Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Memory, Chapter 26

This week, Miles invades ImpSec HQ with a squadron of witnesses, a spray bottle, and a black light and catches Haroche in the act of trying to cover his tracks. It’s like when Lord Peter gave Norman Urquhardt arsenic-laced Turkish Delight in Strong Poison. If you haven’t read Strong Poison, you should. It’s a Christmas story, it has a fake seance in it, and, if you aren’t already, you’ll want to be familiar with Peter Wimsey by the time we get to A Civil Campaign.

Miles is very busy with the dramatic denouement, and he handles it very nicely. It’s a treat to watch. While he’s traipsing around the building with his various friends and relations, he leaves Delia Koudelka to be the last man standing next to Duv Galeni in the cells.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Ask SFF Equine: Can a Stallion Be a Good Father?

For those who are looking for “Sleipnir Rides Again (and Gets Super Mystical)”, we’re saving that for a more appropriate date. Look for it on the day between the years, January 1st. Meanwhile, as we all descend deeper into the Twilight Zone of the year, here’s a little joy for the season, and a question near and dear to my horse-breeder heart.

In the comments on the last Ask SFF Equine, gustovcarl asked: In your book “Writing Horses…” you mentioned briefly that stallions can be good fathers.  Do you have any examples or stories about this subject?

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When We Try to Sort Writers Into ‘Plotter’ or ‘Pantser’

The more I talk to other authors about craft the clearer it is that novelists use a huge range of different planning styles. People talk about “Planners” vs. “Pantsers,” i.e., people who plan books and series in advance vs. people who plunge in and write by the seat of their pants. Each category contains a spectrum, for instance people who plan just the major plot points vs. people who plan every chapter. But even then, authors who are improvisational about some parts of storymaking can be very much plotters when it comes to others.

Characters, plot, and setting—or, for genre fiction, world building—are very visible. They tend to be what we talk about most when geeking out about a favorite book: a plot twist, a favorite character’s death, the awesome magic system or interstellar travel system. Sometimes an author will develop a world or characters in detail before writing but not outline the chapters or think through a plot. I develop the world first, then develop characters within the world, and then make my chapter-by-chapter outline. But even those stages of world building and character aren’t the first stage of my process. I want to talk about some of the less-conspicuous, less-discussed elements of a novel which, I think, a lot of writers—pantsers or plotters—begin with.

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Fantasy Writers That Make Great Use of Haunted Rivers, an American Literary Tradition

On the gorgeous cover of the newest Wild Cards novel, Mississippi Roll, a ghostly man pilots a wide ship’s wheel, his form ebbing away into tendrils like mist. Previously the captain of the steamboat Natzchez, the incorporeal man now haunts the ship’s decks and halls as it plies the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. In an inspired twist, the silent and otherwise unseen Wilbur Leathers can only manifest himself through steam.

The majority of Mississippi Roll takes place on the rivers, and most of the action occurs on the steamer itself. The story begins in New Orleans as the boat makes her way slowly northward, stopping at a variety of ports along the way. In addition to the crew, the Natchez is populated by passengers, entertainers, stowaways, and the odd raven. Bearing all the human drama playing out on her decks, the Natchez makes her way up to St. Louis, cuts back around the confluence into the Ohio River, and heads for Cincinnati and the Tall Stacks steamboat festival.

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What It’s Like Watching Star Wars for the First Time

Having only seen the prequels, I didn’t really get Star Wars—so in order to increase my Star Wars I.Q., I finally watched the original trilogy, starting with Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. I was fascinated. I didn’t hate it. I… I actually liked it. I won’t say I loved it, but that’s not the fault of the movie itself.

Spoilers, y’all. If there is such a thing for a movie this popular and embedded into pop culture.

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Save the OASIS in the First Trailer for Ready Player One

“Like many of you, I came here just to escape. But I found something much bigger than just myself. Are you willing to fight? Help us save the OASIS.”

So Parzival, a.k.a. Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), rallies the other gunters, or egg hunters, in the first full trailer for Ready Player One. Whereas the SDCC teaser aimed just to pluck all the heartstrings with every nostalgic Easter egg from the DeLorean to the Iron Giant, today’s trailer actually delves into the movie’s plot, with some help from Depeche Mode and Van Halen.

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Jessica Jones Season 2 Premieres on International Women’s Day

Over the weekend, Netflix announced the premiere date for season 2 of Marvel’s Jessica Jones, in the form of an appropriately snarky teaser: Jessica beating people up set to “Barracuda,” and spouting off such one-liners as “If you say ‘with great power comes great responsibility,’ I swear I’ll throw up on you.”

An especially nice touch is the date itself: Whereas Netflix drops most of its series on Fridays, Jessica Jones will premiere on Thursday, March 8, a.k.a. International Women’s Day.

