Learning Empathy From Horse Training

One of the hardest things for a human being to do is to understand, and empathize with, the Other. By which I mean any sentient thing that is not the human’s specific self. The more different the Other is from that self, the less easy it is to relate.

I’m not just talking about animals here, or horses in particular, since this is, after all, SFF Equines. I’m talking about Other genders, Other cultures, Other ways of viewing the world. Most if not all of our wars and conflicts either originate in or devolve into some form of this—from invading a country that has resources we want or need, to declaring a particular tribe or nation or faith or skin color “evil” or “deluded” or “lesser” or “not us,” to allotting specific, value-weighted traits to each gender.

[Read more]

Announcing TorCon, A Virtual Books Convention!

Tor and Tor.com Publishing, in partnership with Den of Geek, are launching TorCon, a virtual convention running from Thursday, June 11th through Sunday June 14th!

There will be eight panels featuring over 20 authors, across a variety of digital platforms, including marquee events featuring: Christopher Paolini & Brandon Sanderson; Neil Gaiman & V.E. Schwab; and Cory Doctorow & Nnedi Okorafor. Head below for the full lineup!

[Read more]

“That’s why it’s called fantasy”: An Interview With Mercedes Lackey

Mercedes Lackey published her first novel, Arrows of the Queen, in 1987. Since then she’s published well over a hundred more books and an impressive quantity of short fiction both as a solo writer and in collaboration with others. At this point, it should surprise no one to hear that I’m a huge fan. So when I heard that Lackey and her partner and co-writer Larry Dixon would be Guests of Honor at this year’s WorldCon in New Zealand, I proposed that Tor.com send me there to interview her; Tor declined to buy me a plane ticket to New Zealand, even though it was 2019 and no one had even heard of coronavirus. But we decided to pursue the interview part of my proposal, which is how I wound up exchanging a series of emails with Mercedes Lackey while she was on a road trip over the winter holidays last year.

[Read more]

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Innocence”

“Innocence”
Written by Anthony Williams and Lisa Klink
Directed by James L. Conway
Season 2, Episode 22
Production episode 138
Original air date: April 8, 1996
Stardate: 49578.2

Captain’s log. A shuttle from Voyager has crashed on a moon. Tuvok survived the crash, but Ensign Bennet did not. His last words are regret, as he’d always thought he was lucky that he had no family back in the Alpha Quadrant, but now that he’s dying, he regrets not having anybody to remember him. Since he’s not an opening-credits regular on the show, he can rest assured that no one would remember him anyhow.

[Don’t Vulcans tell bedtime stories?]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream: The Duty of the Black Writer During Times of American Unrest

1

At some point on the night of November 24, 2015, the Foodtown grocery at 148th and St. Nicholas caught fire.

In the spring of that year, I had graduated from Columbia Law School and was, that fall, living in Harlem and working as a Volunteer Assistant Attorney General and Civil Rights Fellow with the Office of the New York State Attorney General. Twice-daily, five days a week, I would pass that Foodtown grocery store, heading to and from a job where I and fewer than a dozen others were tasked with enforcing federal and local civil rights laws for the State of New York. By the time I had passed that intersection the morning after the fire, the front window was gone and inside was nothing but bitumen.

Content Warning: Police Brutality, Violence

[Read more]

Planets on the Move: SF Stories Featuring World-Ships

Recently, we discussed science fiction stories about naturally occurring rogue worlds; there is, of course, another sort of wandering planet. That would be the deliberately-impelled variety, featured in stories in which ambitious travellers take an entire world along with them. This approach has many obvious advantages, not the least of which is that it greatly simplifies pre-flight packing. This spectacular notion has appealed to SF writers for nearly a hundred years; perhaps the first instance is to be found in Edmund Hamilton’s 1934 “Thundering Worlds,” in which every planet in the system is propelled across the interstellar gulf to escape a dying Sun. (As usual, if you know of an earlier publication, let us all know in the comments.)

Here are some further examples of the wandering world in print and/or film.

[Read more]

Announcing the 2019 Nebula Awards Winners!

This weekend, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has been holding its annual Nebula Awards conference. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s panels, readings, and award presentations have been moved online.

Among this weekend’s events is this year’s Nebula Awards ceremony, which honor the best science fiction and fantasy writing published in 2019.

[Read more]

This Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles RPG Has Everything You’d Ever Want

Transdimensional Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles may very well be the greatest role-playing game sourcebook of all time. I’m not even being slightly hyperbolic. It is a book that talks about everything from dinosaurs to time travel, from wizards to parallel dimensions.

I suppose I should start a little further back: do you know that Palladium published the TMNT game, called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness? Well they did, and while the game is built on the rickety foundation of the Palladium system, the “Bio-E” mini-system for mutating your character from everyday animal into an anthropomorphic version is incredibly elegant. Transdimensional TMNT takes the “Strangeness” part of “…and Other Strangeness” and cranks it up to eleven. The real kicker, though, is that it has perhaps the most cogent system for time travel that I’ve ever seen, period.

[Read more]

Five Books About Finding Hope at the End of the World

Hope.

Four little letters, yet together they represent the most powerful substance in the universe. Whether associated with Princess Leia or Samwise Gamgee or Gene Roddenberry, “hope” conjures up images of the impossible victory, the candle in the darkness, the moral arc of the universe finally snapping back to its correct path.

[Read more]

How to Recover From Reader’s Block

Towards the end of 2019, a well-regarded essayist expressed dissatisfaction with the current state of the SF novel. He went so far as to confidently assert, “I stopped reading novels last year. I think you did too.” Sweeping assertions are often wrong. This one is definitely wrong, at least where I am concerned.

What may have sparked his comment is burnout, of the form that might be called “reader’s block.” You want to read something, but can find nothing specific you want to read. I think most of us who read extensively have been there.

[Read more]

Our Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.