New Teaser for The Man in the High Castle Announces Final Season

The Man in the High Castle‘s fourth season on Amazon Prime will be its last! But seemingly they’re planning to go out with a bang, as this teaser includes the Statue of Liberty being pulled down, the Liberty Bell being melted, multiple underground resistances fighting for their lives, film reels burning, and a tense slow dance between two of the show’s most pivotal characters.

Plus they’re highlighting the idea that “the end of the worlds is coming”—which can’t bode well for the Philip K. Dick-based multiverse?

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Rereading the Vorkosigan Series: Cryoburn, Chapters 6 and 7

This week’s cover is from the Czech edition published by Talpress, and it offers further proof (in case anyone was in doubt) that Martina Pilcerova really pays attention. That’s a cryochamber, with Lisa Sato inside. The guy next to it is the doctor who hid her in his basement, and the pyramids in the background are the New Egypt cryo-facility. I can tell for sure that Miles is not in this picture, because Pilcerova’s portraits of him tend to be more Byronic. I like that because I think that Miles is, in fact, mad, bad, and dangerous to know. This guy looks kind of bland. We will discover later that he’s not so much mad, bad, and dangerous as thoughtless and condescending. Bland can be dangerous.

In this week’s discussion of the interior of the book, we should be starting in Chapter 6. I’m feeling reflective this week, so I need to throw in some thoughts on Chapter 5 first.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Permafrost Sweepstakes!

Fix the past. Save the present. Stop the future. Master of science fiction Alastair Reynolds unfolds a time-traveling climate fiction adventure in Permafrost, available March 19 from Tor.com Publishing—and we want to send you a copy!

2080: at a remote site on the edge of the Arctic Circle, a group of scientists, engineers and physicians gather to gamble humanity’s future on one last-ditch experiment. Their goal: to make a tiny alteration to the past, averting a global catastrophe while at the same time leaving recorded history intact. To make the experiment work, they just need one last recruit: an ageing schoolteacher whose late mother was the foremost expert on the mathematics of paradox.

[Read on for more about the book, and comment in the post to enter!]

All Roads Lead to Darnassus: For the Killing of Kings by Howard Andrew Jones

When a novel’s back cover invokes one of my touchstone books as being part of its DNA, that gets my attention, but it can be a lot to live up to. And when the novel is supposedly a cross between that touchstone book and to a beloved classic of literature, that is even more for a book to live up to. It draws my attention as a reader, but my critical eye is heightened as well.

The touchstone in this particular instance is Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber, the classic in question is Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, and the book that combines the two is historical fantasist Howard Andrew Jones’ turn into epic fantasy, For the Killing of Kings.

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Sleeps With Monsters: A Coincidence of Prisoners

An odd coincidence saw me read two books back-to-back—both with the word “prisoner” in the title—by authors who began their novel-publishing career in the 1980s. Both Barbara Hambly and Lois McMaster Bujold have definitely grown as writers in the last four decades, and their recent works can be relied on to provide deep, thought-provoking reads—and deeply entertaining ones, too.

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Series: Sleeps With Monsters

Could The Wheel of Time TV Show Start with a Moiraine-Heavy Two-Parter Series Premiere?

#WoTWednesday comes early this week! Rafe Judkins, showrunner of Amazon Studios’ forthcoming The Wheel of Time television adaptation, tweeted the news that the epic fantasy series had found a director for the first two episodes: Uta Briesewitz, whose credits include Jessica JonesStranger Things, and Westworld’s stunning season 2 episode “Kiksuya.”

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Star Trek: Discovery Easter Egg Could Mean Section 31 Is Time Traveling

Perhaps the most futuristic thing about Star Trek: The Next Generation was that way back in 1987, the show’s creators and designers predicted that the portable phones of the future would become jewelry. In the grand scheme of wearable sci-fi tech the Trek communicator badge is iconic for its simplicity, but also because it made a silly idea into something legitimately cool. But now that the communicator badge has returned—a full century early—on Star Trek: Discovery, what are diehard fans supposed to think? Did Section 31 rip-off the future?

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Where the Stars Are Strange: A First Look at Amazon’s Middle-earth

Details about Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings-based show have been few and far between since it was first announced in November of 2017, but recently they’ve picked up the pace…a little bit. That includes establishing an official Facebook page and Twitter account—even though we’ll probably still have to wait until 2020 to see production get visibly underway. And now they’ve thrown down a map for us to pore over…

Dropping information in such dribs and drabs, it’s almost like the folks at Amazon know what they’re doing. In this cyber-age of information, every little crumb they let fall can be obsessed over and talked about endlessly by rabid fans (and critics), allowing anticipation (and apprehension) to grow apace. So we might as well humor them—we’re all nerds here, right?

