Meet Shizuka, the Music Teacher in Ryka Aoki’s Light From Uncommon Stars

The lives of three women—Katrina, Shizuka, and Lan—become entangled by chance and fate in Ryka Aoki’s Light From Uncommon Stars, a defiantly joyful adventure publishing September 28th with Tor Books. From the author:

Shizuka is my favorite character because I identify with her. I look at my past relations, and for each I have entire symphonies of full of regret. Shizuka is torn between the damnation she knows she brings, and letting herself exist and hope, anyway. With every breath, Shizuka recalls lost love, forgotten sonatas and ever-present regret…and still she tries to make herself beautiful for the music yet to come.

We’re thrilled to share an excerpt below—meet Shizuka, and check back later this week for additional excerpts!

[Read more]

Showtime Greenlights a Let the Right One In Series

Let the Right One In is knocking at the door again. Showtime previously ordered a pilot episode for a new adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist’s vampire novel, but now they’ve committed to the series, ordering a ten-episode first season.

Demian Bichir is set to star as the father of a twelve-year-old vampire (Madison Taylor Baez); Anika Noni Rose is his next door neighbor, a single mom and detective who is happy to see her son making friends with the neighbor girl (presumably until she starts to suspect the family’s secret). Grace Gummer, who was excellent on Mr. Robot, is also part of the cast.

[Read more]

Historical Fantasy at Its Most Anime: Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

There are few books out there that can compare itself to so many things that make my eyes go very big, but when someone tells me a new YA is like Pacific Rim, Neon Genesis Evangelion, The Hunger Games, and every webtoon novel out there, I immediately figure out how to get my hands on that book. Iron Widow does all this and more, re-writing Chinese historical figures as leading men and women in a drama that reaches far past its historical scope.

This book is a very slight reimagining of Empress Wu; an oft-demonized figure in Chinese history who became the nation’s only legitimate female sovereign. And when I say slight, I mean it: there are markers of Chinese politics, landscapes, and even other characters from history, but if you’re hoping for a more direct retelling of Wu’s life, Iron Widow is not that book.

[Read more]

The ‘90s Teen Horror Landscape: The Babysitter and The Lifeguard

Being a teenager is tough: juggling classes and extracurricular activities, navigating the high school social strata, scoring the best weekend plans with hot dates and the right party invites, figuring out college visits and summer jobs. But it gets even more challenging when your house is haunted by a pissed off ghost, your new friend might be a murderer (or an otherworldly monster), some anonymous creep is following you, and your classmates keep going missing or turning up dead.

From the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, there was an explosion of horror paperbacks marketed to teen readers—and particularly teen girls—by authors like R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike, Richie Tankersley Cusick, Caroline B. Cooney, Carol Ellis, Diane Hoh, Lael Littke, A. Bates, D.E. Athkins, and Sinclair Smith. Some of these novels followed the long-series form that was enormously popular in the larger teen fiction landscape at the time, like Stine’s iconic Fear Street series and Hoh’s Nightmare Hall, while others were standalone novels, with Scholastic’s Point Horror imprint as the gold standard.

Drawing on Gothic horror traditions, slasher film conventions, and over-the-top soap opera-style melodrama, these books were enormously popular among teen readers, who flocked to their local mall to hit up the B. Dalton or Waldenbooks for the latest scares, which ranged from the supernatural (vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and Lovecraftian-style horrors) to the all too real (mean girls, peer pressure, stalking, intimate partner violence, or loss of a loved one). Regardless of the nature of the specific threat, there was a preponderance of dark secrets, mistaken identity, and one “terrible accident” after another.

[Read more]

What If… “Thor Were an Only Child?” Turns Earth Into a Party Planet

After two darkity dark dark What If…?s, it’s a giant relief to get an episode that’s purely fun. In this week’s episode, Thor is fully the frat bro we met in his first movie, and he comes to Midgard to throw a planet-wide party.

Several days later, the party’s still jumping ’cause Frigga ain’t home, and things begin to go awry.

