Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for February 23

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! We’re already at the last Tuesday of this short month, and it’s Alex with new releases and some genre news for your day. When I went out to pick up dinner (in a safe, socially distanced way) it was actually light out, which is a welcome change. It’s a sign that we’re getting through the winter at least. And I have to tell you, last night I stayed up until an absolutely unholy hour reading Soulstar, the third book of CL Polk’s Kingston Cycle, and I cannot recommend it enough. Stay safe out there, shipmates, and I’ll see you on Friday!

The worst has passed in Texas, but they’re going to be feeling the effects of the winter storm for a while. If you want to help, you can check this Texas mutual aid directory.

New Releases

Note: The new releases lists I have access too were not as diverse as I would have liked this week.

Symbiosis by Nicky Drayden

In the far future, humanity survives inside giant space animals, which they have driven nearly to extinction with this exploitation. But after attaining the throne, Doka has crafted life inside his living ship into something that is almost utopian. But his rivals are trying to push him into failure, and when they must open their home to thousands of refugees, external clashes join the internal. It is up to Doka and the one woman he is forbidden to love, his wife, to work to keep and expand the peace.

Calculated Risks by Seanan McGuire

Telepathic ambush predator Sarah Zellaby has been kidnapped and manipulated by her birth family and undergone a transformation into greater power, though she’s still externally the same. Now stranded in another dimension with a few familiar faces who do not recognize her at all, Sarah must figure out who and what she is–and if that’s someone she can live with.

Glow by Tim Jordan

After Earth’s civilization has been shattered and partially rebuilt by corporations, the factions left behind are vying for control and power. And in that world is Glow, a nanotech drug that jumps through multiple people and cuts and pastes memories and personas. A confused junkie, a corporate founder living on a satellite, and an unstoppable robotic assassin are tied together by the Glow and trying to survive.

The Heritage of Michael Martiniere by Joyce Reynolds-Ward

Michael Martiniere is a clone of an old man who does not want to die; his life was always intended to end so that Philip Martiniere could live. He’s rescued from that fate at the age of five, but he still must struggle against his own body and the mind control used against him if he wants to be free of Philip’s legacy.

The Valley and the Flood by Rebecca Mahoney

After her car breaks down in the Nevada desert, Rose hears a radio broadcast of the voicemail her best friend Gaby left just before she died a year ago. She follows the radio broadcast to a small town called Lotus Valley, a place filled with prophets who claim they have been waiting for her, because Rose’s arrival heralds a flood that will come in three days and destroy the town.

The Russian Cage by Charlaine Harris

Klementia and Eli, wizards from the Holy Russian Empire, have come to Ciudad Juarez with the mission of finding descendants of Rasputin. But they’re not the only ones on the hunt, and they’re all after the same person: Felicia, Rasputin’s granddaughter.

News and Views

Reminder: Symphony Space has a Celebration of Octavia E. Butler tomorrow!

Neon Hemlock has picked up a novella by Brent Lambert, to be published in 2022

Big congrats to Sascha Stronach; Saga Press has picked up The Dawnhounds!

Nerds of a Feather has an author roundtable with many of the writers (and the editor) of Recognize Fascism

Interview with Namina Forna, author of The Gilded Ones

We Hunt the Flame is being developed into a TV series

Next SyFy short for Black History Month: Jeremy Kowsoleea’s Realisation of Excellence

Spoiler warning, but this is a really good read on WandaVision: How WandaVision is Rewriting Our Understanding of Wanda Maximoff’s Story

What Fandom Racism Looks Like: All the Pieces of Heroes of Color

40 times science fiction was wrong about predicted future events

WorldCon 2021 (aka DisCon III) has removed Toni Weisskopf as Guest of Honor after the reporting on violent rhetoric in the Baen forums


Perserverance touched down on Mars. The rover sent its first and second image of the Martian landscape shortly after. And a delightful XKCD comic.

On Book Riot

Ernest Frankenstein: in search of a missing character

12 books like The Selection to read after the series

This month you can enter to win $100 at a bookstore of your choice, a bundle of YA books plus a $250 Visa gift card, and/or a Kindle Paperwhite. And only for Canadian Rioters, a $100 Indigo gift card.

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.

Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for February 19: SFF for the Lunar New Year

Happy Friday, shipmates! It’s Alex, with some links and a handful of east-Asian-inspired SFF to enjoy as the new year continues. If you’re in the US, I hope that you’re staying warm and safe–I know a lot of places have been hit really hard. Take care, have a hot drink if you can, and hunker down til Tuesday. I’ll see you then.

Thing that made me smile this week: Danny Trejo wished us all a happy Valentine’s Day

Texas has been hit incredibly hard by the polar vortex. If you can help, here’s a directory of mutual aid organizations

News and Views

Khōrėō’s first issue is out now!

Another short film from SyFy and Leonardo Viotti in honor of Black History Month: 2319

Nerds of a Feather has an interview with E. Lily Yu

Melinda Snodgrass has posted her LTUE 2021 speech: Tears That Speak

FANAC has unearthed an old interview of Frederik Pohl and posted it on YouTube

CW for threats and political violence, but I think this is important: Jason Sanford has done extensive reporting on the Baen Books Forum being used as a place to advocate for political violance. He has posted a follow-up Twitter thread, which I will not link here because his account is now locked due to receiving harassment and threats over the report.

