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Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for October 22

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! It’s Alex, still recovering from a busy weekend at the local SFF literary convention, Mile Hi Con. (If you’re ever in Denver in late October, drop on by! It’s a friendly place.) Halloween prep has begun in earnest, with my housemate squirreling away bags of candy for the big day and me investing in a pumpkin cookie cutter. But in the meantime, here are some new releases to sink your fangs into, as well as some SFF-related news!

New Releases

The Blue Eye by Ausma Zehanat Khan – Arian of the Companions of Hira has set her sights on an artifact that could end the patriarchal, authoritarian rule of the Talisman once and for all: The Bloodprint. But to find this artifact she must leave her dearest friends and battle companions behind, making a dangerous journey to a new city–and finding new, much less trustworthy allies.

Empress of the Fall by David Hair – In the wake of Emperor Constant’s death, political factions fight for influence over who will next sit on the throne–and risk plunging the empire into civil war as they do so.

And in honor of the year’s spookiest month, how about two new Dracula books?

Anno Dracula 1999: Daikaiju by Kim Newman – Vampire princess Christina Light has decided to usher the new millenium in with a massive party–and a declaration that this will herald an age of light, no longer overshadowed by Dracula. Unfortunately, there are some party crashers coming who have a different, bloodier vision of the future.

From Hell to Breakfast by Meghan Tifft – Lucinda’s boyfriend, a UPS driver who works the night shift, may or may not be Dracula. They each have their own set of problems in small town America: Lucinda has a boss who’s a creep and is trying to produce a play she’s written in the community theater; Dracula has a bicycle cop who is out to get him, and his girlfriend’s brother keeps asking him to help kill birds… for art?

News and Views

In this week’s SFF Yeah! podcast, Sharifah talks travel SFF.

Congratulations to the 2019 British Fantasy Award winners! The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams won Best Fantasy Novel, Best Novella went to Aliette de Bodard’s The Tea Master and the Detective, and All the Fabulous Beasts by Priya Sharma won Best Collection.

Also, Congratulations to the 2019 Aurora Awards winners! Kate Heartfield took home the award for best novel for Armed in Her Fashion and Fonda Lee took home the award for best YA Novel for Cross Fire. Also, Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction got Best Related Work!

Essay of the week: Metropolis Meets Afrofuturism: The Genius of Janelle Monáe

If my mini-list of SFF cookbooks whetted your appetite, we’ve got a much bigger one for you to peruse!

Victoria Schwab’s books have been getting a lot of adaptation action lately–here’s the rundown in case you’ve missed anything.

Okay, fine, I will mention something Joker-related, because SyFy asked real clowns to reveiw it, and their answers are actually super interesting.

Some casting news for HBO’s Station Eleven adaptation.

The first all-woman spacewalk has finally happened!

Next up: Bug Butter. (If you have no idea what I’m referring to, please see A Civil Campaign.)


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.

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Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for October 18: Books of the Corn

Happy Friday, shipmates! We made it through the week, and here comes the weekend. May you get to sleep late if you have regular weekend days off, or may work not be too much of a pain in the butt if you don’t! It’s Alex, with a collection of news and then a random handful of books that involve…farming? There’s a reason, I promise. In things that made me happy today: I have seen Fat Pikachu and Long Meowth. And now that Billy Porter is officially a fairy godmother, my life is complete.

News and Views

The Tiptree Award has been officially renamed to the Otherwise Award.

We’ve got an interview with Charlotte Nicole Davis, author of The Good Luck Girls.

Rebecca Roanhorse has a list of five indigenous speculative fiction authors you should be reading.

I am so excited for Never Surrender, a documentary about Galaxy Quest.

Jedi is now a word in the OED. Scrabble-playing nerds everywhere pump their fists in the air.

A journey through the work of Nina Allan.

If you’re a independent film geek, this is for you. There’s a book out about the making of Moon. It’s called, unsurprisingly, Making Moon: A British Sci-Fi Cult Classic.

Eight queer spec fic podcasts to try out.

Book recommendations based on your favorite Star Trek character.

Lego has dinosaur skeletons!

The new spacesuit will fit men and women. If you’re wondering why this is newsworthy, read this piece by Mary Robinette Kowal.

