Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for November 15

Happy Friday, shipmates! We survived the week–or maybe it’s just my ghost writing this to you. It’s possible, right? This is Alex, with some Friday news and a few book recommendations to take you into the weekend. But before we start, it’s not SFF, yet I feel compelled to share Jennifer Nettles’s very pointed CMA red carpet look.

News and Views

For N.K. Jemisin, world-building is a lesson in oppression. And you can watch her full Wired25 session at the link. (Also, I just have to plug How Long ‘Til Black Future Month.)

You can read an excerpt from Malka Older’s …and Other Disasters.

I found this piece about Samuel R. Delaney’s Babel-17 really interesting: Language, Warfare, and the Brain as a Computer

Machine of Death the anthology has become a… game?

How did I not now about Young People Read Old SFF before now?

Netflix has renewed The Witcher for a second season.

The version of A New Hope on Disney+ has yet another version of Han versus Greedo.

Amazon has ordered an adaptation of William Gibson’s novel The Peripheral.

An interview with the director of the Doctor Sleep adaptation, about finding hope in bleak stories.

The silver-backed chevrotain, thought to be extinct, has been spotted in Vietnam. It looks like something straight out of the Eocene to me.

On Book Riot

This week’s SFF Yeah! is about roadtrip-ready audiobooks.

PREACH! Why Leia has always been the main character of Star Wars to me.

Matching Book Quotes to Each Hogwarts House

And related: 18 adorable Harry Potter pajamas for the whole family

Also: 50+ of the most magical DIY Harry Potter crafts

What is a Warlock? And other types of magic users.

Free Association Friday

We’re officially halfway through November… which if you’re like me and you did something terrible in a previous life, means you should be around 25,000 words on your National Novel Writing Month project. I feel like we all deserve a book-themed pick-me-up and encouragement—and those not doing the word count slog might want a book recommendation or two—so let’s look at three SFF novels that started their lives as messy, ugly, NaNoWriMo babies.

the night circusMy number one choice has to be The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern. It’s a gorgeous, atmospheric book with a fascinating, subtle plot that involves a very aesthetically lush circus. And it started out as an atmospheric book without much of a plot at all, according to the author. She started in one NaNo, and then worked on the book again over the next two, added 50K words to the circus each time before carving it into some kind of shape. Sometimes it takes a lot of revisions, a lot of added words, and several years of work, but it’s worth it in the end.

The Beautiful Land by Alan Averill is a fast-paced part-scifi part-horror book about a man stealing a time machine to save the life of the woman he’s loved since they were in school together—with the twist being that he invented the time machine in the first place and he has to steal it from a company that’s using it to alter history. Trying to belt out a novel in 30 days demands a breakneck writing pace, and that can make for a fast-paced book, too. Alan did a Q&A for NaNoWriMo.

And of course we all bow down before Marissa Meyer, who basically wrote all three of the novels for the Lunar Chronicles during one single NaNoWriMo. She was trying to win a contest… and the fact that she didn’t win the contest with like 150k of words that was a trilogy of books is literally making me sweat as I sit here and type this. As with The Night Circus, Cinder and its two sequels required a lot of post-November work, but they’re out there in the world now and doing pretty darn good for themselves.

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.