[“I have crossed many mountains and many rivers…”]

Russian Doll Reminds Us That We Can’t Help Others Until We Dismantle Our Own Demons

Our cultural approach to the subject of mental health has gotten somewhat healthier over the years. Where discussions of depression, anxiety, therapy, and medication used to be taboo, we are now encouraged (in some spheres, at least) to speak more openly, to connect and reassure each other that no one is alone in these struggles. Celebrities are praised for speaking about mental health in award acceptance speeches; some companies offer mental health days in addition to their sick day policies; scientists are learning that most human beings go through dips and valleys in their mental well being at some point in their lives. As this becomes more common and accepted, it only stands to reason that our stories should reflect this seismic shift—and new Netflix standout Russian Doll aspires to do just that with startling clarity.

[Spoilers for Russian Doll season one.]

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Five Books That Deal with What Comes after World-Changing Shenanigans

I love a good adventure. I love the stories about epic destinies and quests, of those happy few standing against all odds in the face of pure evil and then going home to live in the new world that they have wrought. But sometimes I wonder: What happens next?

Perhaps it’s the fanficcer in me, but I am always curious about how our heroes live on in this world that they have fixed. It’s not like every problem would disappear, after all, and as has been said: We need to handle our financial situation. I love the idea of The After, and I love reading books that examine how these new worlds are stabilized after the foundations are laid.

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Series: Five Books About…

Witchlands Series Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a set of the first four installments of Susan Dennard’s Witchlands series! This prize pack includes hardcovers of TruthwitchWindwitchSightwitch, and the latest adventure Bloodwitch—available now from Tor Teen!

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery,” a magical skill that sets them apart from others. In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women, a Truthwitch and a Threadwitch linked by a fiercely loyal friendship, know all too well.

[Read on for more about the book, and comment in the post to enter!]

Reading The Wheel of Time: Building Rand’s Identity through the Heron-Marked Blade

It came as quite a surprise to me when Rand’s heron-marked sword was destroyed during the climactic battle with Ba’alzamon at the end of The Great Hunt. The sword has been something of a talisman for Rand ever since he left Emond’s Field, and in a remarkably complex way. On the one hand, Rand imbued this gift from Tam with his deep desire and need to believe that Tam was his true father—for him, carrying the sword was proof and symbol of their bond as father and son. But the heron-marked blade had a very different significance to those around Rand, drawing often-unwanted attention to him and marking him as a dangerous man and a blade master. The fact that Rand is neither of these things caused a certain level of danger for him, but then again, it’s not so much that he isn’t a blade master—it’s that he isn’t a blade master yet. And as for being dangerous… well, a stranger might be deceived by the looks of a young shepherd (unless they know the Aiel, anyway) but those close to Rand certainly know better.

And then of course there is the verse in the Prophecies of the Dragon, which alludes to a completely different purpose to the mark of the heron, one that will identify Rand as the Dragon Reborn. These, of course, are the two scars burned into Rand’s hand by wielding the sword while channeling.

In this way, the heron imagery, and indeed the sword itself, at one time separate Rand from his true identity as the Dragon Reborn and at the same time irrevocably tie him to it.

[Once the heron, to set his path. Twice the heron, to name him true.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

From Science to Spirit: Equus, Story of the Horse Explores the Animal’s Connection to Humans

The first half of the PBS show Nature’s two-hour documentary on the horse focuses mostly on the science: evolution, biology, psychology, and animal behavior. It prominently features a controversial method of training. Part Two, “Chasing the Wind,” continues with some of the science, particularly genetics, as well as history and the host’s own discipline, anthropology. It also touches on an aspect of the horse that is just about inescapable: its bond with humans and its long history as a sacred animal.

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Star Trek Has the Best Credit Sequences in All of SciFi Television

I am an easy mark for a good credits sequence. “Good” doesn’t necessarily mean long, either—Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s exuberant twenty-second sprint tells you everything you need to know, while (in the UK, at least) Law and Order’s Rob Dougan-scored doom grimly trudges toward the same end. Then there’s the dozens of different versions of the Doctor Who theme, not the least of which is the Twelfth Doctor’s epic rock guitar take on his own theme music. Much like the Nerf Herder intro to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it’s a perfect summation of the show, and (also like the Buffy theme) it’s a strong contender for best TV theme music, and credit sequence, ever.

But Star Trek is the all-time champion. Across all six live action iterations of the show, the credits and theme music have done an amazing job of encapsulating the shows’ spirit and scope.

[Excitement! Adventure!]

8 Forgotten SFF Classics of the ’70s and ’80s

I’m a nerd from a family of nerds, and I grew up reading a lot of science fiction. Specifically, I grew up reading a lot of my mother’s science fiction collection, which included a lot of brilliant writers, some of whose works are not as well-known today as they once were.

Since this is a pity, I’d like to introduce you to some of the books that affected me strongly growing up, and influenced me as a reader—and probably also as a writer.

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