Five Space-Based Murder Mysteries

I simply can't believe that Michael Cassutt's Red Moon and Missing Man haven't been mentioned.

Cassutt, in addition to being a great TV writer and novelist, is one of the foremost American experts on the Soviet space program. He authored multiple editions of Who's Who in Space -- a project for which he interviewed dozens of astronauts and cosmonauts -- and he even worked with Deke Slayton on his memoirs. 

And he wrote TWO space-based murder mysteries. Red Moon is a whodunit set within the mid-1960s Soviet space program. Missing Man is about a murder within NASA. They're both great (as is the sequel to Missing Man, Tango Midnight) and written by somebody who really, really knows what he's talking about.

Hammer and Tongs and a Rusty Nail

(This one is for our friend and sorely missed fallen ace Vic Milán, creator of Mordecai.)

Announcing George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards: The Reread!

@14 I can't speak to all the reasons why certain books in the series do or don't get reprinted. The really rare books came along before my time.

But, with regard to negotiating with the individual authors in any given book, that's not an issue. All WC contributors sign a consortium agreement before doing anything else, and the WC Consortium has agents that negotiate on behalf of the entire group, not per-author, if that makes sense.

Five Books About Weird Spies

Hmmm.  I could swear I've heard of a WWII/Cold War series called The Milkweed Triptych, in which spies and the occult feature quite heavily...

We’re Celebrating our Mechanical Friends with All the Robotic Books We Could Find!

Stubby, is it possible you meant to say, "...All the Robotic Books We Could Find from Tor?"  Because otherwise I'd feel hurt that The Mechanical isn't included.  ;-)

A fun list, nonetheless.


Five Books About Inconvenient Women

My wife is writing a stage adaptation of Villette right now, practically as I type this.

Ivory Vikings: The Mystery of the Most Famous Chessmen in the World and the Woman Who Made Them

Wow, what a find!  I can't wait to read this.  My lovely wife gave me a lovely reproduction of the Lewis Chessmen for my birthday, and now I'm a bit obsessed...

Five Books Featuring Unreliable Narrators

@40: What a coincidence -- I just reread that about a month ago.  I read it in the 90s and recently found myself talking about it so much I had to experience it again.  (And somehow over the years I had forgotten everything about it, except how much I enjoyed it.)  I agree, it's a great novel. 


Five Books Featuring Unreliable Narrators

When a narrator is revealed to be dishonest solely for the purpose of surprising the reader, I don't count that as a true or classic unreliable narrator.  That's a pathological liar.  A classic unreliable narrator, IMHO, carefully chooses every untruth and every piece of withheld information for the express purpose of achieving one particular overarching goal.  The goal may be large or small, but it's the focal point of the unreliability.  Simple bald-faced lying about a particular piece of information, or even several pieces of information, doesn't necessarily fall into that category.

Furthermore, and I think this may be even more important, a good unreliable narrator isn't merely a liar.  A true unreliable narrator (again, IMHO) is a performer.  The lie isn't just the story told: it's how the story is told.  Unreliable narration is a performance for the audience.  Lying is just lying.

Sleeps With Monsters: Go Watch Sense8

I'm 3 episodes from the end, and I've enjoyed the ride so far.  I especially enjoy the bits where the sensates interact with one another with a calm, matter-of-fact curiosity.  Those bits are just lovely.

I'll finish out the season, although I haven't felt a strong need to watch the rest.  For me personally, the issue isn't a lack of plot -- every character has his or her own plotline -- but a low level of narrative momentum, which is different.  I think the two sometimes get conflated.

Go On a Blind Date with an SFF Book!

Tiemen @9, I'm tickled!  Also, "That Escalated Quickly" is now my official summary of the book.

@8, @10, I now feel a need to read ALL the books about fantasy poker tournaments.  I had no idea it was a burgeoning subgenre...  I did read The Incrementalists last year, a fantasy novel which features a poker player, but the plot doesn't involve a tournament, so I don't think it counts.

Go On a Blind Date with an SFF Book!