Free Association Friday

I have a ridiculously busy week thanks to Mile Hi Con being this weekend, so basically I’m dashing off this newsletter and then immediately watching Children of the Corn for a podcast. So with that in mind, how about some genre novels that involve farming?

the underground railroadStraight off, far more horrifying than Children of the Corn could ever hope to be thanks to a basis in the bloody and shameful history of America, I’m just going to lay out two books that involve plantations in the antebellum South. Kindred by Octavia Butler has never stopped haunting me since I read it; it’s about a modern black woman who gets transported back in time on several occasions to save the life of her white ancestor, who is the son of a plantation owner and a terrible, brutal man. Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead is an alternate history about enslaved people escaping plantations on a literal underground railroad, beautifully written and unflinching.

parable of the sowerAnd actually, I’m not done with Octavia Butler, because there is a lot of farming in both Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents, plus an entire religion called Earthseed, built around the idea that “God is change.” If I haven’t stuffed these books into your pockets yet, consider me doing so now. They’re magnificent, and wrenching, and terrifyingly prescient about things that are happening right now.

Still to the dark side, there’s Ormeshadow, a dark familly drama that takes place on a farm built over a what local legend states is a sleeping, hate-filled dragon. The Day of the Triffids is an absolute classic by John Wyndham; farmed for their precious oil, triffids are large, carnivorous plants capable of moving around that, despite being more than capable of killing humans. And humanity thinks this will go just fine for them… until a mysterious meteor shower renders most of the population blind. Then it’s lunch time for triffids.

If you want something lighter, all right. Kingdom of Copper has a person with water magic using the skill to help famers grow their crops. I’ve mentioned Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire before, since it has ghosts in it. But more importantly for today’s topic, it’s got corn and the witches that grow it.

to be taughtJohn Scalzi’s The Last Colony has soldiers retired and farming on a space colony… until they get drawn back into interstellar politics. Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie takes place mostly on a tea plantation and the space station that floats above it–and tea is very, very important to the interstellar politics. It’s deadly serious. The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal’s got a little bit of light farming going on in space, on a spaceship. As does To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers. Astronauts need to eat their veggies.


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.

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Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for October 15: New Releases and Increasing Spookiness!

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! It’s Alex, with a bunch of great-looking new releases for you, and some news links that vary on the scale between spooky and silly. If you need an excuse to smile this Tuesday, here you go: the fat bear winner of 2019 has been chosen, and she’s a beauty!

New Releases

escaping exodusEscaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden – To escape an uninhabitable Earth, humanity has set up shops in massive, vacuum-breathing space beasts. Seske, a young woman unexpectedly thrust into the role of leader, must find answers to tremors disturbing the new beast her clan has moved into–while fending off a challenge by her confident, cunning sister.

Ormeshadow by Priya Sharma – A family drama that takes place at a farm seated over Orme, who legend says is a buried, ancient dragon who dreams of resentment, jealousy, and death.

Salvaged by Madeleine Roux – Rosalyn ran from Earth and became a “space janitor” to escape her messed up life by cleaning up other people’s messes. Too bad she can’t seem to escape herself; soon she’s on her last-chance job, sent to salvage a ship where the crew turns out to not only not actually be dead–they’re no longer entirely human either.

The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco – For generations, the world of Aeon has been ruled by twin goddesses… until the day one sister betrayed the other. Now the world is split between a place of endless night and a place of ceaseless, burning sun. The daughters of the goddesses must each set out on a dangerous journey if they want to heal their split and broken world.

The Throne of the Five Winds by S.C. Emmett – A princess from a vanquished kingdom who exists as a hostage and her lady-in-waiting try to survive the cutthroat politics of the imperial court. The already bloody political games become ever more dangerous as the Emperor’s health declines and the six princes vying for the throne move into a deadlier phase of maneuvering.

Homesick: Stories by Nino Cipri – A short story collection about home and estrangement, filled with stories that are dark, irreverent, and refreshingly queer. (Full disclosure: Nino and I share an agent.)

Fireborne by Rosaria Munda – In the wake of a brutal revolution, everyone can now test to join the governing class of dragonriders. As the old regime makes one last, grasping attempt to take over the city, two orphans who have grown up together, one from an aristocratic family and the other lowborn, must choose between the families they’ve found and inherited responsibility.

News and Views

8 fun facts about Mary Shelley for October!

