Tangled Lands: The Blacksmith’s Daughter

From authors Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias Buckell comes The Tangled Lands, a fantasy novel told in four interlocking parts about a land crippled by the use of magic, and a tyrant who is trying to rebuild an empire—unless the people find a way to resist.

Khaim, The Blue City, is the last remaining city in a crumbled empire that overly relied upon magic until it became toxic. It is run by a tyrant known as The Jolly Mayor and his devious right hand, the last archmage in the world. Together they try to collect all the magic for themselves so they can control the citizens of the city. But when their decadence reaches new heights and begins to destroy the environment, the people stage an uprising to stop them.

Available February 27th from Saga Press, The Tangled Lands is an evocative and epic story of resistance and heroic sacrifice—it is a fantasy suited for our times.

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Pulp Adventure Meets Metafiction (or Vice Versa): Ned Beauman’s Madness Is Better Than Defeat

Go back a few decades in the realm of pulp storytelling, and they abound: stories of adventurers far from home, investigating ancient structures and discovering mysterious events there. There are entire subgenres dedicated to this, and the form has endured. While it’s not nearly as prevalent as it was in the early and mid-20th century, plenty of its DNA shows up in the Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider franchises. But the narrative template of a (generally white and male) hero uncovering lost cultures or artifacts from somewhere in Africa, Asia, or South America is one that hasn’t aged particularly well, and for good reason.

Embracing this narrative unconditionally can mean embracing a whole lot of racist, sexist, and/or colonialist baggage—not the greatest of storytelling decisions. More recent tales of adventure in distant lands have sought to correct this: a whole essay could be written about the arc of the Uncharted series of video games, the latest of which centers the narrative around two women of color. Mat Johnson’s Pym riffs considerably upon Edgar Allan Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, but abounds with an implicit critique of the racial politics of Poe’s original story. Nevertheless, it’s also about a scientific adventurer facing impossible odds and uncanny adversaries while on a journey halfway across the world. Johnson’s novel is a prime example of how these older storytelling conventions can still charge a narrative in the present day, as long as a writer is willing to address the aspects of it that haven’t aged well.

And so, this brings us to the case of Ned Beauman’s Madness Is Better Than Defeat, which on the surface has plenty of familiar pulpy elements. There’s a mysterious temple in a remote jungle in Honduras, abundant secrets and duplicity, warring factions within the espionage community, betrayals, violence, and struggles among the wealthy and powerful. In telling this complex story, has Beauman found an equally deft way of bringing pulp tropes to the present day without stumbling, or are we dealing with a complex structure around a potentially retrograde plot?

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Beyond Hope and Despair: Teaching Climate Change

The logical reaction to learning about climate change is terminal despair. I realized this when I first learned enough of the basic physics of climate change to start including it in my physics classes, about ten years ago. Although the topic and its ramifications were keeping me up at night, I didn’t immediately realize that it would, naturally, have the same effect on my students. They reacted with despair, which in some cases mutated to anger, apathy, even denial. Knowing that governments and corporations were dragging their feet didn’t help. Even those who had wanted to do something about it found their enthusiasm waning in the face of a lifetime of experience being at the receiving end of other people’s agendas.

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Books Make the Best Home: Ruthanna Emrys’ Winter Tide

I missed Winter Tide when it was first published—the simultaneous blessing/curse of working in publishing meaning that I am drowning in books at all times. I was excited to finally delve into Ruthanna Emrys’ debut novel, and not only am I glad I did so, but I’m hoping I get to the sequel a lot faster.

Because here is a book that understands the importance of books.

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Mycelium Running: The Book That May Reveal Where Star Trek: Discovery Goes Next Season

In Episode 9 of After Trek, the roundtable talk show that airs after Star Trek: Discovery, Executive Producer Aaron Harberts said, “Everything we do on Star Trek comes out of character, and also as much as we can ground in science, so, shameless plug: get [the real-life mycelium expert and scientist] Paul Stamets’ book Mycelium Running. Give it a read…[it] will give you very, very good hints as to what’s going to happen.” So I did.

I bought the book, which is essentially a textbook for growing and interacting with mycelium and mushrooms, and I read it. I’d say I read it so you don’t have to, but the truth is: it’s a brilliant work of science, and everyone should give it a shot, especially if you’re a layperson like me. In addition to learning how to grow mushrooms from my one-bedroom New York City apartment (which I am enthusiastically now doing, by the way), I also learned a ton about Star Trek: Discovery’s past, present, and possible future.

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8 Books and Comics for Your Post-Black Panther Reading List

OK, so you’ve seen Black Panther half a dozen times now and can’t get it out of your head. What next? Don’t worry, dear reader, I got you covered. Here’s a little list of some comics and books to read to keep that Black Panther high going, covering work by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Christopher Priest, and Brian Michael Bendis to Nalo Hopkinson, Nisi Shawl, and Nnedi Okorafor, among others…

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Outpost Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a signed copy of W. Michael Gear’s Outpost, available now from DAW Books!

