Andre Norton Takes to the High Seas in Yankee Privateer

The more Andre Norton I read and reread, the more convinced I am that her real forte, and her real talent, lay in boys’ adventure. She tried all sorts of genres, and from the Sixties onward she developed a clearly feminist sensibility. My favorite works of hers have strong female protagonists and relatively complicated emotional arcs.

And yet, she seems most at ease in worlds with little or no sexual tension, and nothing to distract from the headlong pace of the action. Usually it’s a man’s world, with women’s voices heard seldom if at all. Women exist to die offstage (especially if they’re the protagonist’s mother) or to act as servants or to play the role of witch or Wisewoman. The relationships that matter are between men.

Yankee Privateer, published in 1955, is a relatively rare excursion into straight historical fiction.

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Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Year of Hell” (Part 1)

“Year of Hell” (Part 1)
Written by Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Directed by Allan Kroeker
Season 4, Episode 8
Production episode 176
Original air date: November 5, 1997
Stardate: 51268.4

Captain’s log. A Krenim vessel piloted by Annorax fires on a technologically advanced planet. The weapon causes all the technology to disappear, leaving the world a verdant space untouched by sentient alterations. This was a Zahl colony, but the temporal incursion Annorax just caused did not alter the target event as expected. So Annorax instead decides to wipe out the Zahl all together, not just their colony.

[The Titanic? As I recall, it sank…]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Black Lightning Predicted the Worst of 2020…And Showed Us How to Survive It

Black Lightning has never been afraid to tackle current issues. For three seasons, the show has consistently carved out time in its story about a Black superhero coming out of retirement to shed a light on tensions and struggles that may affect the viewer in a very real way. Although I recognized that the show has been doing an exceptional job of examining society as it is, I never expected it would predict what the world would become.

But that’s what happened in season 3. The audience saw characters tackling problems and challenges that would affect the real world only a few months after episodes aired. And while the show’s startlingly accurate predictions are impressive, the writers also gave us suggestions about how to confront these issues. Their prescriptive solutions ensure that Black Lightning season 3 does more than paint a grim portrait of where we are today—it shines a light on the path we can take to move forward.

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The Monstrous Machines of Corporate Capitalism

Since Frankenstein, science fiction has worried about the consequences of creating artificial life. Would we make monsters (or robots, or monster-robots) that would destroy their creators? Or can we duplicate whatever it is that makes us human? (That begs the question of whether or not that’s even something to which any self-respecting monster—or machine—should aspire.) My first encounter with the question came in college, when I first saw Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. The answers there were yes and empathy, with the film portraying replicants as more human than the real humans, rebelling against their creator(s), and also against the corporate system that enslaved them.

Twenty-odd years later, Martha Wells’ Network Effect (and the rest of the Murderbot Diaries) still grapples with the essence of that question, but also reframes it. She throws out the human/machine binary and focuses more closely on how the effects of capitalism, condemned by default in Blade Runner, are entwined with notions of personhood.

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Spend New Year’s Eve Chilling With Sabrina Spellman

The charming Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is back, though not in time for Halloween. In July, it was announced that Netflix had cancelled the show, but the fourth part was already filmed—and is set to begin streaming on New Year’s Eve. Ringing in 2021 with Sabrina and friends as they face off against some Eldritch Terrors? Seems a fitting way to close out this year.

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Five Empowering Retellings of “East of the Sun, West of the Moon”

I have always loved the fairy tale “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” (and I admit I feel even more connected to it since moving to high latitude a couple of years ago). A perfect tale for the cold and snowy season, this Norse fairy tale answers the question of what comes after the happy ending, after true love has been declared.

If you aren’t familiar, the premise is quite similar to that of “Beauty and the Beast”—though usually the poor father in this tale is not (always) at fault for handing off his youngest daughter over an unfortunate horticultural theft. The “beast” in this tale (usually a white bear or other white wild creature) comes to the family home and asks respectfully to join in the evening meal. Afterwards, he promises riches and comfort to the family if one of the daughters will return to his own home with him. The youngest (or eldest) agrees, and away they go to an enchanted palace where the heroine has everything she needs, and eventually falls in love with the sweet nature of her beastly suitor, who spends every night in her room with all the lights extinguished, and extracts the heroine’s promise that she will never seek to see him at night.

[Of course, she does…]

Announcing the Table of Contents for Some of the Best from Tor.com 2020

We are excited to share the Table of Contents for the 2020 edition of Some of the Best from Tor.com, an anthology of 29 of our favorite short stories and novelettes selected from the stories we have published this year. The eBook edition will be available for free from all your favorite vendors on January 5, 2021. Of course, you can enjoy all of these stories right now at the links below.

These stories were acquired and edited for Tor.com by Ruoxi Chen, Ellen Datlow, Carl Engle-Laird, Emily Goldman, Jennifer Gunnels, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Diana Pho, Jonathan Strahan, Ann VanderMeer, and Miriam Weinberg. Each story is accompanied by an original illustration.

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Add Some Romance to the Spooky Season With Spring

For most horror movie fans, the 1981 Canadian flick My Bloody Valentine is the obvious choice for required viewing on February 14th. The movie offers everything the holiday demands: kissing, lots of pink hearts, and a killer in mining gear. My Bloody Valentine holds particular appeal to those who aren’t into the whole lovey-dovey thing: After all, what better way to undermine grandiose romantic claims than the sight of actual bloody hearts in decorative boxes?

But what if I told you there was a better option? A movie that climaxes with a man and a woman ending their spontaneous week-long affair trying to decide if it will continue for the rest of their lives?

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18 Spooky Stories Recommended by Our Favorite Classic Monsters

Surely nobody knows the horror genre better than the horrors themselves!

From the 1920s through the ’50s, Universal Pictures’ horror films ruled the silver screen, giving us classic portrayals of iconic monsters from Count Dracula to the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Whether you’ve seen the films or not, you know the creatures—the sinister predator, the curious monster, the transformed traveler, the cursed immortal, the mad scientist, and the tragic experiment.

So if you want a stack of books to sustain you through the rest of the Spooky Season, we’ve got recommendations directly from the Monsters…

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Art and Automata in Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee

All Jebi wants to do is keep their head down and paint. That’s it. But navigating under the oppressive thumb of the Razanei who occupied the country of Hwaguk when they were a child, who took their sister’s wife from her in the ensuing war, who make it nearly impossible for a native Hwagukan to make a living… it takes a toll on a person. Even after buying a Razanei name to try to get a better job, Jebi is running out of options. Life doesn’t get any easier when they’re blackmailed into working for the Ministry of Armor, Razanei’s research division for the military. See, they need artists to create new automata, those faceless forces of policing set up wherever the Razanei conquer. And their latest project is so dangerous that Jebi realizes they’ll have to step up or let their country burn.

Phoenix Extravagant, the latest novel from the visionary Yoon Ha Lee, is a standalone novel with worlds of detail, depth, and heart, as one non-binary artist must do their best to use the skills they have to save what they can.

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