Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships August 2

Happy Friday, shipmates! We all made it, and your reward from Captain Alex is an odd grab bag of news and some free association of novels. Oh, and if you need an end-of-the-week pick-me-up, I heartily recommend the #TerribleMCUCasting hashtag on Twitter.

News and Views

Harry Potter turned 39 on Wednesday.

Author Sherrilyn Keynon dropped her lawsuit against her husband.

Black Nerd Problems has a really great, deep look at David Mogo, Godhunter.

Ada Hoffman (author of The Outside) wrote a great essay about portrayals of disability in Star Wars.

And this is one heck of a question: Too many Star Wars books, or not enough?

There’s a documentary about Ursula K. Le Guin coming to PBS on August 2.

Jaimie Alexander is volunteering for Sif to be Valkyrie’s queen and all I can say is YES. (How about a love triangle where no one loses?)

Madeline Miller’s Circe is coming to HBO.

The creator of Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski’s autobiography, Becoming Superman, just came out, and he talked to SyFy Wire about it.

Fast Color is going to go from being a movie to a series on Amazon!

And there’s a new Dungeons and Dragons movie coming? (Insert uncertainface here.)

An interesting examination of Stranger Things as uniquely suburban horror.

From, a great roundup of short fiction from July.

I am excited about seeing Lupita Nyongo’o in the zomcom Little Monsters.

This ancient Roman stylus shows that gifts from tourists really haven’t changed in 2000 years.

It’s been a big week for fossils. A triceratops skull was found in the North Dakota Badlands by a university student. And an 1,100 lb sauropod bone got dug up in southwestern France. And a little Chinese boy found fossilized dinosaur eggs.

Free Association Friday

So today in history, Emperor Majorian got arrested in 461 and deposed… but when I first read that name, I read it as “Majoran” which became “Majora” in my head, and instantly I was thinking about Majora’s Mask and it’s brain-bending countdown and world-salvaging time loop.

The first thing I leapt to was trying to figure out books that use the sort of screaming-tension countdown that has made Majora’s Mask a popular meme. And… my finite knowledge and google skills kind of failed me, I admit. It’s a device I used in one of my own books (Blood Binds the Pack if you’ll forgive the shameless plug) but it’s not really so explicit as an on-the-page countdown in much of anything else. There are definitely some books with tight timelines! Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen has a pretty ramped-up timeline that involves time travel at the end of the book. Arkady Martine’s A Memory Called Empire has a pretty implicit, tight timeline that kicks in partway through the book, which I will not spoil here. And so on.

But time loops? There’s a lot of fun books with time loops… though most of those are triggered by the death of the protagonist rather than a deliberate choice to use an Ocarina of Time-esque MacGuffin. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver reminds me a lot of Happy Death Day, except without the serial killer. The timeloop in Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds is driven by love. All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka has humans and aliens battling it out over who will figure out how to win the timeloop first. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North is perhaps the most Majora’s Mask-esque, with a timeloop that is one step closer to the apocalypse every time it triggers.

In a slightly different vein, Mur Lafferty’s Six Wakes has not so much a timeloop as a… clone loop. And the characters have to figure out what is going on before they run out of clones. And Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde is a fun riff on the infinite lives of video games, which become their own kind of weird timeloop for players.

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.