| Science fiction. Fantasy. The universe. And related subjects.

Wheels Within Wheels: In the Country of the Blind by Michael Flynn

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.

Today I’m looking at In the Country of the Blind, the first book by one of my long-time favorite science fiction authors, Michael F. Flynn. Since Flynn passed away in September of this year, I have been intending to review one of his books in this column, but had been torn deciding which one. But once I realized I am not bound to a single tale, I decided to start with his first novel. And it’s a good one, about the discovery of a secret society of mathematicians who perfected the mechanical computing devices envisioned by Charles Babbage in the early 1800s, and since then, have been using their research to dominate the world from behind the scenes. The book fits into the category that is sometimes called a techno-thriller, set in the present, but with a plot that focuses on science and technology.

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Spielberg’s Jurassic Park Reshaped Our Dance with the Dinosaurs

There’s a meme going around of late. There may be variations, but the one I’ve most frequently seen features a tableau by Russian paleoartist Vasily Vatagin portraying a few of the more well-known dinosaurs—brontosaurus, stegosaurus, etc.—in the wild. It’s accompanied by the following text, which I’ll transcribe with the dodgy punctuation intact, just to give you the full flavor of the thing: “The dinosaurs didn’t ‘rule the Earth’, they were just alive. Stop giving them credit for administrative skills they almost certainly did not have.”

It bugs me, that meme. I get the semantics game that’s being played, and if you’ve been reading my pieces, you know I’m no stranger to that kind of snark myself. But in this case, there’s something so dour, so unromantic about the thing that it gets my hackles up. Whenever that meme manifests in my Facebook feed, I always post the same comment: “Ask any eight-year-old whether dinosaurs rule. You’ll have your answer.”

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Doctor Who Spinoffs I’d Love To See

Doctor Who is back! Last Saturday, we got the first new episode in absolute yoinks, and there’s tons more to come. Returning showrunner Russell T. Davies has said that one of his goals is to make more Who spinoffs, the same way RTD’s previous stint was accompanied by Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures. (Full disclosure: RTD gave a very generous cover blurb to my novel Victories Greater Than Death.)

As someone who thinks about Doctor Who all the time (it’s true!) I’ve been musing about spin-offs I’d like to see. Here’s a bunch. (Warning: Spoilers for old Doctor Who stories ahead…)

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Reading The Wheel of Time: Taim Tells Lies and Rand Shares His Plan in Winter’s Heart (Part 3)

This week in Reading The Wheel of Time, we’re finishing off “Snow,” the Prologue of Winters Heart—catching up with Toveine and then going to see what Rand and and Min are up to. Everyone’s got big plans right now, and it will be interesting to see whose come to fruition, and whose fizzle out.

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Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Five Excellent Norse Fiction Books From Indie Publishers

There’s been a notable upsurge in Viking-related releases across all forms of media in recent years, as I’ve previously discussed, specifically regarding retellings of the myths and novels inspired by the sagas. The broader world of original fiction is no exception to that. But even with the significant increase of interest in the subject matter, not all worthy manuscripts are fated to be published by one of the major publishers.

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Avengers: The Kang Dynasty Is Michael Waldron’s Problem Now

Marvel is sticking with Michael Waldron. The screenwriter behind Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness—also the guy who created and wrote much of the first season of Loki—now has not one but two more major Marvel movies to write. He was previously tapped to write Avengers: Secret Wars, a bit of news about which we were not particularly enthused. And it seems he’ll also be writing the lead-up to that film: Deadline reports that Avengers: The Kang Dynasty is now in Waldron’s hands.

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Read an Excerpt From Yours for the Taking

The year is 2050. Ava and her girlfriend live in what’s left of Brooklyn, and though they love each other, it’s hard to find happiness while the effects of climate change rapidly eclipse their world.

We’re thrilled to share an excerpt from Yours for the Taking by Gabrielle Korn, a science fiction novel of queer love, betrayal, and chosen family, and an unflinching indictment of white, corporate feminism—out from St. Martin’s Press on December 5th.

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Monarch: Legacy of Monsters Co-Creators Matt Fraction and Chris Black on That Pivotal Godzilla Scene

The television series Monarch: Legacy of Monsters takes place on two timelines: one in 2015 that takes place between 2014’s Godzilla and 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and one in the 1950s, which shows the origins of the titular Monarch organization, the institution in Legendary’s MonsterVerse responsible for researching the Titans and protecting humanity against them.

The show, which just had its third episode released on Apple TV+, is centered around a family whose lives are intertwined in various ways with Monarch. The 1950s timeline focuses on three of those characters—Keiko (Mari Yamamoto), a young Bill Randa (Anders Holm), and a young Lee Shaw (Wyatt Russell)—who also happen to be the founders of Monarch.

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Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Bound”

Written by Manny Coto
Directed by Allan Kroeker
Season 4, Episode 17
Production episode 093
Original air date: April 15, 2005
Date: December 27, 2154

Captain’s star log. While en route to Berengaria to scout locations for a starbase, an Orion pirate ship intercepts them. The pirate captain, Harrad-Sar, wishes to discuss business with Archer on his ship. Archer, Reed, and two MACOs beam over (Reed expressing great apprehension).

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Series: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch

Dangerous, Hopeful Futures: Celebrating the Visionary Stories of Kelley Eskridge

“That’s what people do, they get different together.” (Solitaire, 351)

Kelley Eskridge is not a prolific author, but she has nevertheless produced a body of work remarkable for its subtlety and depth. Eskdrige’s short stories are marvels of character-focused SF, where speculations are explored through the interactions of everyday people. They frequently centre queer characters and explore ideas around gender. Similarly, her lone novel Solitaire (2002), is an underrated and pioneering work of queer cyberpunk that thoughtfully explores the potential uses of VR technology for incarceration.

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The Mermaid in the Tower: Aquamarine

I have a lifelong fondness for soppy kids’ movies. Yes, I like Disney movies, and Disney knockoffs, and kids’ movies, period. My inner editor may be making squawky noises, but I can’t make myself care. I love them anyway.

Not long after Aquamarine first came out, along about 2006, I happened across it on one of the primordial streaming channels. We had satellite TV then. Remember satellite TV?

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Five Books With Highly Imaginative Takes on Prehistoric Existence

You know where you are with stone tools. Or rather, scientists know where their ancestors were with stone tools, because stone tools are sufficiently durable that, with a bit of luck, the tools will outlast the species that made them.

Other technologies are not as considerate. We can only make an educated guess as to when clothing was adopted by comparing head and body lice, which became reproductively isolated from each other when humans started wearing clothes: 70,000 years ago, plus or minus about 40,000 years.

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5 Stories About Embracing Found Family

Some of our favorite SFF protagonists tend to form their own circles, building communities with those that love them for who they are. Around the holidays, these stories offer a gentle reminder that there are many ways to define family, and plenty of reasons to spend time bonding with the people who mean the most to you even if you’re not strictly related.

These five stories celebrate found families and the wonderful, unconventional love they share.

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