Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for January 19

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! It’s Alex with some new releases and a bit of news for you–and I’m ridiculously excited that one of the new releases actually has a ship on the cover (The Forever Sea.) I’ve had a difficult time reading lately–stress just destroys my focus–so I’ll recommend a couple neat things I’ve watched recently. Love and Monsters is a fun journey across 85 miles of the post-monsterpocalypse, which has a solid emotional core and a Very Good Boy named Boy in it, who lives through the whole thing (it’s that kind of movie). And WandaVision is actually really good? I’m a little annoyed at the MCU for sucking me back in. Here’s hoping I get my reading mojo back soon–I just cracked open Across the Green Grass Fields and I’ve got a good feeling about this. Stay safe out there, space pirates, remember to breathe tomorrow, and I’ll see you on Friday!

Thing that made me giggle this week: A cat watching The Rise of Skywalker

Also, if you have missed Sea Shanty TikTok, here is a mashup/compillation that has helped me maintain my grip on reality this week.

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

New Releases

Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

An alien artifact falling from the sky takes everything from Fatima–even her name. The new name given to her is Sanokfa, and the Angel of Death is the one who named her. Now she searches for that alien artifact with only a fox as her companion, and anyone who gets in her way will face a girl whose simple glance can kill.

The Mask of Mirrors by M.A. Carrick

Nadezra is the city of dreams, but a corrupt nightmare has begun to weave its way through its underbelly. Ren, who left the city to save her sister and returned as a con artist to gain her revenge, finds herself at the heart of this tangled danger. If she does not save this city she returned to destroy, she’ll lose more than she can imagine.

We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal

The Arz has fallen and the battle on Sharr has ended. Though Altair has been captured, Zafira, Nasir, and Kifah are determined to finish the plan they set in motion, to return magic to Arawiya. Nasir must learn to command the magic in his blood while Zafira struggles to maintain her sanity against the bond with the Jawarat–and despite all this, they find themselves falling in love.

Hall of Smoke by H.M. Long

Hessa is a warrior priestess called an Eangi, exiled for her refusal to obey her goddess and kill a traveller. While she is exiled, her village is razed and the other Eangi are killed. Hessa has no choice but to try to win back her goddess’s favor by finishing the job she failed at–but along her journey of redemption she discovers the the gods are dying and the afterlife is fading. There is more on the line than her own life after death, and powers older than the gods are about to awaken.

The Forever Sea by Joshua Phillip Johnson

The Forever Sea is a miles-high expanse of prairie grasses, sailed by harvesting vessels. The hearthfire keeper on one such vessel, Kindred, receives news that her grandmother has stepped into the Forever Sea from the railing of another ship and disappeared. But this was not an act of suicide–there’s something going on in the depths, and Kindred’s grandmother has gone to investigate. Kindred soon follows in her grandmother’s footsteps, discovering the conflicts simmering in the dark beneath the green waves–though it might cost her everything to learn.

Inscape by Louise Carey

In a future where corporations jealously guard their territory and tech over the ruins of human civilization, Tanta is an agent who has trained all her life to do InTech’s bidding. When she’s sent outside the corporate territory to retrieve a stolen hard drive, two of her team are killed and she barely makes it out alive. Determined to redeem herself, she starts an investigation that leads her to a conspiracy deep within her employer.

News and Views

S.L. Huang on how her awesome book Burning Roses is entirely fanfiction

You still have time to register for Tim Fielder in conversation with Edward Hall and Victor LaValle about Infinitum on January 21!

Audio interview with Rebecca Roanhorse over at New Books Network.

Which House of Shattered Wings magical faction do you belong to?

Catherynne M. Valente will have a Best Of collection from Subterranean Press!

Ursula K. Le Guin is going to be on a stamp this year!! There’s also an overview of Le Guin’s career at the Longon Review of Books: It’s not Jung’s, it’s mine

Why Kim Stanley Robinson wrote a new cli-fi novel… in which things actually get better

Muppet 1984

Wednesday Books has announced Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood, a fantasy Ethiopian-inspired retelling of Jane Eyre.

