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The Nightjar by Deborah Hewitt is a stunning contemporary fantasy debut about a magical London hidden behind the bustling modern city we know. Alice has been plagued by visions of birds her whole life—she’s an “aviarist”: capable of seeing nightjars, magical birds that guard souls. When her best friend is hit by a car, only Alice can find and save her nightjar.
At the Rookery, Alice hones her newfound talents. But a faction intent on annihilating magic users will stop at nothing to destroy her. Alice must risk everything to save her friend—and uncover the truth about herself.
Happy Friday, shipmates! It’s Captain Alex, with some SFF news and a randomly-generated list of books, so I hope you’re ready. But first, I want to share with you my favorite tweet of the week. I don’t know, I just giggle every time I look at it.
News and Views
A24 is making an Earthsea series that was approved by Ursula K. Le Guin.
This week’s SFF Yeah! is about discovering the backlist of your new favorite authors.
Harley Quinn is so fuckin’ over clowns.
A really great essay about female characters and masculine modes of power.
Why hopeful prequels to dark stories matter. (Spoiler warning for The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance)
The Uncanny Magazine team has posted their Hugo acceptance speeches and they’re well worth a read–particularly Elsa Sjunneson-Henry’s.
Rena Barron on how Black (as in of the African diaspora) Magic inspired her new book, Kingdom of Souls.
I have so many feelings about the trailer for the 26th Season box set of Doctor Who. (Ace should totally get to meet the 13th Doctor. WHO’S WITH ME?)
And speaking of Doctor Who, goodbye, Terrance Dicks. You made my childhood immeasurably better with the show you helped write.
Winners of the Dragon Awards were announced.
There’s a couple of days left to back this IndieGogo for translating The Road of Ice and Salt, a vampire novella by Mexican author José Luis Zárate. The campaign is being run by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (author of Gods of Jade and Shadow).
If you’re looking for an anthology to Kickstart, this one looks pretty cool: Glitter + Ashes, an anthology about queer joy and community in the face of disaster.
In the wake of the Campbell Award having its name change, there’s been discussion (started by Natalie Luhrs) driven largely by the disabled community that it’s high time the Tiptree was renamed as well. The Motherboard’s response here.
The history and science behind why we’re afraid of clowns.
Free Association Friday
I took my first shot at commuting home from work on my bicycle. It’s a 21-mile trip, so not something I can do every day, and I’m definitely not up to a round trip at this time. But I survived and I’m feeling pretty good, so I want to have some science fiction with bikes.
The thing is, though, there’s not a whole lot of bicycles prominently placed in SFF, which I think is a travesty. The absolute number one best book though is Witchmark by C.L. Polk, which not only has a bicycle on the cover to let you know what’s coming… but has actual magical bicycle chases! Give it a read, and you’ll instantly know that the writer has some serious cycling experience.
There are some cute, non-central-to-the-action bicycle scenes in both Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens (in which Anathema Device actually names her bike!) and Robin McKinley’s Sunshine. Because characters have to get around somehow, even if they don’t have a car.
The bicycle also has a long-time presence in dystopian fiction. It can be a way to generate power, classically seen in Harry Harrison’s Make Room! Make Room!, which also gave us Soylent. S.M. Stirling’s Emberverse series (starts with Dies the Fire) has undead armies on downhill bikes. So, you know. Good stuff.
Stanslav Lem’s The Star Diaries have weird, invented, nonsense bicycles drawn by the author. And in my search for more books that involve bicycles, I came across an entire series of feminist science fiction anthologies that start with Bikes in Space. Check out the whole series on the publisher page.
It’s not SFF, but I think my favorite book with lots of bicycling in it is Mark Oshiro’s Anger is a Gift. Or for something non-book but rainbow-colored and ridiculous, I cannot recommend the movie Turbo Kid strongly enough. Just check out the trailer.
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.