When the Evil Stepmother Has a Cinderella Story of Her Own: Danielle Teller’s All the Ever Afters

It can be rather difficult to summon up any sympathy for the stepmother in most versions of Cinderella. Oh, she may not be the worst of the evil stepmothers out there—after all, she never tries to kill her young, beautiful stepdaughter, unlike a certain Evil Queen with a poisoned apple fetish. And she seems motivated, at least in part, with the purest of motives: to help her own daughters achieve a brilliant marriage, and thus, a happy ending. Still. Against this, she turns her stepdaughter into a servant, blatantly favors her own daughters, and—in many versions—quite possibly robs her stepdaughter of her inheritance. And, of course, she famously refuses to let her lovely stepdaughter go to a ball.

No wonder we mostly cheer for Cinderella.

But what if we heard the stepmother’s side of this tale. Would we still cheer as hard?

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Announcing Perihelion Summer, a New Novella from Greg Egan

Jonathan Strahan has acquired Greg Egan’s next novella, Perihelion Summer, for Tor.com Publishing!

Taraxippus is coming: a black hole one tenth the mass of the sun is about to enter the solar system.

Matt and his friends are taking no chances. They board a mobile aquaculture rig, the Mandjet, self-sustaining in food, power and fresh water, and decide to sit out the encounter off-shore. As Taraxippus draws nearer, new observations throw the original predictions for its trajectory into doubt, and by the time it leaves the solar system, the conditions of life across the globe will be changed forever.

Perihelion Summer is the story of people struggling to adapt to a suddenly alien environment, and the friendships and alliances they forge as they try to find their way in a world where the old maps have lost their meaning.

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Stolen Moments: Time Was by Ian McDonald

Multiple-award-winning Northern Irish writer Ian McDonald has a significant body of work behind him, from 1988’s Desolation Road to 2017’s Luna: Wolf Moon. Time Was, his new novella from Tor.com Publishing, is a peculiar story of time, mystery, books, love, and war, compact as a parable, layered like a complex metaphor… and in some ways, strikingly unsettling.

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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 Begins Between Darkness and Light

Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale ends on a note of ambiguity: Offred steps into the Eyes’ car, “into the darkness, within; or else the light.” This open-ended farewell from the Handmaid narrator leaves readers to draw their own conclusions about Offred’s fate, either optimistic or pessimistic, hopeful or bleak.

There’s never the option of the shadows. The in-between, the liminal space between captivity and freedom. Purgatory. Finishing the book, we imagine that Offred finally gets out of Gilead, whether that’s smuggled out in a car or in a noose on the Wall. But as the television series, starting its second season entirely off-book, reminds us, Gilead is always within you.

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The Poppy War

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school…

R.F. Kuang makes her exciting debut with The Poppy War, an epic historical military fantasy inspired by the bloody history of China’s twentieth century. Available May 1st from Harper Voyager.

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Can We All Just Agree to Ignore the Biggest Threat in the Universe? The Expanse: “Assured Destruction”

OK show, I have but one request: can Pastor Anna kick Errinwright in the shins next week?

This week’s episode of The Expanse, “Assured Destruction,” gave us the War Room of the UN, the protomolecule labs on Io, and two different hints that Amos has the most interesting backstory of anyone on the show. It also featured two of the Game of Thrones-iest sequences yet. But before I get into that, a quick recap.

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11 Weird Moments We (Probably) Won’t See in Avengers: Infinity War

Infinity War is upon us. King T’Challa, the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man and the rest are coming together to face the greatest threat their universe has ever known; Thanos. Teased for years, the universe’s angriest purple man is finally here and he’s bringing doom with him.

The thing is though, he’s been here before and it got WEIRD. Avengers: Infinity War is adapted from Marvel Comics’ classic mini-series The Infinity Gauntlet. Over six issues, we watched as Thanos took over the universe and eradicated half of all life with a click of his fingers. Then: things got really complicated. Infinity Gauntlet is an acknowledged classic of modern western comics but what isn’t acknowledged is just how weird the whole event is. That means that some of the best flourishes and beats may not make it into the movie (or even into whatever Avengers 4 is).

So here, for your reading pleasure, are some of The Infinity Gauntlet’s best, and weirdest, parts. Spoilers for the comic mini-series ahead!

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Spies, Soldiers, and Cold War Cynicism: The Best of Mack Reynolds

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.