SFF Creators singing onto the No Book Deals for Traitors letter

This is a cool mini-doc about the martial arts reference videos for Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra

Elsa Sjunneson: Calling Hellen Keller a fraud for her ‘unbelievable’ accomplishments is ableist

On Book Riot

Even more books to read based on your Dungeons & Dragons class

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 15: Juicy

Happy Friday, shipmates! It’s been one heck of a week again… though mercifully in a different way than last week (I hope. Please don’t prove me wrong, the 36 hours that elapse between Wednesday night and Friday). It’s Alex, with some SFF news and a random selection of books for your perusal.

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

Need something to smile about? A cat named Oregano has you covered.

News and Views

Solaris has announced a New Suns 2 anthology, also edited by Nisi Shawl!

Good news! Author David Weber is out of the hospital.

The character Cyborg has been removed from The Flash movie. Cyborg’s actor, Ray Fisher, responds. This is some ugly stuff that involves a whole lot of institutional failure on the part of Warner Brothers and others.

Reading between the lines of the official synopsis for the Amazon Middle Earth series

io9 has an excerpt from Aiden Thomas’s next book, Lost in the Never Woods

Terry Brooks speaks very candidly about finishing The Sword of Shannara.

SparkNotes has a strong Twitter game. This tweet’s about dystopian novels.

Star Trek: Discovery‘s co-showrunning Michelle Paradise on the culmination of season 3–SPOILER WARNING!

Ubisoft will be developing a Star Wars open-world game.

Massachusetts is looking at picking a state dinosaur!

Oh wow and they’ve found a fossilized dinosaur still sitting on a nest of eggs!

How about a planet with three suns?

On Book Riot

This week’s SFF Yeah! is about most anticipated stand-alones of 2021.

What fairytale are you? Take this quiz to find out!

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: Juicy

For absolutely no reason at all, I find myself thinking about fruit today! It’s delicious and nutritious, right? And also a part of a well-balanced SFF book. So here’s a few books in which you can find a bit of fruit…

Semiosis by Sue Burke

Humans land unprepared on an alien planet, only to find that they’re not the only intelligent life out there–and that intelligent life is nothing the humans could have ever imagined.

Where’s the fruit? The strange plants of this world bear many fruit, and it changes from day to day. Sometimes it’s delicious and addictive, others–poisonous.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

After the mysterious death of her father, Faith discovers a strange tree, which grows healthy and bears fruit only if you whisper a lie to it.

Where’s the fruit? The fruit of this tree, if eaten, reveals a truth. And the bigger the lie that made the fruit, the bigger the truth it uncovers when eaten…

The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk

A sorceress named Beatrice must choose between making a good marriage for the sake of her family and thus losing her connection to her magic, and asserting herself as a sorceress and remaining forever unwed.

Where’s the fruit? Beatrice makes her midnight bargain by feeding the spirit she summons delicious fruit… among other things.

Master of Poisons by Andrea Hairston

Although the people would rather live in a green yesterday than face the dying, poisoned present, an old man and his apprentice teach them to hope again.

Where’s the fruit? One of the main characters befriends an elephant by feeding it fruit… and then later, Mango the Elephant becomes instrumental to the story.

gods monsters and the lucky peach

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson

A future reeling from a multitude of ecological disasters sends expeditions to the past to observe what earth was like before humans ruined it.

Where’s the fruit? There really isn’t one, but the ship is named the Lucky Peach and I there’s something about that, you know?

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

An orphaned boy escapes his horrible aunts by rolling away in a magical, giant peach inahbited by enormous, friendly bugs.

Where’s the fruit? The peach is real, and giant. Worth reading once… or twice, even.

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 12

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! It’s Alex with some good news: we made it through one of the more bonkers weeks we’ve had in a series of years with some really bonkers weeks! Who knows what we’ve got coming in the next seven days–I wish you strength and fortitude and a break from doomscrolling. So in the spirit of that last item, how about we check out the new releases since reading is a good way to occupy your ears or eyeballs with something non-terrible. I’ve got some SFF news for you, too, and may that also be a welcome break. Stay safe out there. Eyes up.

