Scientifically Plausible SF Settings That Provide an Alternative to FTL Travel

Suppose for the moment that one was a science fiction author and was trying to imagine a plausible setting in which a multitude of inhabited worlds were within easy, quick reach. Further suppose that one did not care to discard relativity, but likewise was not keen on a setting where time dilation plays a significant role. What is one to do?

How many authors have tried to come up with settings that meet all these demands? More than you’d expect.

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The Crawling King: A Conversation With Einar Baldvin

Einar Baldvin’s graphic novel The Crawling King released in 2018 on the heels of a successful Kickstarter campaign. The eerie grimoire blends fairy tale elements, Lovecraftian monsters, and an overarching narrative about a fallen kingdom. The book is an ideal conversation starter: a lovingly crafted, horror-filled tome packed with dazzlingly dark illustrations and compelling yarns. 

But after its initial run, The Crawling King seemed to fade into the background. The book soon became hard to find, with secondhand copies surfacing rarely and almost always above list price. 

After I discussed the graphic novel in my article about fictional texts with dark or mysterious implications, Einar Baldvin got in touch. We chatted about The Crawling King and his career as an animator and illustrator. He also revealed that he and his publisher have a few stray copies of the book still available, which are now available for purchase

My conversation with Baldvin below spans origin stories (his own and that of The Crawling King), inspirations, his experience working with Starburns Industries, and a few hints at what’s next…. 

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Fairy Tale Fanfic — Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “The Elysian Kingdom”

One of the most popular tropes in genre television especially is the episode where the characters all act wildly out of character. Star Trek has indulged in this trope dozens of times before, though the reasons for the out-of-character behavior are legion: disease (the original series’ “The Naked Time,” TNG’s “The Naked Now”), weird telepathy (DS9‘s “Dramatis Personae”), an alternate timeline (the original series’ “Mirror, Mirror,” DS9’s “Crossover” and its followups, Enterprise’s “In a Mirror, Darkly,” Discovery’s “Despite Yourself” and its followups), biased historical records (Voyager’s “Living Witness”), holodeck shenanigans (DS9’s “Our Man Bashir,” Voyager’s “Bride of Chaotica!”). And now we get to add alien interference to the list…

[I knew I should’ve stayed in the castle—it’s always safer at home!]

Adulthood Meets Adolescence in Young Justice: Phantoms

The DC animated show Young Justice has a problem: its heroes aren’t exactly young anymore.

What started out as a series about the adolescent sidekicks of mainstream Justice Leaguers like Batman and Martian Manhunter has become, as some fans put it, the generic DC show, stuffed with heroes and villains of all ages.

Showrunners Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman abandoned the tight focus on a core group of teen heroes from season two, opting instead to include more adult heroes, though the drama still centered around the original crew. Season three took things even further, as the adult Justice Leaguers became involved in a cold war between the heroes of Earth and Darkseid.

Season four (also called Young Justice: Phantoms), which finished airing in early June, has been an attempt to restore the show’s original focus.

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Hunger Games Prequel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Rounds Out Its Ensemble Cast

When the Games need tributes, they find them fast. Just last month, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes found its young Coriolanus Snow—the man who will grow up to be Panem’s nasty president—in actor Tom Blyth. And since then, the Hunger Games prequel has added more than a dozen actors to its lineup of tributes and mentors, including Euphoria‘s Hunter Schafer and West Side Story‘s Rachel Zegler (pictured above).

Who will enter the arena? Let’s see.

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Summer Reading Assignments for Grown-Ups

It is finally summer on both technicality and weather report. The solstice, with its long dreamy evening, has come and gone, and the rain has gone, too, from my northwestern neck of the woods. Sunlight sticks around so late in the day that every night I marvel at the still-blue sky after 9 pm.

It’s time to read outdoors without cold fingers, to shed coats and cardigans while reading on the bar patio, and to turn my mind to a long-beloved topic: summer reading.

This is a concept we will have to define in order to talk about.

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Rhythm of War Reread: Chapter Eighty-Three

Welcome back to Urithiru! It’s Willshaper Week up in here, as Venli starts to develop her powers. I won’t say control them, exactly, because she’s not that good at it yet, but she’s taking the first few steps. Also, Lift is back! (Sorry, those of you who dislike her. She’s one of my favorite characters, probably for much the same reasons y’all dislike her, so… oops.) Anyway, it’s a long chapter full of good stuff, so come on in and join the discussion!

[Timbre vibrated with excitement inside Venli.]

Series: Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Eat the Rich With the Vampires of What We Do in the Shadows

“What hath the dark lord wrought?” Well, maybe some trouble in the form of a musical-theater loving child, but surely it’s nothing these vampires can’t handle. The trailer for season four of What We Do in the Shadows continues the dance-club theme of the first teaser, but adds in a few more details about what the vampires are up to this season—and a memorable description of what rich humans taste like.

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Natalie Portman Had to Be Six Feet Tall in Thor: Love and Thunder—Here’s How

In the upcoming MCU film, Thor: Love and Thunder, Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster has claimed Mjölnir as her own and become a god in her own right. Along with god-like powers comes god-like height, however, and Portman, who is 5’3,” had to look over six feet tall when she was playing Jane-as-Mighty-Thor.

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