Categories
Swords and Spaceships

Poetic Lovecraftian Nightmares, Bad Witches, And Other New Releases

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! It’s Alex with your weekly selection of new releases to peruse and some links to check out. I had one of those rare weekends when nothing was scheduled and I just got to lollygag around, playing video games, reading, and riding my bicycle. It’s a nice feeling as we’re drawing toward the end of the summer. I hope that you have some equally relaxing and unstructured time off in your future! Stay safe out there, space pirates, and I’ll see you on Friday!

This is very much my particular fandom, but these 2 one page comics made me laugh so hard as a Destiny player: Ikora & Mithrax and Sjur & Mara

Let’s make the world a better place, together. Here’s somewhere to start: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ and anti-asianviolenceresources.carrd.co


New Releases

Cover of Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis

Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis

Katrell has been trying to keep herself and her unemployed mother afloat with her ability to talk to the dead, but it doesn’t pay as much as you’d think. And a new problem soon presents itself–she’s attracting attention from the dead side of the equation, and is being warned under no uncertain terms to stop. While she’s willing to play chicken with ghosts, when she accidentally raises someone from the dead, she realizes she might have a new business model — but it’s coming withe a price tag she doesn’t yet realize.

When Night Breaks by Janella Angeles

After losing the competition between magicians, Daron’s less concerned with his fall being town gossip and far more with the disappearance of Kallia, whom he’s fallen in love with — and is now quite probably in the hands of a dangerous rival magician. As he tries to find his way to her, Kallia has found herself in a world of mirrors, memories, and illusions, where she’s about to get offered more power than she can imagine, but at a devastating cost.

Cover of The Gauntlet and the Fist Beneath by Ian Green

The Gauntlet and the Fist Beneath by Ian Green

General Floré has sacrificed much as a warrior of the Stormguard Commandos, perpetrated horrors in the rotstorm that covers the ruins of the Empire she swore to defeat. But now she’s out and done fighting… until her daughter is kidnapped and taken across a land of monsters and ancient gods. If she’s to save her daughter and all her people, she’ll have to take up the Stormguard mantle again.

The Second Rebel by Linden A. Lewis

Astrid, now with her name remembered and her voice reclaimed, has dedicated herself to taking down the Sisterhood and destroying the aunts of the Gean religion. Hiro and Lito take up their own roles in the rebellion, searching for allies and separately undertaking dangerous missions. And back on Venus, Lito’s sister Luciana must try to survive under the thumb of Hiro’s father until her own opportunity to join the fight presents itself.

cover of the pariah by anthony ryan

The Pariah by Anthony Ryan

Alwyn was raised as an outlaw and was content to live freely in the woods with his fellow thieves… until a betrayal shatters his peace and sends him seeking vengeance as a soldier. Soon he finds himself under the command of Lady Courlain, a noblewoman who has visions of a coming demonic apocalypse — and as darkness gathers to oppose her, it becomes more of a question of how true these visions might be.

Can You Sign My Tentacle? by Brandon O’Brien

A book of Lovecraft-inspired poetic nightmares both cosmic and comic that explore monsters known by that name, and those hiding within racism, sexism, and violence.

News and Views

The second trailer for Foundation is out and it is very pretty.

Interview with Essa Hansen

Interview with Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Interview with Femi Fadugba

Cover reveal for the coming Octavia E. Butler biography

Cover reveal for Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Woman

When should writers return to old, abandoned work

Derek Tsang will be directing Netflix’s adaptation of The Three-Body Problem

Looks like there’s some cool stuff coming in Star Trek – The Original Series: A Celebration

And speaking of, a biopic about Gene Roddenberry is in the works

The AV Club talked to Kathryn Hahn

On Book Riot

Hook, line, and sinker: what makes a book an absorbing read?

This month you can enter to win a $250 Barnes & Noble gift card, a $100 gift card to a Black-owned bookstore, a pair of airpods pro, and a QWERKY keyboard.


See you, space pirates. 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.

Categories
Swords and Spaceships

The Best SFF Books of the Decade

Happy Friday, shipmates! It’s Alex, with your heading-for-the-weekend links and book deals and a challenge I set for myself that turned out to be way tougher than I anticipated. Have a great weekend, space pirates, stay safe, and I’ll see you on Tuesday!

Let’s make the world a better place, together. Here’s somewhere to start: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ and anti-asianviolenceresources.carrd.co


News and Views

NPR: We Asked, You Answered: Your 50 Favorite Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books of the Past Decade

Emily Wenstrom on Why We Need ADHD Representation in Fiction

The Importance of “Trash Fantasy”

Cixin Liu’s short stories are being adapted into graphic novel form

Chicken Feet and Fiery Skulls: Tales of the Russian Witch Baba Yaga

LeVar Burton will be hosting the 2021 National Book Festival broadcast on PBS

Soviet Sci-Fi Film and Different Modalities of Future Ecosystems

More Wheel of Time series news

Hans Zimmer Has Composed a Second Dune Score That You Can Download for Free

SFF eBook Deals

Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee for $0.99

The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood for $2.99

Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots for $1.99

On Book Riot

This week’s SFF Yeah! podcast is about fiction at the edge of SFF.

This month you can enter to win a $250 Barnes & Noble gift card, a $100 gift card to a Black-owned bookstore, a pair of airpods pro, and a QWERKY keyboard.

