Never Let Me Go Questions Our View of the Way Things Are

“This is the Way.”

I have a little bit of a problem with how the producers of The Mandalorian handle this core piece of dogma. I get what they’re doing; all through the series, the titular Mandalorian, Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), is placed into situations where he is required to act against his bedrock faith, and as a result question its tenets. Fate has a way of undermining his hardcore adherence, as in a recent episode when his attempt at a rite of absolution in the “Living Waters” of his ravaged home world is disrupted by an unexpected plunge beneath the surface. [But what do the convictions of a fallen warrior race have to do with organ-donor clones? Read on…]

Five Vintage SF Stories From the Asteroid Belt

Readers of James S.A. Corey’s Expanse series will be more than familiar with the Belters, who begin as plucky, oppressed victims of Mars, Earth, and the great corporations before liberating themselves and using their new-status as wisely and prudently as those who came before them. (In case it’s not clear, I’m being sarcastic.) Corey’s Belters are among the latest in a long tradition of independently-minded Belters, seeking freedom and prosperity in the Solar System’s asteroid belt, that stream of planetary leftovers found principally (but not entirely) between Jupiter and Mars.

It is no surprise that the Belt and Belters are such a popular conceit. Given the tendency of authors to favour worlds that are apparently the size of Hollywood backlots, the appeal of thousands of actual bodies the size of Hollywood backlots within comparatively easy reach of each other is obvious. Thus, the challenge here is to winnow the list down to only five vintage stories from the subgenre…

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Revealing Michelle A. Barry’s Seagarden, Book Two of Plotting the Stars

Revolution is watered with sweat and tears...

We’re thrilled to share the cover of Michelle A. Barry’s Seagarden, available on October 3, 2023 from Pixel+Ink. The second book in the Plotting the Stars series, Seagarden blossoms with unexpected twists and heartbreaking revelations, underpinned by climate change warnings and a determination to fight against the status quo.

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The Escapist Fantasy of Fandom: Esther Yi’s Y/N

The premise of Esther Yi’s debut novel Y/N—a woman who plunges deep into parasocial devotion to a K-pop idol—is “blissfully stupid,” she professes. “Blissful” seems fair enough. After all, given the state of the world, who doesn’t need a little escapist fantasy? But I can’t help but wonder, for Yi, where exactly the “stupid[ity]” she speaks of resides. Is it in the unattainability of love with a celebrity? Its lack of functional purpose? The ridiculousness of a consumer culture where such impossible romance is not only marketed, but in high demand?

Or, when Yi says “stupid” does she simply mean the beautiful, quiet blankness that might spread across one’s brain when faced with the image of a flawless boy? Because, on first read, Y/N is anything but.

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Blumhouse’s Five Nights At Freddy’s Adaptation Is In Production: Here’s What We Know So Far

If you’re familiar with the lore of the Five Nights at Freddy’s video game franchise, you’re no doubt intrigued by the idea of a live-action feature horror adaptation. The project has moved in fits and starts for years, but with the film now shooting in New Orleans, it looks like we’ll finally see the possessed animatronic robots (pictured above) creeping around Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza joint on the big screen in the near future. Here’s what we know about the adaptation so far, including the cast and who is writing and directing the feature.

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Carnival Row Proves Being Overly Ambitious Is Better Than Playing It Safe

After nearly four years, and a second season that faced numerous Covid delays, Carnival Row has just wrapped up for a second (and final) season—one that mostly justifies its existence while still suffering from a myriad of problems that leave a slightly sour taste in one’s mouth. For those of you who missed my coverage of the first season of the series, Carnival Row is a story about colonialism and race set in a fantasy world full of fey folk that looks a lot like Victorian England. It also has the silliest fantasy names of any show—with the leads being named Rycroft Philostrate (Orlando Bloom) and Vignette Stonemoss (Cara Delevingne). If those don’t make you at least slightly uncomfortable, there is also a recurring character named Constable Cuppins who is, somehow, not played for laughs.

Below, I’ll get into a lot of spoilers, so keep that in mind as we launch into it…

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School Days in Space: Space Cadet by Robert A. Heinlein

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.

For his second juvenile novel, written in 1948, Robert Heinlein decided to follow the old dictum “write what you know.” As a 1929 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, it would have been obvious to him that the story of an academy cadet would make a great plot for a juvenile novel. All he had to do was set it in the future. The book, rather unimaginatively entitled Space Cadet, picks up on some of the themes of Rocket Ship Galileo, with the United Nations Interplanetary Patrol using advanced versions the first tale’s atomic rocket, and tasked with controlling the atomic bombs staged in orbit that keep peace on the planet. It is not a direct sequel, as the “Nazis in Space” plot of the previous book has been dropped, but it does pick up on many of the same themes.

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Five SFF Books About Radical Community

In the midst of a continuing pandemic, social injustice, and climate disasters, it’s community building that keeps giving me hope—both on and off the page. I’m drawn to books that feature people working together rather than the individual hero’s journey. I want to read and write books that demonstrate what a healthy, thriving community looks like.

It is my desire to build and find community to push back against injustice that led me to writing in both the genres I’m currently working in, solarpunk and urban fantasy. While they might seem at opposite ends of the SFF spectrum, both subgenres focus on belonging and using that community as a survival tool, whether it’s climate change or vampire politics.

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Series: Five Books About…

Epic Fantasy on a Small Scale : The Lies of the Ajungo by Moses Ose Utomi

I thought I knew what Moses Ose Utomi’s The Lies of the Ajungo was about when I started it. It was going to be a quick story about a boy from a dying city who ventures into the desert to save his mother. But it’s so much more than that. It’s an epic fantasy in novella format, a story of the consequences of greed, how to process grief, and the lengths we go to to protect the people we care about.

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Reading The Wheel of Time: Elayne and Nynaeve Prove They Are Aes Sedai in Robert Jordan’s A Crown of Swords (Part 17)

Welcome back once again to Reading The Wheel of Time. This week has some big changes for Nynaeve and Elayne, not to mention the Aes Sedai, the Kin, and one Lan Mandragoran. It’s Chapters 30 and 31 of A Crown of Swords!

[Whatever was about to happen plainly was for Aes Sedai alone.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Everything Everywhere All at Once Duo Daniels Turn Their Googly Eyes to Star Wars

When you’ve already created a series of dazzling multiverses, maybe a galaxy far, far away is your rational next stop. Brand-new Oscar winners Daniels, who wrote and directed Everything Everywhere All at Once, are the latest recruits to the Star Wars universe: According to a report from One Take News, they’ve directed an episode of the upcoming Star Wars: Skeleton Crew. Or possibly more than one.

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Nothing Makes Me Read Faster Than an Underwhelming Book

Two questions for you today, lovely readers of (1) How fast do you read? (2) Why?

I have a lot of friends who read. In some circles, I am the slowest reader, slotting 50-55 books per year while my comrades knock out 75-100 (which is wild!). In other circles, I’m the biggest reader, the guy who’s always recommending books to everyone else.

[What makes me read a book faster, and when do I take my sweet time? ]

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