The Internet Is Watching You, and It Really Wants to Help: Naomi Kritzer’s Catfishing on Catnet

When I started writing this review, a week in advance of publication day, most readers were still waiting for Catfishing on Catnet. I, on the other hand, had read my copy six times. The novel is based on Kritzer’s 2015 short story, “Cat Pictures Please.” The story won a Hugo Award, and also my heart. Kritzer has a gift for writing things that are analytical, insightful and incredibly reassuring. And the idea of an artificial intelligence that wants to improve our lives in return for pictures of cats, is all of those things.

There is no actual catfishing in Catfishing—no one attempts to catch catfish and no one attempts to manipulate anyone else into thinking they are in a romantic relationship. CheshireCat, the AI running CatNet, has no problem with the first behavior in appropriate contexts, and definitely would not tolerate the second on its carefully curated forums. For readers of a certain age, CatNet is a nostalgic monument to a time when the internet was young and new and felt safe in a way that it never does now. It was a place where isolated lonely people could find their far-flung tribes. As a reader who still maintains close connections with her due-date group from Hipmama, Catnet feels like the forum we all wished we had been able to create and then spend all our time posting on.

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Childhood and the Burden of Knowledge in His Dark Materials

One of the most compelling themes in Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series is the way in which he represents childhood as both a sacred time and a space for profound frustration at the complexities of the adult world. It’s one of the most unifying themes across all of children’s literature, and a difficult trick to pull off effectively. It is especially difficult to strike this balance in children’s fantasy, since the magical elements of the world can sometimes serve as deus ex machinae that make the adult world literally less complex. While Pullman’s novels are excellent at giving the reader a limited, childlike perspective on a world that is overwhelmingly complex and adult, the television series, in broadening its perspective, must also account for those complexities. The difference in approach between book series and television series was starkly illuminated in this week’s episode.

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Okay There’s No Joker 2 in the Works But We Still Want a Poison Ivy Origin Film

So it turns out Joker 2 isn’t in the works, after all? On Wednesday, The Hollywood Reporter published an article alleging that Todd Phillips had taken a meeting with Warner Bros., and emerged with not only a deal for a sequel to Joker, but the rights to one other DC character’s origin story. (We reported on it here.) Today, the director himself debunked the rumors, telling IndieWire no such meeting ever happened.

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The Many Adventures of Tom Swift by “Victor Appleton”

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.

In the 19th century, the pace of technological innovation increased significantly; in the 20th century, it exploded. Every decade brought new innovations. For example, my grandfather began his career as a lineman for American Telegraph in the 1890s (it was just “AT” then—the extra “&T” came later). In the early 20th century he went from city to city installing their first telephone switchboards. He ended his career at Bell Labs on Long Island, helping to build the first television sets, along with other electronic marvels. It seemed like wherever you turned , in those days, there was another inventor creating some new device that would transform your life. With the Tom Swift series, starting in 1910, Edward Stratemeyer created a fictional character that represented the spirit of this age of invention. That first series found Tom building or refining all manner of new devices, including vehicles that would take him to explore far-off lands.

Tom Swift has appeared in six separate book series’ that span over a century, and in this week’s column, I’m going to look at three of them. Two I encountered in my youth: Tom Swift and His Motor Boat, which I inherited from my father, and Tom Swift and His Flying Lab, which was given to my older brother as a birthday gift. As an example of Tom’s later adventures, I’m also looking at Into the Abyss, the first book in the fifth series.

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Watch This Fan-Made Anime Opening for Good Omens (And See Neil Gaiman’s Reaction)

There now exists an anime opening for Good Omens.

If you sit down and think about it sensibly, you come up with some very funny ideas. Like: why make people so thirsty, and then put some forbidden Amazon adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s famous book right where they can see it with a big neon finger flashing on and off saying ‘THIS IS IT!’? … I mean, why do that if you really don’t want them to make a super dramatic anime opening out of it, eh?

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Star Wars: Resistance Is at Its Best When It Stops Worrying About the Resistance

The first season of Star Wars: Resistance was promising if a bit slow, but it typically takes any show a season or two to find its voice. Unfortunately, with the end of the Skywalker Saga upon us, it seems that Disney is hoping to sever any long running media that connects to the third trilogy. So Resistance has to wrap its story in this second and final season, meaning things can feel a bit rushed.