Thing that made me smile this week: I cannot get enough of sea shanty TikTok.

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 too weren’t as diverse as I would have liked this week.

The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry by C.M. Waggoner

Delly, a partly-educated fire witch who also happens to be a part-time thief and con artist, fast talks her way into a bodyguard job for a wealthy lady who will soon be married. She quickly has designs of her own on one of her fellow bodyguards who is out of her league and absolutely irresistible. But soon unknown assassins really are trying to kill Delly’s charge. Can she save one lady and romance another?

The Frozen Crown by Greta Kelly

The heir to the Frozen Crown of Seravesh must seek an alliance with the nation of Vishir if she’s to save her people from invaders unleashed by a mad emperor. But she’s ill-equipped to play politics and she’s soon mired in court intrigues and far in over her head and threatens to reveal one of her darkest secrets–that she’s a witch.

Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire

Another wayward child finds her way to a magical doorway that takes her to a land of centaurs, kelpies, and unicorns–a land where she’s expected to be a hero, though heroism comes in many forms.

Doors of Sleep: Journals of Zaxony Delatree by Tim Pratt

Zax travels to a new reality every time he falls asleep, with no control over where he ends up. He has to rely on his wits and what small advantages he can find in each world if he wants to survive–though sometimes he can take friends with him if they’re unconscious in his arms before he falls asleep. And there’s someone following him, someone who wants his uncontrollable power, which would require taking his blood.

City of the Plague God by Sarwat Chadda

Sik is an ordinary kid who just wants to go to school and help his parents out in the deli they own. But then the Mesopotamian god Nergal comes looking for him, convinced that Sik holds the secret to eternal life–and indeed, Sik is unexpectedly immortal. Soon, he’s embroiled in ancient business, and he’s got to work with the adopted daughter of Ishtar and a retired hero named Gilgamesh if he’s going to save New York City from a plague.

The Stranger Times by C.K. McDonnell

The Stranger Times is a newspaper that covers the unexplained and inexplicable, run by a rag-tag group of journalist-rejects who all have their own serious problems. But as their newest reporter starts to dig into her first investigation, they realize that some stories they’ve recently dismissed are real, and indicate the presence of unimaginable powerful and dark forces.

News and Views

Cory Doctorow wrote an epic Twitter thread about NK Jemisin’s The City We Became

7 Surprising Facts About Octavia Butler

I See No Choice But to Resign From This Death Star as it Begins to Explode

Now that The Great Gatsby is public domain, we can have things like this: an AO3 work in which “Gatsby” has been search+replaced with “Gritty,” thus transforming it into a work of dark fantasy.

New short story from Sam J. Miller, a birthday present for David Bowie: Let All the Children Boogie

SFWA Grand Master James Gunn has passed away


Turkey’s legacy with sci-fi and superheroes in film has a conversation with author Charles Yu

Alex Brown’s list of must-read speculative short fiction from December 2020

File 770 has a cute new entry in its ongoing series of cat pictures. They’ve also got highlights from the WFC 2020 interview with Brandon Sanderson.

The Jewish Museum of Maryland has an exhibit running through April 11, 2021 called Jews in Space: Members of the Tribe in Orbit. The website’s got a lot of cool virtual stuff on it too!

The oral history of the making of Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys

And this isn’t SFF as such, but I thought my fellow writers out there might find this of interest: Haymarket Books just published The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop

On Book Riot

Some more peculiar books from the new weird genre

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 8

Happy Friday, shipmates. Congratulations on making it to the end of… *checks notes* the first full week of January, 2021. It’s.. been a week. This is Alex, with some news items for you and some rambling about my favorite comfort read, because for some reason I feel like a comfort read is warranted right now. Thank you in advance for your indulgence when you get to the end of the newsletter. Anyway, I hope you’re staying safe, I hope you’re drinking water and eating a food at appropriate intervals. I’ll see you on Tuesday!

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

News and Views

Congratulations to the winners of the 2020 Stabby Awards!

You can read an excerpt from Aliette de Bodard’s Fireheart Tiger.