And how about some SPACE HORROR!

Best essay I’ve read since the last newsletter: A Tale of Two Arthurs: On Mental Health, Joker, and The Tick

Very close runner up: I Opened the Door: On Portals, Fantasy, and My Disability

Amazon Studios has picked up the rights to Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House.

13 reasons you just have to read Heart of the Moors before the new Maleficent movie comes out.

RDJ is going to be… Dr. Doolittle? I mean, I guess that’s a change from being Tony Stark.

20 must-read Star Wars tie-ins.

There’s a new Expanse novella coming in December!

1212 Entertainment (which produced the recent Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark movie) has picked up the TV rights to Erin A. Craig’s House of Salt and Sorrows.

A round-up of Good Omens art.

This is so cool: Moon, Landing, an animated poem for the 50th anniverary of the moon landing.

The first man to walk in space, Aleksei Leonov, now walks eternally with the stars.

Finland’s Yle has made a game about social media and disinformation. You can play Troll Factory for free (and in English).

I must share this cartoon with you.


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.

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Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for October 11: Cooking up a Nerdstorm

Happy Friday, shipmates! It’s Alex, exhausted and covered with powdered sugar after thinking that baking treats for work was a good idea on a week night! (Don’t be like Alex.) As we head into the weekend, I’ve got some fun news items (the one about bats is my favorite) for you and baking on the brain.

News and Views

The National Book Awards announced the finalists for this year and genre is still going strong:

Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Gods of Jade and Shadow) and Lavie Tidhar (Unholy Land) have a new column in the Washington Post!

Favorite essay of this half week: Seanan McGuire on how the best horror stories commit to sincerity.

Though this is a close second: Ad Astra is an Unnecessary, Still Problematic Retelling of Heart of Darkness

And this ties for second: Why This Fanfiction Site’s Prestigious Literary Honor Is a Win for LGBTQ Representation (If you know and love AO3, prepare to get a little teared up.)

A great summary of the Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy panel at NYCC, which was standing-room only.

Mary Robinette Kowal live-tweeted a space walk.

A conversation with the force behind Looking for Leia.

FIYAH has started its 2019 State of Black Speculative Fiction Writer Survey. (You can look at previous survey results at the site, too.)

You can donate your old Legos!

The most metal pterosaur ever has been discovered in Australia.

A scientist at the USGS would very much like us to stop using the term “supervolcano.” (As a geologist, I agree with them.)

Turns out that a lot of that bat squeaking is actually arguments.

How the first exoplanet was discovered.

Free Association Friday

I mentioned before that I have baking on the brain, since that basically just consumed my evening and I’m using a goopy mixture of cream cheese and eggs instead of a brain to power through this newsletter. So how about some nerdy cookbooks?

cover for ad astra: the 50th anniversary swfa cookbook

First, I have to mention Ad Astra: The 50th Anniversary SFWA Cookbook (edited by Cat Rambo and Fran Wilde), which is put out by the Science Fiction Writers of America. The recipes themselves are not necessarily nerdy, but as you page through, you’ll probably see something by one of your favorite authors.

I’m not sure if I’m surprised or not by the actual number of genre property tie-in cookbooks, but there’s plenty to choose from:

Firefly: The Big Damn Cookbook by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel came out extremely recently and I’m still not over the fact that there’s a recipe for Mudder’s Milk.

The Star Wars Cook Book: Wookiee Cookies and Other Galactic Recipes by Robin Davis is only one of several Star Wars cookbooks, but it’s one I personally own and have utilized. It’s another kid-friendly cookbook, and it’s actually just fun to read because it’s full of ridiculous puns and galactic safety tips.

The Redwall Cookbook by Brian Jacques and Christopher Denise is aimed at being accessible for kids. The Redwall books were always wall-to-wall descriptions of absolutely mouthwatering food, so if any series was going to get a cookbook, this one deserved it. Deeper’n’ever Pie for everyone!

A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel is definitely more meat (a LOT of meat) than baking, but it’s a way to put together a Game of Thrones-style feast without anyone getting stabbed. I assume. I mean, I don’t know your life.

The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook by Dinah Bucholz is probably the best gift I ever gave my Harry Potter-nerd of a niece, because it’s something she still uses and has a ton of fun in the process. (She makes better brownies than me, and I’d say it’s unfair except she always lets me have one.)

