Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships July 5

Happy Friday from your host, Alex, and nothing but respect for my pink-haired queen, Megan Rapinoe. (Look, I don’t even go there and I’m super jazzed about the World Cup final on Sunday.) If you want some hilarious and beautiful non-genre reading, may I suggest: So the President F*cking Hates My Girlfriend by Sue Bird. And now it’s time for the genre news!

By the way, if you’ll be around the North American Science Fiction Convention taking place in Layton, Utah this weekend, say “Hi!” if you see me!

This newsletter is sponsored by Tor Books.

a light brown-skinned woman with dark eyes lined in kohl wears a green horned helmet and looks directly out at the viewer, against a starry backdropVivian Liao is prone to radical thinking, quick decision-making, and reckless action. Her enemies want to destroy her and her legacy. So, Viv puts a plan into motion, one that will allow her to save the world…by conquering it.

Instead she’s catapulted through space and time to a far future ruled by an ancient, powerful Empress. Trapped between a horde of sentient machines and a fanatical sect of warrior monks, Viv must rally a strange group of allies to confront the Empress and find a way back to the world and life she left behind.

News and Views 

I was super excited to see Comma Press tweet about the first anthology of science fiction from Palestine, edited by Basma Ghalayini. Palestine+100 isn’t available on American Amazon yet, but you can order through the publisher. The concept of the book, imagining futures 100 years after the Nakba, is sibling to the publisher’s 2016 anthology Iraq +100.

An amazing essay about The Good Place and the meta ways it relates to privilege and our current social issues.

Blackfish City won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science fiction novel published in 2018.

About Gori and Washimi’s bad bitch walk in Aggretsuko.

Harry Potter prequel series is coming to television.

Dystopian YA never left, despite what Hollywood seems to think.

A new quarterly fantasy digest magazine with Mercedes Lackey editing will be launching soon via Kickstarter, with the Kickstarter intended to be a one-time thing. (This news via Jason Sanford’s Genre Grapevine column on Patreon.)

The newest episode of the SFF Yeah! podcast is about clones, twins, and doppelgängers.

Ars Technica takes a longitudinal look at the costuming of Spider-man, with Far From Home in consideration.

Halle Bailey will be playing Ariel in the live-action The Little Mermaid, and I’m excited! (Though I’ll admit, I first misread that as Halle Berry and I was so confused.) Cue the sound of a million Twitter racists who never gave a crap about The Little Mermaid suddenly being Very Concerned.

Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series will be directed by J.A. Bayona, who directed Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

A Reddit user put together a list of the top 100 most discussed fantasy books on Reddit from 2018-2019.

Ever wondered why fireworks just don’t look great on TV? Wired has the answer.

London is considering what sounds to add to its electric buses so people can actually hear them. The current array under discussion is “spaceshippy.”

Stranger Things Corner

Read with caution if you haven’t watched the full season in the three whole seconds it’s been out.

Very helpful: Everything you need to remember about seasons 1 and 2.

The 10 strangest things about season 3.

How the show mastered smudgeless eye make up in pool scenes.

Every pop culture reference Vulture could find.

A not-too-spoilery review of the whole season.

Free Association Friday

July 5 is an important nerd day. Do you know why? It’s the glorious day in 1687 when Isaac Newton (long before he was an official Sir) published Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica and laid the groundwork (if not the language we’re familiar with) for calculus, to the delight of some (like me) and the despair of others. (It’s also the dragon Temeraire‘s favorite book.)

Math is its own kind of magic, whether you understand it or not, and it gets weirder the more purely you get into the discipline. So let’s talk math magic! In Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang, math is a superpower that lets Cas Russell dodge bullets and kick ass. (You can pre-order the sequel Null Set now.) Math is destructive space opera magic in Yoon Ha Lee’s Nine Fox Gambit.

Mathematical equations allow magical travel in The Phantom Tollbooth. It’s used to similar effect in Ellen Klages’s Passing Strange, and becomes a tool to save desperate people in 1940s Europe. Math becomes magic in Mandelbrot the Magnificent by Liz Ziemska, which is based on the real life of Benoit Mandelbrot.

And there’s a million science fiction books about math (not all of which are about orbital mechanics) but that’s a subject for another time!

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 over at my personal site.