Empty Earths: Five SF Stories Set on a Depopulated Planet

Novels with a focus on demographic transition-driven decline are sadly rare in Western SF. The correct response is to complain loudly that kids are staying off my lawn. However, it’s hard to come up with a list of books about a subject which very few Western authors—Charles Stross aside—find interesting. To paraphrase my uncle Don’s former wrestling opponent, “You read the books you have, not the books you might want or wish to have at a later time.” Novels featuring low population Earths depopulated for reasons other than demographic transition are easy enough to find.

Here are five examples.

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Lesbian Knives Out on a Boat: Revealing A Restless Truth by Freya Marske

Magic! Murder! Shipboard romance!

Magic, mystery, and romance collide in A Restless Truth, the much anticipated sequel to A Marvellous Light. Author Freya Marske describes her new novel as: “Lesbian KNIVES OUT On A Boat! If you think Robin has a knack for attracting trouble, may I introduce… his sister.” A Restless Truth will be available on November 1st, 2022 from Tordotcom Publishing.

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Echo and Hommage in Andre Norton and Sasha Miller’s To the King a Daughter

I had never heard of this book, first of an eventual five-volume series, before I found it in the Andre Norton bibliography. It’s a collaboration with Sasha Miller, author of several fantasy novels of her own, and it came out quite late in Norton’s life, with the later volumes published posthumously. It’s essentially a Witch World hommage, not quite fanfic in that it’s supposedly set in a secondary world of its own, but the settings, characters, and world are clearly based on Norton’s iconic series.

There’s a medievalzoid realm ruled by four families—a la the Mantles of Arvon. There are Sea Rovers who are Sulcarmen with the serial numbers still clearly visible. There’s a huge, deadly Bog inhabited by a wide range of monsters and assorted clans and tribes of ugly, misshapen, barbaric people. There’s a tradition of Wisewomen, represented by the mysterious Zazar. There are ancient ruined cities everywhere, and in the first volume there’s a strong suggestion that the world is being invaded by aliens from another world or dimension.

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Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Civilization”

“Civilization”
Written by Phyllis Strong & Mike Sussman
Directed by Mike Vejar
Season 1, Episode 9
Production episode 009
Original air date: November 14, 2001
Date: July 31, 2151

Captain’s star log. Archer shows up for the morning briefing on nearby phenomena for them to possibly investigate. While he’s inexplicably unenthused by a supernova remnant or a cluster of three neutron stars, he’s over the moon at the Class-M planet with five hundred million people living on it.

[“Have you ever seen anything like that?” “Actually, I have…”]

Series: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch

The Best (and Worst) Cartoon Sidekicks of 1980s Television

I’ll always have a soft spot for the variety of SFF (and SFF-tinged) cartoon series aimed at kids in the 1980s—partly because of the amazing sidekicks that tagged along for adventures in Eternia, Pac-Land, or a ghost-infested version of NYC. But which sidekicks reign supreme? Naturally, this requires a ranking list post.

THESE ARE MY OWN PERSONAL VIEWS. IT’S OK IF YOU LIKE SNARF.

I mean, I think you might want to talk to a therapist, but it’s probably okay, cosmically speaking.

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Nicola Griffith’s Hild and the Joy of Giant, Perfect Novels

I became a writer on, and for, the internet. I wrote blog posts before I wrote novels, or even short stories. When I wrote, I did so conscious that my reader might at any moment get bored and close the tab. I wrote with a sense of urgency that bordered (not unreasonably) on panic.

This internet affect is palpable, I think, in my first novel, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. In my second, Sourdough, it’s faded—but it’s still there. The point is, I have always tended towards brevity. I have never barfed out 150,000 words, only to cut them back to 75K. I have never, ever written long.

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Zombie Drama All of Us Are Dead Appears to Have a Very Accurate Title

Is there a better name for a zombie show set in a high school than All of Us Are Dead? It’s accurate, where zombies are concerned, and it also accurately represents the drama levels of high schoolers. The Korean series is based on “Now at Our School,” a webtoon by Joo Dong-geun that ran from 2009 to 2011, and the trailer involves a lot of screaming and blood. As zombie stories tend to do.

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Good Hunting, Rocinante: The Expanse Ends With “Babylon’s Ashes”

The Expanse is over; long may the Rocinante fly. The too-short season six winds things up with “Babylon’s Ashes,” which wraps up as much as it can—and teases stories it seems like The Expanse is never going to get to tell. But as endings go, this one is smart and stacked and satisfying.

Spoilers for the entire show follow!

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There Are No Heroes or Villains in Station Eleven, Just Fans

The play’s the thing, in Station Eleven, wherein they’ll catch the conscience of the king Prophet. Or could you say the comic’s the thing—Station Eleven the book absolutely terraforming two vulnerable kids’ post-pandemic worldviews? Or the play adaptation of the comic that elevates a man’s death scene from subtext to supertext? Or the ancient Lisa Loeb karaoke track unearthed by the Museum of Civilization, performed by a post-pan teenager devoid of any context? Or the Independence Day speech that endears an aspiring actor to his idols? Or the rap rendition of A Tribe Called Quest’s “Excursions” that brings more joy than awkward Christmas carols?

Patrick Somerville’s TV miniseries based on Emily St. John Mandel’s novel is a near-perfect adaptation. It very much gets its own source material, yet isn’t precious about intersecting some plot lines and excising others. The end result is imbued with both the spirit and specificity of the book, a credit to Somerville and his collaborators assigning Station Eleven the comic its appropriate level of reverence in the universe of the show, but also echoing that love of art across all of the aforementioned media. Every single song, page, or video is attached to a human life, which is what makes it survive beyond the end of the world.

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David Ramsey May Star In a New Arrowverse Show

What are they doing with John Diggle? When Arrow ended two years ago, it was suggested—very strongly—that Diggle (David Ramsey), Oliver Queen’s bodyguard turned buddy, found a Green Lantern ring. The hints continued with Diggle’s appearances on the other Arrowverse shows, but the whole thing went a little bit sideways when, on Supergirl, Diggle seemed to say that maybe he’d turned the hero thing down in order to stay on Earth with his wife and kids. But maybe not?

Now, David Ramsey is set to star in a new Arrowverse show that’s in development at The CW: Justice U, in which Diggle would train a new generation of superheroes. But why tease the Green Lantern thing only to sideline it?

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