SFF Books That Are Hard to Track Down in North America

One might expect that, in this globalized world, noteworthy books in one region would soon attract publishers elsewhere, especially in regions that happen to share a language. Not so. In the case of the United States and the United Kingdom, for example, some books are published only in the UK, others only in the US. 

It can be frustrating to have heard of an interesting book, to want to read that book, and to find that it is available ONLY in an imported edition. Well, at least it’s available (failing a breakdown in global trade networks, and how likely is that)…but it may take longer to get the book and the book may be more expensive.

You may be wondering why I am vexed about this. Allow me to list a few books that I wanted to acquire and that were not available in North American editions, as far as I can tell.

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Akiva Goldsman Writes a Star Trek: Picard Coronavirus Episode

Pretty much the entire entertainment industry is shut down right now, but that doesn’t mean TV creators can’t have some socially distanced fun with their shows. The good folks over at Vulture asked “dozens of showrunners, creators, and writers” how their characters would be faring during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 37 responded with surprisingly in-depth treatments. One of them just so happened to be Star Trek: Picard director, writer, and executive producer Akiva Goldsman, who shared his thoughts on how our beloved Jean-Luc would be spending time in lock-down.

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Gaming and Surviving the Internet in Chris Kluwe’s Otaku

In Infinite Game—a virtual world that spans the globe with varying lands, missions, and levels of difficulty—Ashley Akachi is Ashura the Terrible, leader of the SunJewel Warriors. Her all-women team is one of the best, constantly pulling off impressive feats and racking up prizes, money, status and the occasional death threat.

In the real world, Ash lives in Ditchtown, formerly Miami, a run-down city where hackers, Gamers, and the low-income class gather, making the most of their lives on and off the ‘Net. Ash has to deal with her brother Kiro growing distant and more obsessed with the Game, and making enough money to take care of her mother, an ex-solider, in intensive rehab, all while keeping a low profile from angry Gamers.

While running a side job for Sawyer, one of the members of the current government, Ash has a run-in with an old team member that goes awry and discovers a plot that can throw Ditchtown and other sectors into turmoil once more. Now it’s up to her and the legendary SunJewel Warriors to pull off one more encounter before the Game gets too real.

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This “Slightly More Scientific” Personality Quiz Will Give You the Definitive List of Pop Culture Characters You Match

If you’re looking for a way to while away the hours in self-isolation, it might be a good time to definitively find out—once and for all—all the pop culture characters you have jostling for sovereignty inside of you. That was the idea at (the now-virtual) Tor.com HQ at least, where we all took the Open-Source Psychometrics’ Project’s Statistical “Which Character” Personality Quiz.

Go take it, and click through for the Tor.com staff and contributor’s results!

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Amazon’s Tales From the Loop Captures the Moody Atmosphere of Simon Stålenhag’s Art

Giant buildings loom over the distant skyline, while giant robots and machines dot the surface of a rural landscape. Those elements make up many of the paintings that Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag has produced over the years, and which are now the basis of a new series from Amazon Prime Video, Tales From the Loop

Stålenhag has risen to prominence in recent years with his nostalgia-laced art, which he has since published in a pair of art books, Tales From the Loop and Things from the Flood. (Another, Electric State, reflects much of the same format, but isn’t set in the same world.) Featuring stark, haunting images of a sort of urban decay, on their surface they seem like an unlikely source for a dramatic television series. But Amazon’s Tales From the Loop is an intriguing, beautiful series that looks for the humanity amidst the fantastical. 

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Bad Birthdays and Tragic Hugs: Checking in With Outlander

Can we all agree that this was the worst birthday ever for James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser? You can’t help but wonder if the universe has something against him for reaching 50, as Outlander season 5’s midseason episode is all about the constant bargaining of life in times of war. In the space of an hour, “The Ballad of Roger Mac” delivered the loss of a beloved character, an old favorite figuratively coming back from the dead, and one man’s fate hanging in the balance.

We were going to wait to tackle the midseason review until after “Famous Last Words” resolves that hell of a cliffhanger, but seeing as Outlander is taking a brief break before then, we thought it appropriate to give this episode the proper discussion it deserves.

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Regrets, I’ve Had a Few — Star Trek: Picard First Season Overview

In my review of the first-season finale of Picard, I used the famous Anton Chekhov metaphor about how if you hang a gun on the wall early in the story, it should be fired late in the story. While I think that metaphor remains apt, I think an even better one to discuss the first season of Picard as a whole is juggling a lot of hard-boiled eggs.

The show caught most of them, but a few fell to the ground, and a few of those shattered when they hit.


Jo Walton’s Reading List: March 2020

Well, March sure was a peculiar month. I was home, and then I was home in self-isolation, which I still am. But I started the New Decameron Project with Maya Chhabra and Lauren Schiller, so I have been snowed under reading stories and writing frame bits, and also setting up online socialising things which are sanity saving (I’m still not an introvert) but take time. Also, some of the things I read this month were extremely long. So I have read only fourteen books in March, and here they are…

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Korra and Asami Will Perform a Live Reading of The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars

Korrasami stans rejoice: Korra and Asami themselves—that is, voice actors Janet Varney and Seychelle Gabriel—will be performing a live-reading of the first chapter of Turf Wars, the three-part graphic novel spin-off of The Legend of KorraThe event is organized by Dark Horse, who will stream it via their Twitch channel on Monday, April 6, at 2 pm PT.

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Blogging the Nebulas: Sarah Pinsker’s A Song for a New Day Is 2020 Captured Between Two Covers

The Nebula Awards could be described as the Academy Awards of SFF literature; they are voted on by the professional peers of the award nominees—members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. There are six nominees in the best novel category this year. Every few weeks between now and the announcement of the winner on May 30, I will be reviewing each of them and figuring their odds of taking home the prize. Welcome to Blogging the Nebulas 2020.

The Pitch

Sarah Pinsker’s A Song for a New Day is a different novel today than it was when she dreamed it up (growing from the seed of the 2015 novelette “Our Lady of the Open Road”), different than when it was published last September, than when it was nominated for the Nebula, than when I read it last week (and this review isn’t scheduled to publish until more than a week from when I am writing these words, by which point it will have changed again).

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