When I see "fantasy poker tournament" I immediately think of Tim Powers's Last Call.

Don’t Touch That Dial: Summer TV 2015

Just very recently I mainlined Penny Dreadful from the beginning (not that hard when a season is just 10 or 12 episodes) and enjoyed it enough to keep following along. Though, I will say that many episodes have a 5-10 minute stretch where, too me, it suddenly gets very languorous.  But aside from the pacing, I like it.

Enjoyed Daredevil quite a bit, too, and I'm having fun with Sense8.

30 Years Later, Real Genius is Still the Geek Solidarity Film That Nerd Culture Deserves

Thank you for this awesome love letter to a movie I adore.  I think I was in late junior high when I first saw this, and from then on I wanted so badly for college to turn out like its depiction in Real Genius (complete with soundtrack).  It didn't, but that's probably for the best.

A few years ago, Val Kilmer walked past me in a tiny airport, and we accidentally made eye contact for a split second.  I turned to my friend and said, "Do you know who that was?  That was CHRIS KNIGHT!" 

Five Books with Powerful Friendships
Elizabeth Wein is a hands-down master of this. Her sublime novels Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire contain the most deeply moving portrayals of friendship I've ever read.
Update: The X-Files Is (Definitely!) Reopening Soon!
Any chance Meghan Deans will come down to the basement and re-reopen the X-Files with us? I hope so.
When Pop Quizzes Lead To Books: Announcing Adam Christopher’s L.A. Trilogy!
My theory is that Chandler's outspoken dismissal of science fiction stemmed from a subconscious fear of being a replicant. (Clearly "the big sleep" isn't death but cryogenic suspension.)
Joy, Sorrow, Regret, and Reassurance: The Singular Beauty of The Last Unicorn
Connor @3, 4-- My fiancee and I were at the Last Unicorn screening and GRRM/Beagle Q&A last Saturday. We had a blast! Thanks to you and everybody who put it together. Lovely appreciations of The Last Unicorn, Bridget. I somehow missed this story until relatively recently, but now it haunts me. I had never seen the movie until last weekend.
When the Magic Went Away: Arcanum by Simon Morden
I think I'd like to check this out. Though my knowledge of Roman history is spotty at best, I'd probably get a kick out of it. Thanks! The question that opens this review is also explored in Daniel Abraham's lovely Long Price Quartet, although in a very different story in a very different world. (Oddly, that one *does* unfold over 4 books. Hmm.)
Watch the First Trailer for Amazing Spider-Man 2
Wow, yeah. It definitely looks... ambitious. I loved the first two Raimi/Maguire movies but didn't enjoy the 3rd as much, possibly because it was trying to cram in too much for my tastes. So I'm a little worried I might have the same reaction to this one. OTOH, the trailer looks amazing, and it actually has me more interested in this movie than the previous Garfield Spider-Man. So I'll hold on to hope that they pull it off. And I'll of course see this because I love Spidey.
Morning Roundup: What Do You Think, Sirs?
I have to admit I teared up a little bit, too, when I saw Crow and Tom Servo joining Joel for Thanksgiving dinner. It was strangely cathartic.
Cover reveal for Alan Gratz’s The League of Seven
Hey, Alan! The cover looks fantastic! Great artwork for a book I can't wait to read.
We’re Finally Getting Firefly “Season 2.” What Do We Want to See?
I would read all of these storylines with glee. Obviously, Jubal Early needs to return at some point. We last saw him spinning off into space with a dwindling oxygen supply. Does that seem right to you?
Chess Was Once Considered Bad For You
According to lore (that reputable source), blindfolded simultaneous chess match exhibitions were once banned in the Soviet Union owing to their detrimental effect on mental health. (In 1947, Miguel Najdorf played 45 simultaneous chess games during a single 24 hour period. He won 39, but couldn't sleep for 3 days afterward...)
Drowsy, Dreamy, Sleepy Hollow
Say what you will, but the Nazi Clock show had one thing going for it: clocks.
Sleeps With Monsters: Vous qui savez: Elizabeth Wein
Code Name Verity is without doubt the finest book I've read this year. Spectacular! It stayed with me for days afterward, to the extent that it infiltrated my dreams. I haven't read Rose Under Fire yet, but I'm eager to do so. The author is on Twitter, incidentally: @EWein2412. For those who'd like to gush, like I did.
