In just a single episode, Star Trek: Discovery has given Star Trek fans what feels like several hundred new developments to think about. Weirdly, or perhaps ominously, one of the more fun developments is pondering the mystery of who could be in charge of the brutal new universe that the Discovery has found itself within.
A few months ago, Star Trek: Discovery truly made a leap into the unknown. Where are Captain Lorca, Burnham, and the crew now? When are they? We don’t know! This Sunday the show returns with answers to these questions, but until that particular veil is lifted, I thought we should reminisce about the 8 very best times that Star Trek, in its glorious 50+ year history, has surprised us by leaping into intriguing alternate realities.
Forbes published its annual “30 under 30” list, mere days after the 2017 National Book Awards hosted its annual “5 Under 35” celebration. So it’s safe to say that this week has generated a perfect storm of ANXIETY from prospective writers and artists who feel like they’re already aging out of relevance.
You’re not, though—none of us are. Here’s the proof:
Big Damn Swords, orange blood, gods made of future metal… Brandon Sanderson’s books make use of a great variety of epic fantasy settings and magic systems, and each new series and short tale introduces yet more. In the 12 years since Sanderson’s first fantasy novel Elantris was released, the author has filled the shelves with so many different worlds that the ones that share the same grand universe are dubbed, simply, “The Cosmere.”
This variety of fantasy worlds sharing certain characteristics is not a new construct. (Role-playing games create this solely by virtue of publishing sequels.) But over the course of reading Sanderson’s novels, I started to notice more than a few parallels that the Cosmere has with the classic RPG series Final Fantasy.
It is late in the workday and I am really annoying Carl Engle-Laird, assistant editor for Tor.com Publishing and the acquiring editor for Alter S. Reiss’ novella Sunset Mantle. He explains the plot of the story to me, this congenial monolith standing before a shrieking, bone-wielding ape, but it is not enough.
“Okay, Carl…but what is the book about?”
It was during the end of Three Parts Dead, with its many reversals and its clash between different and intricate rule-based magic systems, that we both recognized the inner thrill of reading a new Brandon Sanderson story. Except…Three Parts Dead isn’t a Sanderson novel, it’s a Max Gladstone book from a few years back.
At its heart, Max Gladstone’s The Ruin of Angels is a story about the rich variety of relationships between women, their families, and the squids that chase them.
One of the perks of Gladstone’s heart-curling Craft Sequence fantasy series is that you can use any of the books as your starting point. That remains true for Ruin of Angels, the sixth novel in the Sequence (the The is silent?). The novel’s main characters are nevertheless bringing in some emotional and contextual baggage from previous novels that enrich Ruin‘s story considerably.
So if this your starting point for Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence, what are some fun things to know before diving into Ruin of Angels?
In fall of 2016 fantasy author Brandon Sanderson officially revealed in the Arcanum Unbounded collection that almost all of his books take place in a single cosmos, known as the “Cosmere”. Along with charts of each star system known about in the Cosmere (here’s an example), the book hinted that characters from the Mistborn, The Stormlight Archive, Elantris, and Warbreaker series had already begun quietly appearing on other worlds (i.e. other books) within Sanderson’s fictional universe.
These “worldhoppers” hold the secret to the larger epic underpinning Brandon Sanderson’s novels and stories, so I got curious…what do we know so far about them?
One of the many ways the The Dark One attempts to unmake the world in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series is by influencing the weather. When the series begins an unnaturally long chill has pressed itself over the land, and it is broken only by the emergence of the series’ savior, The Dragon Reborn. Later on in the series, the world (or at least the part of the world that we see) is beset by an endless summer. Heat pervades, drought persists, and there is no doubt that The Dark One is doing so in an attempt to smother the denizens of the world into submission. The threat is considered so great that the advancing plot of the entire series is eventually called to a halt so that this “endless summer” can be thwarted.
Last year, New York City, and really the entire northeastern United States, experienced the hottest summer in recorded history. This endless steamroom of a season was probably what Rand, Mat, Egwene, and company had to suffer through in The Wheel of Time. As we gear up for another potential four month-long heatwave, I got to wondering: how long did the world of Jordan’s Wheel of Time have to hold out?
Oddly, we don’t actually see the U.S.S. Discovery in the first Star Trek: Discovery trailer!
The absence of the titular ship is just one of many interesting aspects hiding in the first trailer for Star Trek: Discovery, the new Star Trek show coming to CBS this fall. Although light on plot information, there are nevertheless several key visuals that promise a deep exploration of Trek lore for longtime fans of the franchise.
Let’s take a look!
Another turn around the sun, another hope for the return of Joss Whedon’s beloved Firefly. This year’s tendril of possibility comes courtesy of a statement made by Fox Broadcasting’s President of Entertainment (what a job title!) David Madden at January’s Television Critics’ Association panel, where TV networks typically reveal the ideas they’re working on for the coming year. According to Rotten Tomatoes:
…Madden said he’d be open to a Firefly reboot if Joss Whedon himself wanted to revisit it. Madden suspects Whedon is now too busy with movies, and he would not consider doing Firefly without Whedon.
Sounds great! Except…I don’t know. Maybe it doesn’t?
It hit me while checking out Fred Saberhagen’s fantasy classic The Book of Swords: This should be a video game.
The Book of Swords has a great out-of-the-box premise. “For a game the gods have given the world twelve Swords of Power so that they might be amused as the nations battle for their possession. But Vulcan the Smith has had his own little joke: the Swords can kill the gods themselves.”
I would play the heck out of that game. Even more so if there were dual storylines where you could play through as a human hunting down a God-slaying sword, or a God collecting the swords before all the humans can kill you.
It’s difficult to put into words the kind of impact Carl Sagan has had on fans of genre fiction. The combination of his enthusiasm for science education, his patience, and his outreach made him the unique man that we honor today, and if I wrote non-stop for a year I doubt I would be able to find a way to encapsulate that.
Which is when it occurred to me that I didn’t need to do that. At the 2013 New York Comic Con I was lucky enough to get to sit in on the panel for Cosmos and heard Sagan’s wife Ann Druyan and host Neil deGrasse Tyson speak of the man they loved, the man who set the example for what they were trying to accomplish. What they spoke was deeply thoughtful and brazenly passionate, and I’d like to share that with you now.
Series: On This Day
Trade book publishing is dominated by the “Big 5”: five book publishing companies that own or partner with over 100 different publishers and imprints, and who are responsible for the lion’s share of books that you see on shelves. As such, it can get confusing as to which imprint (like Tor Teen) is owned by which publisher (Tor/Forge Books) is owned by which “Big 5” company (Macmillan).
Designer and author Ali Almossawi recently collected this information into an easy online info chart, allowing curious folks to quickly identify imprints and publishers owned by the same “Big 5” company. This is publicly available information, but it can be difficult to track down in some cases. Almossawi’s chart greatly simplifies that information.
It should be noted that not all publishers are included in the chart, just the ones that are considered the five most prominent. (Harry Potter publisher Scholastic Books, for example, is not included.) So the chart should not be considered a complete representation of the book publishing industry. Nevertheless, it’s an extremely handy collection.
Doctor Who is smack in the middle of filming its new season, but it was able to show some footage at New York Comic Con of the 2016 Christmas Special, titled “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”.
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