Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships May 28

Tuesday, Tuesday, Tuesday! In this corner, we have new releases, facing off with our every-newsletter feature of news and views! Whose cuisine will reign supreme? It’s Alex, with some horribly muddled pop culture references, books, and news–so much news!

This newsletter is sponsored by Alfred A. Knopf, publisher of Exhalation by Ted Chiang.

From the acclaimed author of Stories of Your Life and Others—the basis for the film Arrival—comes a groundbreaking short fiction collection, tackling some of humanity’s oldest questions along with new quandaries only Ted Chiang could imagine.

A portal through time forces a fabric seller in Baghdad to grapple with past mistakes and second chances. An alien scientist makes a shocking discovery with universal ramifications. The ability to glimpse into alternate universes necessitates a radical examination of choice and free will. Including all-new stories as well as classic uncollected works, Exhalation is Ted Chiang at his best: profound, sympathetic, and revelatory.

New Releases

Five Unicorn Flush by TJ Berry – Sequel to Space Unicorn Blues, where interstellar travel is powered by unicorn horns; as you can imagine, it sucks to be a unicorn.

The Red-Stained Wings by Elizabeth Bear – sequel to The Stone in the Skull.

Longer by Michael Blumlein – In a universe where the wealthy can reboot themselves to a younger age twice–but not three times–married research scientists Gunjita and Cav have a problem. One of them is on their second and final reboot; one of them is not.

Lent by Jo Walton – Girolamo Savanarola seems to always be miraculously at the right place at the right time to change the course of history.

Walking to Aldebaran by Adrian Tchaikovsky – An astronaut has been separated from his expedition in a freak accident, and is now lost and alone in an alien artifact.

The Gameshouse by Claire North – The Gameshouse is a place where any game can be played… at any stakes. Including at the scale of empires.

The Quanderhorn Xperimentations by Rob Grand and Andrew Marshall – I think this bit of the back cover copy says it all: “England, 1952. A time of peace, regeneration and hope. A Golden Age. Unfortunately, it’s been 1952 for the past 65 years.”

The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg – The Kingdom is an immersive fantasy theme park created by bioengineering and technology; Ana is one the park’s creations, a perfect princess. She falls in love with a park employee… and then is accused of his murder.

News and Views

Happy belated Towel Day! Ever wondered what Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy character you’re most like? We’ve got a quiz for that.

Stranger Things has an absolutely gorgeous new art book coming out, and io9 has some images.

On the dubious origins of “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp.” And on the topic of fairy tales, an argument that Ever After is one of the best adaptations out there.

More Hidden Figures: Two women programmers and the birth of chaos theory.

Scientists think they may have found extraterrestrial organic matter from carbon-rich meteorites mixed with spinels in a 3.3 billion-year-old sedimentary layer.

Also in cool science news: An Iron-age shield made out of bark has been found.

Speaking of wood, this chemically-altered wood may have some exciting applications for fighting climate change.

A deeper look at what star ratings on Amazon actually mean.

Taika Waititi is going to be directing the live-action Akira movie? (On one hand, he has earned my trust. On the other hand, that’s… real different from all of his other work I’ve seen.) collected a list of 13 optimistic fantasy novels.

James D. Nicoll writes about the inevitable trend of older SF books being forgotten.

An fascinating examination of Game of Thrones and the real historical conflicts that it mirrors.

Oh, and George R.R. Martin has at least jokingly indicated a timeline for The Winds of Winter.

Some scientists have attempted to model the tectonic history of Westeros and Essos.

One more Game of Thrones thing because this made me laugh. During filming, Jon Snow was the subject of some hilarious script directions.

Celebrating Alien‘s 40th anniversary with a Lego sculpture.

Inspector Gadget as a refutation of transhumanism.

Director Xavier Dolan called out the film industry for marking films as “gay” like it’s a distinct genre, and not heterosexual. Applies to book world too, I feel like.

On the hotness of beards.

Book Riot roundup of fashion at the Nebula Awards.

Rotten Tomatoes is making it harder for whiny manbabies to manipulate movie ratings.

If you feel like being punched in the heart, here’s a bit about the incorporation of Carrie Fisher into The Rise of Skywalker.

See you, space pirates. You can find all of the books recommended in this newsletter on a handy Goodreads shelf. If you’d like to know more about my secret plans to dominate the seas and skies, you can catch me on the (Hugo-nominated!!!) Skiffy and Fanty Podcast or over at my personal site.