Vashti is a pathogenic diplomat—an ambassador to the world of viruses, whom she communicates with through a machine that can translate their chemical signals into images, tastes, smells, sounds, and memories. She begins a negotiation between the US Government and a diplomatic contingent from Arenavirus, a virus which has just begun spreading a deadly mutation in Florida. If Vashti is successful, she and Arena will reach a diplomatic agreement; if not, the Arenavirus infection will continue to spread, and humans will have to race to try to find a vaccine or treatment. As she navigates the diplomatic discussions, Vashti is also trying to connect with her daughter Alma, who lives on the other side of the country in a technology-averse commune. By the time the negotiation ends, Vashti discovers that Arenavirus have learned some impressive and deadly tricks from their interactions with humans.
Oh wow, okay wow, it is Friday, I am wearing a Super Yaki crop top that reads “in 1999 duel of the fates spent 11 days on trl,” the air smells like allergens, I drank a strawberry coffee, I am ready for this. Are you ready for this? Let’s go.
The Nommo Awards, given annually by the African Speculative Fiction Society, recognize works of speculative fiction by African writers. This week, the ASFS announced the shortlist for this year’s awards.
Congratulations to all the shortlisted authors!
In a career that stretched from 1938 to 1995, Vincent Price captivated audiences with a debonair manner that brought smooth sophistication to his evil ways. Although he certainly played heroic, and even romantic roles at times, Price excelled as an evil genius. His elegant presence and rich voice brought a new and impressive level of menace to the devilish tortures his characters devised.
If we look at Price’s six best villain performances, we can find plenty of moments that surely set the standard for modern horror movie geniuses of every stripe…
Another Star Wars series is coming to Disney+, and this one stars the Young Pope himself. Lucasfilm announced yesterday that Jude Law will star in Skeleton Crew, which—like The Mandalorian and Ahsoka— is set in the post-Return of the Jedi era. According to Vanity Fair, “Inside Lucasfilm, the show is being described as a galactic version of classic Amblin coming-of-age adventure films of the ’80s.”
I would very much like my own bouquet of ghost roses, is the thought I’d like to begin with this week.
Series: Terry Pratchett Book Club
Once upon a time—in 1988—there was a fantasy film called Willow. It was neither a total blockbuster (it did fine) nor critically adored, but it was made by George Lucas (who provided the story) and Ron Howard (who directed) and Bob Dolman (who wrote the screenplay, but does not have the name recognition of the first two).
Willow is about a baby who might grow up to defeat a sorceress; the sorceress’s daughter; a mercenary; and Willow Ufgood, played by Warwick Davis, who finds the magic baby. If you are of a certain age, you probably have very fond memories of the film. And that’s exactly what Disney+ is banking on with Willow, the series sequel to Willow, still starring Davis as Willow.
We’ve got our first teaser trailer for Andor, and a release date! And while the clip is short on detail, it packs a lot of ominous tone into a few short scenes.
The Gorn were introduced in the original series’ “Arena,” and while they’ve been seen briefly here and there since then—in the animated series’ “The Time Trap,” Lower Decks’ “Veritas” (GORN WEDDING!) and “An Embarrassment of Dooplers,” and Enterprise’s “In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II”—there’s been very little done with them of any depth (outside the tie-in fiction, anyhow).
Using the Gorn on Strange New Worlds was always going to be fraught because the implication in “Arena” was that this was first contact with the Gorn. Yet part of La’an’s backstory on SNW is that she was the sole survivor of a Gorn attack. We get the details of that this week in a thrill-ride of an episode that is one of the best space-battle episodes of Trek you’re ever likely to see.
Harry Clement Stubbs was born May 30, 1922, a century ago, more or less (or exactly, if you’re reading this on May 30th). Readers of a certain age know him as the science fiction author Hal Clement. Younger readers may not know him at all, because Clement died on October 29, 2003, and death often confers obscurity. Which is too bad, because younger readers are missing out on some fine stories. Here are five works by Clement that are well worth reading.
Halo, The Last of Us, Twisted Metal: The flurry of game-to-series adaptations isn’t slowing down any time soon. The latest video game in development as a series is Sony’s Horizon Zero Dawn, which is in development at Netflix.
Is it still vacation when you go somewhere you used to live? For the first time in two years, I did a bit of traveling, and it was weird. Weird to be on planes. Weird to remember all the awkward dances of cramming into tiny places with strangers, a weirdness exponentially compounded by pandemic anxiety. Weird to get on the subway, weird to return to a place I haven’t been since before the pandemic began. All the weirdnesses of the last two years, compacted and intensified in my old home, now far from home.
Traveling is reading time. All that between-time, the between-spaces of planes and airports and trains and every other mode of transit: Since I was old enough to read, I’ve filled those places with pages. Thousands of miles on Greyhound buses, moving between parents, is equal to hundreds of books read. Flying home from college, reading things entirely different than what I’d read for class. Commuting on the subway with a book carefully held in one hand. (Anyone who’s ever commuted in New York knows how many ways you can find to hold a book and turn pages single-handed, if you must. And often, you must.)
But travel reading is not unchanged by the last few years, either.
To answer the first and most important question about any new live-action Speed Racer creation: No, the Wachowskis are not involved. The next version of Speed Racer comes from Apple TV+, executive producer J.J. Abrams, and writers/co-showrunners Ron Fitzgerald (co-creator of the new Perry Mason) and Hiram Martinez (a producer and writer on Snowpiercer).
Will it be candy-colored and bright? Will the villain be capitalism? Or will we get a dark and gritty Speed Racer that takes its cues from, say, the Fast and/or Furious franchise? So much remains to be seen.
Welcome back, y’all. It’s Thursday again, so here we are! This is a weighty chapter: pain and agony, but also beauty and humor. Weird combo, eh? It’s Kaladin’s only POV in Part Four. (The rest of his arc is told through the eyes of his Bridge Four companions.) There’s a brutal nightmare, a ray of hope, a plunge into despair, brightness, an elegant Cryptic, and Wit’s story entry for this book. Come on in and join the discussion!