15 SFF Books That Deserve Their Own Soundtracks

There are two main obsessions in my life: books and music. You can usually find me hunched over a book with a pair of headphones slapped securely over my ears. Both obsessions have lead me to wonderful things; I am an avid writer and a truly abysmal guitar player. They’ve also started to mix together in my weird, wormy brain. Books have begun to take on soundtracks of their own as I read them. Words become notes and chords, narrative themes become bands, and soon I can’t read a certain book without having to pair it with an album or playlist, like pairing wine with a specific dish.

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Peacemaker Thinks Maybe He’s a Grower, Not a Shower In a New Trailer

The slow drip of Peacemaker content is turning into a steadier stream as the Suicide Squad spinoff’s January premiere date approaches, and DC’s latest offering is a full-length trailer that makes it clear this isn’t a story about your average heroic dude. “That guy is a clown” Emilia Harcourt (Jennifer Holland) says of John Cena’s Peacemaker. And she’s not wrong. But as her colleague Leota Adebayo (Danielle Brooks) replies, “There’s something about him that’s… sad.”

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Five Novel Approaches to Powering Interstellar Travel

Science fiction often assumes particular bundles of technology, even when the components of that bundle are not causally linked and might not appear at the same time. For example, authors generally assume energy-generating technology will keep pace with propulsive technology. To put this less obscurely, they assume that by the time faster-than-light drives show up, so will cheap, affordable, reliable fusion power plants. No doubt this is only partly driven by narrative convenience. We’ve been told fusion is only thirty years away for sixty years now. One can forgive authors for believing what turned out to be hopelessly optimistic predictions…although I am not sure why said authors also seem to expect fusion plants to be conveniently low mass, extremely efficient, and aneutronic.

However, some authors eschew the dream of commercial fusion (at least, of the variety that can be crammed into a spaceship hull) without abandoning the dream of interstellar travel. Not many, admittedly, but enough that five examples can be found.

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Destinies Entwined in Girls of Fate and Fury by Natasha Ngan

When I first read Girls of Paper and Fire in 2019, I was in awe of the intricately built fantasy world and the compelling narrative of two queer girls falling in love and fighting against patriarchal oppression. The final book in the trilogy, Girls of Fate and Fury, brings these characters’ journeys and the revolutionary conflict to a dramatic and emotional close. Lei discovers the insidious plans the Demon King has for her, while Wren is thrust into sudden leadership positions as part of the rebellion. The book further develops ideas of power and strength, explores the tragic choices which are inherent in war, and demonstrates how love enables resistance, no matter the circumstances.

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Janelle Monáe’s Memory Librarian Collaborators Include Alaya Dawn Johnson & Sheree Renée Thomas

Earlier this year, Janelle Monáe’s The Memory Librarian: and Other Stories From Dirty Computer was announced, marking the blazingly talented singer/actor/songwriter’s first foray into prose writing. The book, the announcement explained, “follows a character named Jane 57821, who breaks free of a worldwide system of thought control ruled by a nebulous group that believes it has the power to decide all creatures’ fates.”

One intriguing detail was mentioned, but not explained: that Monáe would be collaborating with other writers. Now, we know who at least some of those writers are: Alaya Dawn Johnson, Yohanca Delgado, Eve L. Ewing, Danny Lore, and Sheree Renée Thomas.

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Conducting the Larger Symphony — Star Trek: Discovery’s “Choose to Live”

There’s a lot to like about “Choose to Live,” but my personal favorite moment is toward the very end, when Vance and Burnham discuss the final disposition of the episode’s antagonist. Oded Fehr is simply brilliant here, aided by a superb script by Terri Hughes Burton, providing a canny and clever analogy that reminds Burnham—and the viewers—that there’s a bigger picture beyond the titular ship and its concerns.

Indeed, that theme—of characters thinking primarily of their own issues and missing the bigger picture—runs throughout the episode.

[Good will and leadership are two different things…]

Jordana Brewster Won’t Love Her Robot Husband in Hello Stranger

Finally, the robot manaissance is upon us. For years, movies have given us men drawn to AI women, from Blade Runner to Her to Ex Machina. But this year, Dan Stevens played a dream robot in I’m Your Man, and now, Jordana Brewster of Fast and Furious fame (pictured above) is set to reject the robot version of her dead husband in Hello Stranger.

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Five Unskippable Television Intros

Have you met Skip? Skip Intro, that is.

For viewers everywhere, Skip Intro has been a savior. He saves us precious seconds (or sometimes minutes) as we’re careening through our latest streaming obsession. I’ve deployed our pal Skip hundreds of times, spanning multiple rewatches of The Office and a recent Brooklyn Nine-Nine outing.

While there’s many, many times Skip is indispensable, he isn’t always needed. There are shows that completely transcend the need for Skip Intro, begging the viewer to catch every last second of content, from the theme tune on… Before this whole “Skip Intro is a person” bit gets old, why don’t we jump right in? Here are five unskippable TV intros.

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A Year in Books Not Yet Read

Many years ago, in the long-gone era of the early 2000s, the author Nick Hornby began writing a column for The Believer with the to-the-point name of “Stuff I’ve Been Reading.” Each column began with two lists: books bought, and books read. The two lists often had little overlap. 

Earlier this year, I decided to try to copy this practice. I already keep a list of what I’ve read, but what if I kept track of how many books I brought into the house on any given month? Perhaps it would be interesting. Or at least telling. Maybe it would be an effective way to convince myself to buy fewer books. (It was not.)

This lasted for about two weeks, at which point I realized I’d already ordered three or four books and not added them to the list, and that adding books to a list brought nowhere near the sense of satisfaction that adding them to my purposefully disorganized to-be-read shelf provided. But I kept thinking about it. We make lists of books we’ve read, lists of the best books of the year, lists of books to give people at the holidays, to recommend. What does a year’s worth of books bought but not yet read look like?

The answer, for me, is three precarious piles of books I still really want to read.

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All of Tor.com’s Original Short Fiction Published in 2021

Since launching in 2008, Tor.com’s short fiction program has been producing touching, funny, and thought-provoking stories, and this year was no different! In 2021, we published 15 original short stories, another 15 novelettes, plus one novella. These ran the gamut from hard science fiction to epic fantasy, from horror to dystopia, from fairy tales to space opera. We’ve rounded them all up below, and you can also find Tordotcom Publishing’s impressive output of novellas and novels here.

We are tremendously proud of our authors, illustrators, and editors for creating such wonderful short fiction this year. We hope that you will nominate your favorites for the Hugos, Nebulas, and other upcoming awards which honor outstanding works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror—but most of all, we hope that you have enjoyed reading these stories as much as we have!

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All of Tordotcom Publishing’s Books From 2021

In 2021, Tordotcom Publishing published 28 novels and novellas, including the riveting conclusion to C.L. Polk’s Kingston Cycle, the astoundingly warm and optimistic novella A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Hugo Award-winning author Becky Chambers, the first novel in P. Djèlí Clark’s wondrous Dead Djinn Universe and so much more! We also were thrilled to publish several anthologies and collections, including Never Say You Can’t Survive, a non-fiction blend of writing and memoir from Charlie Jane Anders.

We are tremendously proud of our authors, illustrators, and editors for creating such wonderful works this year. We hope that you will nominate your favorites for the Hugos, Nebulas, and other upcoming awards which honor outstanding works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror—but most of all, we hope that you have enjoyed reading these stories as much as we have!

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