When we think about the science in science fiction, we generally think of the hard sciences: physics, astronomy, chemistry, etc. Yet there are other sciences rooted in human behavior, sometimes sneeringly referred to as “softer” sciences, including economics, sociology and political science. One of the authors who specialized in incorporating these other sciences into his fiction in a way that was anything but soft was Mack Reynolds, one of the most prolific contributors to Analog in the 1960s. He would often punctuate a discussion of communist five-year plans or minimum basic incomes with a gun battle, or a romantic moment, or a chase scene. And while some of the settings in his work now seem dated, the issues he grapples with are still with us today, and worthy of our attention.

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Ten Years Later, Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother Remains Inevitable

It’s not really the tenth anniversary of Little Brother. More like the 12th. I wrote the first proposal for Little Brother on May 7th, 2006, and finished the first draft on July 2, 2006, after eight weeks of the most intense writing of my life. I originally pitched it as “Encyclopedia Brown meets Wargames,” and the working title was “Wikipedia Brown.”

Twelve years later, technology has changed in profound ways that have upended our political, social, and economic systems. Technology is at the heart of how we fight wars, how we wage struggles for justice, how we fall in love, how we work and learn. Hardly a day goes by without some terrible or wonderful revelation about a new technology or a new use for an old one.

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Oathbringer Reread: Chapters Fourteen and Fifteen

Alice: Hallo out there! Welcome back to the Oathbringer reread for two—count ‘em, two—chapters this week.

Lyn: Huzzah! Double the chapters, double the fun!

A: First, we briefly join Kaladin in his bewildered watching of the “Voidbringers” he finally caught up with. Then we’ll switch back to Shallan and Adolin—and Mr. No-Mating Pattern—as she begins learning swordplay.

[I should be an expert at this, shouldn’t I?]

Series: Oathbringer Reread

New George R. R. Martin Book Fire & Blood Arrives November 20th

George R. R. Martin’s latest tale of Westeros, Fire and Blood, will be released on November 20, 2018, and is available for pre-order nowFire and Blood: 300 Years Before A Game of Thrones (A Targaryen History) will look back at some of the history that led to the events of A Song of Ice and Fire, focusing on the intrigue and tragedy of the Targaryen family. The book is a continuation of a much shorter piece in 2014’s illustrated in-world history The World of Ice & Fire, that was written by Martin and collaborators Elio Garcia and Linda Antonsson.

F&B promises the “full tapestry” of the Targaryen’s history, and includes the origin of the three dragon eggs that changed the course Daenerys’ life.

[Click through for the full cover and blurb]

Precarious Lighthouses: George T. Wetzel’s “Caer Sidhi”

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

Today we’re looking at George T. Wetzel’s “Caer Sidhi,” first published in August Derleth’s Dark Mind, Dark Heart anthology in 1962. Spoilers ahead.

[“The aqueous wall grew to awesome heights, reaching almost to the waning stars…”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

Ten Excellent SFF ‘Ships

As the hosts of the One True Pairing podcast, we love romance (duh), and have a tendency to swoon over the same people over and over and over and over AND OVER again (Leo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, Romeo + Juliet FTW). But the SFF genre has so many incredible pairings, so we wanted to take a hot minute to share our favorites with you. Herein lie our choices for the greats SFF ’ships.

If this term is new for you, it’s not like the ship that took down Leo *sobs*. Your ’ship is the couple you love the most from your favorite fandom, whether it’s a TV show, movie, book, or real life! They can be an already established couple or two people you think make the perfect pair. Some of our picks are are SFF staples, some are a bit more obscure, some even dip into the romance world, but we hope you like them all—and if you don’t know them, we hope our pitches get you to research and find them and love them too!

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Elemental Rome: From Unseen Fire by Cass Morris

Lately, it’s really difficult to be enthusiastic about books. Perhaps I’ve read too many of them. Perhaps—though less likely—I haven’t read enough, and if I read a few more, the enthusiasm will come back. But it’s particularly difficult to be enthusiastic about books that aren’t self-contained: a novel that begins a series without paying off any of the narrative threads that it sets up in the same volume is really difficult to love.

The odd thing is that From Unseen Fire should be right up my tree. My background is ancient history, and From Unseen Fire sets itself in an alternate version of Rome—a Rome by a different name, and one where certain individuals have magical talents related to elements, but a Roman Republic nonetheless.

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