In the Shadows of Space: Sylvain Neuvel’s A History of What Comes Next

What makes for a good shadow history? There’s a fine line between this and an alternate history, after all—in the latter, historical events themselves are altered, while in the former, the events take place as-is but the motivations behind them are different. A History of What Comes Next is Sylvain Neuvel’s own take on the sub-genre; that its subtitle is “A Take Them to the Stars Novel” suggests that more are on their way. Based on this introduction to the premise and setting, Neuvel is off to a good start, with a compelling setup during a fascinating moment in history—and plenty of questions to answer along the way.

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Arkady Martine Examines the Costs of Empire in A Desolation Called Peace

In Arkady Martine’s Hugo Award-winning debut novel, A Memory Called Empire, ambassador Mahit Dzmare investigated the mystery of her missing predecessor, becoming embroiled in several national conflicts within the Teixcalaan empire.

As the sequel A Desolation Called Peace begins, Mahit doesn’t know if she’s made the right choices…

[Spoilers follow for A Memory Called Empire]

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Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Bliss”

Written by Bill Prady and Robert J. Doherty
Directed by Cliff Bole
Season 5, Episode 14
Production episode 209
Original air date: February 10, 1999
Stardate: 52542.3

Captain’s log. A small one-person ship, commanded by an alien named Qatai, flies straight into a maelstrom, with Qatai taunting the maelstrom.

Tuvok and Kim report that sensors have picked up a wormhole, one that leads directly to Sector 001. Janeway is skeptical to say the least, but she orders a probe sent in.

[I’m a doctor, not a dragon-slayer…]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Sequels and Standalones: New Young Adult SFF for March and April 2021

This is quite the spring! We’ve got a nice mix of pandemic-delayed sequels, unseasonably creepy standalones, and energizing new series. Not a whole lot by way of science fiction, but there’s a decent batch of horror and dark fantasy to spice up the stacks and stacks of fantasy fiction. It’s all good, as far as I’m concerned. Now if only I had time to actually read all of these…

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Spinning New Tales: Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Alan Dean Foster and Han Solo at Star’s End by Brian Daley

In this bi-weekly series reviewing classic science fiction and fantasy books, Alan Brown looks at the front lines and frontiers of the field; books about soldiers and spacers, scientists and engineers, explorers and adventurers. Stories full of what Shakespeare used to refer to as “alarums and excursions”: battles, chases, clashes, and the stuff of excitement.

The Star Wars movies are notable for spinning off into a wide variety of other media and related products, including TV shows, books, comic strips, comic books, radio dramas, toys, housewares, and other products. Since the series was largely modeled on the old Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers serials, this is no surprise, as both of those properties were also adapted into a variety of formats and merchandise, something George Lucas certainly noticed and emulated. Today, I’m going to look at two of the first Star Wars tie-in books, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye and Han Solo at Stars’ End. These books, both excellent adventure stories, represent two very different approaches to media tie-in fiction

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Five SFF Books Featuring Middle-Aged and Elderly Heroes Who Still Kick Ass

As a writer, I spend a lot of time worrying about people who don’t exist. Like all those bright-eyed young heroes traipsing off to their first adventure. Sure, they look strong and noble at the start of their story, but what happens to them after they win the battle, defeat the great evil, and save the world? Do they all ride off into the sunset or board a ship to the Undying Lands? Are they okay?

I wrote my new novel, The Bone Maker, because I couldn’t stop wondering about what would happen to those once-brave-and-strong heroes if they were called to save the world again. In The Bone Maker, it’s twenty-five years later, and the five Heroes of Vos aren’t in their prime anymore. They bear scars, inside and out. One of them is broken, one has gone soft, one is pursuing a simple life, one is unable to let go of the past, and one is dead.

Life doesn’t stop just because someone says “the end.” So why should stories?

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Series: Five Books About…

Rhythm of War Reread: Chapter Twenty-Six

Welcome back to this week’s installment of the Rhythm of War Reread, my Cosmere chickens! Thankfully this week is a little… lighter in tone than last week, which is saying something considering all of the trauma that Shallan is repressing in her quest to find the traitor. There are a lot of smatterings of humor thrown in here this week, thanks in no small part to Pattern and his little… flock? Of Cryptics. What do you think a group of Cryptics should be called? An equation?

[You’re always willing to give others more charity than you extend yourself.]

Series: Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

More Hungry Houses: Oliver Onions’ “The Beckoning Fair One”

Welcome back to Reading the Weird, in which we get girl cooties all over weird fiction, cosmic horror, and Lovecraftiana—from its historical roots through its most recent branches.

This week, we cover Oliver Onions’ “The Beckoning Fair One,” first published in 1911 in his Widdershins collection. Spoilers ahead.

[“I don’t say I don’t love my work—when it’s done.”]

Series: Reading the Weird

Queer Romance and Political Intrigue in Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell

Prince Kiem and Count Jainan have been tasked with a vital political project by the Emperor: to marry one another. Cementing the union between the Iskat Empire and its vassal planet Thea has become more pressing by the day. Not only is the Resolution judging the worthiness of their coalition, but the former imperial representative to Thea—Taam, Jainan’s late partner—appears to have been murdered. With protests breaking out on his home planet and a spouse to mourn, the last thing Jainan needs is to become a murder suspect. He knows his role as a political pawn well. And marrying the charming and handsome Kiem is sure to fix the emerging cracks in his—and the empire’s—foundation.

Queer romance, space opera, and political intrigue combine in Everina Maxwell’s 2021 novel, Winter’s Orbit for an immersive and sparkling adventure. Whether you’re here for the Star Trek fanfic vibes or the clever worldbuilding, Maxwell is sure to deliver—but it’s the combination of the two that makes Winter’s Orbit such a delight.

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