Free Association Friday: Faves From the Last Decade

I linked to NPR’s 50 Favorite SFF books from the last decade above, but since I’m the one writing this newsletter, so I get to be self-indulgent at times, I wanted to call out some of my favorites… though with a slight twist. I’m picking one from each year. So here we goooooooooo:

Cover of The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

2020

This was the easiest pick of the entire list, because this book is definitely my favorite of the the last decade, hands down, no contest. I still cannot get over what a beautiful read this book is, and that’s not even getting into the twists and turns of the parallel worlds and the people in them.

The Light Brigade cover

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley

2019

A year that made my choice very difficult because it was one hell of a time for SFF. Ultimately, this book won out because I am a sucker for time loop stories, and this takes what made All You Need Is Kill interesting and then gave it a twist by doing everything out of order, and it’s also such a scream of rage at systemic oppression. Beautiful.

an illustration of a spaceship with engines firing against a multicolored nebula background

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers

2018

This is my favorite of the Wayfarers series, and I think it’s one that stands on its own to be read. It’s about people finding their place in a changing society, and traditions, and it made me cry — not because I was sad, but because it was just beautiful.

cover of The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang

The Black Tides of Heaven by Neon Yang

2017

Another tough choice, considering this is also the year of All Systems Red by Martha Wells. But what Neon did with gender in this book and its companion volume (The Red Threads of Fortune) and the absolutely bonkers world they built has imprinted this book indelibly on me. And the rest of the series is great, too.

cover of lovecraft country

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

2016

I did not expect to like this book as much as I did when I read it, and it’s one I just devoured in about two days because I couldn’t put it down. The structure of the story is what makes it work so well, I think: they’re interconnected, self-referential standalone stories that give Lovecraft’s work another twist.

uprooted by naomi novik

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

2015

I just want you to know how hard this choice was, coming in from the year that also gave us The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. Ultimately, this book won out because I’ve reread it more times. Is that fair for criteria? This is my personal challenge, so yes.

cover of The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addision

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addision

2014

The only surprise about this selection, considering the number of times y’all have heard me go on about this book (and the number of times I’ve listened to the audio), is that it came out when? How has it been seven years? HOW?

Cover of The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord

The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord

2013

This is some Le Guin level storytelling, an intense look at a post-genocide refugee alien race coming to Earth and trying to make a new home, and told with some incredibly compelling characters in a great love story. Still not over it.

Cover of The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin

The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin

2012

Ancient Egyptian fantasy! A fairly rare sub-genre to begin with, but this is just such a rich book in character and description. It’s one of N.K. Jemisin’s earliest works, and her absolute writing talent still shines through.

Cover of The Kingdom of Gods by N.K. Jemisin

The Kingdom of Gods by N.K. Jemisin

2011

While putting the third book of a trilogy on a list is kind of a jerk move, I love every book in this trilogy to pieces, and the other two were published before 2011, so this is what you get. Start out with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and you can thank me later.


See you, space pirates. 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.

Categories
Swords and Spaceships

Flying Lions, Argentinian Werewolves, and Other New Releases

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! It’s Alex, with a selection of new releases for you to check out this week, and a few links to explore. Thanks to a shift in the prevailing winds, I actually got to go outside this weekend, which was pretty exciting — it’s the start of peach season in Colorado, too, so a perfect time to hit a farmer’s market. I hope you also had some clear air and mostly blue skies! Stay safe out there, space pirates, and I’ll see you on Friday.

Something to smile about today: Someone made a fake Netflix that’s populated by the fake movies and TV shows that exist only in other movies and tv shows: Nestflix

Let’s make the world a better place, together. Here’s somewhere to start: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ and anti-asianviolenceresources.carrd.co


New Releases

Empress of Flames by Mimi Yu

Princess Lu is still fighting for the imperial throne she knows is rightfully hers, while trying to keep her promise to Nok, the shapeshifting boy that she loves, and his people. But her final opponent is her greatest: her younger sister Min, now sitting on the throne, wielding ancient and unimaginable magic that might just consume her before she learns to control it. This epic sibling rivalry will cost one of them the throne — and maybe both of them their lives.

Cover of Reclaimed by Madeleine Roux

Reclaimed by Madeleine Roux

Senna, a woman with every reason to want to escape her past, has traveled to a facility on Ganymede for a chance to participate in a cutting-edge treatment, one that will erase her traumatic memories. But she quickly finds more than her traumas have disappeared; the side effects have her barely able to recognize herself or her life. With each day the disconnect growing worse, she must work with the other participants to figure out what’s gone wrong with all of them.

Requiem of Silence by L. Penelope

Despite growing opposition among the nobility and public, as well as rising economic problems, Queen Jasminda is determined to see unification through. But domestic opposition isn’t her only problem — the True Father has raised an undying army to attack her land, one that can only be stopped by Nethersong. A former assassin named Kyara and a novitiate named Zeli must each go on a dangerous mission if they’re to see this new world forged and survive its making.

Cover of The Endless Skies by Shannon Price

The Endless Skies by Shannon Price

At seventeen years old, Rowan has graduated from the brutal training that shows she is fit to be a guardian of Heliana, a floating city that is home to shapeshifting winged lions. But before she can take her oath and her place on the city walls, a mysterious disease begins to tear through Heliana’s children. Two of Rowan’s friends are sent to search for a cure; waiting for them at home, she discovers a truth that could cause the mission to fail if she doesn’t go against her orders and save her friends.

The Exiled Fleet by J.S. Dewes

After narrowly escaping the collapse of the Divide, the Sentinels have gathered their survivors and taken stock of what they have to work with: no engines, no way of calling for help, and only themselves. It’s up to Adequin Rake to gather a team to find the materials to get them out — and the allies that will save them from a ruthless enemy still on the hunt.

