6 Comforting SFF Podcasts

Your relationship to podcasts may be different now than it was a year ago. As 2020 draws to a close, you might feel stuck in place—but podcasts are still there to transport you.

If you’re struggling with what to listen to, here’s a short list to get you started: a mix of fiction and nonfiction podcasts, some unmistakably SFF and others a degree separated from the genre yet still connected by your favorite writers and poets lending their voices as well as their words. One was created for this particular moment, while others take on new meaning in our current context. Plug in, close your eyes, and let these SFF creators speak, read, and/or sing to you. We’re in this together.

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HBO Shares a First Look at the Dragons in Game of Thrones Spin-Off House of the Dragon

In a presentation blog post today, WarnerMedia’s CEO revealed two concept images from the forthcoming Game of Thrones spin-off House of the Dragon.

HBO greenlit the series back in October 2019 for a 10 episode first season, and A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin followed up, saying that some of the stories from his “nonfiction” book Fire & Blood will figure into the story somehow. (More on that below.) The series is expected to debut in 2022, and the only other concrete news that we’ve gotten is that Paddy Considine has been cast as King Viserys I. (There are also rumors that Doctor Who’s Matt Smith is being considered for a role in the series.)

So just who might we be seeing in House of the Dragon?

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Five Stories Driven by a Disregard for Basic Safety

Nothing delivers unrequested adventures quite like normalization of deviance. It works like this:

Suppose one has a safety protocol. Suppose one decides that this protocol is onerous for some reason: it consumes extra time, it requires extra effort, or worst of all, it costs money. So, one shaves a step here and a precaution there. And nothing happens! Clearly, the whole shebang was not necessary in the first place. Clearly the thing to do here is to keep skipping steps until circumstances line up wrong and you’re looking at a trip to the emergency room or a burning pile of expensive rubble.

The end results of normalization of deviance are undesirable in reality. But…the process is oh-so-irresistible for authors looking for ways to drop their characters neck-deep in a pig lagoon. Take these five examples:

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Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “The Killing Game, Part I”

“The Killing Game”
Written by Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Directed by David Livingston
Season 4, Episode 18
Production episode 186
Original air date: March 4, 1998
Stardate: unknown

Captain’s log. The Hirogen have attacked and boarded Voyager, subduing the entire crew. Rather than hunt them, as is traditional, the alpha, Karr, has imprisoned much of the crew, and used others to participate in holodeck scenarios designed to learn more about their prey.

[Would it be wrong to stay in your arms this way under the starry sky?]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Tolkien’s Dark Lords: Sauron, Dark Magic, and Middle-earth’s Enduring “Melkor-ingredient”

In this scattershot series, we’ll be delving “too greedily and too deep,” prying gems out of the glorious rough that is the extended legendarium of Tolkien’s world. This includes drawing on The Lord of the Rings itself, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, The Children of Húrin, and the History of Middle-earth (or HoMe) books.

Whenever the works of J.R.R. Tolkien come up, my immediate nerd-impulse is to ask: “Hold up! Are we talking about just The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit?” Followed by, “Are we talking about the films or the books (since they’re quite a different thing)—or somehow both?” But what I’m really getting at is, can we discuss the legendarium at large? Because that would rope in The Silmarillion and the History of Middle-earth books. And that’s even more fun.

If it’s just The Hobbit and LotR, then we’re only talking about the Third Age and the War of the Ring (with a possible glance back at the Second Age since that’s when the Rings of Power were made). In which case Sauron is the de facto face of evil on Middle-earth and that’s all that really matters. But if we can talk about the big picture—the entire world—in which Middle-earth is merely center stage, then I can go right to the top shelf for the real bad guy, Morgoth ( Melkor), and the stain he left behind. Gross.

Sauron. Morgoth. Just who are these clowns, who’s actually worse, and why?

[‘Other evils there are that may come; for Sauron is himself but a servant or emissary.’]

Pirates in Space: Henry Martyn by L. Neil Smith

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.

This summer, I was reading a lot of pirate stories, and I had a hankering to read even more. So I looked on my shelves, and this book immediately caught my eye. I remembered it as being full of adventure, but also a brutal tale that does not shy away from the evils that breed and inform piracy. The author, L. Neil Smith, had long been known as a writer of adventures filled with libertarian political philosophy, but in this case, it’s the adventure that’s front and center.

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Moving the Pieces Forward — Star Trek: Discovery’s “The Sanctuary”

One thing I’ve appreciated about this season of Discovery is that it’s found a sweet spot between heavy serialization and still doing standalone episodes, which is especially better for a show being released weekly. Season one was written as if it would be binged, which made a lot of the revelations and plot movements feel drawn out. Season two was better, but it was also almost entirely focused on the signals and the red angel. This season is giving us more variety.

[That’s weird—scientifically speaking…]

The Truths We Tell: Tordotcom Publishing Acquires Malcolm Devlin’s And Then I Woke Up

Tordotcom Publishing is thrilled to announce that Ellen Datlow has acquired World English rights to And Then I Woke Up, an sf/horror novella from rising short fiction author Malcolm Devlin in the tradition of Jeffrey Ford and Stephen Graham Jones.

And Then I Woke Up introduces readers to a world reeling from an unusual plague. Monsters now lurk in the streets, while terrified survivors arm themselves and roam the countryside in packs. Or perhaps something very different is happening. When a disease affects how reality is perceived, it’s hard to be certain of anything…

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We’re Offering a Free Download of Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children Series This Week! Today: In An Absent Dream

Across the Green Grass Fields, the newest novella in Seanan McGuire’s acclaimed Wayward Children series, arrives on January 12th.

But before that happens, this week Tordotcom Publishing and the Tor.com Ebook Club are offering free downloads of ALL FIVE PREVIOUS NOVELLAS! One per day. Every day a doorway!

Today…a tale of goblins and bargains that never play out well in In An Absent Dream.

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Dawnshard Reread: Prologue and Chapters 1-7

Lyn: Hello everyone, and welcome to the reread of Brandon Sanderson’s novella/novel, Dawnshard! We’re going to be powering through this one in order to finish up before the holidays and begin on Rhythm of War in January, so buckle in, because it’s going to be a heck of a ride!

Sam: It keeps being said, but it doesn’t become less true, only Brandon could accidentally write a novel. I’m glad to be on board for this and I’m eager to hear yours and other’s thoughts on this story!

[Ah, to be free of the “but why.”]

Series: Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop — With Pizza Dog! — Confirmed for Hawkeye Disney+ Series

It looks like the MCU officially has a Kate Bishop. And a Lucky, the Pizza Dog.

Behind-the-scenes footage on the Hawkeye set, which recently started filming in Downtown Brooklyn under the name “Anchor Point,” confirms that Hailee Steinfeld will take on the mantle of the Young Avenger. The video also gave us a couple of other key details about the character’s upcoming appearance.

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