Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships Oct 16

Happy Tuesday, Balrogs and banshees! Today we’re talking about Fortnite books, The Passage trailer, a new vampire series, more witchy reads, and Future Fiction: New Dimensions in International Science Fiction.

This newsletter is sponsored by Vesuvian Books.

a young girl with long hair, wearing a tattered red cape and carrying a spear, stares up at a giant beanstalk.Sixteen-year-old Jaclyn admires her father. A man who once fought for the king, he now teaches Jaclyn how to use her wits—and her sword. But he has a secret. And his secret may have a connection to something Jaclyn is hiding. Hearing “monsters” are terrorizing the villages around Black Mountain, Jaclyn’s father goes to hunt them but doesn’t return. Armed only with her sword and magic beans—a gift from a mysterious old woman—Jaclyn will need to break a centuries old curse to save not only her father but the townspeople the “beasts” plan to lay waste to.

Let’s talk about adaptations and book announcements!

In the world of video games-turned-novels, Fortnite has a book deal! Not sure what Fortnite is? The New Yorker has a deep dive.

Where my Eragon fans at? Christopher Paolini has a new book of stories set in Alagaësia, The Fork, The Witch, and The Worm, and it will be out on December 31 2018.

I finally got around to watching the trailer for The Passage, and I’m very conflicted. On the one hand, it looks well-acted and well-cast. On the other hand, it contains explicit footage of black people being kidnapped, harmed, and experimented on against their will by white people. While I know the storyline of the books and therefore have some idea where it’s all going, that doesn’t make it less painful to watch — and very possibly triggering for some viewers, so fair warning.

We’re getting a vampire series from Renee Ahdieh!

I went to a Halloween episode screening of Buffy: TVS at a cemetery last weekend, so it seems appropriate to note that the team for BOOM! Studios new comics has been announced: Jordie Bellaire (Pretty Deadly, Hawkeye) and Dan Mora are on board, and I’m delighted that Bellaire will be involved.

Judging by how many of you clicked on The Witches of New York in last week’s newsletter (it’s a record, I do believe), I think you’ll be very interested to hear that Katherine Howe is finally giving us the sequel to The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane called The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs.

This week in new releases I’ve got my eye on:

The Black Khan by Ausma Zehanat Khan (sequel to The Bloodprint)

The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi (sequel to The Collapsing Empire)

The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2018 edited by Paula Guran (including Stephen Graham Jones, Aliette de Bodard, and Kai Ashante Wilson!)

And here’s your reminder that we’re doing a book stamp giveaway, because your personal library definitely needs customization.

And now, a review of a fascinating new science fiction anthology!

Future Fiction: New Dimensions in International Science Fiction, edited by Bill Campbell and Francesco Verso

an illustration in blue tones. a black woman manipulates a hologram of the earth with her hands, and has a strange piece of technology attached to the side of her head.Content warnings:
Suicide, “Grey Noise” and “Proposition 23”
Bestiality, “The International Studbook of the Giant Panda”
Animal and human experimentation, “Creative Surgery”

I love a good anthology, and I have been working on reading more international science fiction, so this collection was meant for me. And, having read it, I think it is also meant for you!

The only author I’d read previously was Ekaterina Sedia, whose collection Moscow But Dreaming I reviewed last October. She’s also the most fabulist author in the collection — the other stories are solidly hard science fiction, playing in particular with technology and the environment. Taken together, these stories span the globe and handily accomplish the collection’s goal: to introduce both writers and new ideas.

It’s a very thoughtfully arranged anthology — “Tongtong’s Summer” by Xia Jia is a gentle look at AI and healthcare, told from a child’s perspective. The next few stories flow from there, all concerned in some regard with family, and edging step by step towards darker material. Things take a hard turn with Tendai Huchu’s all-too-possible “HostBods,” which follows a “bod” for hire as he goes from one virtual possession to the next, in increasingly dire circumstances. Hernandez’s “The International Studbook of the Giant Panda” (about scientists using neurally-linked robotic pandas to teach the bears how to mate) competes with “Creative Surgery” by Clelia Farris, about two genetic scientists creating increasingly bizarre chimeras, for being the ones I found the most unnerving to read — and also the most surprising. Ending with Efe Tokunbo’s excellent novelette “Proposition 23” was exactly the right choice — a story of dys/u-topia and political upheaval, it packs a beautiful final punch.

If you like weird, brain-bending fiction; if you like short stories; if you love different perspectives; if you like to see authors stretch the bounds of science and technology; if you want to read more in-translation; or all of the above, then get yourself Future Fiction 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.

Your fellow booknerd,