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The Top Young Adult SFF of 2017

Another year, another huge pile of books stacked up around my bookcases (I ran out of shelving room years ago). This has been a pretty stellar year for young adult fiction, particularly in the realms of science fiction and fantasy. So great, in fact, that it took me three days to whittle this down to the ones you see here. My first pass had nearly three dozen entries! As hard as I tried, I simply couldn’t get it down to my top ten, so instead here’s a list of fantastic YA SFF released this year broken down into various categories.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to pillage my local library to make my To Read stack even taller.

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Great Holiday Movies in Which Everything Goes Wrong

So, the festive season is officially upon us. U.K. shopping centres are all playing the same jolly-but-also-intensely-misanthropic-and-grumpy mix tape they run every year, the supermarkets are trying to out-schmaltz each other with their ads, and festive jumpers are springing up all over the country like cheerful, pun-laden woolen triffids.

This all means one thing: the time for festive movies is at hand! And I’m not talking the never-ending stream of “It Happened One Christmas Eve” Lifetime movies, fun as they are. Oh no, this is the good stuff. The odd stuff. The stuff where things get weird. And sometimes, on occasion, explode.

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How to Fight in a Victorian Dress

When Mary Robinette Kowal and I were on tour together, she asked me to record something for a charity fundraiser: a video of me performing a karate kata in the Victorian dress I wore for our tour events.

Being an author, of course I said yes.

Because it immediately made me wonder—what would that be like? How well could I do karate in that dress? What sorts of difficulties would I run into? And how could I make use of this experience in a story someday? I had some suspicions, but without putting them to the test, I couldn’t be sure. Mary and I were on the way to our next event when she made the request, so after we arrived and got into costume, I decided I would take a moment to walk through a simple kata as a preliminary test.

I got one move in and discovered that the biggest limitation was one that had never even crossed my mind.

[It wasn’t the skirt. Or the corset.]

Between the Blade and the Heart Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a copy of Amanda Hocking’s Between the Blade and the Heart, available January 2nd from Wednesday Books!

When the fate of the world is at stake, loyalties will be tested.

Game of Thrones meets Blade Runner in this commanding new YA fantasy inspired by Norse mythology from New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking.

As one of Odin’s Valkyries, Malin’s greatest responsibility is to slay immortals and return them to the underworld. But when she unearths a secret that could unravel the balance of all she knows, Malin along with her best friend and her ex-girlfriend must decide where their loyalties lie. And if helping the blue-eyed boy Asher enact his revenge is worth the risk—to the world and her heart.

Comment in the post to enter!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States and D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec). To enter, comment on this post beginning at 2:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on December 8th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on December 12th. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor:, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

Why You Watch the Original Mad Max Trilogy

We all know Fury Road is great, but perhaps you need some convincing that the original Mad Max trilogy is worth your time. Perhaps you missed Beyond Thunderdome each of the many times it was shown on a cable outlet, and are now leery of Tina Turner in a fright wig. Perhaps you think moviemakers couldn’t create a believable post-apocalyptic landscape in the (mostly) CGI-free days of the 1980s. Perhaps you just can’t with Mel Gibson. I understand. (Truly! Especially about that last one.) But I’m here to show you that the original Mad Max trilogy holds many wonders.

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Classic SF Radio Dramas to Stretch the Imagination

You can have your Star Treks, your X-Files and your Expanses. I prefer my SF dramas on radio, partly because I was raised on CBC Radio, BBC World Service and CKMS1, and partly because (as Stan Freberg pointed out) radio’s visual effects are so convincing. We live in a golden age of online archives; many of the classic anthology-style science fiction shows are online. That said, not all radio shows are created equal.

[Some not-to-be-missed classic SF radio shows…]

“I am the law!”—Judge Dredd (1995) and Dredd (2012)

Judge Dredd first started appearing in the British comics magazine 2000 A.D. in 1977. That magazine has, over the years, featured work by such British superstar comics creators as Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Brian Bolland, Grant Morrison, and Pat Mills and John Wagner. At Mills’s urging (he was editor at the time), Wagner created Dredd, along with artist Carlos Ezquerra, who designed his iconic outfit.

The dystopian future world of Judge Dredd is the most popular feature to come from 2000 A.D., and in 1990 it was spun off into Judge Dredd Megazine, which is still being published today. And twice, Dredd has been adapted into a feature film.

[“I was wondering when you’d remember you forgot your helmet.” “Sir, a helmet can interfere with my psychic abilities.” “Think a bullet in the head might interfere with them more.”]

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

Get Out’s Jordan Peele to Reboot The Twilight Zone for CBS All Access

CBS’ latest revival of The Twilight Zone is official: Jordan Peele, Simon Kinberg, and Marco Ramirez will helm a reboot of the anthology series for CBS All Access, the network’s streaming service. “Too many times this year it’s felt we were living in a twilight zone,” Peele said in the official announcement, “and I can’t think of a better moment to reintroduce it to modern audiences.”

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