On Book Riot

This week’s SFF Yeah! podcast is about our favorite Black characters.

10 of the best fantasy comics fit to print

12 great workplace fantasy novels to maintain a magical outlook

Reading pathways: Terry Pratchett’s Discworld

This month you can enter to win $100 at a bookstore of your choice, a bundle of YA books plus a $250 Visa gift card, and/or a Kindle Paperwhite. And only for Canadian Rioters, a $100 Indigo gift card.

Free Association Friday: Books for the Lunar New Year

Wishing everyone great happiness and prosperity in the new year! And in honor of the Year of the Ox, I’ve grabbed a selection of east-Asian-inspired SFF by Asian/disapora authors.

the order of the pure moon

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho

A bandit walks into a coffee house, and his life immediately gets very interesting in a bad way: he finds himself in possession of a sacred object and a young votary who wants to see it protected and doesn’t care what trouble she causes along the way.

Huntress by Malinda Lo

In the human kingdom, crops are failing and the sun hasn’t shone in years. Two seventeen-year-old girls are sent on a dangerous journey to the city of the fairy queen. They begin to fall in love, though at the end of their task is the harsh reality that their kingdom only needs one huntress as a savior, not two.

Seven of Infinities by Aliette de Bodard

A poor scholar and a mindship who is a notorious thief and master of disguise must team up to solve a mysterious murder that puts their relationship, one built on secrets, to the ultimate test.

Songs of Insurrection by JC Kang

In the past, the Dragon Songs could summon storms and rout entire armies, but they have long been forgotten. Now a naive young musician must find her her way to the song and the Dragon Scale Lute with the aid of a foreign Paladin. Though once that instrument is in her hands, will she save the world–or destroy it?

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

Min comes from a long line of fox spirits, but her mother insists the entire family eschew fox magic for their own safety. When she learns that her older brother Jun has left his Space Force post to search for the fabled Dragon Pearl, she knows something must be terribly wrong. She runs away from her family and home planet to find him and clear his name, embarking on a question that will test her–and her magic–in ways she could ever have imagined.

Gunpowder Alchemy by Jeannie Lin

It’s gunpowder engines versus steam power in an alternate history of the Opium War. After the Emperor orders the execution of his engineers for their failure to drive back the British invasion, Jin, the daughter of one of those engineers, has been laying low. But now the Crown Prince is launching a secret effort to expel the British, and Jin may hold the key to building the engines that will bring their freedom.

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Lei is from the paper caste, the lowest in Ikhara after the conquest of the moon caste demons. After losing her mother ten years ago to royal guards, she’s frightened to see them return–this time for her. She is one of nine girls brought to the palace to learn the skills of a consort, forced to entertain the demon king for a year. But she falls in love with another of the paper girls, and finds the fire to fight for herself–and revenge.

Prophecy by Ellen Oh

Kira is a demon hunter, the bodyguard of the prince, and the only woman in the king’s army. When the king is murdered and the unearthed traitors point to a coming demon invasion, she goes on the run with her charge, who may be the only one who can defeat the Demon Lord according to a cryptic prophecy. With only that prophecy as her guide, Kira must keep her prince alive–and raise him to be a king.

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.

Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for February 16

Happy Tuesday, shipmates–and 恭喜發財! It’s Alex with some new releases for the week, and some news items to check out. I sure hope everyone managed to stay warm over the weekend! This is around the time we normally get what we call “Stock Show Weather” in Colorado–it gets super cold and it’s about the time the National Western Stock Show happens, though it’s not this year thanks to the pandemic. But we usually don’t see the rest of the US joining us! May your pipes have remained unburst and your plants have survived. Have a hot drink, stay bundled up, and I’ll see you on Friday!

Thing that made me smile: Taika Waititi wishes us a Happy Valentines Day (And if you’re a Destiny player, happy Year of the Ox!)

Let’s make 2021 better than 2020. A good place to start? The Okra Project and

New Releases

The Memory Theater by Karin Tidbeck

In the parallel world of the Gardens, a select group of masters rule their decadent paradise with cruel glee, punishing the teenagers who serve them for growing up. Dora and Thistle try to flee, traveling through time and space and dipping into our world to find the person who can grant their freedom.

The Black Coast by Mike Brooks

When the people of the Black Keep see sails on the horizons, they know this is the day they’ve been preparing for: when the clanspeople of Tjakorsha will invade. But the force of riders on war dragons they send meets not invaders, but refugees fleeing a despot who is trying to bring about the end of the world.

Reaper of Souls by Rena Barron

After years of wishing for magic, Arrah finally has exactly what she wanted… but at the price of a shattered family and a kingdom falling apart. As the last witch doctor, she must try to hold all of these things together while searching for survivors of the demon attack. But worse, the demon king wants Arrah, and he will destroy everyone and anything standing in his way.

The Swimmers by Marian Womack

Near future Earth is a place of deep jungles and monstrously transformed animals, with the surviving humans divided between the dangerous surface and a ring that orbits at the edge of the atmosphere. Pearl is a young techie who lives among the jungle but is promised to a man in the orbiting settlement. (I have seen this pitched as a reimagining of Wide Sargasso Sea and I am fascinated.)

