Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships Dec 21

Happy Friday, friends! This will be the last newsletter of 2018 — I’m wishing you all the best, most geektastic, fantastical, wibbly wobbly timey wimey holidays of ever. To finish off this year, I’ve got some podcast linky goodness, stand-alone fantasies, vampires, SF/F fonts, a review of State Tectonics by Malka Older, and more.

This newsletter is sponsored by Dynamite Entertainment.

For over FORTY YEARS, Troma Studios has blazed its own bloody, slime-covered trail, making movies their own damn way! From The Toxic Avenger to The Class Of Nuke ‘Em High to Poultrygeist to Tromeo And Juliet, Lloyd Kaufman never compromised, waving his independent freak-flag freely, and helped jumpstart the careers of luminaries such as James Gunn, Eli Roth, and countless others! How, you might ask, did a couple of rebels with almost no cash manage to make a library of a THOUSAND films? You’ll have to pick up this incredible collection to find out!

This week on SFF Yeah!, Sharifah and I talked about some favorite LGBTQ+ SFF, as well as JK Rowling’s terrible assistant, my deep dive into this year’s Best Of lists, and more.

Because the universe wants us to have something nice for the holidays, the December 11 episode of LeVar Burton reads features NK Jemisin!

Got no time for a new series? I love this list of stand-alone fantasy novels, some really great ones on there. (Sunshine by Robin McKinley! The Devourers by Indra Das! Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip!)

Let’s talk fonts: I also love this analysis of the fonts used in various SF/F covers from an author who has made fonts his specialty. It’s a great nerdy deep dive, do recommend.

Need a little holiday romance? This round-up of SF/F ones (Shelly Laurenston! And a Christmas vampire?!) is just generally an A+ idea for your vacation reading.

Speaking of vampires! We’ve got a list of 28 vampire novels targeted towards adults, if you need more of them in your reading diet.

Does It’s A Wonderful Life count as an SF/F movie? Do zombies survive on brains? Why is this even a question?

Not books but: the Men In Black: International trailer is a delight.

And for your consideration, the conclusion to one of my favorite near-future series of the past few years.

State Tectonics (The Centenal Cycle #3) by Malka Older

a graphical illustration of of a blueprint or abstract map done in purple and yellow against a black background, with the title text superimposed on topSet in a near-future in which micro-democracy is a world-wide phenomenon, this trilogy has followed both those who work for the overseeing organization, Information, and those who oppose it. It’s Information’s job to run the elections, make sure none of the governments post misinformation, run the debates, and control the data-gathering and surveillance of huge swathes of the world. Information has survived hacking, electoral upheaval, and an attempt to overthrow it from the outside. But can it survive the loss of faith of its own employees, and a conspiracy hatched within its own ranks?

State Tectonics follows the further adventures of Mishima (#TeamMishima), Roz, Amran, and other characters we’ve met in the previous books, and adds new depth to the plot and the world-building at large. Older balances policy discussions and action sequences, personal life and espionage, data analysis and character arcs, which is what has kept me reading since I first picked up Infomocracy. I came for the concept, got sucked in by the action, and stayed for the personalities brought to life in these pages. And speaking of! Mishima’s continuing evolution, from badass spy to badass spy who is also a mom, is one of my favorite aspects of the series; Older knows that being a parent can’t erase everything you’ve been and done before, and shouldn’t. Mishima’s struggle to find a balance between her own goals and family life will be recognizable to many, and I loved the way it was handled.

On a broader note, Older’s lack of patience with ideologues is hugely refreshing, and her deep understanding of bureaucracy and organizational politics makes this thought experiment feel that much more real. The reminder that no system of governance is perfect, and that disruption is both dangerous and necessary for change, feels both timely and useful. Whether or not it’s possible to build the One True System is not the question — it’s how we grow, correct, and develop the one we have. I said back in 2016 when I first read Infomocracy that it was one of the few books I’d read that made me feel better about the US election, and this continues to be true. Citizenship is a choice, a verb, an action, and participating is the work. And if you’d like to think about what that means, both the good and the bad, then you should definitely pick up The Centenal Cycle.

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.

See you in 2019!,