Five Hippie-ish SF Novels Inspired by Sixties Counterculture

From time to time, humanity’s powers of kidding itself have produced short-lived crops of deluded optimists. Half a century ago, for example, young people not yet reconciled to grim reality pushed back at society’s constraints… Free love! Communes! Bold hairstyle choices suitable for those who have not yet experienced male pattern baldness!

Unsurprisingly, hippiedom and the counterculture leaked into science fiction, with various degrees of optimism. Here are five examples.

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Subterranean Press Announces Kelly Robson Collection

Since publishing her first short story in 2015, Kelly Robson has gained considerable critical acclaim for her work, earning nominations for the Aurora, Nebula, and Hugo awards—earning wins in each category.

Now, she’s collecting most of her shorter work into a collection, Alias Space and Other Stories, set to come out from Subterranean Press in March 2021.

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Sing Me a Song: Ruinsong by Julia Ember

Do you want a book with an ownvoices fat main character? With a diverse cast including queer, racial, disability, and polyamourous rep? With vivid descriptions and an intriguing world? Where tropes find deeper meaning in the current political climate? And where two girls from different worlds can’t stop sneaking lusty glances? Then you absolutely need to pick up Julia Ember’s The Phantom of the Opera-inspired YA fantasy Ruinsong.

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Gideon, Harrow, and the Value of Problematic Relationships in Fiction

When I was growing up in an evangelical home, there was a faction of parents who wanted media to never portray bad behavior, not even for the purposes of showing that it was bad. This led to such censorship as VeggieTales changing The Bunny Song so he’s singing about foods he doesn’t like instead of singing about not going to church or school. It rendered the song meaningless, but hey, the parents were mollified.

Not many in the book community today would be offended by an animated zucchini singing “I won’t go to church,” but I find myself thinking of those parents when I witness controversies like Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth being condemned as a slavery romance. There’s a sizeable subculture in the book world that doesn’t want to see bad behavior portrayed in books at all, not even if it’s being explicitly addressed and interrogated.

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Reading the Wheel of Time: Morgase Breaks Free in Robert Jordan’s The Fires of Heaven (Part 13)

Last week in Reading the Wheel of Time, we covered Chapter 18 and just the end of Chapter 19, so that I could talk about all our Black Ajah and Darkfriend problems at once. I always enjoy Liandrin chapters, and when the character of Fain is at his best and most political and scheme-y he’s fascinating too. I have so many questions about what influence he may have had on Elaida—I had assumed he’d be sticking around the White Tower causing problems for a lot longer. But he has Rand to worry about anyway, and Elaida has more than enough problems that she doesn’t know she has with Alviarin at her side.

But that’s not what we’re here to talk about today. Today we’re going back to the beginning of Chapter 19, in which Morgase’s resistance to Rahvin’s compulsions finally comes to a head. Also this is the thirteenth post for The Fires of Heaven, so hurray for lucky number 13! Let’s hope it brings some lucky to Morgase, because she really needs it.

[I won the Lion Throne. I will not give it up, and I will not see a man take it.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Answers to the Beta-Readers’ Reactions to Brandon Sanderson’s Rhythm of War

And we’re back at long last, with the solution to the teasers posed a few weeks ago in the Spoiler-Free Reactions to Beta Reading Brandon Sanderson’s Rhythm of War. We hope you had fun with it all!

Well, here it is. The answer key, as it were. How did you do? [Obviously, there are tons of spoilers below—if you haven’t finished the book yet, you may want to save this post for later!]

[Of course the Parshendi wanted to play their drums.]

Aspects of History and Future: Announcing Five Books From Andrea Hairston

Tordotcom Publishing is excited to announce an exciting deal with the incredible Andrea Hairston.

Andrea’s most recent book, Master of Poisons, was chosen by Kirkus as one of the Ten Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of 2020, saying: “This book’s lyrical language and unsparing vision make it a mind-expanding must-read.”

Andrea is a major talent. So, when her agent asked  if we’d like more books from her, we jumped at the chance. And not only have be commissioned two new novels, we’re also going to be republishing her incredible backlist! We’re going to be shouting about how great Andrea is for quite some time to come!