[Read more]

Colonization, Empire, and Power in C.S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet

I was going to start out this article by saying that early science fiction was shaped by colonialism, but that’s probably understating it. Many of the tropes of science fiction and—going even further back—adventure novels are centrally located in colonialism. It’s not a huge surprise given that many of the authors were from colonizing culture or, as science fiction spread, in countries that were doing their best to get in on the colonization game. Out of the Silent Planet is no exception to this and, in fact, the book is largely shaped around a critique of H.G. Wells’ The First Men in the Moon.

Lewis doesn’t disguise this at all. He lays all the cards out on the table that this is a novel about imperialism, colonialism, and seeing others as subhuman. We get some indications of this early on. Weston and Devine, the main antagonists are practically colonialism incarnated. Weston’s name comes from Old English, meaning “settlement.” Devine says he doesn’t care a bit about science or first contact (later we will learn he’s all about the abundant gold), but he does pay lip service to “the white man’s burden” and the “blessings of civilization” (encouraged by Kipling and critiqued by Twain).

[Read more]

Series: The Great C.S. Lewis Reread

Five Superpowers That Just Aren’t As Fun as They Sound

Who among us has not dreamed of having superpowers? We are urged thereto by the avalanche of comics, movies, novels, and roleplaying games featuring abilities beyond mortal ken. Yet not all superpowers are created equal. Some superpowers require secondary superpowers to survive.  Other abilities have disquieting consequences for their possessors.

[Read more]

Announcing The Mimicking of Known Successes, an SFnal Murder Mystery by Malka Older

Tordotcom Publishing is thrilled to announce that Brent Lambert has acquired the novella The Mimicking of Known Successes—a science fiction gaspunk murder mystery pitched as A Master of Djinn meets The Tea Master and the Detective—by Malka Older, author of the Hugo-nominated Centenal Cycle.

[Read more]

Disney Is Developing an Adaptation of Carlos Hernandez’s Sal & Gabi Break the Universe

Disney has tapped John Wick and Grand Hotel producer Eva Longoria and Grand Hotel producer Ben Spector to develop an adaptation of Carlos Hernandez YA novel Sal & Gabi Break the Universe, about a teenager named Sal who can reach through time and space to retrieve things, and his new friend Gabi, who is determined to put that power to good use.

[Read more]

The Bittersweet Hug of TJ Klune’s Under the Whispering Door

Those who’ve read Klune’s other works know that his stories are full of heart. His latest work, Under the Whispering Door, also has heart, but differs from his previous works; it’s a story about grief, a tale suffused with love but also tinged with sadness.

That’s not to say the story is a tragic one. It’s still uplifting, but it hurts at times, the very definition of bittersweet. Those coming to the story expecting something similar to his last adult novel, The House in the Cerulean Sea, will find something different here. Where Cerulean Sea is like a friend giving you a warm fuzzy hug, Under the Whispering Door is a friend hugging you while you’re in the middle of a cathartic cry.

[Read more]

Meet Katrina, the Violin Prodigy in Ryka Aoki’s Light From Uncommon Stars

The lives of three women—Katrina, Shizuka, and Lan—become entangled by chance and fate in Ryka Aoki’s Light From Uncommon Stars, a defiantly joyful adventure publishing September 28th with Tor Books. From the author:

Katrina is my favorite character because although she is a young trans woman fleeing trauma and abuse, she still yearns to find a way to express who she is, and the music she contains. She may deny herself, and even sell herself to survive, but she is always aware of her music, and she has never lost the hope that her music will guide her home.

We’re thrilled to share an excerpt below—meet Katrina, and check back later this week for additional excerpts!

[Read more]

David Lynch’s Dune Kept Science Fiction Cinema Strange

Welcome to Close Reads! In this series, Leah Schnelbach and guest authors will dig into the tiny, weird moments of pop culture—from books to theme songs to a single television episode—that have burrowed into our minds, found rent-stabilized apartments, started community gardens, and refused to be forced out by corporate interests.

Everyone knows that David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation of Dune is bad. Hell, this film—dubbed “worst movie of the year” by Roger Ebert—was such a disaster it basically drove Lynch from mainstream films. It’s one of SFF’s most famous flops. A disaster. So please believe me that I’m not trolling or looking for a controversial “hot take” when I say that Lynch’s Dune is one of my all-time favorite science fiction films, and perhaps the SF movie that influenced me more than any other.

[Read more]

Series: Close Reads

Our Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.