Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: A Civil Campaign, Chapters 13-15

Heads up, rereaders, it’s been a wild week! The AP European History exam, which as a history teacher is kind of a big deal for me, coincided with the release of The Flowers of Vashnoi. I haven’t even had time to watch the royal wedding yet, and obviously I need to—it’s thematically relevant.

The Flowers of Vashnoi is set after Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance. I will blog about it at that point. Out of respect for readers who rely on public libraries or paper formats for their books, I will put a warning in the opening paragraph of any blog post that deals with The Flowers of Vashnoi. Please do not discuss Flowers in the comments of blog posts about other books. This blog post contains NO information about The Flowers of Vashnoi, and those who have read it already should not discuss it in the comments.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season Five Finale: Where’s the Kaboom?

The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are quite familiar with saving the world, having thwarted villains like Hydra, Inhumans, Hive, and Life Model Decoys at the end of every season. But each time it’s been a bootstrap, do-or-die affair, with the outcome far from certain. In this season finale, having destroyed the alien Confederacy spaceship that hovered over the Earth, our heroes still faced the homegrown threat of Graviton—their old ally General Talbot, his mind fragmented by the process of gaining his gravitonium-fueled powers. Like cartoon character Marvin the Martian, many fans went into the episode bracing for “an Earth-shattering kaboom!”

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King of the Horse Books: Marguerite Henry’s King of the Wind

This book. Oh, this book. Horse-crazy tween me loved it with all my heart. I borrowed it from the library over and over, read and reread it. It was the most perfect book I had ever read.

It had everything. Far-away settings. Exciting adventures. Actual real history. Characters I could see and hear in my head. And, of course, horses. Perfect books always had horses.

When I embarked on the SFF Equines Summer Reading Adventure, I knew King of the Wind had to be on the top of the list. Somewhat ironically, I never owned a copy. These days I tend to prefer ebooks for ease and convenience and because my book storage runneth over, but in this very special case, I had to have the physical book. That meant the original edition with the Wesley Dennis illustrations and the lovely cover with its head of an Arabian at full gallop, mane and tassels streaming. [Read more]

Visit Tor/Forge & Tor.com Publishing at BEA and BookCon!

Tor Books, Tor Teen, Tor.com Publishing, and Forge will be at BookExpo America (May 30-June 1) and BookCon (June 2-3)!

Click through for the complete schedule, your guide to in-booth signings and giveaways, plus awesome SFF panels. V.E. Schwab, Charlie Jane Anders, Seth Dickinson, and more will be in attendance to talk LGBTQ gender and identity in SFF and #FearlessWomen! Plus, Susan Dennard and Marissa Meyer wax poetic about NaNoWriMo, while Naomi Novik tells tiny stories live! And did we mention that there’s a bookstagram photo opp at Tor Booth 2444/45?

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Hannu Rajaniemi Prize Pack Sweepstakes!

Hannu Rajaniemi’s new novel, Summerland, is available June 26th from Tor Books—and to celebrate, we want to send you a galley copy of the novel, along with a copy of each of the three books in Rajaniemi’s Jean le Flambeur trilogy!

In Summerland, loss is a thing of the past. Murder is obsolete. Death is just the beginning.

In 1938, death is no longer feared but exploited. Since the discovery of the afterlife, the British Empire has extended its reach into Summerland, a metropolis for the recently deceased.

Yet Britain isn’t the only contender for power in this life and the next. The Soviets have spies in Summerland, and the technology to build their own god.

When SIS agent Rachel White gets a lead on one of the Soviet moles, blowing the whistle puts her hard-earned career at risk. The spy has friends in high places, and she will have to go rogue to bring him in.

But how do you catch a man who’s already dead?

Comment in the post to enter!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States and D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec). To enter, comment on this post beginning at 1:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on May 21st. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on May 25th. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Tor.com, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

Westworld Season 2, Episode 5: “Akane No Mai”

Welcome to Shogun World.

We met a lot of new faces this week who nevertheless remained rather familiar, to wonderful effect. You can tell the showrunners had a lot of fun taking a break from playing Cowboys vs. Indians this week. Cowboys vs. Ninjas was really fun and poignant.

I also had a lot of fun taking a break from Bernard.

Spoilers ahead, daimyos. 

[“You know the old saying about knives and gunfights…”]

Fahrenheit 451: We Are All Made Bored in the Fire

Director Ramin Bahrani had a difficult choice ahead of him while adapting Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel, Fahrenheit 451: make a faithful adaptation of the beloved book or update it for an audience closer to Guy Montag’s dystopia than Bradbury’s original vision.