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Legendary Science Fiction Author Ben Bova Has Passed at the Age of 88

Scientist, Hugo Award winner, and prolific science fiction author and editor Ben Bova passed away on Sunday, November 29, 2020 at the age of 88, is able to confirm. The author of more than one hundred books, Bova also edited some of the genre’s best-known publications and served as the president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

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The Taming of Felaróf, Father of Horses in The Lord of the Rings

It’s reader question time at SFF Equine, and commenter srEDIT has a good one:

We read in Book Three and Appendix A [of The Lord of the Rings] about the “father of horses,” Felaróf, who was captured as a foal by Léod, Eorl’s father. This is the horse who later sired the race of Mearas horses raised by the Rohirrim.

My question(s): Tolkien tells us of Felaróf that “no man could tame him.” But he also says Léod is established as a successful “tamer of wild horses.” How long would Léod likely have waited before attempting to mount this stallion? That is, how young a horse (who presumably began his life as a colt in the wild) might be ready to be mounted? How old are “real” horses before an experienced tamer might try to mount and ride an “untamable” stallion? We’re told that Léod actually rode for some (unmeasured) distance before Felaróf threw him. What might this distance be? Assuming the best of intentions by both human and animal characters, was this a case of irresistible force meets immovable object?

In your own mind, what sort of circumstances surrounding the taming of Felaróf had you imagined?

First of all, a bit of a disclaimer. I’m a LOTR/Silmarillion geek but not a Tolkien scholar. I haven’t delved deep into the lore and I have not read most of the exhumations and continuations published over the years. What I am is a longtime horse person, a rider and a onetime breeder. That’s the framing of the question, and that’s how I’ll answer.

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Four Stories That Subvert the Cosy Catastrophe Genre

Given our recent discussion of such tales, I should note that I quite dislike one particular subset of lifeboat stories: the ones in which a small group of plucky pioneers somehow escape the dying Earth and reach a new world they can call their own. But in the meantime, the unlucky masses who could not make their way onto the flotilla die with their homeworld.

Why this distaste? Well…

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Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Retrospect”

Written by Andrew Shepard Price & Mark Gaberman and Bryan Fuller & Lisa Klink
Directed by Jesús Salvador Treviño
Season 4, Episode 17
Production episode 185
Original air date: February 25, 1998
Stardate: 51658.2

Captain’s log. Voyager has traveled to Enthara, where they have been negotiating with a weapons dealer named Kovin, trying to beef up Voyager‘s tactical specs in light of the ongoing Hirogen threat. Once they settle on terms, Janeway and Chakotay agree to let Seven out of the penalty box so she can help Torres and Kovin install the systems.

[I want the cannon.]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

5 Books That Are Pulpy in All the Right Ways

It’s no secret that horror is making a comeback. But what about the pulp? The sensational and fantastical imagery that gives us nightmares as kids and can make even the toughest of adults squirm? That’s exactly what my co-author Darren Wearmouth and I tried to harness in our latest thriller, Don’t Move. Set in the woods of West Virginia, the story follows a church group from the Bronx on their annual camping trip. But this year, the group has made a fatal navigational error that’s left them stranded in an uninhabited portion of canyon untouched by humans for centuries. The only thing that has survived there all this time? A giant, terrifying prehistoric arachnid that’s desperate for a meal. The novel itself draws on inspiration from the classic 80s and 90s slasher movies that captured my attention as a young teen, and as the thriller genre matures and leans more towards the cerebral, that doesn’t mean a good romp around in the pulp isn’t welcomed.

So if you’re looking for a gory, creepy page-turner that still offers the best of modern storytelling, here are five books that are pulpy in all the right ways…

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Series: Five Books About…

The Vegetarian Vampire: Unpacking the Metaphor of Modern Vampire Stories

I don’t want to shock you, but Edward Cullen wasn’t the first Vegetarian Vampire to take a seat at the table. In fact, Edward comes from a long, storied line of ethically minded bros of the undead who all have one thing in common: while they might want to suck your blood, they’re really gonna try not to.

The Vegetarian Vampire, or leo lamia if you want to get fancy with it, is the one who either abstains from drinking human blood or finds alternative ways of getting it. And it turns out, they’re a staple of the Western Vampire Canon, a trope in their own right!

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