John Wiswell: Weird Plagues: How Fear of Disease Mutated into a Subgenre

Check out this Kickstarter for khōréō, a magazine of speculative fiction by immigrant and diaspora writers.

The Royal Mint is going to release some commemorative HG Wells coins, which have a couple of puzzling flaws on them.

Netflix dropped a preview for the Korean sci-fi movie Space Sweepers and I am VERY EXCITED.

David Weber is doing all right in the hospital so far. Updates from him are being posted on his author Facebook page.

Super interesting! A study examines the way conspiracy theories relate to folkloric structures.

A study was just published about an unusual star astronmers have observed.

Another cool astronomy thing: Phil Plait on the massive solar flare that hit Earth in 774 AD.

On Book Riot

What to read after you’ve been let down by Cyberpunk 2077

6 Black indie SFF writers you should be reading

This week’s SFF Yeah! podcast is about some books we’re finally getting around to reading

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: The book that’s going to get me through this.

I’m sure it doesn’t come as a surprise to you that I’m actually writing this newsletter from the past. In general, I normally write the newsletter a day and a half before it hits your inbox. So from the hopefully calmer vista that is Friday the 8th, keep in mind that I’m talking to you from the evening of Wednesday the 6th.

Yeah. It’s sure been a day. It’s my sincere hope that you, 36 hours in the future, have been able to stop doomscrolling twitter and clenching your teeth around an endless scream of anxiety and rage (though not, sadly, surprise). I am unfortunately not in that place, because we’re still in the middle of the coup, and while I sincerely hope that by now it can be considered “failed,” I don’t know in the past. I’m drinking a glass of red wine (the first of many this evening, no doubt) and as you can imagine, books are basically the last thing I can brain about at the moment. If you want a more useful assessment of books to check out perhaps, click on my post about Black indie SFF writers and look in awe at the amazing cover of Nicole’s book.

That was the long explanation as to why, if I’m going to talk about anything book-related today, it’s going to be my go-to comfort read, which I already mentioned back in November, sorry. But I’ll probably be going to sleep tonight listening to a random chapter of it.

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addision

Maia is the half-goblin, youngest son of the Emperor and has lived his entire life in exile, comfortable in the knowledge that he will never have to be involved in politics. When his father and all of half-brothers are killed in an airship “accident,” he suddenly finds himself in power, navigating intrigue that he was never prepared to deal with.

Why do I love this book so darn much and find it so darn comforting? I’d be lying if I didn’t immediately point to the audiobook, which is read by my favorite narrator of all time, Kyle McCarley. That I listened to it first in audiobook means that Kyle got me over my personal, wretched hatred of constructed languages. Thanks to him, I didn’t spend a lot of time grumpily muddling through made-up elvish words, because he read them for me in his beautiful voice.

But ultimately, it’s more about the content. Maia is, through and through, a terribly kind and empathetic person who is trying to do a job he was never trained to do… and do it right, because he understands he has a duty to be a good Emperor even if he doesn’t have the training and has to figure it out for himself. There’s a bit of plot in that he has to solve the mystery of his father’s death and… oh, right, he survives a freaking coup using empathy and persuasion and the strength of relationships. But mostly, it’s about him building relationships and figuring out who he wants to be as a leader, and I love it all, because I love him as a character.

And it’s going to have a sequel of sorts, which is about the arch-angsty gay elven priest Celehar: The Witness for the Dead. Let the record show that I am personally disappointed in everyone who did not give me this news immediately.

I hope you, too, have a book you an hold close like a well-worn teddy bear. May they give us the comfort that will grant us the strength we need for whatever is to come.

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 5

Welcome to 2021, dear shipmates! We made it past the flipping of the calendar page, and while things still look very much the same (obviously), I’m trying to keep my heart filled with hope (though considering I rang in the new year by finally watching the original John Carpenter’s The Thing while drinking champaigne, well…). Yes, it’s Alex, with the first round of new releases for a new year, and a few hopefully interesting news items. Stay safe out there, and I’ll see you on Friday!

