The Stars Now Unclaimed Audio Excerpt

Jane Kamali is an agent for the Justified. Her mission: to recruit children with miraculous gifts in the hope that they might prevent the Pulse from once again sending countless worlds back to the dark ages. Hot on her trail is the Pax—a collection of fascist zealots who believe they are the rightful rulers of the galaxy and who remain untouched by the Pulse.

Now Jane, a handful of comrades from her past, and a telekinetic girl called Esa must fight their way through a galaxy full of dangerous conflicts, remnants of ancient technology, and other hidden dangers…

We’re excited to share an audio excerpt from Drew Williams’ The Stars Now Unclaimed, as read by Brittany Pressley.

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A Little Dark Reading: Margaret Irwin’s “The Book”

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.

This week, we’re reading Margaret Irwin’s “The Book,” first published in 1930 in The London Mercury and collected in The Weird (Tor Books, 2012). Spoilers ahead.

[“From among this neat new clothbound crowd there towered here and there a musty sepulchre of learning…”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

Body Snatchers and Eighties Angst — Wild Cards VIII: One-Eyed Jacks

Welcome back to the Wild Cards reread! We’re picking up with One-Eyed Jacks (Book VIII), which begins the third Wild Cards trilogy. Originally released in 1991, the Tor reprint comes out on August 7th with two new stories. As usual, separate authors wrote the individual chapters, which are tied together by a linking story. For the record, I’m reading this somewhat infamous trilogy for the first time (and I’m using the Tor reprint).

The action starts in 1988 and covers more than a year. The major plot thread is the “Jumper” storyline: A group has the power to jump into other people’s bodies to control, humiliate, and even murder them. These evil-doers also happen to be teenagers—it’s the 80s after all. Stranger Things, indeed.

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Series: George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards: The Reread

Part SF Thriller, Part Bildungsroman: The Million by Karl Schroeder

The Million is the latest work by acclaimed science fiction author Karl Schroeder. It’s related in setting to his 2014 novel Lockstep: the lockstep of that title plays a significant role in The Million.

One million people live on Earth, wealthy custodians of its culture, heritage, architecture and lands. They are the Million, their numbers restricted by treaty, their lifestyles lavish. They want for nothing—but they’re custodians for the ten billion humans who live in the lockstep, who sleep in suspended animation beneath Earth’s cities, waking for a month every thirty years in order to participate in an interstellar society where no faster than light transport or communication exists.

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Not On Your Life: Six Means of SF Transportation I Would Not Use

I was lucky enough to grow up in an age when people weren’t as worried about safety. Especially transportation safety. That’s why:

  • I remember the brief glorious moment of flight when jumping an old beater car over a railway crossing, followed by the thud when the engine falls out on touchdown;
  • I know the exact sound of a windscreen and face collision after an abrupt stop;
  • I know how fast a VW Beetle has to take a corner before the kid riding the running board flies off;
  • I can boast of walking four miles through a blizzard after breaking four ribs in a mid-winter car wreck.

It was a glorious time to be alive.

Science fiction offers even more exotic transportation choices—choices that even I would avoid. Here are six of them.

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Casting Idris Elba as James Bond Would Change the Character in the Best Way

It’s been over ten years since Casino Royale and the debut of Daniel Craig as James Bond, which means we’re overdue for a new 007. The British tabloid the Daily Star published a rumor that Bond producer Barbara Broccoli thought it was time some diversity was brought to the role and director Antoine Fuqua suggested that Idris Elba was his top choice.

Elba himself has publicly campaigned for the role for years, in 2011 saying “I’d not only get in the cab, but I’d take the taxi driver out of the car, hostage. The taxi, jump out while it was moving, jump onto a pedal bike that was just past the door as I got on it, and then get onto a plane—on the wing—land on top of Sony Studios, slide through the air conditioning, and land in the office.” And he further added fuel to the fire on Sunday by tweeting, “my name’s Elba, Idris Elba.”

