The Dam Keeper

Life in Sunrise Valley is tranquil, but beyond its borders lies certain death. A dangerous black fog looms outside the village, but its inhabitants are kept safe by an ingenious machine known as the dam. Pig’s father built the dam and taught him how to maintain it. And then this brilliant inventor did the unthinkable: he walked into the fog and was never seen again.

Now Pig is the dam keeper. Except for his best friend, Fox, and the town bully, Hippo, few are aware of his tireless efforts. But a new threat is on the horizon—a tidal wave of black fog is descending on Sunrise Valley. Now Pig, Fox, and Hippo must face the greatest danger imaginable: the world on the other side of the dam.

Based on the Oscar-nominated animated short film of the same name, The Dam Keeper is a lush, vibrantly drawn graphic novel by Tonko House cofounders Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi—available September 26th from First Second.

[Read an Excerpt]

The SFF Community Mourns the Loss of Kit Reed

Following the sad news of Kit Reed’s death yesterday at the age of 85, the community of science fiction and fantasy readers, fans, editors, and authors have made it clear how much she will be missed, expressed grief at the passing of a legend and celebrating an extraordinary life and career. Jen Gunnels, Reed’s editor at Tor Books, penned the following tribute to the author:

Several years ago, I met Kit Reed for the first time at the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts. It was… an intimidating moment. I mean, Kit Reed. She was the most gracious, elegant, suffer-no-fools woman I had ever met, and I adored her for it. Over the years, we became better friends, and when I stepped in as her editor after the death of David Hartwell, we started the editor/author relationship. It was all too brief.

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Another Life, Another Geas: Andre Norton’s ’Ware Hawk

I’m glad my whim and the vagaries of my bookshelves brought me to ’Ware Hawk after The Gate of the Cat, though it was published earlier (1983 versus 1987) and falls earlier in the chronology of the Witch World books as well. It was no problem to move back in time to a period soon after Trey of Swords, years after the Witches of Estcarp moved the mountains against Karsten, and this is a much better book. I can mercifully forget the adventures of—who was that again? What adventures?

[Ah. Relief.]

Exploring a New Corner of the Universe: Provenance by Ann Leckie

It is difficult for me to write this review without simply gushing READ THIS NOW. (But seriously: read this now.)

It’s true that I have been a fan of Ann Leckie’s work since first reading Ancillary Justice, and that Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy only deepened my appreciation for Leckie’s ability to tell a story. The Imperial Radch trilogy impressed a lot of people, as witnessed by the array of awards and award nominations it took home. But after such a successful debut—after such a lauded debut trilogy—there is always going to be a question when the author moves on to something new. Can the next book live up to the quality of what has gone before while breaking new ground? Or will they spend their career telling different versions of the same story?

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Putting Archaeology to Work in Fantasy Fiction

“Getting the archaeology right” doesn’t actually matter that much when it comes to fantasy. The fact is, when it comes to secondary worlds, a lot of the absolutely basic assumptions don’t make any sense. Why are there people in this world, whose history—whose natural history—is so different from ours? If dragons and elder gods and all that were around for hundreds of thousands of years, why are the horses and carrots and stews and pie in that world exactly the same as ours?

Once you’re willing to swallow that horses are the same despite gryphon-related predation pressures, why strain at faceted diamonds a few centuries too early?

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How Science Fiction Explores the Autonomy of Bodies that Are Also Machines

As a human being, it is odd to try and calculate where you “exist.” There are philosophers who argue about this very issue constantly. But if you’re an artificial intelligence, there is a verifiable place where you are. And that place, be it a positronic brain or a handful of code or a weird red box, is likely capable of being transferred to another location. Which means that your “body”—your physical casing—is not necessarily a limitation. But what does it mean to be able to exchange, renew, or even completely alter your body?

The real question becomes whether or not you have a say in that change… and why.

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“We come in peace” — Star Trek Discovery‘s “The Vulcan Hello” and “Battle at the Binary Stars”

Let us discuss a new Star Trek that people have to pay for instead of watching for free. One in which the Klingons have been completely redesigned, one in which the technology looks completely different from what we would expect, as do the uniforms—all without a word of explanation. One in which one of the main characters has to reconcile human and Vulcan values. And one in which the production was fraught with behind-the-scenes difficulties.

