For Queen and Country: The Frozen Crown by Greta Kelly

The Frozen Crown is American author Greta Kelly’s debut novel. In this fantasy novel, the heir to an embattled kingdom travels to the court of a great empire, ruled by her godfather, to beg for military aid.

Askia is the legitimate queen of Seravesh, but the expansionary forces of the Roven empire have put her cousin on the throne and proceeded to terrorise her country in order to compel her surrender. She’s taken her last loyal legion and fled, in the hopes that a personal appeal to the emperor of Vishir—in whose realm her parents met their death, and where she experienced torture at the hands of an extreme anti-magic sect in her youth, who were attempting to prove that she was a witch—will have the effect she desires.

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The Magic of Competence: Maxine Kaplan’s Wench

Let there be many more books about tavern wenches. Barkeeps, cobblers, tailors, fletchers, the blacksmith who’s just really tired of how the soldiers treat her finest work—I’d like books about all of them, please. Every character trope in the fantasy toolbox can be a person who deserves to have their story told.

In her second YA novel, Wench, Maxine Kaplan plucks a longtime tavern girl from behind the bar and shoves her headlong into a tumultuous adventure. Seventeen(ish)-year-old Tanya is deeply attached to her identity as the person who keeps things running. Orphaned at a young age, she was taken in by the owner of the Smiling Snake, who’s getting on in years. Tanya always expected he would leave the tavern to her.

Maybe he just forgot to do the paperwork.

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The Rogue One Spinoff Andor Seems to Begin Before K-2SO and Cassian Meet

Last month, we got our first peek at Andor, the Rogue One spinoff prequel series about Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor. Alan Tudyk, who voices the delightfully crabby droid K-2SO, was part of the show’s initial announcement. Andor began filming late last year, but as Tudyk said in a recent interview, he’s not in it. Yet.

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Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Drone”

Written by Kenneth Biller and Harry Doc Kloor and Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Directed by Les Landau
Season 5, Episode 2
Production episode 196
Original air date: October 21, 1998
Stardate: unknown

Captain’s log. Seven, the EMH, Torres, and Paris are taking a type-2 shuttle to watch a proto-nebula form. It’s a rare opportunity for study of a nifty natural phenomenon. However, the nebula damages the shuttlecraft, and the team is beamed back.

[How many Borg hitchhikers are we gonna pick up on this ship?]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Five Fairy Tale Mashups That Show How All Our Stories Are Connected

What could be better than a retelling of your favorite fairy tale? How about a retelling of two of your favorite fairy tales? How about a retelling that incorporates a bunch of your favorite fairy tales?

One of my favorite types of narrative is the mashup, wherein a bunch of existing characters or storylines mingle together, resulting in brand-new flavors, new adventures, and if you’re lucky, fresh nuances to explore.

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Trying to Do Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast in The Expanse’s “Hard Vacuum”

I’m never going to stop talking about how good Dominique Tipper is in this show, and especially this season. Everyone in “Hard Vacuum” is facing something that seems impossible, but Naomi is struggling with the hardest, most physical manifestation of an impossible task. It’s an aching, exhausting, solo performance, and it anchors another solidly engrossing episode.

Spoilers follow!

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The Science of Space: Rockets, Missiles, & Space Travel by Willy Ley

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.

This column, up until now, has been devoted to exploring works of fiction. But looking around my den recently, I realized there have been many non-fiction books that influenced my view of the future. Today, I’m going to look at one of my early favorites, written by a pioneer of rocketry, Willy Ley. In the 1960s, it was impossible not to get caught up in the excitement of the space program, and I was fortunate to have a dad who worked in aerospace and was a collector of all sorts of fascinating books on scientific topics.

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Ten of the Best Recent Horror and Sci-Fi Movies to Stream Right Now

2020 was a weird year for movies: closed theaters, no Marvel movies, and the new Bond movie and The Fast and the Furious sequel pushed to 2021.

But limitations on theater attendance not only pushed studios to experiment with their releases, but also allowed some smaller genre movies to attract attention that usually would have been taken by blockbuster franchise films. In other words, 2020 made room for some great new genre movies, and gave viewers more of an opportunity to watch them.

Here are ten of the best sci-fi and horror movies of 2020 (in no particular order), all of which you can watch right now.

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Rhythm of War Reread: Chapter Twenty

It’s Thursday, and you know what that means, my wee Cosmere chickens? That’s right, it’s another installment of the Rhythm of War reread! We’re excited to learn a bit more about the inner workings of the Lightweavers in this chapter, and also to follow The Three around as they try to figure out who the traitor in their midst could be. Intrigue! Danger! Sea shanties!

…No, wait, that’s not right, let me try again.

Intrigue! Danger! Treachery!

There we go. Join us, won’t you?

[This time, she was the hunter.]

Series: Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Five Stories About Generation Ships With Happy(ish) Endings

We’ve all read about it: after decades of construction, a shiny new generation ship is loaded with a crew of bright-eyed optimists. Once the sun is just another bright star in the sky, mutiny and civil war reduce the crew to ignorant peasants…unless something worse happens. This is a narrative pattern set as early as Murray Leinster’s 1935 “Proxima Centauri,” solidified by Heinlein’s 1941 “Universe,” and embraced by authors ever since: human foibles in the confined space of a generation ship ensure calamity. Ideally not of the sort that leave everyone too dead to be interesting.

But it does not have to go that way! Here are five examples of generation ships that managed to avoid mutiny, civil war, barbarism, and mass cannibalism.

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The Deplorable Word: Power, Magicians, and Evil in C.S. Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew

C.S. Lewis didn’t care for magicians.

In fact, as Lewis wrote in The Abolition of Man, he saw the core problem that magicians were trying to solve one that was at best distasteful, and at worst something that led to actions “disgusting and impious.” That core problem: “how to subdue reality to the wishes of men.” (We won’t get into this much yet, but he saw magicians and scientists as related in this sense…something we will discuss more when we get to the Space Trilogy.)

For the “wise men of old” the core question of the universe was “how to conform the soul to reality,” but for magicians the question was how to bend Nature to one’s own desires (or, at best, humanity’s desires). “It is the magician’s bargain: give up your soul, get power in return.” The process was clear: the magician “surrenders object after object, and finally himself, to Nature in return for power.”

Where the wise sages of old bent their soul to reality using “knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue,” the magician embraces a core selfishness, a willingness to make whatever sacrifices are necessary to attain greater power.

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Series: The Great C.S. Lewis Reread

Her Suitcase Full of Ectoplasm: The Haunting of Hill House (Part 8)

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 with Chapter 7 of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, first published in 1959. Spoilers ahead.

[“The spirits dwelling in this house may be actually suffering because they are aware that you are afraid of them.”]

Series: Reading the Weird

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