Thing that made me laugh: This is very sweary, but here’s “turning random internet drama into songs, part 2” and I cannot stop watching it.

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 too weren’t as diverse as I would have liked this week.

Persephone Station by Stina Leicht

Persephone Station is a backwater planet that the United Republic of Worlds is content to ignore while a corporation makes its home there—and keeps its secrets. Rosie is the owner of a bar that caters to tourists and criminals; Angel is a criminal who does a favor for her. The result is that they both end up in hot water with the corporation—and its private army.

Domesticating Dragons by Dan Koboldt

Noah, a man with a shiny new PhD in genetics lands his dream job at a company where he gets to design new lines of living, breathing dragons. These creatures have mostly been used for industrial purposes until now, but the company’s eager to break into the general retail market by designing dragons into the perfect pet. But Noah has other ideas, and his own changes he wants to make to the draconic genome…

Star Wars The High Republic: A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland

A newly-minted 16-year-old Jedi Knight named Vernestra Rwoh is handed a first assignment that feels frustratingly like a babysitting gig: supervise an aspiring inventor four years her junior as they head to a new space station. But bombs go off in the ship as soon as they’re out of reach of easy help, and Vernestra has to keep her charge and several other survivors of the bombing alive after they land their escape pod on a nearby moon.

Crown of Bones by A.K. Wilder

A humble scribe who thought she was only supposed to record the great deeds of others discovers she may have more power than she could have imagined in a world that stands at the brink of the next Great Dying.

Lore by Alexandra Bracken

Every seven years, nine Greek gods must walk the earth as mortals. There, they are hunted by those eager to kill a god and seize their immortality. Lore is the survivor of a line of these hunters who were brutally murdered by a rival family. Now, she’s got a chance for revenge against the man-turned-god responsible for their deaths.

Bloodsworn by Tej Turner

Twelve years after a bloody war that has left two nations licking their wounds and smoldering with leftover animosity, the villagers of an isolated village named Jalard have been largely untouched by this trauma. But their yearly contact with the outside world brings shocking changes. Normally, representatives of the Academy come to take two villagers away to join the institute, which has been a great honor. Until this year, when a shocking announcement leaves the residents of Jalard questioning just where their people have been going all these years.

News and Views

Per Harry Turtledove, David Weber is in the hospital due to COVID.

Ranking every superhero origin movie I could remember – there’s TWENTY-NINE. Whoof.

Martha Wells has a thread on Twitter about pirated editions on Kindle and the battle she’s having with Amazon regarding some work she’s self-published. If you’re not aware of this issue, it’s very worth reading.

Anathema has done their December 2020 issue as a Showcase Edition. If you’re looking for more short fiction from queer people of color, this is a great place to start reading.

James Nicoll on the strange experience of reading a book series in the wrong order

I watched Wonder Woman 1984 over Christmas. Sorry to say I did not like it. This is probably the best review I’ve seen of the movie (and much more concise than mine).

Sarah Gailey has shared an awesome cocoa recipe. (Full disclosure: Sarah and I have the same agent.)

Addressing The Mandalorian as a diaspora story.

If you feel like being sad, io9 has a list of who our community lost in 2020.

On Book Riot

10 under-the-radar fantasy and science fiction books from 2020

Dragons, war and magic: a flock of books like Eragon

Fantasy, dark sarcasm, and sci-fi: reading pathways to Jay Kristoff

12 must-read high fantasy novels coming out in the second half of 2020

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 December 22

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! It’s Alex, and today I come bearing indie books rather than new releases, because we are truly in the part of the year where publishing just… shuts down. As a head’s up, this is also the last newsletter of the year–we’ll pick back up on January 5, 2021.

It’s sure… been a decade of a year, huh? I offer a hearty good riddance, don’t let the door hit ya where the gods split ya to 2020. In all truth, writing this newsletter twice a week has helped me not fall apart this year, because it was a regular schedule, and I enjoy talking with y’all about books. I hope maybe it helped you out, too.