Okay, and it’s not technically genre, but I still want to mention my favorite cookbook of all time because again, it’s more a hilarious journey than just a list of recipes: What the F*@# Should I Make for Dinner?: The Answers to Life’s Everyday Question by Zach Golden. I cannot make it through this book without becoming helpless with laughter from just reading the recipe titles.


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.

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Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for October 8: Adaptations and Tie-ins Ahoy!

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! Here’s Alex with a selection of new releases and some SFF-related news. I think CBS is trying to kill me. Within 24 hours, they hit me with a new trailer for Picard and then went in for the KO with the Discovery season 3 trailer. But my favorite thing so far this week on Twitter is another scifi-themed crochet project that I definitely can’t add to my list because there’s no pattern.

New Releases

The Rosewater Redemption by Tade Thompson – The independent city-state of Rosewater faces threats from all sides. Debts from the insurrection are coming home to roost. Nigeria isn’t willing to let Rosewater go without a fight. And the aliens that inhabit the city are threatening mass murder.

tuesday mooneyTuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia – When the enigmatic billionare Vincent Pryce dies, he leaves behind a treasure hunt that will lead to his fortune, directed by clues inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. Puzzle-loving loner Tuesday joins with a group of other misfits on the hunt, which not only requires all their combined brainpower, but will force them to face painful ghosts from their pasts.

The Beautiful by Renée Ahdiehm – Nineteenth-century New Orleans is ruled by vampires, which makes it an ideal safe haven for Celine, a dress maker who was forced to flee from Paris. Rather than finding safety, she falls in with the city’s underworld… and then dead girls begin to show up, stirring up fears that a serial killer is on the loose.

Ninth House cover imageNinth House by Leigh Bardugo – Alex Stern dropped out of school young and went into a downward spiral of bad decisions that ended with her as the only survivor of an unsolved multiple homicide. Recovering in the hospital, she’s offered a too-good-to-be-true deal: a full ride to Yale, and the only price is that she has to monitor the school’s secret societies… which dabble in forbidden magic.

A Kingdom for a Stage by Heidi Heileg – Jetta is wanted by both sides of a civil war, for the magic in her blood that can animate ordinary objects–or weapons. But Jetta fears using her power will turn her into a tyrannical necromancer like her father. Is saving her country worth sacrificing her soul?

how rory thorneHow Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse by K. Eason – Rory is a princess who received thirteen fairy blessings, the most useful of which is the ability to see through flattery. After the birth of her younger brother means she will no longer be taking over the throne after her father, she’s betrothed to a prince on a distant world. Her talents soon have her uncovering a plot in her new home and leading a small group of friends to save her betrothed.

News and Views

Apparently the Nancy Drew series on the CW is going to have actual ghosts, unlike the books it’s loosely based on.

Amazon’s got a short story collection coming, with stories from from N.K. Jemisin and Andy Weir.

Robin Hobb on 25 years of Assassin’s Apprentice.

Essay of the week: Why Has Ursula K. Le Guin Inspired So Many Musicians?

Good Morning America revealed the cover and title of the prequel to The Hunger Games.

The writer of John Wick has been hired to adapt A Darker Shade of Magic.

Roundup of post-Rise of Skywalker plans for Star Wars, which includes more Thrawn novels from Timothy Zahn! Also, check out io9’s aptly named post: So Many Goddamn Star Wars Books and Comics Got Announced at New York Comic Con.

The Geeks of Color panel at NYCC was about fandom joy (and featured some familiar names!)

We’ve got recommendations for sci-fi books you can cozy up with as the weather gets colder.

Stephen King’s scariest villain is at the center of season 2 of Castle Rock.

Also, there’s a new trailer for His Dark Materials that looks pretty dang epic.

Le Creuset is doing Star Wars collection. Just don’t look at the prices.

Star Trek wine tasting.

First look at Outlander season five.

The Ohio State University marching band did a super cool space-themed half-time show that was definitely the Right Stuff.


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.

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Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for October 4: Raising the Dead

Happy Friday, me hearties. Everyone got a good book or three queued up for the weekend? If not, here’s Alex, with some news and a random assortment of books that you might find interesting.