Soulstar by C.L. Polk

Robin Thorpe has hidden her magic for years to avoid imprisonment by the state. But times are changing; freed witches are flooding the streets and returning to the families robbed of them. Robin has a chance to push for an Aeland that is more free and just for all–and then her childhood love who vanished into one of the witch asylums twenty years ago returns.

News and Views

A movie is being made from Elizabeth Bear’s short story Dolly

The Gilded Ones has been optioned for film as well!

The TOC for The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Volume 2 has been revealed

Alex Kingston has written a novel about River Song

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw on the complicated history of Marvel whitewashing Scarlet Witch

On the Connection Between Chinese Folktales and American Comic Book Heroes

Adante Watts made a short film for SyFy about the struggle to get Black movies or TV shows greenlit

Cora Buhlert has a round-up of Indie Valentine’s Day speculative fiction

Disney has killed the production of Nimona (among other films) by closing Blue Sky Studios

Zawe Ashton has been cast as the villain for Captain Marvel 2, though no word on who she’s playing

Stonehenge might have original stood in Wales before being moved to a site 150 miles away

The Science Behind Transparent Aluminum on Star Trek

On Book Riot

This month you can enter to win $100 at a bookstore of your choice, a bundle of YA books plus a $250 Visa gift card, and/or a Kindle Paperwhite. And only for Canadian Rioters, a $100 Indigo gift card.

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.

Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for February 12

Happy Friday, shipmates! It’s Alex, and as promised last week, I’m here with your selection of SFF Romance to play off that romantic SFF. My game of choice, Destiny 2, just dropped the new season so I’ve basically been running in circles, yelling about all of the new things, and retweeting silly Destiny memes on my Twitter. I hope there’s been something as silly and joyful in your life this week. Stay safe, and I’ll see you on Tuesday with more new releases.

Let’s make 2021 better than 2020. A good place to start? The Okra Project and

News and Views

FIYAH Lit has a great thread of projects from Black creators, many of which are SFF or adjacent!

N.K. Jemisin on why it’s never too late to quit your day job

Per io9: Gina Carano is no longer part of Star Wars

Netflix is adapting Brian Jacques’ Redwall series

New story from Lavie Tidhar: Judge Dee and the Three Deaths of Count Wedenfels

Foz Meadows: Sequel Rights: A Review of Locus Reviews examines some issues, subtle and not, that have recently come to a head in SFF book reviews

If you’re looking for more things fannish, check out Cora Buhlert’s Fanzine Spotlight series. This week, it’s on The Full Lid.

Nerds of a Feather talk about this year’s Locus Recommended Reading List

Nnedi Okorafor and Walt Disney?

Stitch over at Teen Vogue: On Fanfiction, Fandom, and Why Criticism Is Healthy

Star Trek cat tree!

On Book Riot

The revelations of rereading

5 incisive dystopian books on the economy and work culture

This week’s SFF Yeah! Podcast is about climate fiction

This month you can enter to win $100 at a bookstore of your choice, a bundle of YA books plus a $250 Visa gift card, and/or a Kindle Paperwhite. And only for Canadian Rioters, a $100 Indigo gift card.

Free Association Friday: SFF Romance

Last week was all about SFF that has a strong romance element in it, but this week, we’re talking romance novels that are set in science fiction or fantasy universes!

Radio Silence by Alyssa Cole

The first book of Alyssa Cole’s Off the Grid series, which takes palce in a post-apocalyptic world where all technology has failed and people need to band together to survive–and find romance while they’re searching for supplies.

Also check out Alyssa’s cute near-future AI romance, The AI Who Loved Me.

The Coyote’s Comfort by Holley Trent

Holley Trent writes paranormal romance that is funny, and sharp, and snarky, and with characters who are delightful trash not-literal-goblins. This one’s an F/F romance about a coyote shifter and the girlfriend she ghosted hashing out their problems.

a young woman in leather body armor faces away from the viewer holding up a ray gun. she's facing a blue-tinted scene with a firing space ship and a Saturn-like planet in the sky

Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik

This is a space opera with noble houses, runaway daughters, political machinations, secret science experiments, incipient wars, the whole nine yards. And of course, romances between strong-willed daughters of a noble house with a particularly douchey dad and an array of dangerous men who are very good at shooting things.

Silver Silence by Nalini Singh

Nalini Singh writes a ton of paranormal romance–she’s got shifters, she’s got changelings, she’s got vampires, she’s got angels. It’s hard to think where to even start! Nalini herself points to this book as a good entry point to her Psy-Changeling series, which pairs emotionally distant Psy characters with Changeling shifters.

A Treason of Truths by Ada Harper

Lyre got sent by her people to betray Empress Sabine, and then fell in lover with her instead. Now they’re on their way back to Lyre’s home, a floating city that runs on biotech, and the city would like its revenge on both of them.

Deal With the Devil by Kit Rocha

Like Nalini Singh, Kit Rocha writes a lot of great SFF romance in all sorts of subgenres. In all honesty, the reason I grabbed this book as the one to highlight is because I will never be over the concept of “mercenary librarians”–people who help those in need with knowledge and pay the bills by raiding data vaults. It’s delightful stuff.