Here’s hoping 2021 will treat us all a lot more gently. And while I know the holidays are uniformly rough this year, I hope you can make the most of the season, have some cookies and an appropriate beverage, and kick back with the books. Because at least it’s been one heck of a good year for those. It’s not too late to go full Icelandic and have your own book flood!

Stay safe, keep sailing, and I’ll see you next year!

Indie Book Celebration!

There isn’t much in the way of new releases between now and December 31, so let’s do one last round of indie SFF that came out over the last year! If you want to check out more SFF indie goodness, look at these replies over on Twitter.

Elemental: Shadows of Otherside by Whitney Hill

Urban fantasy where elves, vampires, and djinn rub elbows in North Carolina. In this world, PI (and sylph) Arden Finch just wants to practice her forbidden magic and live her life. Too bad the elves have a bounty out on elementals like her… and then one of them accidentally hires her. There’s a second book in the series, too: Eldritch Sparks!

The Lost Signal by J.S. Fernandez Morales

A human scientist, in collaboration with a mysterious counterpart he’s never seen, designs a warship that the government immediately orders him to dismantle. But his collaborator reveals that aliens are coming to conquer humanity, and the ship is what they need to survive. (The second book is out, too: The Last Guardian.)

Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction From Africa and the African Diaspora edited by Zelda Knight and Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald

An anthology of stories and poetry written entirely by authors of Africa and the African Diaspora. Just check out the author list–it’s strong as heck.

Bloodsister by Al Hess

The author describes this series as “cozy, optimistic apocalypse.” It focuses on humans doing their human thing, surviving and figuring out how to thrive after the end of the world. In this installment, Jack needs to search for a cure for his three-year-old found sister, Poppy, when her weakened immune system gets hit with an aggressive virus. The answers are out in the wasteland.

Machinations by Hayley Stone

Rhona has been battling the malevolent AI that wants to wipe out humanity for as long as the war has been going… until it kills her. Now she’s back, new body, same personality, minus some very important memories. She needs to figure out how to reshape her life and find her way–and get back in the fight.

Murder in Esterloch and Other Short Stories by S.S. Long

A collection of seven short stories in which a mated pair of dragon-shifters have adventures that include an egg hunt, illness, and even a murder investigation.

Conviction by Glynn Stewart

Kira didn’t exactly expect a medal for her wartime heroics, but assassins out for her blood when her government betrays her as part of their surrender terms is exponentially worse. She and her comrades are forced to flee to the edge of civilized space, where they try to build new homes and new lives. But their enemies have a long reach…

Ghost Bus – Tales from Wellington’s Dark Side by Anna Kirtlan

A collection of paranormal humor and horror short stories with a New Zealand twist.

Threading the Labyrinth by Tiffani Angus

An American leaves her failing gallery behind and moves to England after inheriting a manor house in Herfordshire… from a relative she’s never heard of. Soon she’s immersed in the 400-year history of the crumbling house and its overgrown garden, and in that long past, she may at last find herself.

News and Views

The Carl Brandon Society has named its winners for the Parallax and Kindred Awards

SFWA has released the Nebula Awards Showcase 54, edited by Nibedita Sen

MIRA books has two new titles coming from Mike Chen

This thread of Lord of the Rings characters as dogs

Another really great thread calling out awesome science news from this year that you probably missed because of *gestures vaguely at everything*

Ursula Vernon: History, Discovery, and the Quiet Heroics of Gardening

The BBC will be doing Katherine Atkinson’s Life After Life as a 4-part mini series.

Happy Christmas! has ranked the killer santa movies

On Book Riot

10 space books to read so the Galactic Federation will talk to us

Read Harder: An SFF anthology edited by a person of color

This month you can enter to win a $100 Books-A-Million Gift Card and a 1-year Kindle Unlimited subscription.

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 December 18: A Celebration of Series

Happy Friday, shipmates! It’s Alex, and I want to tell you about a bunch of SFF series today, so I’ll keep this very brief. I hope you’re well, I hope you’re safe, and let’s keep sailing for the sunset together!

But if you need to smile, see what the Dora Milaje have been doing with their lockdown.