News and Views

Congratulations to the winners of the 2020 Shirley Jackson Awards!

A24 is screening The Green Knight online tomorrow night only.

Related: Chivalry and Medieval Ambiguity in The Green Knight

Reading With the Voice(s) in Our Heads

Interview with Nghi Vo, Shelley Parker-Chan, and Stephanie Ybarra

Interview with John Wiswell

Mythological creatures of Alaska

Black Riders: a Note on Scott and Tolkien

Camestros Felapton crunched some Dragon Award stats with the finalists for this year having been announced. And Cora Buhlert did a bit of analysis on the finalists.

The #DisneyMustPay Task Force has expanded its focus again

The most important story I’ve seen all week: The Suicide Squad‘s David Dastmalchian Has a Polka Dot Kitty Named Bubblegum

On Book Riot

Top 20 books like Six of Crows

10 life lessons from science fiction and fantasy

You have until tomorrow to enter to win a $100 ThriftBooks gift card!

This month you can enter to win a $250 Barnes & Noble gift card, a $100 gift card to a Black-owned bookstore, a pair of airpods pro, and a QWERKY keyboard.


See you, space pirates. 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.

Categories
Swords and Spaceships

What if? Alternate Histories

Happy Friday, shipmates! It’s Alex, with some alternate history SFF for you to check out. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready and eager to dive into the weekend and hopefully, maybe, if I’m lucky scrabble together the time to do some reading. I’m currently working on Savage Bounty by Matt Wallace (Matt and I have the same agent, FYI) and We Have Always Been Here by Lena Nguyen. If I can manage to finish one of these this week, I’ll feel pretty good about myself. Hope you have books just as good waiting for you! Stay safe out there, space pirates, and I’ll see you on Tuesday!

Something to smile about today: these two guys dancing

Let’s make the world a better place, together. Here’s somewhere to start: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ and anti-asianviolenceresources.carrd.co


News and Views

Fantastic Fiction will have Karen Lord and A.C. Wise for their reading series on August 18th! This will be streamed on YouTube.

Interview with John Wiswell

SyFy Wire talks to Saladin Ahmed

Six days left on Apex Magazine’s kickstarter

Benedict Cumberbatch Reads Kurt Vonnegut’s Letter of Advice to People Living in the Year 2088

A real world Witcher school in Poland?

In case you missed it, I love Nic Cage and everything he does

SFF eBook Deals

Binti: The Complete Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor for $1.99

Reset by Sarina Dahlan for $0.99

The Weight of a Thousand Oceans by Jillian Webster for free

On Book Riot

17 Star Wars Books for Kids

This week’s SFF Yeah! podcast is a potpourri of current favorite reads and news

Enter to win a copy of Sword and Stone Table edited by Swapna Krishna and Jenn Northington

This month you can enter to win a $250 Barnes & Noble gift card, a $100 gift card to a Black-owned bookstore, a pair of airpods pro, and a QWERKY keyboard.

Free Association Friday: What If?

Since Marvel decided to launch its animated fanfic of its own properties this week, I thought a “what if” theme for SFF would be appropriate, too! So here’s a selection of SFF that’s alternate history in one way or another. And if you’d like even more alternate worlds to read, check out this post over at Book Riot: 15 Great Alternate History Books

Cover of She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

What if the first Ming emperor was a woman? Set in 14th century China under the rule of the Mongolians, the daughter of a starving peasant family takes on the name and the destiny of her older brother after he dies of despair. She enters a monastery, pretending to be a male novice, and driven by her need to survive and the greatness that is hers in her brother’s place, leads a rebellion.

Everfair by Nisi Shawl

What if the native peoples of Africa developed steam power before their would-be colonial oppressors did? Everfair is a land created by Black people from many nations, “purchasing” land from King Leopold II to set aside as a safe haven and Utopia for the people of Congo and those who have escaped their enslavement in other nations. It becomes a place of international cultures and peaceful exploration where those who were silences in our version of the world fly airships and tell their stories.

Cover of Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

What if the Civil War ended when the dead began to rise from the killing fields of Gettysburg? This new America is a place where certain children (those governed by the Native and Negro Education Act) are forced to attend combat schools where they learn to put down the hungry dead. Jane is one such Attendant who, after graduating, returns to her home in Kentucky to ignore politics as much as possible… until families around her county start going missing.

Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis

What if Nazi experimentation had unlocked an even more horrifying weapon to be used in World War II: supernatural abilities? A British secret agent named Raybould Marsh discovers the Reich’s terrifying weapons and realizes he saw them tested before, during the Spanish Civil War. How to eliminated them and the research that created them is a mission of utmost importance to the Allies, barely clinging to survival. But the weapons are not mindless by a long shot. They have their own twisted plans: for the war — and for Raybould.

Cover of A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark

A Master of Djinn by P Djèlí Clark

What if, due to someone piercing the veil, Cairo became the center of the world in 1912 instead of London? The Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities’s youngest agent, Fatma el-Sha’arawi is called in on a case of the utmost import: the murder of an entire secret brotherhood dedicated to the man who opened the veil forty years ago. The twist? The murderer claims to be that man himself; true or not, the mere rumor sets Cairo into severe unrest. Fatma must restore peace to the city and unravel the imposter’s identity — at least she hopes he’s an imposter. Also check out The Haunting of Tram Car 015 for another book in this universe!