Popcorn is Coming: George R.R. Martin’s Movie Theater Reopens!
It was a great opening. So many people, all excited about the reopened Jean Cocteau. GRRM & company have done the city of Santa Fe a great service. Speaking before the second show on Friday night, GRRM mentioned that in addition to showing films, the plan is for the Jean Cocteau to host live music, author readings, stand-up comedy, basically the works. Steve, when you do make it to Bubonicon, it's definitely worth a side trip!
What Can the Future Do For Me? OMNI Reboot Launches Today!
Hey, welcome back, OMNI. I hope you can stick around for a while! I feel like I've just rediscovered a piece of my childhood. When I was a little boy, my father had a coworker who subscribed to OMNI. Every month he'd pass the issue along after he read it, and dad would give it to me. So many pieces of random information that I carry in my head even today come from OMNI...
Reopening The X-Files: I Want to Believe
You might tell yourself they're low—you might tell yourself that even as you quietly buy the very same snack you bought when you went to see Fight the Future—but you're lying to yourself. The X-Files has a hold on you. Distant, but deep. This brillaintly summarizes my own feelings when I went to see this movie. Well said. Yeah. Totally mediocre monster-of-the-week storyline. I don't mind the notion of the second feature film being a MOTW storyline rather than a mytharc story; often the gems of each season were the unexpectedly wonderful standalone episodes. But this mess... this incredibly apathetic mess... I read somewhere that Carter & Co. were in a hurry to finish the first draft of this script before the Writers' Guild strike went into effect. I get the impression that they basically went with the unpolished unrevised first draft script. That's all just supposition, but it sort of makes the movie make more sense to me. Thank you for taking us along on this rewatch. It's been a blast re-engaging with this show and seeing it with fresh eyes.
Reopening The X-Files: “The Truth”
Well done! These recaps have been something to look forward to over the past (almost) 2 years. Thank you for biting this bullet for us. I've really enjoyed this walk down memory lane. I'm sorry it's coming to an end. When I think of the series ending with Scully and Mulder in a hotel room, I can't help but think of their first serious personal conversation, in the hotel room during the Pilot episode. It brings some light to this bummer of a finale when I think about the whole thing coming full circle. There is that second movie, but I like to pretend it doesn't exist.
Reopening The X-Files: “Jump the Shark”
@2: The LG show definitely had its moments. The tango episode in particular stands out in my mind. @3: Point well taken. I prefer to believe they're still around, somewhere in the world, cranking out their paper.
Reopening The X-Files: “Jump the Shark”
I was excited about the LG spinoff when it debuted -- I always loved it when the LG appeared on this show. Though, once on their own they never managed to be as entertaining as they were on the X-Files. Maybe that's the difference between writing occasional humor inside a dark show and writing a humorous show with darker roots? *shrug* That said, it saddens me that they killed off the LG. And it saddens me even more to learn that Mulder wasn't present for the funeral and that Morris Fletcher, of all people, was. It should have been Mulder and Scully. What a shame.
Science of Future Past: Dune (Part 1)
[email protected]: Well, the ADS might not work via direct coupling to the nerves, as the RM's pain boxy thingy apparently does, but it does use electromagnetic fields specifically to cause pain. Though, one could argue that the ADS does couple to the pain receptors (after all, there is an energy flow from the device to the receptors in the skin to the brain), albeit at very low efficiency because of the intermediate step of heating the skin to induce the pain. Other technologies might couple more efficiently, such as the laser technique, which is something I'd never run across. It does seem strange to me to imagine that in the far future of Dune, people are still using microwave ovens...
Science of Future Past: Dune (Part 1)
