A Beautiful, Fierce, Bittersweet Flight: Untethered Sky by Fonda Lee

Here’s what you need to know if you haven’t had the absolute pleasure of reading fiction from Fonda Lee: She can write her damn heart out. And she will rip yours out in the process and you will say, “Thank you, Fonda Lee, you have earned this.” This was my experience (and many readers’ experiences) with the Jade City trilogy, and it was my experience again with her latest, Untethered Sky—a lean, vicious, beautiful and bittersweet story of grief, loss, and rage.

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Hugh Howey Adaptation Beacon 23 Makes the Jump to MGM+

MGM+, the streaming platform formerly known as Epix, is adding another adaptation to its lineup: the series Beacon 23, which comes from creator Zak Penn and is based on Hugh Howey’s tale about a space lighthouse. The eight-episode series was originally intended to air on Spectrum Originals, which no longer exists.

All of those details are well and good, but the important one is this: The show stars Lena Headey (Game of Thrones, pictured above) as a “government agent” who finds herself in something of a test of wills with a lighthouse keeper.

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Star Power: Five Classic SF Works Featuring Tau Ceti

Imagine, if you will, a cautious author of the not so long ago when information on exoplanets was non-existent who desired a plausible nearby solar system in which to place the habitable world on which their story is set. The prudent writer might discard bright stars (too short-lived), multiple star systems like Alpha Centauri and 61 Cygni (stellar orbits may preclude habitable planets), long dead stars like van Maanen’s Star (that would have killed their planets), and dim stars like Barnard’s Star (planets would be tide-locked).

The nearest solitary star that is not excluded by the above criteria is Tau Ceti, which is slightly dimmer than the Sun and only twelve light years away. Thus, it is not at all surprising that this nearby G8 star features in so many classic science fiction stories…

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The Legacy of The Exorcist: Five Decades of Fear

2023 marks fifty years since the release of The Exorcist (1973) and the opportunity for commemoration hasn’t gone unnoticed. July saw the release of Nat Segaloff’s franchise deep-dive The Exorcist Legacy: 50 Years of Fear; September greets us with the 4K Ultra HD remaster on physical media of the original movie; and in early October the iconic film will be re-released theatrically as a Fathom Event, leading up to the premiere the new The Exorcist: Believer, touted as its direct follow-up and also the first installment in a new trilogy. (If that approach sounds reminiscent of 2018’s Halloween, it’s no coincidence: both projects are helmed by the same director, David Gordon Green, and involve Blumhouse Productions.)

With this swirl of conjurations in the air, it seems apt to revisit the classic, and provide a primer for folks who might want to explore the tortuous, oftentimes confusing, history of the Exorcist franchise.

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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Trailer Asks Repeatedly What the Hunger Games Are For

“What are the Hunger Games for?” Head Gamemaker Volumnia Gaul (Viola Davis) asks young Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) not once but twice in this new trailer for the prequel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. The first time, he says the games are to punish the districts. The second time, young Mr. Snow has a military haircut and a whole new bearing, and we don’t get his answer.

It’s very unlikely to be satisfactory, anyway.

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Eight Authors Who’ve Written Themselves Into Stories

Character names can be one of the toughest challenges for an author. How to find one imbued with meaning? One that stands out? One that feels personal, yet unique? Well … how about just using your own name? In more cases than you might expect, that’s what authors do: They put themselves, under their own names, into their stories. It doesn’t necessarily happen often, but it is common enough that there’s a term to describe it: “self-insertion.” And it’s a long, time-honored tradition; back in the late 1300s, Chaucer included himself as not just a chronicler but one of the characters in The Canterbury Tales.

Most authors will agree that there’s a bit of themselves in every one of their stories, but it’s quite something different to be a named character in your own text. What do you do with yourself in your own story? Just sneak in for a brief cameo? Reveal yourself as a godlike persona? Could you kill off your fictional self?

All of those things happen, and have happened—just check out these eight examples of authors who were able to script how their story ends, at least on paper.

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Revealing The Fireborne Blade, a New Dragon-Slaying Fantasy From Charlotte Bond

Kill the dragon. Find the blade. Reclaim her honor.

It’s that, or end up like countless knights before her, as a puddle of gore and molten armor.

We’re delighted to share the cover for Charlotte Bond’s The Fireborne Blade, a book deeply rooted in classic fantasy tropes, but with a beautifully contemporary feel, making it both familiar and new at the same time. The Fireborne Blade is forthcoming from Tordotcom Publishing in May 2024, with its sequel The Bloodless Princes following hot on its heels in October.

Come for the slaying of the dragons, stay for the slaying of the patriarchy…

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Read an Excerpt From After World

Faced with uncontrolled and accelerating environmental collapse, humanity asks an artificial intelligence to find a solution. Its answer is simple: remove humans from the ecosystem.

We’re thrilled to share an excerpt from After World by Debbie Urbanski, which follows the story of an Artificial Intelligence tasked with writing a novel—only for it to fall in love with the novel’s subject, Sen, the last human on Earth. After World publishes with Simon & Schuster on December 5.

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Give Tribute! The Hunger Games Is Heading Back to Theaters This October

This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the film being covered here wouldn’t exist.

In the lead up to the release of the prequel film, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, the film that started it all—2012’s The Hunger Games, based on the first book in the trilogy by Suzanne Collins—will pay tribute and make its way to select theaters for two nights.

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An Entire World Inside Your Head: The Deep Sky by Yume Kitasei

There have been enough generation ship stories by now that readers are accustomed to humanity’s chance for the future falling into two categories: either the most intelligent, highly trained, mentally and emotionally resilient platonic ideal of an astronaut and future planet settler; or an every(wo)man who stumbles their way into the mission yet wins everyone over with their sheer relatability and unexpected insights. But what if you were among the cream of the crop… but fell just short of being the very best Earth had to offer?

On the Phoenix, a generation ship ten years into its mission carrying eighty crew members to Planet X, Asuka Hoshino-Silva is an Alt—the mission’s alternate, not hand-picked for any specific job but good enough that she can do in a pinch. Representing Japan despite feeling more connected to the United States based on her childhood spent in climate refugee camps, Asuka is an immediately compelling heroine because of the demanding standards to which she holds herself and her belief that she has already fallen short. When a bomb damages the Phoenix, killing three promising crew members but sparing Asuka, it makes her simultaneously the top suspect and the only one who can solve the mystery of who might be sabotaging EvenStar’s mission, in Yume Kitasei’s absorbing debut sci-fi thriller.

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