The Way the Sky Curves by J.C. Hart

Kotahi Bay is a place where magic is real, mortals and gods cross paths, and witches and necromancers have to protect their home and their families–while maybe finding someone to share their lonely lives. This series has a bit of a dark undertone to it. JC Hart also writes fantasy/romance fairytale retellings as Nova Blake; check out Ebony Slumbers.

The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles

KJ Charles writes mostly queer historical romance, but this one’s a historical romance with magic in it, including animated tattoos and a supernatural threat to a new earl’s life, thanks to the enemies he inherited to go with the title. He hires a magician to protect him, and things get steamy from there. Honestly, I love everything this author writes.

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.

Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for February 9

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! It’s Alex, and I’ve got some great news: February is continuing strong with a ton of great new releases to help you while away the winter. I found a foot spa on sale last week and bought it on impulse, and let me tell you… best decision I ever made. There’s nothing quite like soaking your feet while you read a good book and try not to notice your weirdo cat drinking the water like it’s some kind of delicious foot soup. Hope you’re pampering yourself as needed, stay safe, and I will see you on Friday!

Thing that made me smile this week: the large boulder returned. And then CDOT got in on the fun.

Let’s make 2021 better than 2020. A good place to start? The Okra Project and

New Releases

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

Already an outsider in her own village, Deka fears what the blood ceremony reveals: that her blood runs gold, the color of impurity. A mysterious woman offers her an alternative to a fate worse than death, the opportunity to leave her village and join an army of girls just like her. Deka leaves behind the only home she has known to join in a war against the empire’s greatest threat–and it’s more dangerous than she could have ever imagined.

The Iron Raven by Julie Kagawa

That good spirit Puck finally tells his own story, in which he faces a threat from the time before Faery, and the worst of all possible enemies: himself. Puck doesn’t face this threat alone, however; he has the Iron Queen Meghan Chase and her prince consort, Ash, at his side. Together, the three of them must reckon with a darkness so profound even their combined powers may not be enough… and if they don’t succeed, Faery will fall.

Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard

Princess Thanh was sent away as a hostage to Ephteria when she was a child. After returning home to her mother’s court, she takes on the role of diplomat. This puts her directly in the path of her first love, Eldris of Ephteria, who wants both Thanh back and concessions from Thanh’s home. But Thanh has her own fire inside, and she sees her chance to make her own fate and change the future of her country.

The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

Angrboda is burned by Odin as punishment for not giving him knowledge of the future. She survives, her power severely damaged, and hides in a remote forest. There, she meets and falls in love with Loki. Together, they have three children, each with their own destiny. But as Angrboda heals and slowly regains her power of prophecy, she realizes her family, her life, and the entire world is at stake–and only she can remake the future into something better.

Never Have I Ever by Isabel Yap

This is a collection of Isabel Yap’s short fiction, including an entirely new novella titled A Spell for Foolish Hearts. Her subjects range from immigrant tales to urban legends, and the page sings for each.

The Future is Yours by Dan Frey

Silicon Valley outsiders Ben and Adhi develop a computer that can connect to the internet one year in the future, and suddenly their startup is the hottest commodity out there. Their machine predicts everything perfectly, from the stock market to relationships, to deaths, and what seems like a chance for fortune at first reveals a darker future than they could have guessed, culminating in a possible apocalypse. Once they’ve seen the future, can they change it?

Amid the Crowd of Stars by Stephen Leigh

A group of humans is stranded for centuries on another world; they have no choice but to expose themselves to the alien biome, including all its viruses and bacteria. Survival means they must adapt. On the other side of that, are they still even human, or have they been remade into another species entirely?

News and Views

Tomorrow there will be a livesteam event with Lynell George (author of A Handful of Earth, a Handful of Sky: The World of Octavia E. Butler) and Connie Samaras

LeVar Burton is the inaugural PEN/Faulkner Literary Champion!

Charlie Jane Anders on how The Expanse transformed space opera for a new generation

Elsa Sjunneson on imagining futures and where our works go from here

An archived interview with Kurt Vonnegut from 1999

Aliette De Bodard has a new audiobook coming out!

Stacy Osei-Kuffour, who wrote for HBO’s Watchmen, has been tapped to write the new Blade that will star Mahershala Ali.

How knitters reverse engineer garments from pop culture

Idris and Sabrine Elba are working on an Afrofuturistic sci-fi series for Crunchyroll

The ongoing fight to reimagine Sherlock Holmes

This is an amazing thread about bird species named by people who obviously hate birds

On Book Riot

Canadian rioters have until 11:45pm tonight to win a copy of Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare. This month you can enter to win $100 at a bookstore of your choice, a bundle of YA books plus a $250 Visa gift card, and/or a Kindle Paperwhite. And only for Canadian Rioters, a $100 Indigo gift card.

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.

Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for February 5 Got Romance in Your SFF

Happy Friday, shipmates! And first Friday of February, at that–so happy Black History Month as well! It’s Alex, with some romantic SFF and some links to look at. Oh, and if you have Netflix, Space Sweepers should be available as of today–it’s a fun-looking Korean SFF movie. Stay safe out there, space pirates. I’ll see you on Tuesday!

