A Human-Free Earth: Andre Norton’s Breed to Come

Breed to Come is one of Norton’s better-loved books. It was published in the early Seventies, shortly before what is effectively a companion volume (and was packaged so in Baen Books’ ebook revival of Norton’s works), Iron Cage. Whereas Iron Cage frames itself as a human variation on a cat locked in a cage and dumped out of a car, with aliens as the villains who cage the humans, Breed to Come tells the story of an Earth abandoned by humans and inhabited by intelligent animals.

The primary protagonist is Furtig, a mutated cat who lives in a colony related to a famous explorer and leader, Gammage. The People, as they call themselves, have evolved somewhat functional hands—at the cost of their ancestral claws—and the ability to walk upright as well as on all fours. They coexist more or less peacefully with mutated pigs, have an adversarial relationship with local tribes of mutated dogs, and open enmity with the mutated rats who infest the ruined cities of the Demons.

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Life, Death, and Coming of Age in Nnedi Okorafor’s Remote Control

This is the story of Sankofa and how she came to be—an icon, a feared pseudo-spirit, and a many-faceted metaphor. Nnedi Okorafor’s latest novella, Remote Control, is the melancholy tale of Sankofa’s search for peace and closure as she evolves into something far beyond an adolescent girl. Set in a futuristic Africa, autonomous machines, drones, and robots exist side by side with long-held cultural and spiritual beliefs—witchcraft is alive and well in the future, as it will be as long as the human imagination endures. It’s a classic coming-of-age story where a young protagonist endures personal devastation, only to adapt and grow into her own skin.

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Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Night”

Written by Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Directed by David Livingston
Season 5, Episode 1
Production episode 195
Original air date: October 14, 1998
Stardate: 52081.2

Captain’s log. Paris and Kim are acting out a Captain Proton adventure on the holodeck, which is interrupted by the EMH, who declares that they’ve gone over their allotted time, which leads to a fight between Paris and the doctor for time, and then a power surge on the holodeck.

[“What if I told you I’m not leaving until you join me?” “I’d say have a seat—it’ll be a while.”]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

A Glittering Caper: The Mask of Mirrors by M.A. Carrick

M.A. Carrick is an open pseudonym for writing team Marie Brennan and Alyc Helms. Brennan’s track record needs scant introduction, with twelve books to her name—including, mostly recently, the acclaimed Memoirs of Lady Trent series and its spin-off sequel Turning Darkness into Light. Helms is perhaps less well known, though they have previously published two solo novels, 2015’s The Dragons of Heaven and 2016’s The Conclave of Shadows.

The Mask of Mirrors is the first novel to come jointly from their pens, and it reminds me strikingly of the Astreiant novels of Melissa Scott and the late Lisa A. Barnett’s Astreiant novels, albeit more in worldbuilding and tone than in characters and concerns.

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Six Stories for Fans of Beautiful Australian Gothic

Like most Gothics, the Australian Gothic has acquired its own distinct aesthetic—most frequently, an abject unpleasantness and atmosphere of sand-scoured horror. Personally, I’d like to blame both Evil Angels (aka A Cry in the Night) and Gary Crew’s memorably effective Strange Objects (1990) for many of my own nightmares.

It is also, like most Gothics, tangled up with the genre’s own past, and inextricably knotted into colonial and imperial histories as well as the multitude of other mirrored and recurring histories typical of a Gothic plot. And Australia has a bloody history, with terrible things done and still being done. Yet there are also stories which, without shying away from terrors (although not necessarily innately any better at handling the true history than other varieties of Australian Gothic), manage in a variety of fascinating ways to capture a sense of great (even sublime, often terrifying, never false) beauty.

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Series: Five Books About…

Reading The Wheel of Time: Spying and Secrets of Tel’aran’rhiod in Robert Jordan’s The Fires of Heaven (Part 16)

This week in Reading the Wheel of Time, we’ll be covering Chapters 24 and 25. Egwene discovers Nynaeve and Elayne’s secret, we learn a little more about how Tel’aran’rhiod works, and find out that Moghedien, unsurprisingly, is as close as we feared.

But first, let’s recap!

[We keep secrets too often, Egwene, but sometimes there is a reason.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Marvel Reportedly Casts Ethan Hawke as Moon Knight’s Main Villain

Marvel has an ambitious slate of projects coming up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for Disney+, including a new series about Moon Knight, which will come alongside other heroes like She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel, and more.

With the roster of projects underway, we’re starting to get word about what to expect from the next batch of shows, including details for Moon Knight.

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Author and Publisher Storm Constantine Has Passed Away

Storm Constantine, author of the Wraeththu Chronciles and a book publisher, has passed away at the age of 64. The news was announced Friday on Constantine’s Facebook page, which noted that the writer died after a long illness.

Constantine (who adopted her pen name as her legal name) was born in 1956 in Stafford, England, and began making up stories before she knew how to write. After art school, and time spent managing bands, she began her writing career with the beloved Wraeththu Chronicles. The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit was published in 1987, followed by The Bewitchments of Love and Hate and The Fulfillments of Fate and Desire. As her website explains, “Although characters in the Wraeththu novels inhabited a fantasy world, they were drawn from real people who were part of the alternative night-club/music scene of the mid-eighties.”

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Classic SF in Which Humans Come From “Beyond the Stars”

Could humanity be a recent visitor to this world? Are our true origins on some distant exoplanet?


The fossil record documents our purely terrestrial linage going back hundreds of millions of years. Humans are merely a recent flourish on the tetrapod body plan and suggestions to the contrary are manifestly nonsensical.

Still, no author in possession of a cool story idea ever hesitated merely because it constituted an egregious contradiction of firmly established science. Here are five examples of stories in which humans came from somewhere beyond the sky.

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In a near-future San Francisco where the gig economy has made work more precarious than ever, Edwina is an average twenty-something scrambling to hold down her job with a major skin care brand. Until her awful boss does something you should never do—angers the fae on social media—and the struggles of her job take on an even nastier shade.

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