Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships Nov 20

Happy Tuesday, were-tigers and warlocks! It may be a holiday week in the US but we’re carrying on as usual. Today I’ve got lots of news for you about lots of things, including Game of Thrones, some more exciting adaptations, and some very sad news regarding William Goldman, plus a review of Nine Lives by Ursula K. Le Guin.

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Book and adaptation news:

William Goldman, author of The Princess Bride, passed away last week.

We have casting news (plot spoilers warning!) for the adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guin’s novelette, Nine Lives (reviewed below), and I am delighted — Jonny Lee Miller and Common will be playing mining scouts Pugh and Martin, and they are perrrrfectttttt. (Except now I’m dying to know who is going to be playing the ten-clone John Chow. Fancasts accepted!)

Jewel Gomez’s The Gilda Stories are being adapted and I could not be more excited for this story about Gilda, an escaped black slave and bisexual vampire, to come to the screen courtesy of Cheryl Dunye, a black lesbian woman.

Rolling in the Deep, the mermaid thriller by Mira Grant (a.k.a. Seanan McGuire), is being adapted for the screen by director Mary Lambert (Pet Sematary), it’s like someone out there just wants me to be happy.

The final season of Game of Thrones is coming to your TV in April…

and George R.R. Martin’s NOT-Game-of-Thrones property, Wild Cards, is probably going to Hulu.

On to a new release you might need:

Fire and Blood: 300 Years Before a Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin — because something is better than nothing?

How about an ebook deal?

Rosewater by Tade Thompson (our SFF Yeah! book club pick) is only $4.99.


And now for today’s review, which is a classic poised to become new again.

Nine Lives by Ursula K. Le Guin

Trigger warning: incest

a primarily white cover, with a small green-tinted photo of a sweeping hillsidePeople often ask me about the best place to start with Le Guin’s work, and depending on what they prefer (sci-fi or fantasy), I’ll say Lathe of Heaven or Earthsea, respectively. But I’m beginning to wonder if her shorter fiction wouldn’t be better — collections like The Wind’s Twelve Quarters, for example, which has both her SF and F and includes classics like “Vaster Than Empires And More Slow” and “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.” All of this is to say that when I saw the news about the casting for Nine Lives, her novelette, I dove into The Wind’s Twelve Quarters to find it — and it is indeed a gorgeous starting place if you’re new to Le Guin, and a great reminder of her genius for her fans.

Mining scouts Owen Pugh and Alvaro Guillen Martin are out in space working on an unstable uranium mine, and help has finally arrived in the form of ten clones, five male and five female, known collectively as John Chow. The clones are brilliant, young, beautiful, and efficient; so efficient, in fact, that Owen and Alvaro find themselves mostly unable to interact with them. They have each other and that’s all they need. While Owen and Alvaro struggle with their emotional reactions to the clones, the clones carry on with the work — until disaster strikes.

To say more about the plot would be to give too much away (it is a novelette, after all), but what particularly struck me was the complicated, messy humanity of the piece. Here are two men who have become accustomed to dealing with each other’s quirks and flaws and have found an equilibrium, only to have that equilibrium upset by new person(s). And here are ten clones who have never known anything but equilibrium. How do you bridge a gap that seems unbridgeable? How do you learn to deal with external personalities when you’ve never had to? Through the lens of cloning and space exploration, Le Guin ponders the connectedness of people of all kinds, and what it means to relate — and truly connect — to one another.

It’s a heartbreaker of a story, and I remain a bit flabbergasted both that it originally ran in a 1968 edition of Playboy and that it holds up as well as it does. I have so many questions about how they’ll adapt it; there’s not a ton of plot, and I can see the Powers That Be adding more whizbangflash than it currently has. While I do love a good action movie, I live in hopes that the director cares about maintaining the story’s incredible emotional resonance as well.

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, or on Twitter as jennIRL.

Your fellow booknerd,