Today’s happy thing: Bat World Sanctuary let us know they have 24/7 live bat cams! Bat World is the home of Statler the 33-year-old Indian flying fox who went viral on Twitter last week because he’s freaking adorable.

Let’s make 2021 better than 2020. A good place to start? The Okra Project and

News and Views

The 2020 Locus Recommend Reading List is out

Dust has put together a 49 minute showcase honoring Black filmmakers in sci-fi

Award-winning sci-fi/drama series Little Apple has premiered on YouTube

The Skiffy and Fantasy podcast did an episode on 3 African short SF films (full disclosure: I am an occasional co-host on this podcast, though I was not on this episode)

Nerds of a Feather has an interview with Everina Maxwell, author of Winter’s Orbit

Clarkesworld has an interview with Karen Osborne, author of the upcoming Engines of Oblivion

Aiden Moher writes about the lost magic of parenthood in Miyazaki’s work

One-Winged Angel is Funky

The oldest known rock from Earth might have been brought back from the Moon

On Book Riot

8 great queer science ficton books

13 polar fantasy books to transport you this winter

This week’s SFF Yeah! podcast is about darkly compelling books.

This month you can enter to win $100 at a bookstore of your choice, a bundle of YA books plus a $250 Visa gift card, and/or a Kindle Paperwhite. And only for Canadian Rioters, a $100 Indigo gift card.

Free Association Friday: Romantic SFF

As far as I’m concerned, two tastes that go great together are SFF and romance, which are two genres I love. Since it’s that time of the year, let’s highlight some romantic SFF–defined here as books that are primarily SFF but have a very strong romance plotline in them. Next week, expect SFF Romance, which are books written to romance genre specifications but take place in a SFF setting.

a curved dagger with a white hilt and jeweled base, set against a red-tinged backdrop

Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

There is no way I could do a romantic SFF feature and not have this book as number one on my list. It is the book that caused my house to coin the term “disaster heteros” because we spent so much time clutching our faces and screaming about why can’t these two dorks just KISS already. PLUS it’s Mughal-inspired fantasy about the evils of empire! Its sequel, Realm of Ash is excellent and also hits the romance buttons, though not quite as strongly for me as this one.

The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk

Let me be clear–any book by C.L. Polk fits this bill, and I heartily recommend them all. The Kingston Cycle (Witchmark, Stormsong, Soulstar) offers an entire bi pride flag of romance options. But this book is the newest one that’s currently out, and it’s about a sorceress who wishes to not marry despite family pressure because she doesn’t want to lose her magic… and then she falls in love.

a slightly pixelated red cardinal is mirrored by a blue bird with a white stomach; both are against a light blue background

This is How your Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Yes, this book really is as good as everyone says. Two soldiers in an endless post-human war begin writing letters to each other, and love finds a way. It’s gorgeous, it’s lush, and it deserves every award it’s gotten.

A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold

This is probably my second favorite of the Vorkosigan saga novels. It’s extremely funny, it has Miles playing Space Nancy Drew, and it’s about him absolutely flaming out because he’s desperately in love with a widow named Ekaterin, which gets them both tangled up in some twisty politics. I cannot do this book justice.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

A young trans man out to prove he can be a proper brujo accidentally summons the ghost of a missing classmate. So then he has a mystery to unravel and a ghost to send to rest… but what if he messes things up even more by falling in love? This book is a lot of fun in general, but the romance is absolutely adorable.

Lady Hotspur cover image

Lady Hotspur by Tessa Gratton

Come for the gender-bent Shakespearian history crossed with fantasy, stay for the romance between Hotspur and Hal, both of whom are victims of circumstance and politics and fate… but their love might just be strong enough to conquer all of those things and save their kingdoms besides.

Given by Nandi Taylor

A fierce warrior princess who wants to save her kingdom and the life of her father. A shape-shifting dragon who claims her as his “Given”–his fated partner. They have very different goals, but maybe they can manage both romance and saving the day–if the princess can find room in her perceived destiny for both.

Stealing Thunder by Alina Boyden

A trans woman who was once a prince in an enemy kingdom falls in love with a prince of her own–and then sets about reclaiming everything she gave up from her old life by saving the kingdom and her prince from a war started by her father. Everything in this book is kicked off by Razia’s romance with the prince, Arjun, and they make an epically cute couple.

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.

Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for February 2

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! It’s Alex, here with five picks from the start of the February book flood, and some news items to peruse. Over the weekend, it was just warm enough here for more to ride my bike around. Even covered head to toe and wearing a mask, it was a real relief to get some fresh air and see something other than walls (and listen to an audiobook while I was doing it!). I hope you get a similar opportunity soon! Stay safe out there, space pirates, and I’ll see you on Friday.

This is a beautiful Twitter thread about a little piece of lesbian family history.

Also, Evangelion, but… cats.

Let’s make 2021 better than 2020. A good place to start? The Okra Project and

New Releases

Note: The new release lists I have access to weren’t as diverse as I would have liked this week.