It’s too bad because Resistance is actually best when it chooses to turn its focus away from… the Resistance.

[Spoilers for season 2 so far]

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Oathbringer Reread: Chapter One Hundred Six

Greetings, oh wanderers of the Cosmere! Welcome back to Roshar, where we’ll be having fascinating conversations with a deranged Herald, a confused former assassin, and a snarky sword. This week, if you hadn’t guessed, we’ll check back in with Szeth at the end of the flight launched back in Chapter 98. We still don’t get Nalan’s promised revelations, though.

[This is a different danger.]

Series: Oathbringer Reread

Dealing with the King: John Connolly’s “Razorshins”

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 John Connolly’s “Razorshins,” first published in the July-August 2015 issue of Black Static. Spoilers ahead.

[“I’ll be wanting an extra bottle from you.”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

Read an Excerpt From Charles Soule’s SF Adventure, Anyone

Inside a barn in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a scientist searching for an Alzheimer’s cure throws a switch—and finds herself mysteriously transported into her husband’s body. What begins as a botched experiment will change her life—and the world—forever…

Over two decades later, all across the planet, “flash” technology allows individuals the ability to transfer their consciousness into other bodies for specified periods, paid, registered and legal. Society has been utterly transformed by the process, from travel to warfare to entertainment; “Be anyone with Anyone” the tagline of the company offering this ultimate out-of-body experience. But beyond the reach of the law and government regulators is a sordid black market called the darkshare, where desperate “vessels” anonymously rent out their bodies, no questions asked for any purpose—sex, drugs, crime… or worse.

Charles Soule’s Anyone takes us to a world where identity, morality, and technology collide—available December 3rd from Harper Perennial. In exciting news, Carnival Films and NBCUniversal recently acquired the rights to Anyone for a planned television adaptation, with Soule acting as executive producer.

[Read an excerpt]

An Expanding, Entertaining Fantasy: Howard Andrew Jones’ Upon the Flight of the Queen

Earlier this year, Howard Andrew Jones started a new fantasy series with For the Killing of Kings, with characters, setting and especially tone reminiscent of the heroic fantasy of writers like Dumas, Lamb and  Zelazny. Telling the story of Elenai and Rylin, up and coming squires in the kingdom of Darnassus, I found this to be a fresh fantasy in my review.  My major complaint was that For the Killing of Kings was clearly the first of a trilogy, leaving many elements of the story hanging: a fleeing Queen, a broken siege, and the enemy Naor on the march, seemingly unstoppable. Even with the return of assumed-dead N’Lahr, greatest general this side of Prince Benedict of Amber, things look bleak for the Altenerai corps and the Five Realms they are sworn to protect.

Upon the Flight of the Queen, the second book in the series, finally continues that story.

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Jon Favreau Shares the Original Concept Art for Baby Yoda

Baby Yoda (aka the Yodaling, here at HQ) has ::PUPPY-DOG-EYE STARE::-ed its way into our souls, and it shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

This was, of course, entirely by design. On Tuesday, The Mandalorian creator Jon Favreau shared the original concept art for the Yod-let on Twitter, and it looks like the final version was carefully engineered for maximum cuteness.

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Reread — Mission Gamma, Book Two: This Gray Spirit

Mission Gamma, Book Two: This Gray Spirit
Written by Heather Jarman
Publication Date: September 2002
Timeline: July 2376; following Mission Gamma, Book One: Twilight

Progress: Continuing its mission of exploration, the Defiant inadvertently activates a subspace “snare” that releases a swarm of nanobots into the ship and damages all energy systems. Immediately after, an alien vessel positions itself near the ship and attempts to communicate with the Defiant, but the universal translators are initially unable to decode the messages. An alien away team beams into the Defiant’s engineering section. Fearing hostile intent, since they appear to be attempting to interfere with the warp core, Nog phasers one of the intruders. After the universal translators finally kick in, the crew learns that these aliens, the Yrythny, were trying to help. As the Yrythny “technologist” Tlaral explains, they have been subject to many such attacks by the Magiesterial Cheka Kingdom. The Cheka wish to exploit the Yrythny’s unique genetic provenance: in the distant past the ancient Others created a “Turn Key” in the Yrythny’s genome, accelerating their evolution. Vaughn accepts an offer of help from Tlaral that will take the Defiant to Vanìmel, the Yrythny homeworld.

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