Greetings, Earthlings and galactic visitors! There is absolutely no space-related gossip in today’s newsletter; this time, we’ve got our feet on the ground.
I have a burning question for you all: Do you follow authors across genres? This is on my mind because China Mieville has written a political history of Russia and it comes out next month. He’s already a bit of a genre-hopper, with fantasy, hard sci-fi, and more wibbly-wobbly-genre-bendey works like The City and the City under his belt, but nonfiction is much farther afield. It’s not particularly surprising if you know his political leanings and background, but it’s also not quite the same as grabbing, say, an Atwood essay collection. What do you think? Is your interest piqued?
Waaaaay back in our very first ever Swords and Spaceships, I noted that Guy Ritchie’s forthcoming King Arthur movie looks like a glorious mess. The latest trailer just confirms it; I can’t decide if it’s weirder that the elephants from Lord of the Rings movies have shown up, or that the sword apparently gives Arthur powers!? Did Vortigern summon the elephants from Middle Earth with his ill-gotten powers? Did someone enchant the sword? I have questions that can only be answered by seeing it in the theater, because I am a hopeless Arthurian junkie.
We talked about the Hugos, now let’s talk about the Nommo Awards! These are newly on my radar, and I am preetttty excited about them for two reasons: one is that these are mostly authors I’m not already hip to and I cannot wait to start reading them, and the second is that A. Igoni Barrett is on there and I adored his short story collection Love Is Power, Or Something Like That (which is not speculative in nature, but excellent regardless).
What do we talk about when we talk about dragons? Jessica has some thoughts. I have narrowed down my own first dragons to Smaug and/or Eustace (spoiler) from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which made Kazul from Dealing With Dragons an absolute delight.
And, for your regularly scheduled whimsy: Sci-fi mugs! I cannot decide which I need the most, which just means I need all of them. Right?
Let’s talk about your TBR pile; if it doesn’t have these two books on it, please reconsider immediately.
The Regional Office Is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales
I love this book a lot, not least because it meshes robotics and magic and there is just not enough of that in my life. On the one hand we have Rose, a teenage assassin with powers who has been recruited by a conspiracy within the Regional Office. She is a one-woman army and she is coming for the Director. Except that Sarah, a dedicated employee who may also be a cyborg, is standing in her way.
If you were to mash up an episode of Buffy with Die Hard (there are a lot of crawl-spaces in this book, y’all), you’d get something close to the plot. What you wouldn’t get is Gonzales’ delightfully wry and episodic style — in between stellar action sequences, he doles out background story bit by tantalizing bit. It’s an ass-kicking, action-packed novel, with a punch in the feels for good measure.
Tender by Sofia Samatar
Welcome to the Sofia Samatar Fan Club! I am your local chapter president Jenn Northington and I am delighted to tell you that her new short story collection is SO GREAT!
I am unsurprised; her novels A Stranger in Olondria and Winged Histories are two of my favorite fantasies of the past few years. And this collection is full of gems. Some have a scholarly feel, like “An Account of the Land of Witches” or “Ogres of East Africa”, in which Samatar is cataloguing wonders previously unseen. Some are funny and heartbreaking, like “Walkdog.” All of them are bursting at the seams with magic, and with Samatar’s deliberate and precise use of language. Her style is a moving target — sometimes ornate and sometimes spare, some times casual and sometimes formal — but it’s always deployed with purpose, and the results are spell-binding.
Like I said: president of the fan club, over here. Get this collection on your shelf and into your brain.
Note: The pub date is technically Monday, April 17, but physical copies are available now!
This newsletter is sponsored by Defy The Stars by Claudia Gray.
She’s a soldier.
He’s a machine.
Enemies in an interstellar war, they are forced to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they’re not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they’re forced to question everything they’d been taught was true.