I am, of course, talking about Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979.

[THERE BE SPOILERS HERE for the first two Star Trek Discovery episodes………]

Kit Reed, 1932-2017

We are saddened by the news that author Kit Reed has died.

Over the course of Reed’s long career, she was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best New Author after publishing the story “The Wait” in 1958. She ranged over genres, publishing an early, mainstream novel before her first genre novel Armed Camps, which came out in 1969. She published horror and detective novels under the pseudonyms Shelley Hyde and Kit Craig, respectively. Where was nominated for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 2016, and she won the Alex Award for Thinner Than Thou in 2005. Her final novel, Mormama, was published last May.

Reed also published ten collections of short fiction including 1967’s Mister Da V and Other Stories, 2013’s The Story Until Now: A Great Big Book of Stories in 2013. A story, “Bride of Bigfoot,” and two books, Weird Women, Wired Women, and Little Sisters of the Apocalypse, were shortlisted for the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. her “transgenre-ism” is displayed in the variety of her publications, including  The Yale Review, Asimov’s SF, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Omni, The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Literature and The Kenyon Review. She was also a Guggenheim fellow, and the first American recipient of an international literary grant from the Abraham Woursell Foundation.

Reed’s son, Mack Reed, said of his mother:

She loved like a child, worked like a stevedore, cursed like a sailor and traveled and sampled the world with Twainian zest. She was the most two-fisted woman I have ever known, never completely happy unless she was in motion, juggling too many things.

You can read his personal remembrance here. Kit Reed was an incredibly important member of the SFF community, and she will be greatly missed.

Stormlight Archive Refresher: The Knights Radiant

As we continue our groundwork for Oathbringer, the next doorstopper entry in The Stormlight Archive, we now present to you another entry in our refresher series. This time, we’re going to review what we know of the Knights Radiant—a brief synopsis of the history, the orders, and the individual members.

WARNING: Spoilers for The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance, and Edgedancer.

[Life before death, strength before weakness, journey before destination.]

Middle-earth Cage Match: Bill the Pony vs. Shadowfax

Here we have our two contestants for this week’s match, the first in SFF Equines history (but not, perhaps, the last): on this side the tall, white, shining, magical, beautiful king of stallions who deigns to carry the great Wizard; and over on that side, the short, brown, fuzzy, unromantic, pretty definitely not-a-stallion who is not asked whether he wants to carry the Fellowship’s baggage (but as far as Sam can determine, he’s willing).

A serious mismatch, you say?

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Journeys, Desolations, and Battles: Examining Jackson’s Trifold Hobbit

Yesterday, the Extended Edition of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies played in theaters as a prelude to its release on DVD/Blu-ray. And so with battle cries, the clash of weapons, and then a somber dirge, we have seen the trilogy-that-wasn’t-really-a-trilogy conclude. To be honest, I found it to be a curious admixture of satisfying and unfulfilling; the former because as a film saga, there is both excitement and sufficient closure, and the latter because it would have felt more complete, more “extended,” if Peter Jackson had deigned to drop in a few more looked-for elements from the books. But hey, war goats!

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The Best Continuation of The Terminator Saga Has Already Happened: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

James Cameron has formally announced that a new Terminator movie is in development. Given that he basically lives on Pandora with the Na’vi now, Cameron will be producing while Deadpool’s Tim Miller is in the director’s chair. Arnold Schwarzenegger will return and, more interestingly, so will Linda Hamilton.

That’s…good news? Probably? Maybe? Perhaps? After three increasingly ambitious and, unfortunately, increasingly incoherent sequels the Terminator series is looking a lot like it’s way past its obsolescence date. Cameron’s vague mutterings about Arnie playing the person the T-800’s physical form was based on don’t exactly help matters, either. Schwarzenegger getting to play out the Terminator version of Logan could be interesting, but—unless the film is building to a very definitive ending, rather than another sequel—there’s not really much point.

Besides, the best continuation of the Terminator saga has already happened on TV.

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