so how could two such troublemakers upset her iron-fisted rule?

And now, under a new and ambitious king, the forces of Itko Kan are marching on Li Heng from the south. His own assassins, the Nightblades, have been sent ahead into the city, and rumors abound that he has inhuman, nightmarish forces at his command. So as shadows and mistrust swirl, and monstrous beasts that people say appear from nowhere run rampage through Li Heng’s streets, it seems chaos is come—but in chaos, as a certain young Dal Hon mage would say, there is opportunity…

Ian C. Esslemont’s all-new prequel trilogy takes readers deeper into the politics and intrigue of the Malazan Empire from its very beginnings. Dancer’s Lament, the first book in the series, is available May 31st from Tor Books. Read chapter three below, or head back to the beginning with chapter one.

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To Write Your Own Deliverance: Roses and Rot by Kat Howard

When Imogen was a little girl, she told her sister Marin fairy tales. Once upon a time, she’d tell her, there was a way out—a way out of their house, out of their lives, and out of the oppressive clutches of their abusive mother—on the backs of fairies. As an adult, of course, Imogen knows that half her way out had been in the telling of the tales; and so she continues to tell them, as a writer still grappling with the terrors of her childhood. Reunited with her sister at an exclusive artists’ retreat, though, Imogen is forced to confront her past head-on. Fairy tales may be the solution yet again, but this time, it’s not Imogen alone that will shape the story, and her happy ending may be just out of grasp.

Kat Howard’s debut novel, Roses and Rot is as dark and engrossing as its title suggests, a contemporary fairy tale for artists, survivors, and anyone that has ever sought escape in a story. At Melete, mysterious and prestigious artists’ retreat, Imogen and Marin face a challenge that is familiar to many of us: creating a work of art that will prove to them that their struggles have been worth it. Despite the breathless beauty and small comforts at every corner of the sprawling, idyllic campus, Imogen struggles to live up to the expectations of Melete, feeling as though she’s watched at every moment by judging eyes. It is, as I said, a familiar scenario for the creative audience: imposter syndrome, fear, and pride war in Imogen and her cohort. The friendships they create, though, and the rekindled bond between Imogen and Marin, carry them through. Until, of course, they’re set against one another.

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How Long Can You Survive on Each Planet?

This sounds like the greatest reality show of all time! Unfortunately, “How Long Can You Survive on Each Planet” is actually a helpful reminder, via Neil deGrasse Tyson, that there’s no place like Earth. (Or at least if there is, we haven’t discovered it yet.)  Thrill as the astrophysicist explains just how quickly you’d die on each non-Earth planet in our solar system! Become slightly nervous as he keeps using the word vaporize!

[Vaporize!]

Rereading Katherine Kurtz: High Deryni, Chapters 25-27

Welcome to the final weekly reread of High Deryni!

Last time, Arilan dismantled all of Wencit’s clever scheming, and a jinxed Derry opened the Transfer Portal, allowing shadowy kidnappers to nab poor Brendan. This week, the book, and the trilogy, come to a close. A magical battle begins and a wicked plot unravels, with a fair few twists along the way.

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Series: Rereading Katherine Kurtz

Pride’s Spell Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a galley copy of Pride’s Spell, the third installment in Matt Wallace’s Sin du Jour series, available June 21st from Tor.com Publishing!

The team at Sin du Jour—New York’s exclusive caterers-to-the-damned—find themselves up against their toughest challenge, yet when they’re lured out west to prepare a feast in the most forbidding place in America: Hollywood, where false gods rule supreme.

Meanwhile, back at home, Ritter is attacked at home by the strangest hit-squad the world has ever seen, and the team must pull out all the stops if they’re to prevent themselves from being offered up as the main course in a feast they normally provide

Starring: The Prince of Lies, Lena Tarr, Darren Vargas. With Byron Luck. Introducing: the Easter Bunny.

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 1:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on May 23rd. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on May 27th. 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.

Where Science Fiction Meets Punk Rock

In this ongoing series, we ask SF/F authors to describe a specialty in their lives that has nothing (or very little) to do with writing. Join us as we discover what draws authors to their various hobbies, how they fit into their daily lives, and how and they inform the author’s literary identity!

