Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Diplomatic Immunity, Chapters 7-10

In chapter 6, we went to the ballet and soaked up Graf Station’s local color. Chapter 7 opens with a dramatic discovery—the blood in the docking bay was synthesized. This launches us out of the tourist section of the story and back into the mystery.

The important thing about this section is the clues:

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Bouncing Through Realities: Andre Norton’s Quest Crosstime

This is a really interesting entry in the Norton canon. It’s a sequel to a pretty standard boys’ adventure, The Crossroads of Time, and Blake Walker rides the crosstime shuttles again, this time as an established wardsman. The book was published in 1965, and in the almost-decade between the two, science fiction was starting to change. For one thing, it had discovered girls.

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Everyday Magic: Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett

If there’s one thing I’ve learned reading Robert Jackson Bennett, it’s that when you think you know what he’s going to do at any given moment, you’re most likely going to be wrong. You think he’ll go right; he goes left. You think he’s going to climb a fence, and instead he barrels right through. Most often, when he hits a dead end and you suspect this is where you catch him, he grins, steps onto the empty air and begins to walk into the sky.

And in his latest novel, Foundryside, Bennett is firing on all cylinders, taking what at first seems to be something a little standard, a little rote, and infusing exhilarating new life into it through expert writing, complicated and distinct characters, and an intriguing, deadly, wonderful new city called Tevanne, where reality can be shuffled like a deck of cards, provided you can justify it.

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Miles Morales Is Not Peter Parker: Why New Characters Don’t Solve the Problem of Diverse Representation

In response to my recent article stating why Idris Elba playing James Bond would improve the character, some asked why anyone needs established characters to be portrayed with greater diversity. Why can’t we just be happy with new characters that are like the established characters that better represent a diverse world?

It’s a very common question that seems reasonable. On its face, it concedes that representation matters, that “Representation in the fictional world signifies social existence; absence means symbolic annihilation.” But this response is a dodge, a form of derailment. Yes, obviously creators should tell new stories with new characters—but that is not nearly enough.

New characters don’t answer the central question, which is: Is being white, straight, and male somehow intrinsic to the established characters, the iconic heroes, the role models for millions? I think that the answer is no, and I think that diverse casting is the way to prove that point.

A good example of this is Spider-Man.

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Six Characters With Whom You Should Never, Ever Go Camping

Perseids Watch is an annual foray out to the unmapped wilds of New Dundee, Ontario, there to observe the Perseid meteor show. This year’s Watch has just passed for another year, and without any more mysterious disappearances in the course of the event.

The chances that you or someone close to you will vanish into the wilderness are even greater if you are a fictional character. Particularly a secondary character (known in the SF field as a redshirt). If you are, you should definitely read the following essay, which discusses the protagonists with whom you should never, under any circumstances, go camping. They will survive. You probably won’t.

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37 New Epic Fantasy Books Coming Soon

Just as the prophecy foretold…

Between now and summer 2019, there are a staggering number of new and returning epic fantasy novels in the works. Thieves, mercenaries, royal bastards, princesses’ doubles, armored saints, and many more fill the pages of these tales (some illustrated!) of alliances forged, wars waged, magic lost and rediscovered.

For every end, there is a beginning…

For every epic fantasy trilogy or series wrapping up in the coming months, there are just as many new sagas unfolding. Some return to familiar fantasy lands—Middle-earth, the Forgotten Realms, Osten Ard, Earthsea, Westeros—for new adventures, while others draw upon real-world settings and mythologies, like Morocco or India’s Mughal Empire, to create dazzling new epics.

Adventure awaits…

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Announcing the 2018 Hugo Award Winners

The winners of the 2018 Hugo Awards have been announced! You can read the full list below.

The 2018 Hugo Awards were presented on the evening of Sunday August 19th, 2018 at a ceremony at the 76th World Science Fiction Convention in San Jose, California. 1813 valid nominating ballots (1795 electronic and 18 paper) were received and counted from the members of the 2017, 2018, and 2019 World Science Fiction Conventions. For the 1943 Retrospective Hugo Awards, 204 valid nominating ballots (192 electronic and 12 paper) were received.

Congrats to the finalists and winners!

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Has Cloud Atlas Author David Mitchell Given Us The Greatest Writing Tip Of Our Time?