The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson

What if three enslaved women on the island of Saint Domingue summon the goddess Ezili into the physical world? The three women work their magic when burying a still born baby, summoning the goddess with the unused life. After traveling across space and time, Ezili turns her attention to her summoners and their suffering and plants in them the seeds of uprising.

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

What if a US senator’s bizarre plan to introduce hippos to the Mississippi River in the later 19th century had actually happened? You get mean-spirited, murderous mammals infesting the bayous of Louisiana, and an entire profession dedicated to wrangling them. This book tells the story of one such crew that braves the wrath of the hippos, and their pursuit of both wealth and revenge. (Full disclosure: Sarah Gailey and I share an agent.)

The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

What if the War in Heaven descended to Paris for its final, bloody chapters? The grand ruin of the city is still filled with magic and mayhem, with the houses of the fallen and the not making alliances and vying for survival while House Silverspires, ailing due to its long-missing founder Morningstar, may teeter over the edge and take the whole glorious wreck with it.


See you, space pirates. 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.

Categories
Swords and Spaceships

Getting the (Bounty Hunter) Band Back Together and Other New Releases

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! It’s Alex, with a selection of new releases and a few news items for you. My foray into the world of the garage sale went well over the weekend (I was excited to see how many people wanted to buy books!) but things took a downright post apocalyptic turn Saturday morning, when a change in the wind blew a massive amount of wildfire smoke over use. We’re talking yellow skin, dull orange sun, light looking pink on the concrete. It was a commonplace experience last year during wildfire season, and I’m not excited to see it back. I hope you’re staying safe out there, space pirates, and remember that N95s can filter out the smoke if it gets bad where you are. See you on Friday!

Let’s make the world a better place, together. Here’s somewhere to start: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ and anti-asianviolenceresources.carrd.co


New Releases

Cover of Under the Milky Way by Vanessa Barneveld

Under the Milky Way by Vanessa Barneveld

Dawson, Colorado, is a sleepy town where nothing happens, until Cassidy’s mom check’s into a “wellness center” for apparently no reason. And everyone continues to insist that nothing is happening when mysterious lights appear in the sky and people find themselves missing chunks of time. And the new boy in school, Hayden, starts to notice Cassidy… while she notices that everything weird going on seems to lead right back to him.

They Met in a Tavern by Elijah Menchaca

A group of former heroes known as the Starbreakers have long since gone their separate ways and built their own lives after the destruction of a city left them all blaming each other. But now bounty hunters are tracking them down and they have little choice to reunite if they want to protect what little they have left. After seven years, getting back together is even harder than breaking up, and they need to mend old wounds if they want to survive.

Cover of The Sisters of Reckoning by Charlotte Nicole Davies

The Sisters of Reckoning by Charlotte Nicole Davis

Now that the Good Luck Girls are free, most have crossed the border to pursue new lives, while Aster tries to help more girls escape. But when she finds out about a new welcome house opening, she decides that helping individuals isn’t enough. She hatches an ambitious and dangerous plan to free all dustbloods, and calls upon her friends to make it a reality.

The Rookery by Deborah Hewitt

Alice Wyndham has discovered within herself a magical ability–she can see souls. Now, she wishes to return to the Rookery, learn to use her magic, and discover the truth behind who she is. But barely-remembered secrets from her past threaten her plans and the Rookery is on the brink of destruction. To save her city and her people, there are more sacrifices she must make.

Cover of The Shimmering State by Meredith Westgate

The Shimmering State by Meredith Westgate

A new drug, Memoroxin, is undergoing testing as a treatment for Alzheimer’s. Unsurprisingly, this drug has also seen far more recreational use throughout Hollywood, with those who have abused it finding their memories deeply affected if not completely erased. Lucien, whose mother has Alzheimer’s, and Sophie, a ballerina who makes ends meet with waitressing, meet at a treatment facility for heavy users of Memoroxin. Inexplicably drawn to each other, they cannot remember anything that came before… such as how they might actually know each other.

The Body Scout by Lincoln Michel

Kobo is a scout for Big Pharma-owned baseball teams, scoping out the latest genetically-augmented players… but he’s barely scraping by and doesn’t have the money to update his own cybernetics while loan sharks are closing in. Then his brother gets murdered, and Kobo must level up to searching through an entirely new stratum of corruption and risk both his safety and sanity.

News and Views

Congratulations to the winners of the 2021 Sir Julius Vogel Awards!

Over at his Patreon, Charles Payseur rounded up a ton of queer short SFF published in July

Read Before Assembly: The Influence of Sci-Fi on Technology and Design

Martha Wells and Becky Chambers in conversation

Rankin designs covers for Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy

Arrakis Rippers: A Guide to Dune-inspired Metal

Interview with Adrian Tchaikovsky

Interview with John Appel

Young People Read Old SFF does Neutron Star by Larry Niven

The Tolkien Society has announced its Autumn Seminar

Writing Against the Grain: T. Kingfisher’s Feminist Mythopoeic Fantasy

On Book Riot

Hopepunk featuring creative solutions to the climate crisis

This month you can enter to win a $250 Barnes & Noble gift card, a $100 gift card to a Black-owned bookstore, a pair of airpods pro, and a QWERKY keyboard.


See you, space pirates. 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.

Categories
Swords and Spaceships

An East Asian SFF Smorgasbord

Happy Friday, shipmates! It’s Alex, with some news items to take you into the weekend and a list of some of my favorite SFF that’s been translated to English. My big adventure this coming weekend is I’m going to be attempting to clean out my closet via garage sale, including offloading some old books that I no longer want (including a seven book series by someone who shall not be named), which is a weird feeling after 2020. Hoping to see you on the other side with a bag of nickels and dimes and not too bad of a sunburn. Stay safe out there, space pirates, and I’ll see you next week for new releases!

