When an illicit trade deal goes wrong and Quandary is blamed for it, she goes on the run to avoid the crosshairs of a bioengineered killer that only lives for 24 hours. If Q can evade it for that long, she just might survive.
Sometimes being a teenager can feel like a real-life horror story. Growing up comes with the excitement of newfound freedom and first love, but it also brings hard-learned lessons and painful conflict. The magic of childhood innocence is lost, replaced by the crushing realities of adulthood. The horrors of puberty slot perfectly into horror fiction, and coming-of-age horror forms its own subgenre—but that label doesn’t just mean that the protagonists happen to be adolescent. These books are specifically about the tense transitional period between childhood and adulthood, but laced with the added peril of supernatural thrills and chills.
There is one book in my collection that has survived a baffling number of moves and culls and trips to the neighborhood little free libraries and purges and oh-god-why-do-I-have-so-many-books impulses. I hate this book. It gets everything wrong from page one.
Yet I can’t get rid of it. I keep it there, in part, to remind me that there’s always a reader for a book. Even a book that’s like nails on a chalkboard for me to even think about reading. For almost every no-I-hate-that-trope feeling, every “that genre is not for me” vibe, every “please not another X thing” burning sensation—there’s almost always an exception to the rule. And it’s really, really fun to find them.
And so we come to the end of Rhythm of War, Part Four: A Knowledge. This chapter is the one that really triggers the Avalanche that is Part Five, as Navani makes a breakthrough discovery but is unable to hide it from Raboniel. The emotions run high, shall we say? Also, the maths and physics. Warning: If you find the science side dull, you might have a tough time with part of this week’s reread, because Alice always gets carried away with the sciencey stuff. Still, come on in and join the discussion!
We’ve known since last year that Netflix was making a live-action film adaptation of BRZRKR, the comic book series Keanu Reeves co-wrote with Matt Kindt (Folklords, Bang!). We also knew that Reeves was interested in playing the lead character, a half-god who is compelled to commit violence over the centuries. What we didn’t know until recently, however, is that Reeves is at least a little bit interested in directing the production.
Welcome back to Reading the Weird, in which we get girl cooties all over weird fiction, cosmic horror, and Lovecraftiana—from its historical roots through its most recent branches.
This week, we continue N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became with Chapter 10: Make Staten Island Grate Again(st Sao Paulo). The novel was first published in March 2020. Spoilers ahead! Content warning for attempted rape, neonazis, and racial slurs.
Series: Reading the Weird
It’s barely October, and yet it’s already that time of year. You know the one: the holiday season.
By which I mean the season of the violent holiday movie, obviously.
The latest in this storied line of cinematic masterpieces is Violent Night, which stars Stranger Things’ David Harbour as a Santa who brings a different sort of festivity to the home of a family being held captive by mercenaries.
The space sheep are called dray, by the way. And that’s only half the fun of this week’s episode…
From his myriad standalone novels and novellas, to the City of Stairs trilogy and the Foundryside series, author Robert Jackson Bennett continues to craft larger and more expansive stakes, more high octane action set pieces, and pushes genre into new and fresh spaces, all while grappling with deep and complex questions of character, morality, community, and more. And here in Locklands, Bennett once again sticks the landing as he brings the Foundryside story to a beautiful, bittersweet, and heart-soaring close.
Although human life spans (with child mortality factored in) used to be a mere quarter century, modern Americans can expect considerably longer lives. However, even were we to posit an unlikely social revolution in which life extension treatment was generally available to all, it seems that factors inherent in human biology limit maximum lifespans to about 120 years. Which, granted, is a lot better than twenty-five years. If still not as long as the lifetime of a sequoia or a bristlecone pine.
Imagine what we could accomplish, had we only a thousand years or so to procrastinate hone our skills? What grand projects could we embrace, knowing that we could see century-long efforts to their end? How wonderful it would be to live long enough to get that catchy Pharrell Williams earworm out of your head! Unsurprisingly, SFF authors have found the concept of greatly enhanced lifespans tremendously inspirational, as these five works show.
September was an excellent month, beginning with Chicon 8, Worldcon in Chicago, and then flying to Florence immediately afterwards, where we stayed for a couple of weeks before taking the train up through the Alps (so beautiful!) to Riom in the centre of France for the excellent festival Aventuriales, where I was guest of honour and had a really great time. Then we went back through the Alps on the train to Turin, where Ada was a guest at Italian Tech Week. With all this dashing about and being with friends, I only had time to read eight books, mostly on trains and at bedtime, and here they are.
Further to my confessions from last time, I have to be transparent that due to time constraints, I did not go back and read the entire Psy-Changeling series before writing this column. On the advice of counsel, I started with Silver Silence, which begins a new chapter in Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling world. This sequel series, called the Psy-Changeling Trinity series, consists of six books so far, which made it much easier and more accessible for a newbie Singh reader. (It would have been god-tier to read all 21 novels across both series, though, wouldn’t it? Some real “all shall love me and despair” shit. If we weren’t facing two plagues and a global rise in fascism, I’d totally have done it.)
The Dune: The Sisterhood series is moving forward at HBO Max! The show that centers around the origin of the Bene Gesserit already had writer and co-showrunner Diane Ademu-John attached (with Alison Schapker as the other showrunner), and now also has two actors lined up for leading roles.
If you’ve seen Matt Reeves’ The Batman (pictured above), you know that Barry Keoghan makes an appearance as an inmate in Arkham who will clearly become the Joker. Keoghan, however, originally wanted to play another character in Reeves’ Batverse, and sent the director an unsolicited audition tape reflecting that.
It’s a classic romantic trope: a marriage is arranged for political reasons, and despite initial feelings or inclinations, the two strangers begin a slow spiral into each other’s hearts. In A Strange and Stubborn Endurance, author Foz Meadows imbues this familiar story with enough twists and turns and thoughtful examinations to render it almost entirely new—a queer romance for the ages. A secondary world fantasy of intricate politics, hierarchies of power and culture and magic, plus two exquisite leads that brim with life, this slow-burn novel may have the flame low, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t burn hot.