John Hornor Jacobs, author of Southern Gods, Incorruptibles, and Infernal Machines recently met up with fantasy author Sanford Allen, who related a meeting with David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas and the World Fantasy Award-winning The Bone Clocks. Apparently, Mitchell spent a bit of time buying Allen drinks and asking for stories of Allen’s time as a touring musician.

But this was not just a pleasant evening out for two writers talking shop—this was also an opportunity for Mitchell to share the art of “IWATH,” or, to spell it out, “I WAS THERE.”

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The Greatest Dads in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and the Universe

Parents tend to get shortchanged in dramatic genre stories, but that just makes the inspiring ones all the more noticeable! So today, the office is recalling its favorite dads (and others who fill that role) in science fiction, fantasy, and anywhere! You know who they are. They’re the guys who stuck around to serve as inspiration and support to their (often heroic) children… and who managed to survive the dramatic whims of their creators!

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Blurring Reality: The Third Hotel by Laura van den Berg

When Clare arrives in Havana Cuba for the Festival of New Latin American Cinema—giving a different name to every other new acquaintance and becoming stranger to herself with every displaced experience—it’s nothing new to her, not really. As a sales rep for an elevator company, Clare is used to travel and to interstitial places. She loves the non-specificity of hotel rooms and thrives on random encounters. What she doesn’t expect to find in Cuba, though, is her husband Richard: five weeks dead, standing tall in a white suit outside the Museum of the Revolution.

What follows in Laura van den Berg’s novel The Third Hotel is a reality-blurring rumination on the power of grief and alienation. Interspersed with Richard’s scholarly writings on horror movie tropes, and with Clare’s reflections on her own past and identity, the novel inches further from an explanation of her haunting with every step it takes towards her confrontation with it. Lush in description and psychology alike, The Third Hotel is a literary horror novel that will haunt you long past its final page.

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Weapon Blech — X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Wolverine was introduced in 1974 at the end of Incredible Hulk #180 by the late, great Len Wein & Herb Trimpe, inserting himself into a battle between the Hulk and the Wendigo. A Canadian secret agent, codenamed Weapon X, Wolverine spent issue #181 fighting both Hulk and Wendigo, failing to stop either one. A year later, Wein used him as part of his new team of X-Men introduced in Giant-Size X-Men #1, and he quickly became the most popular of those new characters; his combination of snotty-brawler personality, tendency to explosive violence, and mysterious past proved to be incredibly compelling, particularly in the hands of Wein’s successor, Chris Claremont, and his longtime collaborator, Canadian artist/co-plotter John Byrne. He became Marvel’s most popular character, matching, if not supplanting, Spider-Man as the company’s flagship hero in the latter two decades of the 20th century.

When the X-Men hit the big screen in 2000, the character did likewise for the growing series of X-films.

[“Are you Remy LeBeau?” “Do I owe you money?” “No.” “Then Remy LeBeau I am!”]

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

Mirage Author Somaiya Daud on Her Moroccan-Inspired Fantasy World

Somaiya Daud’s debut epic fantasy novel Mirage follows Amani, an eighteen-year-old dreamer living in a world controlled by the all powerful Vathek empire. All Amani wants is freedom: freedom to explore, write poetry, and travel to far off places. These dreams are shattered when Amani is kidnapped from her small village and taken to the royal palace, where she must act as a body double for the beautiful, but hated, Princess Maram. Amani’s new life comes with luxury, glamour, and the Princess’s stunning fiance, Idris. But it also comes with the understanding that at any moment, Amani must be prepared to sacrifice her life for the Princess.

Daud stopped by the Macmillan Audio studio to talk everything Mirage: from how her own Moroccan roots inspired this story, to how her writing bridges the gaps between sci-fi, fantasy, and history. She also explained how the audiobook enhances the novel’s poetic language and how Rasha Zamamiri’s narration brings the voices Somaiya imagined for her characters to life.

Listen below!

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When Will SF Learn to Love the Tachyon Rocket?

Readers of a certain age may remember the excitement stirred up when various physicists proposed to add a third category of matter to:

  • A. matter with zero rest mass (which always travels at the speed of light), and
  • B. matter with rest mass (which always travels slower than light).

Now there’s C: matter whose rest mass is imaginary. For these hypothetical particles—tachyons—the speed of light may be a speed minimum, not a speed limit.

Tachyons may offer a way around that pesky light-speed barrier, and SF authors quickly noticed the narrative possibilities. If one could somehow transform matter into tachyons, then faster-than-light travel might be possible.

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