Donovan is a world of remarkable wealth, a habitable paradise of a planet. But Donovan’s wealth comes at a price. When the ship Turalon arrives in orbit, Supervisor Kalico Aguila discovers a failing colony, its government overthrown and the few remaining colonists now gone wild. Planetside, Talina Perez is one of three rulers of the Port Authority colony—the only law left in the one remaining town on Donovan. With the Corporate ship demanding answers about the things she’s done in the name of survival, Perez could lose everything, including her life.

For Dan Wirth, Donovan is a last chance. A psychopath with a death sentence looming over his head, he can’t wait to set foot on Port Authority. He will make one desperate play to grab a piece of the action—no matter who he has to corrupt, murder, or destroy. Captain Max Taggart has been The Corporation’s “go-to” guy when it comes to brutal enforcement. As the situation in Port Authority deteriorates, he’ll be faced with tough choices to control the wild Donovanians. Only Talina Perez stands in his way.

Just as matters spiral out of control, a ghost ship, the Freelander, appears in orbit. Missing for two years, she arrives with a crew dead of old age, and reeks of a bizarre death-cult ritual that deters any ship from attempting a return journey. And in the meantime, a brutal killer is stalking all of them, for Donovan plays its own complex and deadly game. The secrets of which are hidden in Talina Perez’s very blood.

Comment in the post to enter!

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Menu Inspired by Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness Includes Hot Beer

Since Ursula K. Le Guin’s passing in January 2018, the sci-fi/fantasy and literary communities have paid tribute to the greatly-missed author in a variety of personal essays and other reminders of her impact not only on the genre, but on literature as a whole. But one of the more charming remembrances comes from The Paris Review’s Eat Your Words column, which has recreated key meals from The Left Hand of Darkness, complete with “sube-egg” porridge with Winter vegetables and hot beer.

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Don’t Kill The Dog: The Human-Canine Bond in Stories and Life

You never forget them.

The dehydrated mini fox terrier. She was found three days after her owner, a farmer, was killed by a tipped quad bike. In the sharply sloping paddock, still hopefully licking his face.

Or the owner of a blue cattle dog with a terrible degloving injury. The dog jumped out of the back of a moving vehicle, losing all the skin from elbows to toes on both front feet. His recovery was an exercise in pain and bandaging, stitches and grafts, infections and injections. But the pain was equally borne by the man, a single, middle-aged carpenter, who took on ludicrous, long, body-breaking work hours and went deeply into debt to save his best friend.

As a vet, a writer and an avid SFF fan, I’ve marvelled at our canine connection, whether in fiction or real life. Long may it carry on, well into our actual and literary future!

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We Come in Pieces — Star Trek Discovery First Season Overview

“I dunno,” the Star Trek fan says with a sigh. “I mean, the uniforms are all monochrome, I feel like the timeline’s all messed up, they’re just rehashing stuff they’ve done before, it all feels so military with the metal insignia, and they’re killing characters off, and it just all doesn’t feel like real Trek, y’know?”

This Trek fan is, of course, from 1982 and complaining about The Wrath of Khan.

Yes, I can do this all day.

But I won’t. Instead, let’s look back at a most uneven first season of Star Trek Discovery

[We will not accept a no-win scenario.]

Announcing the 2017 Nebula Awards Nominees

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America are pleased to announce the 2017 Nebula Awards nominees (to be presented in 2018), for the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, and the nominees for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.

The winners will be announced at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s 52nd Annual Nebula Conference in Pittsburgh, PA, which takes place from Thursday, May 17th through Sunday, May 20th at the Pittsburgh Marriott City Center.

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Sleeps With Monsters: Old Influences and New Impressions

I may be a sucker for a good Dr. Watson, or maybe Claire O’Dell (an open pseudonym for Beth Bernobich) has just written a hell of a good novel, because A Study in Honor (Harper Voyager, forthcoming July 2018) turns out to be one of those books I find impossible to put down. I want the sequel immediately.

I’m going to have to wait. (I don’t want to have to wait.)

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Series: Sleeps With Monsters

Black Panther Is Far More Than Just A Comic Book Movie

Black Panther is a goddamn masterpiece. It’s as anti-imperialist as Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok with as much commentary on Blackness as Ryan Coogler’s own Fruitvale Station. By no means is it perfect, but it’s deeper than the typical superhero fluff. Coogler offers a fantasy of an independent Africa untainted by colonialism and exploitation, of what we might have had, of what was stolen from us. This is a film of the culture, by the culture, for the culture.

Spoilers ahead. Like, a lot of ‘em. Check out Emily Asher-Perrin’s spoiler-free review, otherwise get ready to dive into my new favorite Marvel movie.

[“Praise the ancestors!”]