Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for March 20: Irish SFF Showcase

Happy Friday shipmates! It’s Alex, with some news and some suggestions for escapism if you, like me, are now basically trapped in your house. And if you’re unable to work from home, please be safe and stay healthy!

In non-SFF news of things that made me happy:

The Dropkick Murphys live-streamed their annual St. Patrick’s Day show since concerts aren’t actually compatible with social distancing–and it’s still available to watch even if it’s no longer live. Finding a solution that welcomes even more people in? Very punk.

In the absence of visitors, the Shedd Aquarium has let its rockhopper penguins wander the facility.

News and Views

Read A Guide for Working Breeds by Vina Jie-Min Prasad, originally from Made to Order: Robots and Revolution.

Subterranean Press is going to be doing a limited edition of N.K. Jemisin’s How Long ’til Black Future Month?.

Birds of Prey will be releasing on digital early!

If you’re curious what SFF shows have halted production due to Covid-19, has the current list.

Aliens are the size of polar bears (probably)

Screen Rant has 10 Godzilla myths fans should let go of, already

In Plots That Would Get Pooh-Poohed as Unrealistic if They Happened in a Novel, a cartoonishly evil firm is trying to block Covid-19 tests using… Theranos patents?

Slime mold and dark matter? Sure, why not.

On Book Riot

20 Must-Read Feel-Good Fantasies

5 Matriarchal Worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy

A Game of Heirs: 9 Books Featuring Female Leads Battling for the Crown

Folktales, Myths, and Legends: 10 Middle Grade Mythology Novels

Free Association Friday: Irish SFF Showcase

It’s St. Patrick’s day week, so what could be more appropriate than a look at science fiction and fantasy written by Irish authors? Since this is entirely authors from Ireland, the list isn’t as racially diverse as we normally aim for–and unfortunately while there’s actually a lot of SFF written in gaelic, trying to find copies available from the US is a different matter. This is by no means an exhaustive list–I’ve actually aimed for authors who I hadn’t heard of before researching this.

First off, Dublin 2019 (last year’s WorldCon) has a great guide you can download for a quick overview of Irish science fiction and fantasy.  The guide was written by Jack Fennell, who has written an entire book about Irish Science Fiction. He’s also edited an anthology of classic Irish short SFF fiction called A Brilliant Void.

Probably the oldest, most famous Irish you-can-die-on-the-hill-that-it’s-actually-SFF is Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. But for another older offering, check out History of a World of Immortals Without a God by Jane Barlow. It’s about a misanthropist from Earth going to Venus and plunging its immortal inhabitants into eternal despair.

Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin – Nell is a young woman who lives in a near future where society was almost wiped out by a plague that may or may not have been set off by computers, and in its aftermath, most humans are missing body parts. Nell herself has an artificial heart that’s kept her alive since birth. Nell struggles to connect to others, and lacking friends, decides that she’ll build herself a robotic companion from “spare” parts that might belong to other people. (And you bet, it’s a homage to Frankenstein.)

Dark Paradise by Catherine Brophy – On a planet called Zintilla, humans have evolved into two almost entirely separate species; regular humans who live in the wilderness, and “Crystal Beings” who live under the artificial cover of “the Cowl.” The Crystal Beings have no legs or reproductive organs and abhor emotions as being too chaotic. A group of young Crystal Beings join forces with the regular humans to end the hegemony that controls their society.

The Ragged Astronauts by Bob Shaw – Start of a trilogy that’s considered to be Shaw’s masterwork; the story is set on twin planets that are improbably connected by a column of atmosphere. One of the planets has no metals whatsoever, so infrastructure and technology are built using a kind of wood called brakka, which is now running out. Worse, the jellyfish-like animals that live symbiotically with the trees are getting ticked about it and have started hunting the humans. Humanity’s only hope is to abandon their planet and try to reach the other.

Beginning Operations: A Sector General Omnibus by James White – If you’re looking for space opera mixed with medical drama, come and get it. Sector General is a massive, 384-level hospital space station out on the Galactic Rim. Human and Alien medicine meet, weird things happen, new species are found. It’s delightful fun. (And if you want to see James White at his absolutely, unapologetically angriest, get your hands on a copy of Underkill, which is a satire set in a disguised but recgonizeable Northern Ireland.)

The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan – Wynter Moorehawke returns home to care for her dying father and finds that things have changed horrifically in her absence. The king she once loved has become a violent despot and his son and heir Alberon has been forced to flee. Razi, Alberon’s half brother and Wynter’s friend, has been elevated to his own throne and is struggling with the violent demands of the king and trying to remain loyal to his friends. The choices Wynter faces between loyalty and love, will decide the fate of everyone.

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.