Let’s make the world a better place, together. Here’s somewhere to start: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ and anti-asianviolenceresources.carrd.co


News and Views

Mercedes Lackey’s Valedmar series is finally getting a TV adaptation

Uncanny issue 41 has too many awesome essays in it to list them all here, so I’ll just link to the TOC

Seven Seas announced they will be translating three of Mo Xiang Tong Xiu’s novels (including the one on which The Untamed is based)

Rewriting the Tradition: Destiny and Diaspora in Shelley Parker-Chan’s She Who Became the Sun

Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings Series Sets 2022 Premiere With First Look at Tolkien Epic

Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children Series Is in Development at Paramount

SFF eBook Deals

Agency by William Gibson for $1.99

Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh for $1.99

Beowulf: A New Translation by Maria Dahvana Headley for $2.99

On Book Riot

Silkpunk: what is is & what it definitely is not

Coming of age in space stories for teens

This month you can enter to win a $250 Barnes & Noble gift card, a $100 gift card to a Black-owned bookstore, a pair of airpods pro, and a QWERKY keyboard.

Free Association Friday: East Asian SFF in Translation

In celebration of English translations coming for three of Mo Xiang Tong Xiu’s novels, I wanted to highlight some of my favorite Chinese SFF in translation… and then I got overenthusiastic and wanted to throw a few more novels in here that I also love that aren’t Chinese. So it’s an East Asian SFF in translation smorgasbord!

cover of Strange Beasts of China by Yan Ge

Strange Beasts of China by Yan Ge

The fictional Chinese city of Yong’an is occupied by both humans and an astounding array of cryptids who live alongside them, mostly hidden. An amateur cryptozoologist sets out to document each one of these beasts, and along that journey is drawn into a deeper mystery that asks her to question her very self.

Broken Stars edited and translated by Ken Liu

An anthology of contemporary Chinese science fiction short stories in translation, translated by the inimitable Ken Liu. It’s got three essays within as well, examining the state of Chinese sci-fi and the fandom that’s grown up around it.

Cover of A Hero Born by Jin Yong

A Hero Born by Jin Yong, translated by Anna Holmwood

I have seen Jin Yong called “the Brandon Sanderson of China” which I think honestly downplays his reach a little bit. This is the first volume of an excellent and very famous wuxia series — one that involves Genghis-freaking-Khan — and to the best of my knowledge, a completely excellent translation.

A Summer Beyond Your Reach by Xia Jia, translated by Ken Liu, Emily Jin, Carmen Yiling Yan, and R.F. Kuang

A collection of SFF short stories by Xia Jia, launched using a Kickstarter by Clarkesworld, which has featured some of her stories before. You can read five of her stories over at Clarkesworld for free, actually, to get a taste for why this is a must-have collection.

Cover of I'm Waiting For You by Kim Bo-Young

I’m Waiting For You by Kim Bo-Young, translated by Sophie Bowman

A science fiction collection from Kim Bo-Young, but it’s not quite the typical set of separate stories. Rather, it’s four stories in one volume — two pairs of linked stories. One set is about an engaged couple trying to coordinate their relationship and wedding through space and time. The other is about godlike alien beings for whom humans are mere extensions of their will — and a rebellion against that order is coming.

Vampire Hunter D by Hideyuki Kikuchi, translated by Kevin Leahy

This is actually the first of a new omnibus that contains the first three of the Vampire Hunter D novels. (And there are a lot of these novels.) It’s a bonkers post-apocalyptic far future with vampire lords and a gothic sensibility, where D is an incredibly hot guy who hunts vampires and solves mysteries. I love this whole series.

Cover of The Book of Heroes by Miyuki Miyabe

The Book of Heroes by Miyuki Miyabe, translated by Alexander O. Smith

When Yuriko’s brother gets in a fight with bullies, that’s bad enough. But then he disappears, and she finds a magical book in his room in his place — The Book of Heroes, which has possessed him. She must unravel the mystery of the book in order to save her brother and defeat the evil King in Yellow.

All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, translated by Joseph Reeder and Alexander O. Smith

The way-better-than-its-tepid-title-suggests film Edge of Tomorrow was based on this book, which is an excellent time loop action story about an alien invasion that the humans are fighting a losing battle against. And one of the new recruits, Keiji Kriya, gets sent back to the dawn of his final day alive every time he’s killed.


See you, space pirates. 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.

Categories
Swords and Spaceships

Were-Monkeys, USSR Mechas, and Other New Releases

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! It’s Alex with a selection of new releases for you this week, and some links for your perusal. On Friday, I mentioned I was going to see The Green Knight… and I’m here to report that it is amazing. Weird, stylish, gorgeous, and wall to wall excellent performances, though of course Dev Patel is the king in more ways than one. I cannot recommend this movie enough. While I love garbage franchise action movies probably a lot more than the next person, this one is still a desperately needed breath of fresh air for the genre in film. I hope you get a chance to see it! Stay safe out there, space pirates, and I’ll see you again on Friday.

Let’s make the world a better place, together. Here’s somewhere to start: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ and anti-asianviolenceresources.carrd.co


New Releases

Cover of Monkey Around by Jadie Jang

Monkey Around by Jadie Jang

Maya McQueen is a barista, activist, and… were-monkey, and she’s just trying to figure herself out in modern San Francisco. But with Occupy Wall Street coming home to roost in the Bay Area and disappearances of supernatural people and murders of shapeshifter shaking up her world, she needs to prioritize her most urgent problems and get them solved. Now. Before it’s too late. The good news is, solutions don’t have to be neat, which suits a monkey just fine.