I could not find any work being done on causing pain via electromagnetic fields. If you Google "DARPA pain ray", you get numerous hits. (Though I'm not sure if DARPA was involved in the development.) Raytheon's Active Denial System is a directed energy device intended to stimulate nerve endings in a very thin layer of the target's skin. It was briefly deployed in Afghanistan, and is now finding interest within the U.S. Ten years ago I worked with somebody who had turned down a job working on something very similar. He described the concept as being, quote, "A real-life gom jabbar." (Though after refreshing my memory via Google, I see that the "gom jabbar" wasn't the box but the poisoned needle the Reverend Mother used to threaten Paul Atreides to keep his hand in the pain box.)
8 Lessons MST3K Taught Me About Writing, Life, and Everything
*Turn down your lights (where applicable)* My all-time favorite show, hands down. My most prized possession in the world is my collection of 100+ episodes painstakingly videotaped over the years and recently converted to DVD (it only took 6 weeks). My fondness for this show (particularly the Joel years) knows no bounds. I even took a date to a live showing of MST3K in Minneapolis once, long long ago. One of my regrets in life is that I never went on the Best Brains tour, even though I lived nearby. "My manager at the Happy Chef is a real dink. He won't give me the weekends off." *Keep circulating the tapes.*
Reopening The X-Files: “Improbable”
If Scully were a companion, I definitely would have kept watching season 9. Even so, now I want to dig out the DVD set and watch this episode.
Reopening The X-Files: “Trustno1”
Of course, it's difficult for me to think of Terry O'Quinn in a Chris Carter vehicle without assuming some kind of Millennium crossover. Even though they already did that with Frank Black's character.
Reopening The X-Files: “Nothing Important Happened Today”
@5: Yeah, me too. I had high hopes for that first season of Alias and chose it over the final season of the X-Files. It was certainly entertaining, although in the long run I think the XF still gave me more enjoyment than Alias did. For me personally. Nevertheless, it didn't take much to make me bail on Season 9.
Reopening The X-Files: “Nothing Important Happened Today”
I think this two-parter might have been the last episode of the X-Files that I watched, aside from the series finale (of which I missed the first half anyway). I was ready to move on by then. Which struck me (and still does at times) as a little unfortunate, seeing as how much I loved this show when it was on its stride. Now I can read the rest of the re-caps to get a condensed summary of what I missed in Season 9!
Music and magic: Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks
I read this book just after moving away from Minneapolis, where I had lived for a long time. It did a lot to help assuage the loneliness I felt at the time, because most of the real-world locations in the book were very familiar to me. For that alone I'll always be fond of this book. Not to mention that it's a fun read!
The Morning After World Book Night
@12, 13-- My girlfriend received a free copy of Lisa Genova's Still Alice in Chicago last night, via World Book Night. Though, she had just attended a performance of the stage adaptation, so it might have been particular to that location.
Patton Oswalt’s Star Wars Filibuster is the Best Episode VII Pitch We’ve Heard So Far
Obviously, now, I'll never be able to accept anything short of a spider bodied robot Chewbacca body with ion cannons. And I'd love to see that opening scene with Boba Fett.
Contrast and Outlast: Indie Games You Won’t Want To Miss
Oh, wow. I cannot wait to play Contrast. (Says the person who's lucky if he finishes one game per year.) I probably never would have heard of it if not for this piece -- so, thanks!
Reopening The X-Files: “Within”/”Without”
I liked Robert Patrick as John Doggett. There was something I found respectable and ultimately likeable about his straight-talking-with-utter-focus.
Reopening The X-Files: “Requiem”
@6: I agree. It did feel to me as though the show took an unrecoverable stumble here. One thing I did love about this particular episode was the bit where they're driving down the road, and the car loses power, and they get out after it rolls to a stop, only to discover the big 'X' that Mulder had spray-painted on the road way back in the pilot episode. That won a lot of points from me. (That was this episode, right?)
Reopening The X-Files: “Requiem”