On Fragile Waves by E. Lily Yu

A family from Afghanistan journeys to Australia, keeping their hopes alive with fairy tales and stories. During the long journey from Pakistan to Indonesia to Nauru, they must rely on the kindness of strangers with questionable motives for temporary shelter. But Australia is not the land they’ve made into myth along the journey, and once there, Firuzeh, the daughter of the family, escapes into her fantasy worlds once more.

This Golden Flame by Emily Victoria

Karis has been forced to serve the Scriptorium, her country’s ruling group of scribes, who have one main purpose: unlock the magic of an army made of ancient automatons. As she searches for her missing brother, Karis accidentally awakens one of the automatons–which turns out to be intelligent and sentient, and named Alix. Alix doesn’t know why he was made or why his creator once tried to destroy him and all the other automatons. Now hunted by the Scriptorium, Karis and Alix must work together to find Karis’s brother and unearth the secrets that have long held the country in darkness.

A History of What Comes Next by Sylvain Neuvel

Mia’s family has shaped humanity over 99 generations, always pushing them to try to reach for the stars. Her task in this mission is to lure Wernher Von Braun to the American space program, thus securing the move into the space race. But Mia’s family isn’t the only one trying to manipulate history, and her enemies are far more ruthless and creative than she yet imagines.

Beneath the Keep by Erika Johansen

A kingdom once founded to be a utopia has collapsed into feudalism, with the gap between wealthy and poor ever-widening. A rumor circulates that a True Queen will save the kingdom, and these are the sort of rumors that fuel rebellion. A young man named Lazarus, who has lived most his life without ever seeing the sky as he is trained to kill mercilessly, ascends to the surface and joins a royal court filled with intrigue. There he meets Niya, a handmaiden with a true identity that must never be revealed, and the princess she serves, Elyssa. Together, the three of them must fight for a better world and to master their own fates.

cover image of And Then She Vanished by Nick Jones

And Then She Vanished by Nick Jones

Twenty years ago, Joseph Bridgeman’s little sister, Amy, disappeared, and his life fell apart. A friend convinces him to see a hypnotherapist for his insomnia, and instead he accidentally discovers he can time travel. He suddenly has a new purpose: to go back and save Amy. But the further he travels back, the less time he gets to spend in his destination–and he has a deadly mystery to solve.

News and Views

Nominations are now open for the 2021 Sir Julius Vogel Awards. Anyone can nominate.

Symphony Space is doing a Celebration of Octavia E. Butler on February 24.

Over at Vox, there’s a discussion about Harrow the Ninth: Profound grief and terrible puns

The Book as Rorschach Test (Flowers for Algernon)

Netflix has made its first casting announcements for Sandman

Stitch’s Media Mix: Urban Fantasy 101: Magical Negros in the Genre

How to save the world by reading science fiction

The Culture war: Iain M. Banks’s billionaire fans

Science may have solved the Dyatlov Pass mystery, with the help of… Frozen 2? And here’s a Twitter thread that summarizes if NatGeo is giving you trouble.

On Book Riot

A beginner’s guide to the godpunk genre

The best funny sci-fi books

Imaginary Papers issue 5 is out

You’ve got until 11:45 pm tonight if you’re in Canada to enter to win a copy of Wings of Ebony by J. Elle.

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.

Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for January 29

Happy Friday, shipmates! Just two days and we’ll have gotten through the first month of 2021. Is it me, or is the progression of time feeling slightly more normal in recent days? Might just be me. It’s Alex, and I’ve got some angry books for you this week, as well as links and news. Stay safe out there, shipmates, and I’ll talk to you on Tuesday when the Book Flood comes!

I love this short SF comedy video by Jeff Wright.

Let’s make 2021 better than 2020. A good place to start? The Okra Project and

News and Views

USPS is going to have Star Wars droids stamps!

The Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction is now online!

Brent Spiner talks with SyFy Wire about his fictional autobiography, Fan Fiction.

On the heels of dropping their lawsuit, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman have announced a new Dragonlance trilogy.

17 iconic fashion moments in SFF has revealed the cover for the omnibus of Neon Yang’s The Tensorate Series.

Young People Read Old Hugo Finalists

An oral history of The Emperor’s New Groove

First photos have been released from Netflix’s Shadow and Bone. It looks AMAZING.

Emma Caulfield sees “Dotties” in the fandom

See you in 110 hours–Babylon 5 is on HBO Max and it’s remastered.


On Book Riot

This week’s SFF Yeah! is about the most anticipated series of 2021.

We’ve got a giveaway for Wings of Ebony by J. Elle, just for Canadians! This month you can also enter to win $100 to the bookstore of your choice, a 1-year Kindle Unlimited Subscription, or your own library cart.

Free Association Friday

I just finished reading Lore by Alexandra Bracken and it was a fun urban fantasy ride with a cool Greek mythology gimmick. But the thing that really struck me about this book is the way the main character, Melora, is so angry. And while there are plenty of angry heroines (and far more angry heroes) in fiction, a lot of times the stories really focus on anger as a force that destroys the person who feels it and those around them. It’s more rare to hit on the nuance that anger can also be rocket fuel for change. In Lore, there’s no doubt about the destructive power of anger, and the effect it has on Melora’s life–but it also powers her through the changes she has to make to herself and the world.

