Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for March 6: The SFF Abides

Happy Friday, shipmates! We made it to the weekend, believe it or not. Your reward is some news items and books from me, Alex. And I promise that this next bit is the only mention of virus-related things there will be.

Public service announcement: How to clean your smart phone the right way, according to Wired. Also, hand washing advice from Lady Macbeth. Or, alternate songs you can sing the chorus of to keep the soap going for 20 seconds.

News and Views

To get ready for The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin, reread the short story that kicked it off: The City Born Great

An illustrated edition of Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales is coming.

Starting March 8, you can download’s Nevertheless, She Persisted for free!

MIT Press has reissued some of Stanisław Lem’s less well known work.

How much does accuracy matter in an adaptation? (I’m guessing this was prompted by the not entirely crowd-pleasing Artemis Fowl trailer.)

If you’re in a board game mood, there’s Harry Potter: House Cup Competition, which is a worker placement game.

Really cool: ConZealand has announced a scholarship to help marginalized fans attend.

Season 1 of The Witcher in 20 seconds.

Daniel Radcliffe talks about his new movie… and how glad he is that the Harry Potter actors weren’t online as much in their day as the Stranger Things crew is now.

A planetary scientist ranks the “ringed planet” emojis. 

SETI@Home is ending. 🙁

On Book Riot

This week’s SFF Yeah! podcast features favorite Star Trek and Star Wars books.

Which Queer YA Fantasy Couple Do You Ship?

Free Association Friday: The SFF Abides

I had to think a lot about what to do for this Free Association Friday. Then I discovered March 6 is “The Day of the Dude,” celebrating the anniversary of the release of The Big Lebowski and the easygoing philosophy of the Dude himself.

Protagonists in SFF tend to be a lot more… kinetic than the Dude, let’s be honest. A laid-back slacker is kind of fun to watch on screen, but maybe less arresting to read about. But there are some books about hapless small-timers or downright schmoes who just want to be left to their own business… and then big things happen to them. In order of least dude-like to most dude-like:

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Casiopea works too hard to be called a slacker, but she has a very ordinary life, taking care of her ailing grandfather, and hoping that at some point she can get out of her small town in southern Mexico and have some jazz-age-fun in the big city. Then she accidentally wakes up the Mayan god of death, and he’s out for revenge, and she gets dragged along.

Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines – Mops is just a regular ol’ space janitor, trying to keep her Earth Mercenary Corps ship clean when a bioweapon attack takes out almost the entire crew. Suddenly Mops and her intrepid band of sanitation specialists have to figure out how to pilot a ship, care for the survivors of the crew, and then unravel the galaxy-shaking mystery of just what happened to humans many years ago when the aliens showed up to invite Earth to join their alliance and things went unexpectedly to hell.

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty – Nahri isn’t a slacker as such, but she’s a con woman and a swindler who’s enjoying her life extracting money from Ottoman nobles. Then she accidentally summons an [incredibly hot] djinn warrior named Dara, and his very existence forces her to reassess her basic disbelief in magic. And that’s just the beginning of how Nahri’s life and knowledge of herself are about to be turned upside-down.

the rage of dragonsThe Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter – While this is a book absolutely packed full of intense combat, the main character, Tau, has a very humble beginning where he aspires to nothing more than getting injured–but not too injured–at the start of his warrior training so he can go home, live out a peaceful life, and hopefully marry the girl he likes. As you can imagine, fate has other ideas in store for him, and his path goes to a very bloody and dark place.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells – Poor Murderbot. A sophisticated security android that has hacked its own security module, all it really wants is to be left in peace to watch soap operas. But the humans around it keep getting in trouble, and then the Company keeps trying to murder them all, and it’s just a massive amount of fuss.

qualitylandQualityland by Marc-Uwe Kling – Peter Jobless is not, in fact, jobless–that was his dad–but he’s definitely not anyone important, and he’s totally fine with that. He just wants to be left alone to scrap defective machines… except he can’t bring himself to scrap some of them, and unwittingly, he’s becoming the leader of a band of robotic misfits. Even that’s not such a big deal. The real problem is that the infallible algorithms of TheShop have sent him something, and he doesn’t want it. And then he tries to return it. And then all hell breaks loose.

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.