The Expectations That Travelers Carried: The Disaster Tourist by Yun Ko-eun (trans. Lizzie Buehler)

The Disaster Tourist is a trim near-future speculative novel from Yun Ko-eun, the first of her novels to be translated and published in English. Ko Yona, our protagonist, has been an employee of the travel company Jungle for around ten years; Jungle creates “ethical” vacation packages to locations of catastrophe. Tsunami, earthquakes, volcanoes, radiation, prisons and asylums, mass killings: the humans involved and the sites of their trauma become the consumables offered in trade for tourists seeking that authentic experience and a bit of moral righteousness to assuage the guilt of rubbernecking.

But when Yona begins to experience sexual harassment from her boss and assumes this means she’s gotten an informal “yellow card”—implying she’s on her way out of the company—she attempts to resign. Instead of her resignation being accepted, she’s offered a ‘working vacation’ to check out one of their failing packages on the island of Mui and review it for cancellation. However, all is not as it seems on Mui, and Yona’s own complicity in the broader systems at work in Jungle’s interventions on local spaces begin to dreadfully evolve.

[A review.]

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Series Finale: All’s Well That Ends Well

The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have reached the end of their final season—a season which involved them traveling through time, visiting key moments in S.H.I.E.L.D. history, and as always, saving the world from destruction. The two-hour grand finale featured all the ingredients of previous season-ending episodes, including evil aliens, setbacks, tricky plots and counterplots, big fight scenes, and clever quips. It also had a much bigger budget for special effects, a cast and crew that have honed their skills for seven seasons, and writers that were more than happy to give the fans a happy ending. This was a show determined to go out on the top of its game!

[Read more]

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Blood Fever”

“Blood Fever”
Written by Lisa Klink
Directed by Andrew Robinson
Season 3, Episode 16
Production episode 157
Original air date: February 5, 1997
Stardate: 50537.2

Captain’s log. Voyager has found a source of gallacite, which can be used to refit the warp coils. The planet has a long-abandoned colony on it, so Janeway lays a claim. Torres and Vorik plan out how to set up a gallacite mine, and then Vorik surprises Torres by proposing to marry her.

[With Lieutenant Torres, “upset” is a relative term…]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Five Times Harrow the Ninth Uses the Language of Fanfiction to Process Grief, and One Time It Doesn’t

Harrow the Ninth is one of the most anticipated SFF sequels in recent memory, weighted as it is with the expectation of living up to the cheeky, bonetastic glory of Gideon the Ninth. After crafting an incredibly complex far-future with necromancy seeping out of its every pore, as seen through the aviator-covered gaze of one Gideon Nav, the second novel swaps protagonists and propels readers into the even gorier, more existential setting of Lyctorhood that not even Gideon and its trials could have prepared you for. How can Tamsyn Muir possibly follow up Gideon the Ninth?

By retelling the story, over and over and over.

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A Post-Apocalyptic Quest Through the Wilderness: Hiero’s Journey by Sterling E. Lanier

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 1974, I was a sophomore in college, and always looking for a good paperback to distract me from my homework. I found one that looked promising, with a rather audacious cover blurb: “In a holocaust world of strange beasts and savage men, he rode out. As fantastic a chronicle as Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.” (It’s almost impossible to read that without doing an impression of the guy who used to do voiceovers for all the blockbuster action movie trailers.) So, I decided to give it a try, and was glad I did. It became an instant favorite: a fast-paced adventure built around a compelling character facing impossible odds.

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Designer Creates Shot-for-Shot Remake of 2001: A Space Odyssey’s Final Scene in Quarantine

The final, climactic scene in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey confounded audiences when it was first released: Astronaut David Bowman enters a monolith orbiting Jupiter and after being transported through space, finds himself in an ornate bedroom, where he sees several different versions of himself.

It’s a powerful scene, and over the course of this past spring while in quarantine in New York City, designer  Lydia Cambron reimagined it (via Kottke) through the lens of COVID-19.

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What Do You Do With a Drunken Klingon? — Star Trek: Lower Decks: “Envoys”

One of my biggest concerns about Lower Decks going in was that it was going to be mean-spirited. This was mostly borne out of Rick and Morty depending a great deal on humor centered around sarcastic abuse and nastiness. Not that that’s a bad thing in and of itself, but it’s not really a good fit for Star Trek.

“Envoys” shows that perhaps I needn’t have worried.

[“Ship destroyed. Casualties: 105%.” “Wait, how did I kill more than the whole crew?”]

The People and Places of Roshar

Hello Stormlight fans! Welcome back to the world of Roshar. If you missed it, last week Kellyn and I took a look at Roshar’s ecology including its flora and fauna. Today I tour Roshar’s people and places. Ever wondered what the difference is between Iri and Rira? Or where Greater Hexi is? Join me and find out!

[It proved intoxicatingly rich with strange people, sights, and ringing bells]

The Art of Dematerialization: Nelly Geraldine García-Rosas’s “T’la-yub’s Head”

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 Nelly Geraldine García-Rosas’s “T’la-yub’s Head,” translated by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and first published in Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s and Paula R. Stiles’s 2015 She Walks in Shadows anthology. Spoilers ahead.

[“There remains a door which we must watch because we are the key.”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

A Promising Queer Space Opera: The First Sister by Linden A. Lewis

We are in the middle of a delightful floruit of queer science fiction and fantasy. Finally—finally — no single book has to be all things to all (queer) readers. No longer does the sheer relief of finding a novel with a queer protagonist (or several) predispose me in that novel’s favour. No longer do I feel compelled to highlight a novel’s good points and pass lightly over its flaws because at least it exists. I can finally be picky, and enter wholeheartedly into a criticism uncomplicated by the worry of contributing to a silencing of queer voices.

This is perhaps bad news for my reaction to The First Sister, Linden A. Lewis’s debut space opera novel from Gallery/Skybound. Billed as the first volume in the First Sister trilogy, it sets itself in a future version of the solar system occupied by two competing factions (one based on Earth and Mars, one on Mercury and Venus), with wildcard posthuman smugglers and water miners in the asteroid belt (the so-called “Asters”, viewed as subhuman by the two competing factions) and mysterious machine intelligences hanging out somewhere in the Oort Cloud. But where once the novelty of multiple queer protagonists in a reasonably well-drawn, well-written SFnal future might alone have spurred my enthusiasm, these days I have the luxury of expecting more.

[Read more]

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