Swords and Spaceships

Swords & Spaceships Apr 16

Hello gelflings and garudas! I am returned from my cryopod, I MEAN Toronto, and am back in the saddle. Today we’re talking a little GoT, a little Star Wars, a little science, and Falling in Love with Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson.

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We’re a little light on straight-up book news today, but there are some interesting things afoot regardless:

Winter has arrived with the latest season of Game of Thrones, and all you die-hard fans will be excited to hear that Folio Society is releasing a collector’s edition later this year!

Sharifah and I spent a bunch of time discussing the new live-action Cowboy Bepop, as well as con-artists and thieves, in the latest episode of SFF Yeah!

If like me you were traveling on Friday and didn’t get a chance to watch the Star Wars IX trailer, here’s a breakdown from Black Nerd Problems (although heads up that that’s Mark Hamill at the end, not Fisher). (Also, where’s my hankie 😭.)

Speaking of die-hard fans, if you’re burning to know the details of the Mandalorian trailer, viewed only by in-person attendees at Star Wars Celebration on Sunday, io9 has a recap.

And in “science is really freaking cool” news, here’s a fascinating primer on the first-ever photograph of a black hole.

Buzzy new releases this week:

Upon a Burning Throne by Ashok K. Banker
I absolutely intended to read this by review week, and yet. This is an epic fantasy series based on The Mahabharata (like A Spark of White Fire, but for adults) and I am here for it.

No Country for Old Gnomes (The Tales of Pell #2) by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne
Not going to lie, I am listing this almost entirely for that title. The description includes gnomes in cardigans and halflings on war alpacas, and it looks like this belongs in the Terry Pratchett-esque section of fantasy, so I am intrigued!

Cheap ebooks update:

The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin, $2.99 (BUY THIS IMMEDIATELY, this is an absolute steal)

The Vampire with the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrelyn Sparks, $1.99 (I know nothing about this but can’t stop laughing, today is Amazing Titles Day)

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson, $1.99 (relevant to today’s review)

Let us talk about the timeliness of Falling in Love with Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson:

an illustration of a brown woman with a giant red fro. her eyes are closed and she appears to be sleeping or dreamingEven though it was published in 2015 and the stories were written over the course of many years, the foreword of Falling in Love with Hominids feels like it could have been written yesterday. Hopkinson writes:

[O]ne of the progressions I’ve made is from being a depressed teenager who saw how powerless she was to change all the ills around her to being a mostly cheerful fifty-something who realizes there are all kinds of ways of working towards positive change. […] [W]e’re all on the same spinning ball of dirt, trying to live as best we can. […] So part of the work of these past few decades of my life has been the process of falling in love with hominids.

In this Year of Our Continued Angst 2019, this was both a welcome message and reminder that facing and exploring humanity’s flaws is not the same as exonerating them, and the stories contained within do that work in so many ways. These are stories of abuse, of failure, of violence, but also of love, of yearning, of joy.

Whether she’s reimagining werewolves in “The Easthound,” The Tempest in “Shift,” or dating a plant-lady in “A Raggy Dog, A Shaggy Dog” (a personal favorite, that last one), Hopkinson is deeply aware of the fault lines in the human psyche. That’s where the horror comes from, but also the beauty. “Delicious Monster” takes a complicated father-son relationship and gives it a supernatural twist; “A Young Candy Daughter” imagines what growing up might look like for God. If you’re a Borderlands fan — and even if you’re not — “Men Sell Not Such in Any Town” is a must-read.

Each of the 18 stories comes with a short intro, and each is infused with Hopkinson’s lyrical language, Caribbean rhyme and folklore, and often patois. Some are as short as a page and a half while others are as long as 20 pages, but all feel much bigger on the inside, as the saying goes. And all of them went some way towards helping me fall a little bit back in love with humanity. I’m glad I’m not legally required to pick a favorite Hopkinson; between Brown Girl in the Ring, Salt Roads, Midnight Robber, and Falling in Love with Hominids, it’s an impossible choice. For those looking for a starting place to her work, this is a perfect entry point; for current fans, it’s a must not miss.

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.

May the Force be with you,