My favorite non-SFF thing all week: This reminder about the Dutch Police putting a bird in jail. I mean, it’s technically not SFF but someone should totally write this book. Second place in my heart and also, weirdly, bird-related is the new trailer for Birds of Prey.

News and Views

This week’s SFF Yeah! is about fashion in fiction.

Dark Horse Comics is releasing a collection of Neil Gaiman’s short fiction. You can pre-order on Amazon now.

Exciting adaptation news! Michael B. Jordan’s production company has acquired Rena Barron’s Kingdom of Souls.

The Wheel of Time on Prime Twitter account has a quick little video from a table read of the show.

io9 has a first look at the new series from M.R. Carey, author of The Girl With All the Gifts.

JY Yang (author of The Black Tides of Heaven) drew some absolutely gorgeous fanart for Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness.

An in-depth review of The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games.

Annalee Newitz on time travel stories and how they reflect on our current timeline.

Tor.com has a preview of some of the gorgeous art from the new illustrated edition of Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice.

SyFy Wire has an interview with Wesley Chu about his The Walking Dead novel, Typhoon.

Star Wars Resistance has the franchise’s first on-screen actually gay couple, according to the producers. (It’s an alien couple. I have conflicting feelings about this.)

Some casting news for Netflix’s Shadow and Bone adaptation.

Netflix has also confirmed there will be a fourth season of Stranger Things.

There’s a new, live-action version of Treasure Island coming, helmed by the writer/director of How to Train Your Dragon.

Some cool science! Swedish biologists are using footprints to track polar bears and map their genetics.

Free Association Friday

Last week my brain was filled with Pokémon. I regret to inform you that this week, my brain is now full of Destiny, since the newest expansion released. It’s creepy, it’s filled with nightmares, there’s giant, deathless, chitinous monsters with swords that want to murder you and utterly destroy your soul for the glory of their disturbing death-and-torture-cult. Honestly, it’s a perfect start for October.

So let’s talk necromancers: generally bad news people bringing the dead back to life for their own nefarious purposes.

gideon the ninthThe most appropriate book for this free association is Gideon the Ninth. It’s a perfect fit in the sense that not only are there necromancers, they’re… IN… SPACE! And there’s a haunted gothic palace, which is basically what I’ve spent all night running around and shooting things in via an Xbox controller.

Urban fantasy-wise, there’s several examples of books narrated by necromancers who have to deal with the dead, the undead, and mysteries while often dodging their own demise. Arranged in order of most to least grim: Dead Things by Stephen Blackmoore, Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton, Grave Witch by Kaylana Price, and How to Save an Undead Life by Hailey Edwards (contains an undead parakeet). That’s just a taste from urban fantasy; there’s a lot of necromancy going on out there in the wild streets.

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone starts off his Craft Sequence, which has quite a bit of necromancy in it. In the first book, Tara, who is an associate at an international necromantic firm, has to bring a murdered god back to life in order to keep an entire city alive. For a more historical and gothic turn, but with a good dash of humor, there’s Johannes Cabal the Necromancer. Johannes sold his soul to Satan to learn necromancy, and now if he wants to get it back, he has to convince 100 other people to sign theirs over instead. It’s a soul pyramid scheme, really.

Into more pure fantasy, The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco starts a YA series about a girl named Tea, who accidentally raises her brother from the dead and is then ostracized from her community. The Wolf of Winter by Paula Volsky has a prince far down in the line of succession learning the forbidden art of necromancy–which he intends to use to reshape the kingdom.

Honorable not-quite-necromancer-but-still-in-with-the-god-of-death-but-in-a-totally-non-evil-way book: Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard. It’s a fantasy historical crime procedural…and the main character is an Aztec priest.


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.

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Swords and Spaceships for October 1

Happy Tuesday to everyone, but mostly to Dr. Leon Advogato, one of the lawyers at the Order of Attorneys of Brazil. It’s Alex, with new releases and a random collection of news for your perusal. Something that’s been bringing me joy these last few days: a clip of Fayard and Harold Nichols doing their dance routine from Stormy Weather (1943).

New Releases

Future Tense Fiction: Stories of Tomorrow commissioned by Slate, New America, and Arizona State University – A collection of short fiction that focuses on emerging technologies from a wide list of excellent authors including Nnedi Okorafor, Paolo Bacigalupi, Annalee Newitz, and Deji Bryce Olukotun.

Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight by Aliette de Bodard – Aliette de Bodard’s first short story collection, which includes tales from her Xuya universe.

The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher – A young woman works to sort out the house of her dead grandmother, who was a hoarder. While cleaning, she finds her dead step-grandfather’s journal, which describes terrifying things that she begins to encounter in the woods.

The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith – The Unwritten the library of the unwrittenWing is a neutral place in Hell where stories never finished by their authors live. Claire is the head librarian of these stories, mostly tasked with hunting down characters who have come to life and begun searching for their writers. But a simple retrieval goes wrong when an angel attacks…

Shadow Frost by Coco Ma – A princess on a desperate quest to save her kingdom from the demons who threaten it discovers a plot for her own assassination along the way. She and her friends must unravel this plot, with strands that lead back into their group–if the demons don’t get them first.

The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis – Five girls, called “good luck girls,” are sold to a “welcome house” and branded with cursed markings. When one of them accidentally kills a man, they embark on a dangerous journey toward freedom, justice, and revenge, guided by a bedtime story passed down among their sistren.

The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl by Theodora Goss – A new adventure for the Athena Club, that wonderful pastiche of female characters who often had their agency stolen or stories not written in classic literature. After their adventure rescuing Lucina van Helsing, the monstrous gentlewomen return home to find that both Alice and Shelock Holmes have been kidnapped.

News and Views

In the wake of the discussions about awards named for Campbell and Tiptree, Jason Sanford points out another one that really needs to be discussed: Arthur C. Clarke

Wired reviews Lost Transmissions, a book about forgotten works that deserve some fan love.

Karen Gillan and Ryan Reynolds hilariously get into it in the AGBO Superhero Fantasy Football League, which has mandated trash-talking.

Chuck Tingle now has an official TTRPG: The Tingleverse: The Official Chuck Tingle Role-Playing Game. Tingle has succinctly addressed the lack of mechanics for “pounding” on Twitter.

Alex Brown’s short fiction recommendations for September.

NYT is bringing back mass market paperback and graphic novel/manga best seller lists, and they’re adding in MG and YA.

Volume 327 of Book Fetish is all about fantasy.

Gollancz and author Ben Aaronovitch (author of Rivers of London) are launching an award for British BAME [black, Asian, and minority ethnic] science fiction and fantasy authors.

Ewilan’s Quest is becoming an animated series.

io9 picked their 10 favorite films from Fantastic Fest 2019 and I am SO EXCITED.

Paul Krueger, author of Steel Crow Saga, did a Reddit AMA… which his mom crashed.

Ever wondered what Guardians of the Galaxy character you are? We’ve got a quiz for that.

Sony and Marvel have managed to reach an agreement over Spider-Man.

Thor and Lokie are heading to Serial Box in Thor: Metal Gods.

Deep math nerdery ahoy: progress on the twin primes conjecture.


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.

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Swords and Spaceships for September 27: Ghosts, Dragons, and Ghost Dragons

Happy Friday, shipmates! It’s Alex with some news and a slightly spooky warm-up since we’re heading toward October. I hope everyone has a lovely weekend–and before you go, check out this test animation Ray Harryhausen did for his never-made War of the Worlds movie.

News and Views

We’ve got a post for you about the 2019 Rhysling Award winners. SFF poetry!

This week’s SFF Yeah! podcast is all about African SF/F.

The Daily Bugle has pivoted to video.

Favorite essay of the week: The care and feeding of Supervillains.

Runner up in the essay department: What Today’s Sci-Fi Should Learn from Flash Gordon.

Matt Wallace on your true cyberpunk name.

The Emmys happened. Awards were won. Honestly all I care about is Gwendoline Christie looking like a neck-snapping goddess.

And here’s a list of six books about space to check out.

This week’s LeVar Burton Reads podcast is JY Yang’s Tiger Baby.

Oh no there’s a recipe for Mudder’s Milk in Firefly: The Big Damn Cookbook.

They finally figured out a way to make me watch another Jurassic World movie. Because it’ll involve Laura Dern, Sam Neill, and Jeff Goldblum.

Check out NASA’s new spacesuits!

Phil Plait explains a new paper about how an asteroid impact gave life a helping hand 466 million years ago.

