Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships July 19

Happy Friday, book friends! You made it–and for those of you that survived the hideous heatwave, extra congratulations and electrolytes to you. It’s your ship captain, Alex, with news and fun stuff for Friday–and I come bearing congratulations to Team Japan, which won the Heavy Metal Knitting World Championship in Finland last week. (Coincidentally, that phrase is the most Finland thing I’ve read all year.)

This newsletter is sponsored by Sourcebooks.

a pale woman with dark hair wearing a sleeveless lace-up top stands facing the viewer. behind her, shrouded in mist, is a giant blue tinted tiger-ish face with yellow stripes and eyes.Exiled Charmer Leena Edenfrell is running out of time. Empty pockets forced her to sell her beloved magical beasts—an offense punishable by death—and now there’s a price on her head. With the realm’s most talented murderer-for-hire nipping at her heels, Leena makes Noc an offer he can’t refuse: powerful mythical creatures in exchange for her life.

Plagued by a curse that kills everyone he loves, Noc agrees to Leena’s terms in hopes of finding a cure. Never mind that the dark magic binding the assassin’s oath will eventually force him to choose between Leena’s continued survival…and his own.

News and Views

Tade Thompson just won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for his novel Rosewater!

Congratulations to the 2018 Shirley Jackson Award winners! Of particular interest to us are:

Argh, right in the nostalgia! There’s a sequel to The Last Starfighter in development, 35 years later.

Over at the SFF Yeah! podcast, they’re talking audio dramas and fiction podcasts.

The good news: Taika Waititi is back for Thor 4! The bad news: Live-action, Asian-cast Akira is dead and the studio excuse is B A D.

Mary Robinette Kowal and Ken Liu have some beautiful things to say about the Apollo 11 moon landing.  Kowal also just wrote a really good piece about the way unconscious gender bias is hampering female astronauts.

We’ve got a massive list of portal fantasy books for your perusal at Book Riot.

There’s a Harry Potter fashion collection debuting at SDCC.

An interview with Duncan Jones about his still-relevant-and-amazing film Moon.

Game of Thrones bags 32 Emmy nominations, which is a new record.

Free Association Friday

Look, three days ago it was the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon landing, and it’s still on my mind. If you’re the slightest bit into space history and you haven’t seen the new documentary that came out this year in honor of Apollo 11–called, simply Apollo 11–do yourself a favor and make it happen. It’s one that definitely belongs on the big screen.

But what about books, you ask? I’m so glad that you did? I know I’ve mentioned it several times before because I freaking love this book, but The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal are perfect books to read in this anniversary year. Mary’s also been putting all of her lady astronaut research to good use, like I mentioned above, writing about the challenges women have and still face trying to get into space. Another alternate history, Nigerians in Space by Deji Bryce Olukotun, is close to my heart because it’s about a lunar geologist.

But rather than focusing just on our moon, I want to talk space exploration instead, because that’s in the real spirit of the anniversary. So this’ll be a science-fiction heavy Friday. I promise next week it’ll be a whole lot of fantasy! I have to mention a couple of classics that have a major place in my heart: Heinlein’s Have Space Suit, Will Travel, which is a cute and fun adventure story that’ll teach you more about space suits than you ever wanted to know, and Frederick Pohl’s Gateway, which is one of those rare older SF books that still really holds up when you read it today–and it’s about exploration roulette using the technology of long-vanished aliens.

Newer, James S.A. Corey’s The Expanse series, which starts at Leviathan Wakes, is space exploration with a hefty helping of human political intrigue. (Warning: I bounced pretty hard off the first book, but I don’t regret my choice to give the series a second chance with Caliban’s War, which is much better to its female characters.) Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion gives us space exploration in a decaying fleet that’s a necessity for survival. The Wanderers by Meg Howrey delivers a story about three astronauts training (on Earth) for the first mission to Mars.

If you want something a little more on the fantastical side, how about Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente, about a documentary filmmaker in a fantastical solar system. Nalo Hopkinson’s Midnight Robber gives us an expansive universe with alternate dimensions to explore–or escape into.

There’s also a great list of 50 Must-Read Book Set in Space for your perusal at Book Riot, if you’re wanting more emphasis on the space part of the equation!

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.