Krycek (accidentally? On purpose? Who cares?) leading Mulder to his abduction, the way he led Scully to hers. Since I haven't been viewing episodes in tandem with this rewatch (just reliving them in my memory) I have completely forgotten the relationship between Krycek and Scully's abduction. Aside from the fact that we first meet Krycek when he shows up as Mulder's eager-beaver spit-shiny new partner when Scully disappears. But I'm hazy on the later developments. Although, to be fair to myself, a similar haziness afflicted me even while I was watching the show every week.
British Genre Fiction Focus: A Conversation About Community
No need to apologize, Niall! We all have to work with the information we're given :) Feb. 28 probably was the intended date at one point, and it's out now regardless, so no worries. These dates can shift around and sometimes it's hard to be 100% certain. I've long been aware that tons of great things are being published across the pond, but until recently it hasn't been very easy for me to keep abreast of it all without a concerted effort. (Also, I'm lazy.) So I'm grateful that you're doing all the work for me :)
British Genre Fiction Focus: A Conversation About Community
The British Genre Fiction Focus has been a great source of new reading for me. (Not as great for my credit cards, but hey.) It's hard to keep up with everything! (The Coldest War came out from Orbit on Feb 7. :-)
Reopening The X-Files: “All Things”
But by constantly hitting reset on its (very few!) regular characters, the characters themselves stall out and begin to look silly. Well said. I think you've neatly articulated one of the things that made this show so frustrating at times. I do remember enjoying the way this episode opens with something of a tease, but then pays it off and recasts it at the end. I like to believe Anderson was winking at us with that.
Tempus Rerum Imperator: The Emperor of All Things by Paul Witcover
I've been very excited about this book since hearing about it a couple of years ago. It sounds as though the final product works, more or less, and I'm very pleased by that. Looking forward to reading it.
Reopening The X-Files: “Millennium”
Great summary. I had forgotten about the kiss! I was another Millennium fan. Though I sort of fell away from it in the third season, when it seemed like they did a mini-reboot to handwave away the epic finale of season two. Definitely resided in the same univese as the X-Files, or maybe a very similar parallel universe. Jose Chung shows up in one episode, which makes for a terrific super-meta-inside-joke piece. In general it was pretty gloomy (except when Charles Nelson Reilly showed up), but they did some really terrific stuff. This episode always fell a little flat to me, because it's neither fish nor fowl. It's not entirely an X-Files episode, nor is an a Millennium episode. It's try to do both, to its own detriment. I was very happy to get to see a conclusion to Frank Black's adventure, and maybe if I hadn't watched Millennium I would've been fine with it. But having watched that other show -- and knowing that if it had continued Black's adventures in late December, 1999 would have been much bigger than 4 FBI zombies -- it still felt a little disappointing.
Reopening The X-Files: “The Sixth Extinction”/”The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati”
It's unclear if the things Scully has learned will be pursued, at all....You could give me episode after episode of the truth, but unless my agents learn—and use—the truth themselves, it's of no use to your loyal viewer. Amen. And amen. Well said. As much as I love this show, I think this criticism could be applied to pretty much its entire run. @1: atleast you would think that the alien bounty hunter would be the one to hunt her down to stop the translating Yeah, exactly. Waaaay back at the end of season 1, "they" killed off the doctor from Georgetown Microbiology that worked with Scully to identify the alien/three-strand DNA pretty much immediately after they realized it was weird. Seems like the writing on the ship would be at least as important.
Reopening The X-Files: “Biogenesis”
I liked the shout-out/callback to Albert Hosteen and the events of Anasazi. Because ever since the end of Season 2, I wondered why in the world Scully & Mulder didn't go back to New Mexico and, you know, talk to the guy who translated a trove of top secret documents. Seems like they might be interested in what he had to say. I know they couldn't do it from a keeping-the-show-going perspective, but it never seemed to get any kind of in-story explanation at all. Which really drove me crazy. And speaking of Season 2 -- the other end of it, Little Green Men -- why in the world wasn't a "Blue Beret UFO Retrieval Team" (or whatever they're called) dispatched to destroy/cover up/move the enormous honking UFO sitting on the beach in the Ivory Coast? In earlier seasons the military goons would show up and try to gun down people who had so much as a vague recording of a possible broadcast from outer space. Now people are digging up an entire UFO and taking chunks home and they're all, "Pfff, whatever."