A study finds that cats are just as loyal to their humans as dogs, and was definitely not authored by a cat wearing glasses and a lab coat.

Snopes is 25 years old and I have just turned into dust and blown away.

Free Association Friday

Look, I’m writing this to you from the deep past that is Wednesday evening having just spent an hour frantically poking the screen of my cell phone to defeat a giant pokémon that is both a dragon AND a ghost. I also might or might not have imbibed a beer at this point. So let’s talk ghosts, dragons, and ghost dragons!

Obviously, there are a zillion books that involve ghosts and a zillion and a half that involve dragons in our genre. But I’m looking at the standouts that grabbed me by the throat and shook me like a ghost dragon.

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers SolomonGhost-wise, we’re starting with An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon. Because the ghosts are right there in the title. And just because they’re mostly metaphorical ghosts as opposed to beings created of ectoplasm doesn’t make them any less horrifying. The twisted ghosts of societal history, the more personal ghosts of absent friends and family, the horrible ghosts of trauma. They’re all there, and they’d probably be easier to deal with if they were real. For a much more literal ghost, how about The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco. The cover’s so deliberately evocative of the antagonist from Ring by Suzuki Koji, but the formerly vengeful ghost is at least looking out for the little guy, unlike Sadako. Seanan McGuire’s Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day is chock full of ghosts in a complex earth-bound afterlife, with bonus witches.

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen ChoWhat about dragons? Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho has magicians and dragons in regency England, yes please. Of Cinder and Bone by Kyoko M has the perfect pitch: Jurassic Park, but with Dragons. Nothing else needs to be said. A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan follows the world’s most renowned dragon naturalist on her adventures. Smoke Eaters by Sean Grigsby is about a firefighter who discovers he’s immune to dragon smoke… so he gets inducted to the elite dragon-fighting force of his city. And last but not least–I read The Iron Dragon’s Daughter by Michael Swanwick when I was a teenager and I’m still thinking about its factory-made flying war machines twenty years later.

cover of Red Threads of Fortune by JY YangSo what about ghost dragons? Well, in Red Threads of Fortune by JY Yang, it’s not dragons precisely, but human souls can end up in things that are distressingly large and scaley. And in RJ Barker’s The Bone Ships, there are literal ships made out of literal dragon bones, though it’s more totally metal than ghostly.

But for no reason at all–definitely not getting into details–I’m just going to gently slide Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb across the table.


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.

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Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for September 24: New Releases and Liv Tyler (not) in Space

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! I hope you’re ready for a broadside of new releases, because there are some great ones this week. It’s Captain Alex with a barrage of books and some fun news items. Also, I want to share with you what is totally going to be my next crochet project and a video game about a horrible goose that I now need.

New Releases

The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz – A time travel story where Tess, from the future, has dedicated herself to shifting the past to create a safer world in her time, trying to find a way to make her edits stay while she avoids fellow travelers willing to stop her with deadly force. Her life intertwines with that of Beth, on her own path of violence and vengeance after helping her friends hide the body of an abusive boyfriend.

Steel Crow Saga by Paul Krueger – An unlikely band of four people, ranging from criminals to royalty, unites to hunt down a killer that defies not only earthly laws, but those of magic as well. Expect battle couples, magical animal companions, and snark. (Full disclosure: Paul and I share an agent.)

The Bone Ships by RJ Barker – The people of the Hundred Isles have long built their ships from the bones of dragons, now thought to be extinct. But a new dragon has been spotted in far-off waters, and a race to claim it is on. Whoever takes the dragon will shift not just battles, but the endless war in their favor.

The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht – A monster that cannot die stalks the ruined, festering, abandoned city of Elendhaven, sent on tasks by his frail master. The monster’s ultimate goal is revenge on all those who have wronged his city, no matter what he will destroy along his path.

A Dream So Dark cover imageA Dream So Dark by L.L. McKinney – Still reeling from the events of A Blade So Black, Alice returns to rescue her friends and stop the Black Knight–and save Wonderland once and for all. But what if Wonderland has actually been trying to save her?

Stormrise by Jillian Boehme – A girl named Rain disguises herself as a boy using dragon magic, so that she can become a warrior. As war threatens her home, she realizes the very magic that has enabled her disguise might be the key to awakening the ancient dragons that slumber–and save her home.