Watching the new HBO movie, it seems Bahrani tried his best to compromise, and the result is not going to ignite a lot of passion; let’s just say that Michael B. Jordan, fresh off his killer success in Black Panther, is not going to snap any retainers here.

Yet, not every update or revision is a bad choice.

Bradbury’s novel was far from perfect to begin with.

[Let the flamewars begin…]

Tugging on Superman’s Cape: Simple Suggestions for Avoiding World-Destroying Disaster. Or Not.

There are, I think, a few basic safety rules which, if consistently ignored, will almost always provide would-be adventurers with sufficient diversion to create an exciting plot.

Rule number one: do not engage in archaeology. Do not fund archaeology. Above all, do not free that which has been carefully entombed. In most SF and fantasy settings, there were good reasons for entombment…and they still hold.

Indiana Jones did not manage to keep the Nazis from grabbing the Ark of the Covenant. No, the Ark protected itself. As you can see…

[Let’s consider *not* unearthing unspeakable cosmic evil, this time…]

Returning to Twin Peaks: The Return One Year Later

“We are like the dreamer who dreams, and then lives inside the dream. But who is the dreamer?”

Few lines from Twin Peaks encapsulate the cult television series better than these, spoken by actress Monica Bellucci, playing herself inside another character’s dream. The declaration doesn’t just serve as a thesis statement for the famously surreal director David Lynch, who co-created the series with veteran TV writer Mark Frost; it also reminds the viewer that Twin Peaks operates according to a dream logic, rarely cohering into an objectively clear narrative. Interpreting the series means acknowledging incongruities and accepting that our readings are deeply personal, and even the most brilliant connections and explanations are likely to be undercut by other aspects of the show. That slippery, open-ended quality is the very essence of Twin Peaks, and nowhere is that clearer than in the third season, set 25 years after the events of the original show. [“I’ll see you again in 25 years. Meanwhile…”]

Announcing the 2017 Nebula Awards Winners!

Presented in May 2018, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America are pleased to announce the 2017 Nebula Awards winners, as well as the winners for the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, and the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.

The winners were announced at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s 52nd Annual Nebula Conference in Pittsburgh, PA, which took place from Thursday, May 17th through Sunday, May 20th at the Pittsburgh Marriott City Center.

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What Stories Could An Aragorn-Driven Amazon Series Tell?

The Tolkien fan site TheOneRing.net recently reported on Twitter that the eventual Amazon-acquired Lord of the Rings-based television series “will open its first season centered on a young Aragorn.” It cites this information as coming “from many sources” but offers none of them, which to me means this isn’t exactly absolute. But nothing has popped up to contradict and any chance to discuss the matter is fun, so…

Let’s roll with this. I’ve speculated on a few possibilities before, but with young Aragorn as the protagonist of at least the first season, we can sharpen our focus, take a look at what we know about Aragorn’s upbringing, and home in on some prospective plotlines.

[Let’s hunt some earlier orc!]

Into Hell Itself: Armed In Her Fashion by Kate Heartfield

Armed in Her Fashion is Kate Heartfield’s debut novel, and what a strange, compelling, genre-bending debut it is. Part horror, part fantasy, part history, and part epic, it combines all of its elements into a commentary on gender, power, and patriarchy. It centres around several women (and one man) who want in their own ways to have their due.

That makes it sound deeply serious. Actually, it’s enormously fun.

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Deadpool 2 is a Breakneck Action Comedy About Found Families

How do you up the ante on arguably the world’s biggest surprise superhero hit since 1989’s Batman? Well, on any other film, you’d probably have bigger set pieces, better CGI, and a villain that appears infinitely more powerful than the last.

But this is Deadpool. Which means that our meta jokes are just gonna get more meta.

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More Bland Girl Than Bad Girl—Witchblade

While strictly speaking, Image Comics is a comics publisher, in truth, it’s an artist’s collective loosely banded together to publish comics. Each of the founders has his own little corner of it—and some of them split off, with Rob Liefeld and Jim Lee both parting ways with Image at various points. (Lee’s WildStorm imprint became its own company, and then later it was bought by DC.) Others have been brought in, most notably Robert Kirkman, the writer of a comic you might have heard of, The Walking Dead. (I hear there’s a TV show based on it that some folks may have seen…..)

One of Image’s imprints is Marc Silvestri’s Top Cow Productions, which produced a number of superhero comics—but it was their “bad girl” comic, Witchblade, that was their biggest hit, not only as a comic, but also an anime series, a manga adaptation, a Japanese novel, and, most relevant to this rewatch, a 2000 pilot that got picked up for a TV series.

[“What is the witchblade?” “A mystery, wrapped in a riddle, and cloaked in a conundrum.” “That doesn’t help very much…”]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch