The Roci will Fly Again! The Expanse Picked Up by Amazon

Break out the celebratory lasagna—The Expanse has been saved! The show will move over to Amazon’s streaming service after its third season ends on Syfy. Jeff Bezos made the announcement himself last night, after a panel at the National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference, which featured three of the show’s stars, Steven Strait, Wes Chatham, and Cas Anvar, along with showrunner Naren Shankar.

[Read more]

Don’t Underestimate the Genius of “The Deep” on This Year’s Hugo Ballot

Clipping (often styled as clipping.) are Daveed Diggs, William Huston, and Jonathan Snipes. After starting out as a remix project, they’ve evolved into an experimental, industrial rap act that combines a vast enthusiasm for their field and what happens at its edges with Diggs’ fiercely literate, playful lyrics. If you like and are familiar with rap, picture the centre of a Venn diagram where the overlapping circles are labelled “De La Soul,” “Michael Franti,” “A Tribe Called Quest,” “Dr. Dre’s production style,” and “The Bomb Squad.” If you don’t like or aren’t particularly familiar with rap, then the Venn diagram reads something like “Nine Inch Nails,” “Stockhausen,” “Gil Scott-Heron,” and “early Leftfield.” Their work is massive and precise, compassionate and architectural—at times intensely funny, and at others deeply horrific. They are, by far, one of the best things happening not just in rap but in music at the moment.

The fact that Clipping been nominated for a Hugo for two years running speaks to that. Last year’s science fiction concept album, Splendor & Misery was nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form. This year, their song, “The Deep,” has followed it.

This is fantastic news, not just for the group, but for the Hugos.

[Read more]

Solo: A Star Wars Story is Charming If a Bit Lazy — Just Like Han Himself

If Han Solo is by-and-large the world’s favorite Star Wars character (they’ve done polls: he is), then any film focusing on him should be a sure thing. And despite a handful of mega hiccups during production, and some concerned side-eye from lifelong fans before the final trailer dropped, that’s precisely what Solo: A Star Wars Story is—an adventure-packed, yet riskless, sure thing.

[Read more]

Purr-fectly Mediocre — Catwoman

Catwoman made her initial appearance in the very first issue of Batman’s solo title in 1940 as “The Cat.” A cat-burglar named Selina Kyle, she quickly became a popular member of Batman’s rogues’ gallery, and the most prominent female member of same.

The main difference between Catwoman and Batman’s other foes, like the Joker, the Penguin, and so on, was that there was a certain amount of sexual tension. Mostly that was expressed in the middle of the 20th century as good old-fashioned sexism, as Batman treated Catwoman with more respect and a lot of drooling because she was a girl.

Then Catwoman appeared in the 1966 TV series starting Adam West, and her popularity as a character skyrocketed.

[It all started on the day I died.]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

The 12 Most Gratuitous Robot Deaths in Sci-Fi

Sometimes it feels like robots only exist to be abused, you know? We love them and the window they provide on the human condition, but science fiction is usually pretty mean to them overall. It loves to torment robots (and when we say “robots” we’re really talking about any form of android or A.I. or sentient toaster or what-have-you) with the constant threat of obsolescence or deactivation or destruction. And some of these deaths are just plain gratuitous, leaving us betrayed, bewildered, and otherwise bereaved.

Here are the worst of them.

[Read more]

Five Overworked Fantasy Characters Who Could Use a Vacation

What with all the cursed jewelry and chthonic adversaries and apocalyptic prophecies to deal with, fantasy characters often seem a bit overworked and overstressed. Sure, these people might be fictional, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t treat themselves to a nice, relaxing holiday from time to time.

Now I have it on good authority that countless fantasy folk, from the Pale Man to Pyornkrachzark, read, so I thought this post would be the perfect opportunity to recommend some amusement parks for a few characters to visit this summer. As a world-renowned theme park enthusiast, I feel that writing this piece is my responsibility.

[Read more]

Interstellar Ring Cycle — The Expanse: “Delta V”

This week’s episode of The Expanse, “Delta V,” shook up its usual storytelling style to jolt us into a new plotline. I think it worked well, although it did take me a few minutes to catch up—I’m guessing those of you who have read the books were on firmer footing.

But we got some fantastic shake up, a gruesome special effects setpiece, and a couple of my favorite Amos scenes so far.

[Read more]

Disconnect the Dots: 84K by Claire North

Having dealt so memorably with death in The End of the Day, Claire North sets her sights on life in 84K, a powerful and provocative novel that nods to George Orwell at the same time as narrating a tale not even he could tell so well. It’s not an easy read—not that you’d take Nineteen Eighty-Four to the beach either—but buckle up, because what it is is brilliant.

At the core of North’s newest is a question oft-asked yet rarely answered to anyone’s satisfaction: can you possibly put a price on something as sacred as life? In 84K you absolutely can. You can put a price on the taking of life, and come up with numbers that basically negate any other crimes you’ve committed—and that’s exactly what the man called Theo Miller does on a daily basis.

Theo—though that’s not his real name—works for the Criminal Audit Office, which “emerged some seven or so years before human rights were judged passé” and utterly disrupted a justice system that just didn’t work, according to the Company. Prison, as its inordinately influential opponents put it, “was a deeply inefficient way of rehabilitating criminals, especially given how many were clearly irredeemable, and despite privatisation efficiencies overcrowding and reoffending were a perennial problem.” Better, the alarming argument went, to assign fines to each and every illegal act, and pack off any lawbreakers who are unable to pay their way to so-called Commercial Reform Institutes, which is to say work camps where the poor can at least be trusted to be productive.

[Chilling, isn’t it?]

How Do You Measure A Resistance? The Handmaid’s Tale: “First Blood”

Forgive the RENT reference, but “Seasons of Love” came into my head when thinking about all of the little moments and factors that build up something so massive as Gilead, or its undoing. It’s not quite 525,600 minutes, but there were several that stuck out from this week, about halfway through the season. The best way to talk about this episode (THIS EPISODE), then, is to focus on the moments. Some refer to the “First Blood” of the episode title; others I just can’t stop thinking about.

[Read more]

Fairy Tale Towers and False Brides: “Maid Maleen”

As we’ve previously discussed here, the practice of locking women up in towers of one sort of another was not exactly unknown in the European Middle Ages and Renaissance. In some cases, the women entered willingly, interested in pursuing a religious life—out of either genuine religious devotion, or interest in the opportunities offered by cloisters, which included education, culture and the opportunity to avoid the risks of childbirth. In other cases, the women did not enter willingly at all, but found themselves forced into prison and death. Some for crimes they committed; some for purely political reasons; and at least two because if you’re going to marry six women but not do that all at once you have got to hurry up the process by imprisoning and then executing them in towers.

Not at all surprisingly, this historical reality bled into fairy tales. Rapunzel and its variants are probably the best known, especially after a certain recent movie, but equally interesting is a story of a maiden imprisoned not by a witch, but by her own father: Maid Maleen.

[Read more]

Upright Women Wanted: Announcing a New Sarah Gailey Novella

“That girl’s got more wrong notions than a barn owl’s got mean looks.”

Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her—a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda. The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing. Publishing is pleased to announce that acquiring editor Justin Landon and Sarah Gailey are reuniting with Upright Women Wanted, a dystopian scifi western about love, resistance, and revolution. (No hippos this time, we think.)

[Read more]

Not the Way I Remembered It: Raiders from the Rings by Alan E. Nourse

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.

Sometimes, you revisit an old favorite book from your childhood, and it feels comfortable and familiar. Other times, you put it down after re-reading, and ask, “Is that the same book I read all those years ago?” For me, one such book is Raiders from the Rings by Alan E. Nourse. I remembered it for the action, the exciting depictions of dodging asteroids while pursued by hostile forces. But while I did find that this time around, I also found a book with elements that reminded me of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Which raised a question in my mind: how did this troubling subject matter end up in a 1960s juvenile novel?

[Read more]

On the Origins of Modern Biology and the Fantastic: Part 3 — Aldous Huxley and Thomas Hunt Morgan

Science and science fiction are indelibly intertwined, each inspiring the other since their modern birth in the Victorian Era. Good science fiction, like a sound scientific theory, involves thorough worldbuilding, avoids logical inconsistencies, and progressively deeper interrogations reveal further harmonies. This series explores the connection between the evolution of biology and science fiction into the modern era.

“It isn’t only art that is incompatible with happiness, it’s also science. Science is dangerous, we have to keep it most carefully chained and muzzled.” —Mustapha Mond, Brave New World

Brave New World (1932) is set in a world that is built with, dependent upon, and terrified of science. Humans are manufactured on assembly lines. The shape of their lives and their intelligence are determined through the addition of mutagens during in vitro fetal development. During childhood, their personalities, likes and dislikes are conditioned during sleep with subliminal messaging to produce a perfect and completely replaceable cog that knows only work and pleasure in a utopia of the unquestioning. It is a science fictional dystopia, written by the grandson of Darwin’s bulldog, with a title drawn from a line in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, partly inspired by the British scientist J.B.S. Haldane’s 1926 lecture, Daedalus; or, Science and the Future, and a response to industrial and political totalitarianism. As a piece of literature, it is a mash-up of legacies—of Wells and science fiction, of Darwin and Mendel and biology, of Henry Ford and Sigmund Freud, of the Victorian era itself—which perfectly captures the the complex feelings of hope and anxiety that marked the time between the turn of the 20th century and the start of the second World War.

[Read more]

Oathbringer Reread: Chapters Nineteen and Twenty

Welcome back to the Oathbringer Reread, loyal Knights, Ardents, or whatever else you are! This week we’ll be covering two chapters, in which we see a bit more of Dalinar’s past (and his first meeting with Evi!) and get a little glimpse of Kaladin’s continued journey with the parshmen. Questions abound in these chapters… how crazy was young!Dalinar for walking around in a highstorm? Who sent that assassin after Gavilar? What makes an enemy, and who deserves to die in a war? And just what the heck are those spindly light-things that are walking around in the highstorms, anyway?

[You may have just proven in one moment, Dalinar, a point I’ve spent a half hour trying to make politically.]

Series: Oathbringer Reread