Sleeps With Monsters: Two Books About Family Situations

I don’t think Zen Cho is capable of writing a book that isn’t a fascinating and stylish delight. Black Water Sister is her latest, and it’s a striking, appealing narrative of family, displacement, “home”-coming, coming-of-age… and ghosts.

Jess has grown up in the USA, the only daughter of Malaysian Chinese immigrants. Her memories of Malaysia are holiday snapshots. She’s just finished college, and her girlfriend has moved to Singapore. And now Jess is moving back to Malaysia with her parents in the wake of her father’s brush with cancer, to live with her father’s younger sister’s family in George Town. Jess is not out to her parents, or to any of her family, and she’s feeling dislocated enough with the move to Malaysia before she starts hearing voices.

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Series: Sleeps With Monsters

A Crime of the Future: Chris McKinney’s Midnight, Water City

There’s long been an overlap between crime fiction and science fiction. And much as the two genres can themselves contain multitudes, so too can those works that situate themselves in their overlap. The corporate espionage of Nicola Griffith’s Ammonite is worlds apart from Isaac Asimov’s R. Daneel Olivaw novels, and the climate fiction noir of Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife takes a very different tone than the surreal dystopia at the heart of Ricardo Piglia’s The Artificial City.

It’s not hard to see why these two genres have converged so neatly, though. Many writers use crime fiction to reveal hidden elements of society or expose the abuses of those in power—both concepts that play a not insubstantial role in plenty of science fiction as well. And that sense of powerful people concealing crucial secrets from the general public is very much on display in Chris McKinney’s Midnight, Water City—a novel which makes the most of its slow-burning narrative of detection.

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Masters of the Universe: Revelation Is The Last Jedi of He-Man Cartoons

Despite all appearances to the contrary, that title is not clickbait, I promise you! Where She-Ra and the Princesses of Power reinvented the series as a super queer tale of found family and self-actualization, Masters of the Universe: Revelation is a sequel, and reveals itself to be a somewhat queer-coded tale of found family, consequences, and DEATH.

Also, there’s a holy war?

I was just as surprised as you!

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New Trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife Transplants its Ghosts From NYC to Oklahoma

Sony has debuted a new trailer for its upcoming continuation of the Ghostbusters franchise, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, taking its supernatural action from the streets of New York City to Summerville, Oklahoma.

Set to hit theaters in November, this new trailer puts its teenage cast front and center as they contend with some apocalyptic, supernatural phenomena that threaten their southwestern home.

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Reading The Wheel of Time: A Hook and a Wish in Robert Jordan’s New Spring (Part One)

Today in Reading The Wheel of Time, it’s the first two chapters of New Spring! As expected, starting the prequel novel has been an absolute delight.

I adore Lan and Moiraine, and seeing them like this feels like discovering that an actor you love was in some movie years before the one that made them famous. I just keep squealing to myself that “they’re babies” like some fanboy on tumblr. But they are babies, is the thing, and it’s fascinating seeing them in this context. More grown up and experienced than the Emond’s Fielders were when we first met them, of course. But struggling with some of the same things. Moiraine with her temper, for example. Or Lan with encountering people and customs that don’t meet his personal standards. We already know some of the story we’re about to read, and we already know the kind of people they are, but there is still something very exciting about seeing them in this state. As Doctor Who once put it, they aren’t done yet.

[A man’s word must be as good as an oath sworn beneath the Light or it was no good at all.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Exploring Nnedi Okorafor’s Africanfuturist Universe

In 2010, Nnedi Okorafo’s Who Fears Death was released and introduced readers to a future Sudan. Who Fears Death follows Onyesonwu as she goes on a journey of discovery, loss, and renewal. She was more than powerful; she was thoughtful, flawed, strong, and remarkable. Five years later, we returned to the themes brought up in Who Fears Death through its prequel, The Book of Phoenix, about a new character, Phoenix, who like Onyesonwu, has been born into a brutal world with powers beyond her understanding. On Okorafor’s blog in 2015 she said, “Who is Phoenix to Onyesonwu and Onyesonwu to Phoenix? You’ll have to read them to find out. Don’t bother going in with expectations; you’ll probably be wrong.”

Reading more than one of Okorafor’s books cues readers into the fact that they are reading something larger than what they see on the page. There’s more being said, referenced, and examined across all of her texts, which is why The Book of Phoenix, though a prequel, felt more like another piece in a puzzle. Following the release of those two books and several others, Okorafor released the Binti series in 2015, 2017, and 2018 all charting the experiences and history of yet another woman. This time she wasn’t being forced into her circumstances; instead, Binti seizes her future before someone else has a chance to crush it. Now, four years later, Okorafor’s recent release Remote Control bridges our current world with her universe.

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Five Speculative Visions of Britain in Chaos

To live in Britain is to live in eternal existential anxiety. The tiny island nation lives on the knife-edge of global warming-driven sea level rise (which would submerge much of what is now dry land) and global cooling, which, while not on the books in the immediate future, has in the past repeatedly scoured hominin life from the region. It’s not surprising that many authors have offered visions of an ephemeral United Kingdom that is no longer united…

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A Horse by Any Other Name: Anne McCaffrey’s Dragons

I’ve talked before about how Anne McCaffrey modeled her famous dragons on horses, and specifically the Lipizzan horses of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna. What I hadn’t done at that time was sit down and do a reread of a bunch of dragon books.

Recently I got the urge. There happened to be an eBook sale, one of those short-term grab ’em with the first volume deals, and I was looking for some high-quality work avoidance. Bonus chance to find out if I remembered the horseness of dragons correctly? Bring it on. [Dragons vs. Horses…]

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