Why Science Fiction Authors Need to be Writing About Climate Change Right Now

The future is arriving sooner than most of us expected, and speculative fiction needs to do far more to help us prepare. The warning signs of catastrophic climate change are getting harder to ignore, and how we deal with this crisis will shape the future of humanity. It’s time for SF authors, and fiction authors generally, to factor climate change into our visions of life in 2019, and the years beyond.

The good news? A growing number of SF authors are talking about climate change overtly, imagining futures full of flooded cities, droughts, melting icecaps, and other disasters. Amazon.com lists 382 SF books with the keyword “climate” from 2018, versus 147 in 2013 and just 22 in 2008. Some great recent books dealing with the effects of environmental disasters include Sam J. Miller’s Blackfish City, Edan Lepucki’s California, Cindy Pon’s Want, Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140, and N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy. It’s simply not true, as Amitav Ghosh has suggested, that contemporary fiction hasn’t dealt with climate issues to any meaningful degree.

But we need to do more, because speculative fiction is uniquely suited to help us imagine what’s coming, and to motivate us to mitigate the effects before it’s too late.

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Black Panther Nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars

The nominees for the 91st Academy Awards were announced this morning, with the delightful news that Black Panther is among the nominees for Best Picture. (Though unfortunately Ryan Coogler did not get a nod for Best Director.) While it is the only explicitly genre film among the eight Best Picture nominees (last year had Get Out and eventual winner The Shape of Water), the Best Animated Feature category recognized Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Incredibles 2, and Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2.

Further, you’ll spot other genre films from the past year like Avengers: Infinity War, Ready Player One, and A Quiet Place in the requisite visual and sound effects categories; Black Panther has a few nominees among those as well, such as Kendrick Lamar’s “All the Stars” going head-to-head with Lady Gaga’s earworm “Shallow” for Best Original Song. (That’s seven nominations total for Black Panther. Wakanda forever!) One notable disappointment is no nominations for Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You.

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Reading The Ruin of Kings: Chapter 14

Greetings, salutations and what up, Tor.com: It’s another RROK post! Just what you wanted!

This blog series will be covering the first 17 chapters of the forthcoming novel The Ruin of Kings, first of a five-book series by Jenn Lyons. Previous entries can be found here in the series index.

Today’s post will be covering Chapter 14, “Bedtime Stories”, which is available for your reading delectation right here.

Read it? Great! Then click on to find out what I thought!

[I still have my “Moistened Bint” button around here somewhere]

Series: The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons: Chapter 14

Debut author Jenn Lyons has created one of the funniest, most engrossing new epic fantasy novels of the 21st century in The Ruin of Kings. An eyebrow-raising cross between the intricacy of Brandon Sanderson’s worldbuilding and the snark of Patrick Rothfuss.

Which is why Tor.com is releasing one or two chapters per week, leading all the way up to the book’s release on February 5th, 2019!

Not only that, but our resident Wheel of Time expert Leigh Butler will be reading along and reacting with you. So when you’re done with this week’s chapter, head on over to Reading The Ruin of Kings for some fresh commentary.

Our journey continues…

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Series: The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

Reading the Wheel of Time: Despair and the Shadow in Robert Jordan’s The Great Hunt (Part 25)

In The Eye of the World, when Moiraine learned of Ba’alzamon’s plan to find the Eye of the World, she remarked that the Pattern had brought all the threads together, first to let them know of the threat to the Eye of the World, then to provide them a way to get to it in time. It was one of the first times I really understood what ta’veren meant in this world, as Moiraine explained how Rand, Mat, and Perrin could be shaping the Pattern around themselves, or the Pattern could be forcing them where they need to be.

However, compared to the nearing climax of The Great Hunt, the Pattern’s work in The Eye of the World doesn’t seem quite so impressive. Here in Chapter 46, not just multiple people but multiple units of people are being drawn together into a great conflict with little or no knowledge of the others. Nynaeve, Elayne, Egwene, and Min have no idea that Rand and company are in Falme, the Seanchan don’t know about either of them, and the Whitecloaks know very little other than that the Seanchan are invaders that must be faced. I actually feel a little bad for Captain Bornhald and his company; they are in so far over their heads and they don’t even know it. In a few chapters the Dragon Reborn is probably going to show up, and maybe Ba’alzamon too, and then there’s the issue of the damane to worry about. I really wonder what Verin is up to right now, how much she knows of the unfolding events, and what her motivations might be.

But first, let us recap Chapter 46: To Come Out of the Shadow.

[The Web can still be woven many ways, and some of those designs would be disastrous. For you, for the world.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Unicorn Magic with Realistic Underpinnings: Meredith Ann Pierce’s Birth of the Firebringer

I’ve gone on record as not being a fan of talking-animal fantasies, but I make exceptions. The Silver Brumby is one, and there’s The Horse and His Boy, which for all its problems still has some lovely bits. And now, having missed Meredith Ann Pierce’s Birth of the Firebringer when it was first published, I’m adding another to my very short list of talking-animal stories that I actually enjoyed.

The book is not technically about horses, but close enough. It’s about unicorns. It’s a hero’s journey, with a mysterious prophecy and an ancient evil and a prince’s son who won’t play by the rules.