The Hand of the Sun King by J.T. Greathouse

Wen Alder is torn between two legacies. On his father’s side, he’s expected to pass the Imperial exams, learn magic, and serve the Sienese Emperor by rising to become the Hand of the Emperor. On his mother’s side, there’s wild, uncontrolled magic and resistance to the empire, and his introduction comes from his rebellious grandmother. Faced with the choice between rebellion and obedience, he soon comes to realize that this war is not just for the humans, but the heavens as well, and he may be the key to victory.

Cover of The Great Destroyers by Caroline Tung Richmond

The Great Destroyers by Caroline Tung Richmond

Jo Linden lives in an alternate world where the nuclear bomb was never invented — and now wars are decided by giant, mechanical soldiers. The Cold War rages, and the USSR and US posture at each other at the Pax Games, which pits young mecha pilots against each other. After losing every competition since 1963, the US is desperate for a win, and this is the year to do it, with the President of the United States and the Premier of the USSR about to meet in peace talks. Jo, the child of a mecha mechanic, didn’t ever expect to compete at this level, but when she’s recruited at the last moment, she can’t say no. When the Pax Games turn deadly, she must unravel a political plot if she wants to save herself — and stave off world-ending war.

Holdout by Jeffrey Kluger

Model astronaut Walli Beckwith mystifies her colleagues and infuriates ground control when she refuses to leave the International Space Station in the wake of an accident that forces the evacuation of all her colleagues. But this is a matter too important for her to worry about the risk to her career; she sees the incident for what it is, and knows only she can save both a forgotten part of Earth and the person she loves most.

Cover of Saving Proxima by Travis S. Taylor and Les Johnson

Saving Proxima by Travis S. Taylor and Les Johnson

In 2072, Earth finally receives the signal that SETI has been searching for — a broadcast from Proxima Centauri. While nations across Earth debate how to go about first contact — if they respond at all — humanity learns that the Proximans are about to be killed by an extinction-level event. With an entire alien civilization at stake, humanity must figure out how to send help — and how to get there in time.

The Wild Ones by Nafiza Azad

The Wild Ones are girls who have seen the words of the world, girls who have gained access to the place of pure magic called the Between, girls who refuse to be silenced. Together, they will rescue Taraana, a boy with stars in his eyes who helped them gain their magic.

News and Views

July roundup of Indie Speculative Fiction

Exploring Nnedi Okorafor’s Africanfuturist Universe

A great interview with LeVar Burton (who is an SFF author, too! see: Aftermath)

Playing favorites with favorites, or, what we talk about when we talk about our favorite books

Pioneering sci-fi writer Octavia Butler joins a pantheon of futurists

Thoughts on fertility issues in science fiction

A horse by any other name: Anne McCaffrey’s dragons

Vintage ad for SFF books in the 40s & 50s

The Fantasy Hive has its week 4 wrap up for Women in SFF

A response to the backlash against the Tolkien Society Summer Seminar including diversity as a topic

What sci-fi novels can teach us about uncertainty

This Shimmering Black Rock Is a 2,000-Year-Old Exploded Brain

On Book Riot

9 Alone in Space Books

You should also check out 12 LGBTQIA YA Audiobooks to Listen to in the 2nd Half of 2021 — there are some SFF selections on there!


See you, space pirates. 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.

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Swords and Spaceships

Best British Fantasy Finalists

Happy Friday, shipmates! Wow, how the heck is this the last Friday of July already? Where did the month go??? It’s Alex, and I’ve got some neat award nominees to share with you, and some fun links for your edification. And I don’t know about you, but I am going to see The Green Knight tonight and I could not be more excited. I’ll shriek at you about it on Tuesday if it was as good as I expect it to be. Have a great weekend, and stay safe out there, space pirates.

Let’s make the world a better place, together. Here’s somewhere to start: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ and anti-asianviolenceresources.carrd.co


News and Views

Women, Worldbuilding, and Fantasy

Militaries plunder science fiction for technology ideas, but turn a blind eye to the genre’s social commentary

Q&A with Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

Interview with Silvia Moreno-Garcia

A24 will adapt Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower into a movie

Now we know what the guts of Mars look like

Because I still don’t know WTF I watched, you should also see the trailer for Lamb

Star Wars: The High Republic: Out of the Shadows author Justina Ireland explains why the Jedi are a little sexier

Were we wrong all along? Interspecies relations in CJ Cherryh’s Foreigner series

SFF eBook Deals

I’m Waiting for You by Kim Bo-Young for $1.99

The Bone Maker by Sarah Beth Durst for $1.99

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett for $1.99

On Book Riot

16 books like Red Queen

Rebellions, rivals, and ruthless rulers: 9 fantasy books with epic political intrigue

This week’s SFF Yeah! podcast contains a summer reading list

Register to win copies of The Last She by H.J. Nelson and Crossbones by Kimberly Vale

This month you can enter to win a $250 Barnes & Noble gift card, a Kindle Paperwhite, and a Kindle Oasis.

Free Association Friday: British Fantasy Finalists

This week we got to see the short list for the 2021 British Fantasy Awards, and there were a lot of books on there that you might not be familiar with from the other award shortlists. These are just the finalists for the Robert Holdstock Award, which is for Best Fantasy Novel.