What about some other books that examine the positive power of anger? (I must quickly mention here Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro, which is definitely not SFF, but it is very much about this concept. Full disclosure: Mark and I have the same agent.)

Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang

Cas Russell can use mathematics like a magic superpower to dodge bullets. But after having her memories screwed with and her life manipulated, she is rightfully mad as hell by the time she gets to Null Set. That anger powers her to Fight Crime–and fix the problem she herself caused by crushing her last enemies.

queen of the conquered

Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender

The islands of Hans Lollik have been ravaged by colonizers, with families murdered and the survivors subjugated. The anger that comes from that pain drives one woman to try exact her revenge by way of the trhone, and in its sequel King of the Rising, powers former slave Loren to lead a revolution.

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

Navajo monster hunter Maggie Hoskie has a lot of reasons to be really mad at the world. She’s been given that anger by a lot of betrayal and a lot of death around her, and it’s been used to manipulate her. But it powers her into being almost unstoppable, both in pursuing revenge and pursuing justice.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

The Fifth Season starts with an act of destructive anger, when Essun’s husband beats their son to death because he reveals he has the powers of an Orogene, someone who can manipulate seismic energies. It’s set in a world built upon injustice and iniquity, shaped by the rage of the Earth itself at what has been done to it. But Essun and many of the other characters use both their grief and the accompanying anger at what has been done to them to ultimately forge a better world–even if at great cost.

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.

Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for January 26

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! It’s Alex with a pack of new releases for you. Publishing’s picking back up after a sleepy December. (Just wait ’til you see what the list for next week looks like. It’s HUGE.) I’ve been reading a nonfiction book lately that I want to mention: Underland by Robert Macfarlane is a book about deep time and humanity’s interaction with geology, which is unsurprisingly right up my alley. It articulates a lot of my own feeling about our place in deep time and the responsibilities is places upon us. I definitely recommend it. Stay safe out there, space pirates. I’ll see you on Friday!

Let’s make 2021 better than 2020. A good place to start? The Okra Project and

New Releases

We Could Be Heroes by Mike Chen

Two archrivals meet at a memory loss support group after having their pasts erased: Jamie, who uses his powers to read and erase the memories of others to hold up banks; and Zoe, who uses her powers of super speed and strength to mostly deliver fast food. They soon realize that the keys to their missing pasts lie in each other. As outer threats begin to mount, they must learn to trust each other–and themselves.

Dealbreaker by L.X. Beckett

Rubi Whiting has convinced the galactic governing body that humanity deserves a seat at the table… and the responsibility of fixing its own problems. But humanity isn’t being welcomed universally into the galactic community of worlds, and there are those who would happily sabotage its stumbling attempts to stand on equal footing.

Wings of Ebony by J. Elle

After her mother is murdered on her doorstep, Rue is taken away from her neighborhood and her sister, Tasha, by the father she never knew and whisked away to the hidden island of Ghizon. There she learns she is half-god among magic wielders who thrive on human suffering. She escapes to visit Tasha on the anniversary of their mother’s death and discovers her falling under the influence of those that took everything from them. Rue must embrace her true identity and powers if she’s to save her sister and her home.

Brother Red by Adrian Selby

Driwana is a soldier who works for a merchant guild, guarding their caravans. During a bandit attack, she discovers a corpse hidden in one of the caravan’s wagons. The body is of one of the Oskoro people, and thus a priceless object. As Driwana investigates where the body came from and where it was intended to go, she finds herself on the trail of a great evil that leaves deceit and corruption in its wake.

Written in Starlight by Isabel Ibañez

Catalina has lost everything: her throne, her people, her best friend. She’s been banished to the Yanu Jungle, but she won’t stop trying to escape and regain all she has lost. She’s rescued by Manuel, the son of a general. Together, they will search for the lost city of gold that could buy allies for them both. But first they must find a way to stop the corruption that’s threatening to destroy the jungle and its people from within.

Time Travel for Love and Profit by Sarah Lariviere

After a terrible freshman year in which she loses her only friend, math prodigy Nephele invents time travel to give herself a chance at a do-over. Only instead, she traps herself in a time loop where time advances without her. On her tenth shot at the ninth grade, she has a teacher who used to be a classmate, and finally has a new friend in a student named Jazz. She’s also figured out how to undo her time loop, but why go back to the past when she has something worth staying for, now?

News and Views

Interview with E. Lily Yu at Lightspeed

R.B. Lemberg made a thread of quotes from Ursula K. Le Guin’s poetry on the third anniversary of her death.

Constelación Magazine has released its first issue to Kickstarter backers and subscribers. They’ll start releasing one story a week on their website this week.

Stampede Ventures and wiip are adapting the first book of Embers of War.

Shiv Ramdas: Supernatural or Super Unnatural – An Examination of Postcolonial Horror

An amazing Twitter thread that uses That Bernie Sanders Picture to show the relative size of ocean animals. Also, the Bernie meme hits The Fellowship of the Ring and WandaVision.

The biopic about Tove Jansson is coming to the US, Canada and UK!

Rest in peace, Mira Furlan, who played Delenn in Babylon 5. JMS has written a beautiful eulogy for her.