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Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: The Flowers of Vashnoi

The Flowers of Vashnoi is the most recent Vorkosigan novella. It is set between Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance and Cryoburn. It’s a short adventure focusing on Ekaterin, with Enrique in a major supporting role. While carrying out a research study on bugs that process radioactive waste, Ekaterin and Enrique find a family of mutants hiding in the contaminated area outside the ruins of Vorkosigan Vashnoi. The Flowers of Vashnoi came out last year in the same week as my birthday, which is irrelevant to any and all readers whose birthday isn’t in the same week as mine, roughly 51/52 of literate humanity, but I mention it anyway because I regard the book as a present. To me. I know Bujold didn’t write it for me, but she wrote it and I’m blogging about it, and here we are.

And because of that, it feels a little weird to be blogging about this book. You’re not supposed to dissect presents. You’re supposed to say thank you and be properly grateful and carry your present off to read and appreciate. I did all of those things. I love it and I appreciate it, and I’m also a little skeptical about it.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Meet Murderbot in Chapter One of Martha Wells’ All Systems Red

“As a heartless killing machine, I was a complete failure.”

We’re pleased to encore the first chapter of Martha Wells’ award-winning novella All Systems Red, the first entry in the bestselling science fiction series, The Murderbot Diaries. One of our favorite books of 2018, All Systems Red is now available in hardcover from Tor.com Publishing!

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Did We ALL Write a Book About Space Elevators? (And Other Coincidences in Science Fiction)

An author has an epiphany, spots a story idea nobody ever had before, writes it in the white heat of inspiration, sends it off and gets a cheque in the mail. All is as it should be. At least, that is, until they discover someone else had the exact same idea at exactly the same time. Or worse—the other person’s version saw print first.

One of the more remarkable examples of this type of unfortunate concurrence occurred in 1979. Working on opposite sides of the planet in an era long before everyone had email, Charles Sheffield and Arthur C. Clarke wrote novels about…well, let me just quote Mr. Clarke’s open letter, which was reprinted at the end of Sheffield’s book…

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You Don’t Need to Understand Magic: The Gathering to Fully Enjoy Brandon Sanderson’s Children of the Nameless

Magic: The Gathering is the most successful and enduring trading card game of all time. It started life in 1993 when brilliant designer Richard Garfield and a plucky young company called Wizards of the Coast decided to expand on the growing market for fantasy games, and, well, since then it’s only become more and more popular. From 2008 to 2016, 20 billion (billion!) Magic cards were produced and sold. Most recently, Wizards of the Coast launched Magic: The Gathering Arena, a digital client that will provide new avenues for growth and introduce many more players to the game. While Magic is a card game, and many of its most intense stories are those that play out between opponents in tournament halls, around kitchen tables, or online, it’s also home to one of the longest running and deepest fantasy universes ever designed.

While the game’s core story is told through the cards themselves, ripe with flavour text and huge spectacles that play out flavourfully on the battlefield between players, Wizards of the Coast also supplements the story with short stories, novellas, and novels. Recently they’ve made a shift toward hiring high-end authors to help them pen the stories, and their biggest coup yet was snagging Brandon Sanderson, one of fantasy’s most popular and prolific authors, to write a new standalone novella called Children of the Nameless.

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Five SFF Books that Subvert Gender Roles

Every fantasy author approaches worldbuilding differently—the choices made and the societies created can say just as much about the writer as the story itself. I always end up playing with gender roles.

Growing up on a steady diet of Tolkien, I longed to see myself as a member of the Fellowship (Eowyn is a fantastic character, but she’s surrounded by a sea of men). I began with a female-dominated society in my first series, and now in The Cerulean, I went all in and crafted a Sapphic utopia, a city devoid of men entirely. One thing I love about writing fantasy is that the norm can be whatever I want it to be—and I’m always fascinated by how other authors create their own norms. Here are my top five books that play with different gender/societal roles.

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Pull List: Captain Marvel and Miles Morales: Spider-Man Get Back to Basics

Given the fervent adoration (rightly) bestowed on Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse at the tail end of 2018 and the growing anticipation for the MCU’s latest entry, Captain Marvel, it seems fitting to start my first Pull List of the year covering their newest comics. Miles Morales and Carol Danvers both got well-earned recent relaunches, but are they worth reading? I think you already know the answer to that…

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5 Books in Which Superpowers Have Unfortunate Side Effects

I’ve always been drawn to books with characters whose abilities represent a classic double-edged sword, both blessing and curse. Think Incredible Hulk—unbelievably strong, capable of protecting both himself and others, but also out of control, unable to clearly remember who he is or what he’s doing when he’s in that transformed state. When it comes to such powerful characters, the double-edged ability is a great way to explore the dark-side of awesomeness, to render someone who is untouchable painfully relatable. The unfortunate side effects and consequences of special powers also bring balance and tension into a story, where power alone would limit the tale to simple answers and quick resolution.

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Listen to the Echoes: The Ultimate Profile of Ray Bradbury

When I decided to write my recent piece about The Bradbury Chronicles, Sam Weller’s biography of Ray Bradbury, I knew I’d also have to write (just a few words) about the book I always think of as its fraternal twin. Not to do so would’ve meant ignoring the other half of Bradbury.

I declared (perhaps rather grandly) that Weller’s subject in 2005’s The Bradbury Chronicles was a portrait of Bradbury as an artist, a narrative about the development of a writer—his “Other Me”—alongside the details and milestones of the life he’d led. What Weller gives us in 2010’s Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews is a portrait of the man behind the typewriter. How does it rate, then, when compared to the earlier volume? I’ll be frank and say that this book is not a “must read” for everyone who read The Bradbury Chronicles.

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