NOTE: The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin is also a finalist for this award, and deservedly so, but I’ve left it out of the big list below because I’ve already expounded upon it multiple times in other finalist lists.

Cover of Threading the Labyrinth by Tiffani Angus

Threading the Labyrinth by Tiffani Angus

Toni leaves behind her failing gallery in New Mexico to come to England and inherit a manor house from a mysterious relative she never knew she had. Surrounded by overgrown gardens and a crumbling house, she submerges herself in the history of the house, learning about all the people who tended the gardens over the centuries. Soon she can see the ghosts in the changing garden and begins to understand the past that echos into her modern life from deep in the past.

Cover of Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

When the 19th is about to turn into the 20th century, there is no room for witches, and hasn’t been for quite some time. All the witches have been long since burned, and if a woman wants power now, she needs to fight for her suffrage. When the three Eastwood sisters join the suffrage movement in New Salem, they want not only this new power, but to reclaim what is old and forgotten. But their enemies aren’t just the misogynists that believe women have no place outside the home, but also those who will not suffer a witch to live… let alone vote.

Cover of Dark River by Rym Kechacha

Dark River by Rym Kechacha

A story of two mothers, 8000 years apart, struggling to save their children from the destructive future they see coming. In Doggerland, Shaye takes her family to a sacred oak grove to perform a ritual that she hopes will save them all–but what she discovers will cut her deeply. Shante flees a London threatened by climate change, trying to reach the north and the new opportunities is presents–but first she must survive a dangerous wilderness.

Cover of The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

The emperor’s mastery of bone shard magic has allowed him to rule for many decades, creating bone constructs to maintain his power. His daughter Lin vows to prove her worth when he refuses to recognize her as heir, and the path she sees to that is through mastering the bone shard magic of her father. When the revolution her father has been trying to suppress reaches the gates of the palace, it’s for Lin to decide what she will do to claim the throne–and save her people.

By Force Alone by Lavie Tidhar

A new telling of the Arthurian legend, where nothing you know is true. Arthur is an egotistical gangster promoted above his ability. Merlin is an otherworldly parasite. Excalibur is not a sword, but a shady arms deal with an even shadier dealer. And Britain? A garbage heap that Rome got out of as soon as it could.

…all right, maybe that last one is true, from a certain point of view.


See you, space pirates. 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.

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Swords and Spaceships

Solving Your Own Murder, Dragon Slaying, and Other New Releases

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! It’s Alex, with a selection of new releases and some fun links for you on this last Tuesday of July. I’m fresh back from a mini-vacation over the weekend, during which I visited my family, read a lot of books, ate a lot of cheese, and drank a lot of wine, so I’m feeling energized and ready to tackle the start of August. Here’s hoping you find a long weekend to get a little relaxing done out of the smokey air soon, too. Stay safe out there, space pirates, and I’ll see you on Friday!

Thing that made me laugh this week: The Two Guards

Let’s make the world a better place, together. Here’s somewhere to start: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ and anti-asianviolenceresources.carrd.co


New Releases

Cover of The River Has Teeth by Erica Waters

The River Has Teeth by Erica Waters

This is not the first time that girls have gone missing in the woods, but Natasha is determined that her sister will be the last. Following rumors of supposed witchcraft, she asks Della for magical help to bring her sister home. But Della has her own fears that center on the woods, ones she keeps carefully secret–she believes the beast that takes the girls might in fact be her own mother, transformed by a spell gone wrong. With little to lose, they are each other’s only hope.

Far Out: Recent Queer Science Fiction and Fantasy edited by Paula Guran

An anthology of science fiction and fantasy short stories from the last decade that includes a wide spectrum of queer identities and voices. Authors include Sam J. Miller, Amal El-Mohtar, Neon Yang, Charlie Jane Anders, and many more!

Cover of The Dying Squad by Adam Simcox

The Dying Squad by Adam Simcox

Detective Inspector Joe Lazarus thought he was going to take down a drug ring; instead, when he storms a farmhouse in Lincolnshire, he discovers his own corpse and a woman named Daisy-May who has some bad news and some good news for him. The bad news: yes, he’s dead, and she’s a spirit guide. The good news? She’s there to recruit him into the Dying Squad, a detective force of the recently dead, so at least his afterlife won’t be boring. His first mission: solve his own murder, and do it before his memories fade away to nothing.

Hold Fast Through the Fire by K.B. Wagers

The crew of Zuma’s Ghost, one of the Near-Earth Orbital Guard ships, has won the Boarding Games for their second year in a row, cementing their reputation as an absolutely unstoppable team. But in the wake of this victory, they find out their commander and their Master Chief are both retiring, so a change in dynamic is inevitable–but they get more disruption than they counted on in the form of Spacer Chae Ho-Ki, who has a dark past as a convict and an even darker secret. As the crew of Zuma’s Ghost struggles to find its equilibrium again, the Trappist colonies start a war, and the ship is directly in their sights.

Cover of the Death Song of the Dragón Chicxulub by Randy H. Garcia

Death Song of the Dragón Chicxulub by Rudy H. Garcia

La Muerta Blanca is a mysterious dragon-like ghostly creature that’s been stalking Central America since the days of the Aztecs, eating hearts and spreading terror. Now, Miguel Reilly comes to modern-day New Mexico and falls in with a shaman named Tomás, who shows him that he’s not “pure” Irish-American while trying to train this innocent nerd into a dragonslayer. Along his journey, Miguel meets a Maya med student named Maritza who has survived a brush with the spectral monster and come away with her own ambitions to slay it. Náhuatl codices lead the two to Chichén Itzá for a final, fantastical battle to slay a dragon and find themselves.