“Boot Stamping on a Human Face Forever.” To many people, no doubt, those seven words would most instantly relate to George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. But not to me: to me, they’re the title of the penultimate track of Bad Religion’s 2004 album The Empire Strikes First. Bad Religion, for those of you not in the know, are an LA-based punk band who’ve been going since 1980, i.e. for two more years than I’ve been alive (also: yes, I will persist in using plural pronouns for groups of people unified under a single name. I’m British; it’s what we do).

Let’s rewind. It’s 1995 and I’m on the 10th Ipswich Scouts summer camp, sheltering from the sun and (less effectively) from wasps in a tent pitched on Skreen’s Park in the Essex countryside. The air is hot and thick, and smells of warm canvas mixed with the faint, plasticky scent of the waterproof groundsheet. Jamie Dreher has a battery-powered stereo and two cassettes: Smash by The Offspring and Bleach by Nirvana. He gets to The Offspring’s “Self Esteem” and suddenly something in my head clicks. Up until now the bits and pieces of pop music I’ve heard has seemed vacuous and pointless. But “Self Esteem” isn’t pop. I can hear the lyrics, and the lyrics tell a story, and it’s a story that makes sense. It’s nothing I have personal experience of, because the song’s about lacking the guts to walk away from a girl who treats you awfully, and as a socially-awkward, spotty 13-year-old I don’t really have much clue about that (and that wouldn’t change for quite a while). But it is, at least theoretically, a song that has a point.

[Also, distorted guitars are cool.]

The Geek Feminist Revolution: Where Have All the Women Gone?

The Geek Feminist Revolution is a collection of essays by double Hugo Award-winning essayist and fantasy novelist Kameron Hurley—available May 31st from Tor Books!

Unapologetically outspoken, Hurley has contributed essays to The Atlantic, Locus, Tor.com, and others on the rise of women in genre, her passion for SF/F, and the diversification of publishing. The book collects dozens of Hurley’s essays on feminism, geek culture, and her experiences and insights as a genre writer, including “We Have Always Fought,” which won the 2013 Hugo for Best Related Work. The Geek Feminist Revolution will also feature several entirely new essays written specifically for this volume—including “Where Have All the Women Gone?” presented below.

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Preaching the Wicked Word: Preacher Series Premiere

“What the hell did I just watch?” That was the general consensus amongst the audience when I caught the screening for the Preacher pilot back at WonderCon this spring. Long-time fans like myself were thrown off by the myriad differences from the comics and newbies found themselves thrust into the middle of a story with no explanation or time to catch up. But despite all the chaos and confusion, the audience cheered the house down when the credits rolled.

I had no idea what the hell is going on, but I know I freaking loved it.

[“It was the time of the preacher…”]

“She Has Arrived”: Watch the Extended Trailer for Independence Day: Resurgence

As we saw in the most recent featurette for Independence Day: Resurgence, after winning back their independence in 1996, Earth took alien technology and used it to improve the military, colonize the Moon, and… not really prepare for the possibility of the aliens coming back. This complacency bites them in the ass in a big way when, twenty years later, the aliens return. More specifically, “she”—the mothership with her own gravity. And she’s getting her revenge by picking up our cities then smashing them down, skyscraper-point-first, into other cities.

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Rereading the Vorkosigan Series: Shards of Honor, Chapter 7

Last week, Cordelia and Aral ended their mutinies and went home This week, an unspecified but significant amount of time later, they’re at war. Once again, I have failed in my intention to review more than one chapter.

If you’d like to catch up on previous posts in the re-read, the index is here. At this time, the spoiler policy permits discussion of all books EXCEPT Gentlemen Jole and the Red Queen. Discussion of any and all revelations from or about that book should be whited out.

[Trigger warnings for threats, torture, and sexual violence]

Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

New Star Trek Beyond Trailer Does a Better Job of Exploration Than the Last One

Lots of Trek fans weren’t too happy with the last Star Trek Beyond trailer, leaving both director Justin Lin and Simon Pegg (who helped write the script this time around) to assure the masses that it wasn’t exactly a good representation of the film. But here’s a new trailer! And there’s more talking! And plot!

Chris Pine also has a more Shatner-esque hairdo, so, you know–all things are possible now.

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