Kitties in Space: Andre Norton’s Star Ka’at

As it turns out, I have actually read this volume in the series. I remember the big black cat with the white V marking, and the character named Elly Mae. The rest is lost in the mists of time.

This is what we now call a middle-grade book, with characters around ten years old. It’s a classic setup for the genre: offstage, disconnected adults, kids having their own adventures and doing their bit to save the world. These kids push standard Norton buttons, with the orphaned boy struggling to adapt to his new foster home, and the likewise orphaned girl raised in grinding poverty by her dying grandmother. The boy is white and the girl is Black, but they’re oblivious to racial politics. They have a prickly sort of friendship, as Jim tries to help Ellie cope in a world that has almost no place for her.

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Sleeps With Monsters: Spending Time With Physicians and Dragons

Well, it’s the middle (the end? what even is time) of May. As I write this, here in Ireland, we’ve been under movement restrictions for two months, and strict restrictions for one, and while the current government has a well-thought-out five-stage plan for (slowly, carefully, over the course of a minimum of fifteen weeks) lifting restrictions, I’m not really optimistic that the death toll won’t rise again as soon as we hit Stage Two. So it’s not really surprising that I’m among the many people having difficulty concentrating right now. How do we achieve the kind of equilibrium necessary to experience confidence, satisfaction, and/or some degree of pleasure in our work or in the rest of our lives under the conditions that presently obtain? I don’t rightly know.

In the meanwhile, I’ll tell you about three books that I did manage to concentrate on reading—even greatly enjoyed!

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Series: Sleeps With Monsters

Start Reading Christopher Paolini’s To Sleep in a Sea of Stars!

To celebrate the upcoming release of Christopher Paolini’s first book for adults, To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, Tor Books will be releasing micro-excerpts over the course of this week! In partnership with The Mary Sue, Den of Geek, and others, you can get an exclusive sneak peak of the book, little by little. To Sleep in a Sea of Stars will be available on September 15, 2020, from Tor Books.

This epic novel follows Kira Navárez, who, during a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, finds an alien relic that thrusts her into the wonders and the nightmares of first contact. Epic space battles for the fate of humanity take her to the farthest reaches of the galaxy and, in the process, transform not only her—but the entire course of history.

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Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Investigations”

Written by Jeff Schnaufer & Ed Bond and Jeri Taylor
Directed by Les Landaur
Season 2, Episode 20
Production episode 135
Original air date: March 13, 1996
Stardate: 49485.2

Captain’s log. Neelix’s latest endeavor as morale officer is to provide a news program for the crew called A Briefing with Neelix. He insists that he will only have good news on the program, which is probably wise, though also a challenge for a ship that’s stuck 70,000 light-years from home, but whatever.

[Good day, Voyager!]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Five SF Stories That Mix Swords and Starships

Inspired by an engaging time-filler meme on social media , my thoughts returned to that venerable roleplaying game Traveller, profiled on earlier this year. Anyone who has played Traveller (or even just played with online character generation sites like this one) might have noticed that a surprising number of the characters one can generate are skilled with blades. This may see as an odd choice for a game like Traveller that is set in the 57th century CE, or indeed for any game in which swords and starships co-exist. Why do game authors make these choices?

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Never Say You Can’t Survive: Embrace Uncertainty: The Joy of Making a Giant Mess

Charlie Jane Anders is writing a nonfiction book—and is publishing it as she does so. Never Say You Can’t Survive is a how-to book about the storytelling craft, but it’s also full of memoir, personal anecdote, and insight about how to flourish in the present emergency.

Below is the second chapter, “Imposter Syndrome Is Just Part of Being a Writer”—you can find all previous chapters here. New chapters will appear every Tuesday. Enjoy!

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Series: Never Say You Can’t Survive

Reading The Wheel of Time: Perrin Has To Be the Adult in the Room in The Shadow Rising (Part 31)

Welcome back! After our brief hiatus, we have returned with a new week of Reading The Wheel of Time. This post will cover Chapters 43-45 of The Shadow Rising, in which we will see Perrin learning about responsibility, what it demands of him, and what price he must pay for assuming it.

I’ve been thinking a lot these past few weeks about how having Perrin return to Emond’s Field makes for a very different story than, say, the hobbits returning home to the Shire at the end of The Lord of the Rings. Merry, Pippin, Sam, and Frodo were startled to see how much their home had been touched by a war that they hoped would pass it by, expecting that the only changes would be in themselves, not in the home they left behind. They were able to help repair the damage and to forge a new future for the Shire, but the damage was mostly done in their absence.

[Perrin of House Aybara, Lord of the Two Rivers. It has a good sound.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

The Gideon the Ninth Reread: Chapters 31 and 32

Hello again, readers! It’s time once again for me to make word salad over Gideon the Ninth by Tamysn Muir. We are getting sooooo close to the end—I hope you are prepared. I’m your host, Princess Dragomiroff, and today we are diving deep into chapters thirty-one and thirty-two of this kick-ass Hugo and Nebula-nominated novel. So gird your longswords, because it’s a lengthy one today!

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Series: Gideon the Ninth Reread

Edgar Wright vs. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) may be Edgar Wright’s most perfect film, though hardcore fans of his earlier efforts may miss the imperfections. The movie marks Wright’s transition to Hollywood-size big budgets ($80.7 million over Hot Fuzz’s $16 million), and he uses the additional money to turn out an indie pop song movie filled with slickly catchy quirk.

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