News and Views

pet-book-coverThere’s some great SFF on the National Book Award longlists. Not gonna lie, I’m most excited about Pet by Akwaeke Emezi.

Aron Eisenberg, who played Nog on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, passed away.

My favorite thing I read all week: Let Liv Tyler go to space

Highlights from Neil Gaiman’s Reddit AMA.

Author Eric Flint has an epic rant about the electoral college.

The BN blog asks: Does science fiction have a moral imperative to address climate change?

If you’ve wanted to read Joe Abercrombie’s First Law series and aren’t sure what order to go in, here you go.

100% this: An ode to Robin Wright from Princess to Queen

A cute list of funny Weasley twins moments from the Harry Potter books.

This truck was obviously playing Shadowrun.

I want to share this amazing Twitter thread about the Four Tigers Sword with everyone.

Architectural photography from megacities to remind us that the future is now.


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.

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Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for September 20: As You Wish

Happy Friday, gentlebeings! We’ve made it through another week; if you’re in the northern hemisphere, it’s hopefully starting to feel a bit like fall (my favorite time of the year). And it’s me, Alex, with some links and a list of sort-of random books. If you need a laugh to take you into the weekend, I cannot recommend the finalists for the 2019 Wildlife Comedy Photography Awards enough.

News and Views

Elsa Sjunneson-Henry on what it means to win a Hugo as a blind person.

On overcoming white bias in literature.

The Archived by V.E. Schwab will be adapted for the CW.

In other adaptation news, Kingkiller Chronicle is looking for a new home after Showtime released the rights.

This week’s SFFYeah! podcast is about books with spooky houses.

Christopher Eccleston (the Ninth Doctor) talks about his battles with depression and disordered eating.

Anathema Magazine, which focuses on stories by Queer/Two-Spirit POC/Indigenous creators, is running its yearly fundraiser.

Michelle Goldberg wrote about The Handmaid’s Tale and the way literary dystopias don’t keep up with reality.

If you’re looking for YA Science Fiction, we’ve got some suggestions for you.

It’s been proposed that an a Shakespeare First Folio has annotations in it from John Milton.

Free Association Friday

You might have heard that some unnamed people (probably wishing to remain nameless because they don’t want the might of the internet to fall on their heads) want to remake The Princess Bride. Cary Elwes responded with a perfect Tweet and also expanded his opinion a bit over at SyFy Wire. And this might get me in trouble with the gods of Book Riot, but here’s my hill I’m going to die on: I like the movie scripted by the inimitable William Goldman orders of magnitude better than I liked his original novel.

So in honor of that movie, let’s talk some other books that strike a chord with The Princess Bride!

Swordspoint by Ellen KushnerThe book that leaps most immediately to mind is Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner, I’m not even going to be coy with you. It’s got lots of sword fights and intrigue and while there isn’t exactly true love to be had, it’s gay as all hell–all while still having an amused tone. And in that vein, I feel compelled to also mention The Henchmen of Zenda by K.J. Charles, which is more filed under romance than fantasy; it falls more under thought experiments of what the Dread Pirate Roberts’s crew might have been a bit like (many a buckle is swashed), while also being Extremely Gay.

the tiger's daughterIf I think about true love like we get it in The Princess Bride, I immediately jump to The Tiger’s Daughter; it’s tonally a lot more serious, but if you want to talk about a couple whose love rivals Wesley and Buttercup’s, that’s where to find them. Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn is a little bit lighter. Political intrigue, court, a really nasty piece of work as a prince, and true love waiting in the wings.

On the more free association end of things, the first book I actually thought of while coming up with this list was JY Yang’s cover of Red Threads of Fortune by JY YangThe Red Threads of Fortune. Why? Well first off, we don’t call this “Alex has an objectively defensible reason for everything backed up by an annotated bibliography Friday.” There are just certain ways my brain works. Anyway, there’s a lot going on in behind the events of this novella; a lot of machinations and politics, and the protagonist is just exasperated. There’s a scene that involved a lot of cussing. You’ll know what I mean when you read it. I also want to throw Steel Crow Saga in here for the adventure factor and the humor that Paul Krueger uses to leaven the definitely-darker-than-The-Princess-Bride subject matter. (Full disclosure: I share an agent with both Paul and JY.)


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.