Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships Feb 2

Happy Friday, friends! Today we’re talking After the Flare and the Call of Crows series, plus Fahrenheit 451, Octavia Butler, fantasy comics, and more.

This newsletter is sponsored by The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller.

In an alternate history where only women are strong enough to practice a dangerous art of magic and science, a uniquely talented young man goes where none has gone before. Joining the ranks of powerful, flying women, he takes to the sky to fight prejudice, injustice, and the men seeking to destroy their world.

In the tradition of Lev Grossman and Deborah Harkness, Tom Miller writes with unrivaled imagination, ambition, and humor. The Philosopher’s Flight is both a fantastical reimagining of American history and a beautifully composed coming-of-age tale for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider.

Having trouble keeping track of what SF/F books are being adapted? Me too. But is keeping track for us. This list, it is long!

Speaking of adaptations, have you watched the trailer for Fahrenheit 451 yet? Michael B. Jordan is metaphorically and almost literally fire in this.

Speaking again of adaptations, I was initially doubtful about anyone adapting Ursula Le Guin’s The Telling but then I saw Rekha Sharma’s name and now I am FULL SPEED AHEAD excited.

The anniversary of Octavia Butler’s death was on February 24, and I love this post of facts about her. Fans will recognize some of her jobs as the inspiration for certain moments in her book (potato-chip sorter shows up in Kindred, for example!).

Need some more fantasy comics in your life? There are titles on this list that I hadn’t heard of, which is always delightful.

Cheap ebook alert! The Reluctant Queen (sequel to The Queen of Blood) by Sarah Beth Durst is only $2.99 from Kindle, and I really loved it. You could read the series out of order if you were feeling really eager, but I do recommend the first one as well.

And don’t forget, we’re running an Instagram giveawayand you could win $500 worth of the (gorgeous) Penguin Clothbound classics.

Today in reviews, we’ve got Afrofuturism and a way more diverse take on Norse mythology.

After the Flare by Deji Olukotun

After the FlareFriends, you should probably read Nigerians in Space first. In fact I am almost positive that you should do that, even though I did not. But I am here to tell you that if, like me, your library is taking forever to get a copy of the first book for unknowable reasons but After the Flare is easily available to you, you should definitely read it.

A huge solar flare has hit the Earth and wiped out technology in most of Europe, North America, and Asia — and there’s an astronaut stranded on the international space station. The newly formed Nigerian Space Program is determined to get her back, and Kwesi Brackett, former NASA employee, is lucky enough to find himself a head engineer in the program. But between political shenanigans and resource issues, he’s struggling to to make his deadlines. Then some workers discover an ancient artifact on site, triggering a chain of supernatural occurrences. On top of it all, Boko Haram is on its way to take over the program’s perceived riches.

Olukotun is exploring so many things in this novel — colorism, the space race, the vagaries of love, the fall of current First World powers, religion and politics, and of course the supernatural occurrences mentioned (but no spoilers here). The ending of this book has me craving another installment; I sincerely hope there is more coming, and in the meantime I impatiently await my hold on Nigerians in Space.

The Call of Crows series by Shelly Laurenston

The UnleashingSit back and get ready for the premise of this paranormal romance series: the Norse gods have warriors on Earth, who act on their behalf — which includes warring with other clans and finding stuff the gods keep losing (why DO they lose so many godly artifacts??). Most of the gods pick the descendants of their original worshippers — so, largely white and blonde. But the goddess Skuld finds her warrior Crows from the descendants of the women that the Vikings enslaved, and their motto is “Let rage be your guide.” What you end up with is a diverse, kick-ass group of women who are very ready to wreak vengeance — and have wings and talons to get the job done.

The UndoingThe books follow three different Crows: Kera, Jace, and Erin. Do not make me pick between them, I love all my romance heroines equally! But, of course, for different reasons. Kera, heroine of The Unleashing (Book 1), is a military veteran with a pitbull, and she could not be more surprised than when Skuld shows up to give her a second chance at life. Adjusting to the riotous lifestyle of the Crows, however, is something else. And then there’s this pesky goddess who wants to destroy everyone, and a big beefy Viking hero named Vig to fall in love with. Kera’s love of her pitbull and her clipboard made my pet-owning, organizer-loving heart sing, and Kera’s trip to Valhalla is one of my all-time favorite romance plot points.

The UnyieldingThen there’s Jace, heroine of The Undoing, who just wants to be left alone THANK YOU VERY MUCH. A survivor of a cult, she’s got a lot of baggage that people just don’t understand. When Ski Erikson hires her to translate some ancient texts, it turns out she might find someone who gets her — and who she can fight ancient evil with.

And then there’s Erin, heroine of The Unyielding, who is a tormentor of one and all throughout the series. She’s the hugest jerk to everyone, but it’s just — if you ask her — because they take themselves too seriously! She swears! Her adventures with hero Stieg add a ton of world-building to the series, as well as hilarity.

These books are so fun, occasionally very silly, and enormously heartfelt. I can’t think when I laughed so much while also celebrating the power of righteous anger, especially in regard to women. If you need a palate cleanser that will also gear you up and get you going, get these immediately.

And that’s a wrap! You can find all of the books recommended in this newsletter on a handy Goodreads shelf. If you’re interested in more science fiction and fantasy talk, you can catch me and my co-host Sharifah on the SFF Yeah! podcast. For many many more book recommendations you can find me on the Get Booked podcast with the inimitable Amanda.

Rock on, rockstars,