Dr. Feyrouz Hanafusa is a curator at Yale in the 23rd century. Space exploration is still ongoing, and signs of life have been discovered on a planet near TRAPPIST-1. Signs, Dr. Hanafusa realizes, that suspiciously resemble drawings in the Voynich manuscript, which no one has been able to decipher for over eight hundred years.
Jules Verne was a ridiculously prolific author, publishing more than 90 novels, short stories, non-fiction books, essays, and plays over his 50-odd year career. His magnum opus was the Voyages Extraordinaires, a series of 54(!) novels that sought “to outline all the geographical, geological, physical, and astronomical knowledge amassed by modern science and to recount, in an entertaining and picturesque format…the history of the universe,” according to his editor Jules Hetzel. How’s that for an ambitious undertaking?
You might not expect a novel about the Thirty Years’ War to be entertaining, much less funny. Those three decades of massacre, starvation, plague, and pillage littered central Europe with eight million corpses; it wasn’t until the twentieth century that the European nations once again achieved such sheer horror. And yet, despite its grim subject and despite its jacket-copy endorsement from Michael Haneke, bleakest and most depressing of bleak and depressing German directors, Daniel Kehlmann’s new novel Tyll is a rollick and a delight.
Heist stories always seem so straightforward at the beginning. All that stands between our protagonists and possession of whatever it is they covet or require is a team with the right skills, a plan so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a fox, and a bit of concerted effort. What could possibly go wrong? And yet, something always does.
It doesn’t matter if the heist takes place in a mundane world or a science fiction world or a fantasy world. There are always complications…because otherwise, where’s the fun?
For the first forty minutes of its forty-two-minute running time, “Stardust City Rag” is a fantastic episode, my favorite episode of Picard so far (okay, fine, the competition isn’t exactly fierce yet, given that we’re only five episodes in, but work with me, here). It is full of so much amazing stuff from beginning to end, and runs the gamut from hilarious to sad to dramatic to action-packed to horrific. This is the first solo script by Kirsten Beyer, who is not just supervising producer and co-creator (and also a friend of your humble reviewer), but is also the author of several brilliant Star Trek: Voyager novels which did powerful character work with Seven of Nine.
Then there’s the last two minutes.
In the past few decades, theme parks across the U.S. have been engaged in a kind of entertainment arms race, building not only ambitious new individual rides and amusements, but creating entire new sections of the parks which immerse the visitor in another world, all built around a popular franchise, movie, or brand. By far, science fiction and fantasy fans have been the principal beneficiaries of this expansion. Universal Orlando Resort fired opening salvos with their Islands of Adventure theme park, originally launched in 1999, containing sections devoted to Marvel Superheroes, Jurassic Park, and the world of Doctor Seuss. They pushed things to another level with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where not only the rides, but even the shops and restaurants were all part of the theme, and employees were trained in Potter-related role-playing. Disney World followed suit with Pandora—The World of Avatar, and then Toy Story Land.
In 2019, in a move that many delighted many fans, Disney opened Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge—an area of the park dedicated to the Star Wars universe—promising an experience that would again raise the bar for audience immersion. Recently, my wife Jan and I had the opportunity to visit Disney World in Orlando, where we discovered that Black Spire Outpost, set on the previously unknown planet of Batuu, truly lives up to all the hype
We recently sat down Drew Williams, author of the Universe After series, and Arkady Martine, author of the Teixcalaan series, to chat about all things space opera!
In the following conversation, the two skilled sci-fi writers discuss the craft of writing stories that take place in a far-future we can’t see, how the genre handles the concept of empire, and the whether or not their stories could take place in say, a modern office setting instead.
HBO has released a new trailer for its upcoming third season of Westworld. The action-packed trailer shows just how far the series is straying from its original, wild west theme park-set roots.
She wrote Ice and then she died. She used prescription heroin for half of her life. She took the name she’s remembered by from one of her own early novels. If you’ve heard of Anna Kavan, and most likely you haven’t, chances are that these are the few things you know about her. Though she wrote more than a dozen novels and collections, though she was a journalist and a painter, Kavan is remembered for a single book and for the dramatic or disreputable portions of her biography.
This month, New York Review Books issues Machines in the Head, a volume of Kavan’s selected stories. It’s a slim book of weighty emotion that will leave readers perturbed. I admire it, but I can’t say I enjoyed it.
So, reader, we are approaching the end of The Book of the New Sun. When we last parted ways with Severian, he had just been asked by the Pelerines’ mistress of postulants, Mannea, to seek out an old, wise anchorite living twenty leagues from their camp and bring him to safety, lest he be killed by the war that’s approaching his hermitage.
Series: Rereading Gene Wolfe
Una McCormack’s The Last Best Hope, the first novel directly related to, and in explicit continuity with, the first season of Star Trek: Picard, fills in some of the gaps between Star Trek: Nemesis and the current series. It also acts as both prequel and sequel to the Picard: Countdown comic book miniseries, itself a prequel to Picard. The novel was published in between episodes 3 and 4 (“The End is the Beginning” and “Absolute Candor” respectively) of the new show, and as such, assuming you read it in the relevant two-day window, as I did, it contained some mild spoilers for the fourth episode’s setup.
More interestingly, the book furnishes us with significant detail around Picard’s spearheading of the Romulan evacuation, from its inception and early successes to its final tragic dismantlement, and it also dramatizes a few key scenes that have been alluded to, but not explicitly shown, in the series.
Two young women stand on the brink. One faces a life of unfathomable wealth and absolute privilege, another a life of drudgery and desperation. Both want something else, something more, and when the opportunity arrives they jump at it. This is a story of two teenagers who gain everything they want only to risk it all to save the kingdom and stop an unstoppable king. They fight for the soul of their nation, the heart of their people, and their own burgeoning identities.
When an elderly customer at a Swedish big box furniture store—but not that one—slips through a portal to another dimension, it’s up to two minimum-wage employees to track her across the multiverse and protect their company’s bottom line…
Nino Cipri’s Finna—available February 25th from Tor.com Publishing—is a rambunctious, touching story that blends all the horrors the multiverse has to offer with the everyday awfulness of low-wage work. We’re excited to share the excerpt below!