[There’s been no official announcement, but it’s hard to think of an actor better suited to play Bond than Elba.]

Explore the Other Worlds of Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson may be known for his works of epic fantasy, but they’re certainly not all that he writes. With the release of his Legion omnibus forthcoming, as well as his new science fiction young adult novel, Skyward, due out later this fall, I wanted to highlight those works that exist outside the Cosmere (the name for Sanderson’s inter-connected universe of epic fantasy stories). If you enjoy science fiction, superheroes, strange magic, libraries full of secrets, and multiple personalities, then it’s time to learn about the other side of Sanderson!

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Science Pushes Open New Doors with Blood-Smeared Hands: Cixin Liu’s Ball Lightning

Yeah, yeah—you’ve already heard no shortage of praise for Chinese science-fiction writer Cixin Liu. But here’s the thing: He deserves all of it. Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy—the remarkable, Hugo-winning series published in America as The Three Body Problem, The Dark Forest, and Death’s End—is just as mind-bending and breathtaking as its fans claim. (And, not for nothing, those fans include this guy.)

Until this week, the Remembrance trilogy and a scattering of short stories were all that English-speakers had of Liu’s unforgettable work. But with the American publication of Ball Lightning—a novel originally published in China in 2004, and now translated into English by Joel Martinsen, the translator of The Dark Forest—we finally have more Liu.

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Read Abbey Mei Otis’ “Sweetheart”

Paxton and the neighbor’s kid are inseparable—sweethearts, even, and Paxton barely six. He doesn’t mind her antennae and clicking mandibles at all….

We’re excited to share Abbey Mei Otis’ “Sweetheart,” originally published on in December 2010 and collected in Alien Virus Love Disaster: Stories, available now from Small Beer Press!

Otis’s short stories are contemporary fiction at its strongest: taking apart the supposed equality that is clearly just not there, putting humans under an alien microscope, putting humans under government control, putting kids from the moon into a small beach town and then the putting the rest of the town under the microscope as they react in ways we ope they would, and then, of course, in ways we’d hope they don’t. Otis has long been fascinated in using strange situations to explore dynamics of power, oppression, and grief, and the twelve stories collected here are at once a striking indictment of the present and a powerful warning about the future.

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Sleeps With Monsters: Astronaut Ladies

Mary Robinette Kowal’s novelette “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” won the 2014 Hugo Award in its category. Now Tor Books brings us a pair of novels about Elma York’s life before her final mission: even before Mars.

The simplest way to describe Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars and its sequel, The Fated Sky, is as an alternative history of the American space programme. But that’s not all it is: it’s a story about a young Jewish woman with an anxiety disorder using all the tools at her disposal to gain a place for herself in the astronaut programme, and building coalitions with other women to bring them with her. (It’s also a story about how that young woman, Elma York, benefits from white privilege and puts her foot in it with thoughtless bigoted assumptions, and how she keeps trying to learn better.)

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Series: Sleeps With Monsters

Where Could the Shades of Magic Series Travel to Next?

Having reached the halfway point in A Darker Shade of Magic, it’s time to reconnoiter and talk about what the magic system in Schwab’s universe seems to convey about the timelines and centers of magical power. We’ve got the four Londons, of course, but the world is vast and magic is all over the place (or was, at any rate). Where could the story take us?

Here are a few of my thoughts so far…

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Series: Reading V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic

Paradise Not: Five Inhospitable Planets

There’s just something extra special about a backdrop of bubbling lava, snapping tentacles, poisonous forests, sinkholes, cracking ice, an unbreathable atmosphere, or the approach of a blistering sunrise that amps up the excitement factor. The story was probably already pretty good, but now everyone might die on the way to wherever they’re going. And they might die horribly because someone thought it was a good idea to visit Paradise Not.

That someone could easily be me. I have a habit of putting my characters in horrible places and I’m going to place the blame on some of my favorite books and movies. We’ll start with Ursula K. Le Guin, who is known for testing every limit her characters have—and then some…

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Series: Five Books About…

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