News and Views

The new Dune trailer has dropped

The Fantasy Hive does another round of 5-Star Books in 5 Words

Kate Elliott on adapting history into SFF

Interview with Chuck Wendig

Interview with Cassandra Khaw

Interview with Shelley Parker-Chan

Apex Magazine is running its 2022 fundraising Kickstarter

Haunted Objects in Women’s Weird Fiction

Season 13 trailer for Doctor Who

Wheel of Time is coming to Amazon in November

On Book Riot

2021 World Fantasy finalists announced

How rereading The Lord of the Rings helped me cope with my OCD

This month you can enter to win a $250 Barnes & Noble gift card, a Kindle Paperwhite, and a Kindle Oasis.


See you, space pirates. 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.

Categories
Swords and Spaceships

Genre-Savvy, Trope-Subverting SF

Happy Friday, shipmates! It’s Alex, with a look at some genre-savvy trope-subverting books and some news links for you to peruse over the weekend. By the time you’re reading this, I’ll be off visiting family in Idaho! Not sure how I feel about trying to get on an airplane even now. I’ll let you know how it feels on the other side. Stay safe out there, space pirates, and I’ll see you on Tuesday!

Let’s make the world a better place, together. Here’s somewhere to start: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ and anti-asianviolenceresources.carrd.co


News and Views

Congratulations to the winners of the Kitschies! Especially to Micaiah Johnson for winning the Golden Tentacle Award for debut for The Space Between Worlds!!!

And congratulations to the 2021 World Fantasy Award finalists!

Celebrating the women of SFF and an obscure (by which I mean fake) Egyptian Goddess

The Space to Exist: The Other Kind of Diversity in Storytelling

The Many Shades of Gatekeeping: How “Emerging Author” Hurts More Than Helps

Neutron Stars Have Mountains That Are Less Than a Millimeter Tall

SFF eBook Deals

Prime Deceptions by Valerie Valdes for $1.99.

The Other Log of Phileas Fogg by Philip José Farmer for $1.99.

The Green Man edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling for $1.99.

On Book Riot

This week’s SFF Yeah! podcast is about SFF set in the 1920s-ish.

You have until July 25 to enter to win a copy of Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard.

This month you can enter to win a $250 Barnes & Noble gift card, a Kindle Paperwhite, and a Kindle Oasis.

Free Association Friday: Genre Savvy Subversion

On Monday, I saw Nic Cage’s new movie, Pig. Which is a shockingly excellent film and not at all what I expected from it. I don’t want to spoil anything in case you’re an indie movie person, but one of the stand outs was the fact that the writer and the the director were obviously very familiar with revenge film (a la John Wick) tropes and both used them and subverted them to make something completely different and very unexpected. So I got to thinking… what books have that kind of twist to them? I think it’s an even harder lift for books to play with tropes in that exact way, because it’s normally a massive marketing error to imply the reader is going to get something they don’t end up getting–especially because a book is a bigger time investment than a movie. You have to really stick the landing. So, with that in mind, what did I come up with?

Beneath the Rising cover

Beneath the Rising by Premee Mohamed

This book is in the cosmic horror genre, and it’s got all the Lovecraftian beasties you could want coming in from the outer worlds. It’s very self aware of what that’s all about. But rather than the horror of man’s insignificance in the face of the unending night, the real horror of this book is a really awful, twisted relationship… and it’s working through a realization of that which almost drives someone mad.

Savage Legion by Matt Wallace

This is a book that’s very acquainted with the tropes of epic fantasy, and is interested in turning as many as possible upside-down with thorough examination through a class-analysis lens. The savage armies of the invading force? Conscripts pulled off the streets of the empire and ready to rebel against the system that’s given them the worst end of the stick. Wise leaders making difficult choices? An entire bureaucratic department of them that tries to make a new recruit and gets more than they bargained for.

Spin the Dawn cover

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

This starts out extremely fairy tale (in this case, The Weaver Girl and the Cowherd) then adds in a feminist twist with a girl taking her brother’s place and then also ending up in “The Quest for the Lost Husband” rather than “The Quest for the Lost Wife.” And more than halfway through the book, the main character changes her ambitions completely. It’s a delight.

The Light Brigade cover

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley

Tropes employed include those associated with corporate dystopias, military sci-fi, and time loop stories. And yet wherever I thought this book was going, I was wrong at every turn. Now, I can’t even tell you if this amounts to trope subversion or just being really freaking good at writing them. Maybe that’s part of the magic. It’s both. It’s neither. It’s just a really good book.

Under the Skin cover

Under the Skin by Michael Faber

Nominally a science fiction novel, it’s more on the horror side as far as I’m concerned. You never quite know where this book is going; it seems to start with a female serial killer, and then it keeps getting weirder and weirder and weirder, before diving into a new set of tropes that I’m not going to tell you because it’s a massive spoiler. I will say that the 2013 film of the same name is also very good (maybe even better than the book, sorry) and left me so wound up and disturbed that I couldn’t sleep for the entire night after watching it.

The Unspoken Name cover image

The Unspoken Name by A. K. Larkwood

This is another extremely genre-savvy fantasy book, though it’s more on the side of “I’ve definitely played this D&D campaign.” It plays with other worlds and portals in a really smart way, and the fact that the main character is a very smart orc lady who becomes an assassin and then gets to have an unexpected but adorable sapphic romance is an object lesson in the subversion of everything the genre ever tried to tell us about orcs.


See you, space pirates. 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.