If You Love Uhura, Set Her Free: The Tears of the Singers and Uhura’s Song
Melissa Snodgrass views this space as a playground... and if anyone has demonstrated the ability to handle cogent questions, it's Melissa Snodgrass... Actually it's Melinda, not Melissa. :-)
Reopening The X-Files: “Two Fathers”/”One Son”
I've never understood how the Consortium expected any of their machinations to help them survive the alien-colonization-apocalypse-whatever. Was the idea that once they had perfected hybridization, they would hybridize themselves? Did they give up the family members so that something something genetic compatibility handwave something successful hybridization? Ditto on the greatness of the recaps. These are always really fun to read, and it's great fun to revisit this wonderful (albeit incredibly frustrating) show.
Impulse Sweepstakes!
Oh, I would be over the moon if I won a copy! I adore Jumper and Reflex and have been eagerly awaiting this new novel for what feels like forever.
Reopening The X-Files: “Dreamland I”/”Dreamland II”
Do I remember correctly that Fletcher gets a cameo in a later episode, maybe the sequel to Unusual Suspects?
Reopening The X-Files: “Triangle”
I haven't seen this one since it was broadcast, but I sure enjoyed the heck out of it back then. Maybe I'll find it flat when I go back and rewatch it, but I hope not. The wonderful camera work and the long Scully sequence at the FBI sealed it for me. And then the cute bit where FBI Scully and OSS Scully crossed over on the split screen sealed it again. Also: OSS Scully FTW.
Reopening The X-Files: Fight The Future
@4: Yep, exactly. I thought that she'd seen it, too. And I figured, OK, well, that's a pretty huge moment appropriate for the big screen: finally, Scully is shown something absolutely incontrovertible.
Reopening The X-Files: Fight The Future
I have a great fondness for this movie, in spite of, well... you know, all the stuff. But it still reminds me of that happy time in the 90s when the X-Files was such a great show. Man, I couldn't wait for this to hit theaters. Thanks for including this in the rewatch, Meghan! [email protected]: I can't argue with you. You caught on more quickly than I did. I've avoided many JJ Abrams shows for exactly the same reason. [email protected]: Yeah, me too. I guess later on they argued that Scully was basically passed out and didn't register what she was seeing there at the end of the movie. But I remember sitting in the theater and thinking, "For the love of God, Scully, look up! LOOK UP!"
The Warm Glowing Warming Glow: Fall TV 2012
And AHS will have Jessica Lange again, albeit in a different role. Her character last season was so loathesome and yet so compelling at the same time that I'm eager to see what kind of vileness she can dredge up this year.
All Alone in the Night: When Babylon 5 Invented 21st Century Fandom
Here's another (grateful) shout-out to the Lurker's Guide to B5. That site greatly enhanced my enjoyment of the show! I spent a lot of time there, dutifully reading after every new episode. What a great resource. And what a great show (warts and all).
Black Dispatches: Real-Life Superheroes in the Age of Steam(funk)
This was absolutely fascinating! I'd read (only) a little bit about Harriet Tubman over the years, but I hadn't known anything at all about the Dabneys or Mary Elisabeth Bowser. What amazing stories.
How To Compose A Steampunk Musical
What a coincidence -- a friend of mine just recently pointed me to The Dolls of New Albion, and I've been enjoying it quite a bit! I'd love to see it performed.
As You Wish: Little-Known Facts About The Princess Bride on Its 25th Anniversary
This is one of my all-time favorite movies. Even after 25 years it still makes me tear up. I will drop everything whenever I come across a showing of The Princess Bride.
Reopening The X-Files: “Patient X”/”The Red and the Black”
That helps! I'm willing to buy the black oil stuff if I look at it through that lens. And yeah, good point. Setting groups of abductees on fire doesn't exactly scream, "We are up with people!"

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