Finn deserved better – and so did Black Star Wars fans

A Texas Lawyer cited Lord of the Rings in a pro-Trump lawsuit, to the utter bafflement and/or fury of a lot of Lord of the Rings fans (for example).

In other legal news, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman have filed for dismissal of their lawsuit against Wizards of the Coast without prejudice.

Space station detectors found the source of weird ‘blue jet’ lightning

Important dinosaur butthole discovery

On Book Riot

A battle guide to the top 20 military fantasy books

10 female assassin books about death, justice, and survival

You have until January 24 to enter to win a copy of Tales from the Hinterland.

This month you can enter to win $100 to the bookstore of your choice, a 1-year Kindle Unlimited Subscription, or your own library cart.

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.

Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for January 22 is Hopeful

Happy Friday, shipmates! And here’s hoping it’s a brighter Friday for you than the one that came before. It’s Alex, writing to you from the past where I just finished watching the livestream of the inauguration, and if you have not watched Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem, you need to. So I’m here with some hopeful SFF books for you on a hopeful day. Let’s keep sailing together for the horizon, though the storm still rages—and stay safe out there. I’ll see you again on Tuesday.

Thing I want to share with everyone today: Short Film: Tȟokáta Hé Miyé /My Name Is Future

Let’s make 2021 better than 2020. A good place to start? The Okra Project and

News and Views

Nalo Hopkinson spoke with CBC radio about being the first Black woman to become a Damon Knight Grand Master

Zig Zag Claybourne made an awesome playlist for Afro Puffs Are the Antennae of the Universe

Congratulations to Lennixx-Nickolai Treat Bad Moccasin for winning the 2020 Imagining Indigenous Futurisms Award

LA Review of Books has a piece about George MacDonald, who was a major influence on the Inklings

David Barnett writes a tribute to Storm Constantine in The Guardian

Elizabeth Olsen on how she transformed her performance for each episode of WandaVision (Related: WandaVision is the most important thing to happen to the MCU since Iron Man. It’s certainly sucked me back in.)

You’ve still got a few days if you’d like to get in on the January 27 Frontiers Lecture about Titan.

On Book Riot

14 adult fairytales for the young at heart

Who was Mary Shelley? An exploration of her life

Reading Pathways: Magical worlds and dreamy fantasy with Laini Taylor

This month you can enter to win $100 to the bookstore of your choice, a 1-year Kindle Unlimited Subscription, or your own library cart.

Free Association Friday: Hope

You know how I’m feeling this week? Hopeful. Hopeful. Not because I think everything is magically better and every problem is in the rearview mirror… but because I feel like thing can get better. And in honor of that, here’s some books that give me that same feeling of hope, of looking forward.

The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah

“I believe that any dad who raises his child to believe the world is full of magic, and that there’s always hope no matter what, truly deserves for her to rescue him one day when he needs it.”

Do you need any more than that? In a world of water, a submarine pilot must rescue her dad and take down a corrupt government.

The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal

After a meteor strike means humanity has to get off the planet right now (right now being the 1950s) the next step in the reach for the stars is establishing a moon base. Nicole Wargin, wife of a senator and a Lady Astronaut in her own right, takes what might be her last trip up to the Moon just in time for conspiracies to reach a head and disaster to strike. She and her crewmates have to figure out how to keep everyone alive, find the traitors—and remind the world that hope will be found in space. (This one also involves an epidemic, so take care if you want to avoid that.)

The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord

Aliens who are distantly related to humans are made into refugees when their homeland is destroyed, and so they reach out to the people of Earth for a new home. Now the two clashing societies must work together if they are to save themselves and find a new way of being.

Night Watch by Terry Pratchett

Freedom, Truth, Justice, and Reasonably Priced Love. The May revolutionaries of Ankh-Morpork aren’t asking for anything that unreasonable, are they? Sam Vimes gets to live through this revolution twice; once as an idiotic youth and once as his world-weary adult self, kicked back in time by a mysterious accident and still in pursuit of a murderer. He knows how the revolution goes; he knows how many of his friends fall. And he’ll try to save them anyway, even if it means sacrificing his own future life.

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

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers

The Exodus Fleet is a living relic of humanity’s escape from Earth; humanity has mostly moved on at this point. While the Exodans grapple with their obsolete home and the fundamental question of if their way of life is worth saving at all, the fleet offers a new home and a new beginning to those who feel lost and disconnected from their own lives.

A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker

This one might be a bit close to home because the inciting incident for concerts (and other public gatherings) becoming illegal is a pandemic, but…

A musician who has been cut off from her audience performs illegal, underground concerts, and a young woman who spends all her life in the online world makes it her mission to find musicians and bring them to a new, virtual audience.

LaGuardia by Nnedi Okorafor, art by Tana Ford

I generally don’t do graphic novels in this newsletter since they have their own newsletter, but I’m making an exception for this one. In a world where aliens are real and living among us, a Nigerian-American doctor anmed Future who is pregnant under “mysterious” circumstances smuggles an illegal alien plant into NYC and settles into her grandmother’s tenement, among African and shape-shifting alien immigrants. The community faces discrimination, travel bans, and other very topical problems… and if that’s not enough, Future’s pregnancy seems to be changing her…

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.