Dual Memory Confirms Sue Burke as a Modern SFF Master

Sue Burke has a gift for topicality. In 2021, she published Immunity Index, a near-future story of a pandemic. In 2023, as AI thinkpieces proliferate like weeds, as developers make apocalyptic pronouncements, and media companies promise, or threaten, that AI will replace human writers, she publishes Dual Memory, a novel about a self-aware machine. But since mere topicality and relevance don’t a good novel make, it’s a pleasure to report that Dual Memory is a smart, surprising, and original book that should last far beyond the current news cycle.

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Be Kind, Rewind: Horror on Tape in The Eternal Enemy and Silent Witness 

I miss video stores. The thrill of picking up a long-anticipated new release, the suspense of wondering whether all the copies of the movie you want will already be rented, the endless sense of possibility in wandering aimlessly up and down the aisles in the hope of finding some wonderful, unexpected treasure. Video stores were a gold mine of entertainment, providing the opportunity to rent, watch, and rewatch an ever-evolving collection of hundreds of movies, all for just a few dollars, and conveniently located down the street. We now have access to an even wider range of movies, even more conveniently, streaming onto our screens without ever having to leave the house, but it’s just not the same. 

Video cassettes, VCRs, and the horrors of the small screen are central to Christopher Pike’s The Eternal Enemy (1993) and Carol Ellis’s Silent Witness (1994). These two books evoke different modes of horror and suspense, with science fiction in Pike and mystery/thriller in Ellis. However, in both cases, the role of video recording is central to understanding the past and the future, as well as the characters and the people around them, both friends and foes. There is also an interesting dynamic of power and agency at play, in being able to record, watch, and manipulate the images on the screen through how those are created, consumed, and mediated. 

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Six Favorite Authors Writing in New or Unexpected Genres

You get used to certain content from certain authors. Sometimes that’s because the author usually writes in one genre, or maybe you’ve only read one particular genre from an author’s oeuvre. But to me, one of the exciting parts of being an avid reader is trying something fresh and unexpected from an author. Like when C.L. Polk, known for their queer Edwardian-esque fantasy romance novels, wrote the 1940s-set hardboiled detective novella Even Though I Knew the End, or when Rebecca Roanhorse, known for Indigenous fantasy, came up with the murder mystery Weird West noir Tread of Angels.

This year, there are six authors whose new and very different books I’m all a flutter for. Who is doing something different this year that you’re excited about?

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Creating Summer Reading Assignments for Grown-Ups

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: I don’t mean summer reading in the beach reads and blockbusters sense. I mean it more like it was meant in elementary school: reading you do over the summer that maybe—sort of?—counts towards school. When I was a kid, it was like being told to do something I wanted to do anyway. Read more books? Cool! It was a pleasant non-challenge, like the time we were supposed to collect gold stars inside a construction paper folder for every fairy tale we read. I would have used up every gold star in the school if they’d let me.

What I want from summer reading now is a little different.

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Queering SFF: 4 Weird and Sexy Books for Pride Month

Welcome to the gayest of months, accompanied by the brightest sunlight and the shortest inseams. What—or, who—are we reading?

Seriously, though.

Given the general vibes (rancid!) and energy levels (unpredictable!) among my fellow queer, trans, and gnc folks in 2023… I thought our Queering SFF: Pride Month special this time around should focus on recommendations for your reading and watching pleasure. When faced with constant real-life horrors, immersing myself in queer art—books, movies, TV shows, games, and more—is one of the things that keeps my spirit glued together. The other is community. Whether those communities are big or small, transnational or within your own neighborhood, there’s something powerful in knowing you’re not alone. Art does that, too.

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Series: Queering SFF

“That means a man for me”: Hilary Mantel’s Beyond Black (Part 10)

Welcome back to Reading the Weird, in which we get girl cooties all over weird fiction, cosmic horror, and Lovecraftiana—from its historical roots through its most recent branches.

This week, we continue Hilary Mantel’s Beyond Black with Chapter 11. The novel was first published in 2005. Spoilers ahead! CW for slurs related to ethnicity and gender, and abortion treated as a shameful secret.

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Series: Reading the Weird

Joe Abercrombie’s Best Served Cold to Get Adaptation, With Rebecca Ferguson and Deadpool Director On Board

I’ve long said that Joe Abercrombie’s First Law series was ripe for film or television adaptation, and it looks like Hollywood finally agrees with me! The author’s standalone book in the First Law world, Best Served Cold, is getting an adaptation and not only has some A-list talent attached, but also sees Abercrombie penning the script.

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What Do You Spy in the Title Sequence for Good Omens 2?

The unexpected second season of Good Omens—Prime Video’s adaptation of the book by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett—arrives in just under two months, which means it’s time for the teasers and hints to start appearing. And what a treat this one is: The full title sequence for the new season, which is our first real hint at what the story might be about.

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A Lavish, Crunchy Fantasy: Witch King by Martha Wells

I’ve been a fan of Martha Wells since the first Murderbot Diaries book, All Systems Red. So of course I was so excited when I heard about Witch King. I know she’s written a lot of fantasy before, but this would be my first venture into that side of her work. Without knowing what to expect, I dived in. Thrilled to report that I was not disappointed.

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Eight Movies Featuring the Biggest, Creepiest Bugs

The weather is warming up in the Northern Hemisphere and while most people are enjoying the longer days and toasty sunshine, I’m focused on the dreaded fact that bug season is upon us. While I know that insects are necessary to humankind’s survival, a lot of them are also undeniably creepy. There’s the many legs (too many legs), their overwhelming numbers (swarms!), and the fact that some of them are venomous (to the point of being deadly). If you take all of that, scale it up, and stick it in a movie, the result can be truly terrifying.

While I split hairs between fungi and plants in previous lists, I haven’t afforded insects and arachnids the same benefit here. This is mostly because when something creepy is crawling its way towards me, I’m too freaked out to care about which category it belongs to. Now on with the list—here are eight movies that make great use of big bugs.

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