News and Views

My apologies; it looks like I (and Publisher’s Weekly) spoke too hastily last week about the Tattered Cover: Black Booksellers Denounce Tattered Cover Announcement

Leonard Roberts writes about his time as cast member in Heroes and the racism he suffered.

Read this piece: The Other Columbus: All Black people are time travelers

Polygon has more information about #DisneyMustPay—including that there are at least three other authors Disney hasn’t been paying.

ZZ Claybourne on Functional Nerds

Cover reveal: This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

Anthony Rapp did an adorable thread about his most recent Discovery D&D session

On Book Riot

Cover Reveal: Folklorn by Angela Mi Young Hur

4 stories to adapt after The Haunting of Bly Manor

2020 Elgin Award Chapbook Winners and more Specpo in small doses

Chilling Christmas magic: My annual reread of The Dark is Rising

This week’s SFF Yeah! Podcast is about the best SFF of 2020

This month you can enter to win a $100 Books-A-Million Gift Card and a 1-year Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Free Association Friday: A Celebration of Series

I’m sure you don’t need me to remind you that you should definitely buy books that are part of a series before the series finishes, or the series probably won’t get to finish. That said, here are twelve series that finished this year, and I’m sure the authors also wouldn’t mind if you wanted to pick them all up in one swoop and marathon them!

The Burning God by R.F. Kuang

This is the final book of The Poppy War fantasy trilogy, the whole of which is an incredibly tense fantasy series about colonialism and war and the horrible things those both do to people. If you want to give it a whirl, start with The Poppy War.

Last Stand in Lychford by Paul Cornell

Final book of The Witches of Lychford fantasy series. Lychford has been a strange place from the start of this five book series, where witches are real and this almost model country village is always threatening to slip into another world. Start with Witches of Lychford.

The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty

This is the final book of The Daevabad Trilogy, which is about a canny con woman in Ottoman-era Cairo who finds out that she’s far more than she could have ever imagined, and gets taken into the mysterious world of djinn and immersed deeply in its internecine politics and historical struggles. Start with The City of Brass.

The Faithless Hawk by Margaret Owen

Second in a fantasy duology that starts with The Merciful Crow. A fantasy society with a caste system where the Crows take the dead. A dying king and a prince may or may not keep a promise to change it all.

Afro Puffs Are the Antennae of the Universe by Zig Zag Claybourne

Second in the duoloy that starts wth The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan. Epic space opera where crews of total badasses just try to live their lives while the galaxy definitely has other ideas.

The Worst of All Possible Worlds by Alex White

Third book in The Salvagers trilogy; start with A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe. This science fiction series is about the rag-tag salvage crew of the Capricious, who are just trying to make ends meet out in the black and keep getting themselves into a whole lot of trouble.

Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim

Second book in The Blood in the Stars fantasy duology. Start with Spin the Dawn. A girl who dreams of being a tailor poses as a boy to compete in place of her father in a competition to make the magic gowns for an emperor’s reluctant bride. Her craft will cost her more than she can know.

Brothersong by T.J. Klune

Final book in the Green Creek series; start with Wolfsong. A pack of humans, witches, and werewolves live in a town called Green Creek, defending the people and palce they love from all comers.

The Ever Cruel Kingdom by Rin Chupeco

This book finished the fantasy duology that starts with The Never Tilting World about the twin goddesses that have ruled the world of Aeon until one sister betrayed the other. Now there’s half a realm of eternal light, the other of eternal night—and the daughters of the goddesses hope to heal their broken world.

The Unconquered City by K.A. Doore

Final book of the Chronicles of Ghadid trilogy; start with The Perfect Assassin. A fantasy series about assassins, first tasked with solving a murder, then forced to fight the undead.

Frostgilded by Stephanie Burgis

Final book of The Harwood Spellbook fantasy series; start with Snowspelled. In an alternate “Angland,” the ladies rule politics with an iron fist and the more softly emotional gentlemen limit themselves to the practice of magic. But of course no one follows the rules…

Rise by E.D.E. Bell

Final book in the Diamondsong fantasy serial, which starts with Escape. The Ja-lal have prevented contact with the fairies in the forest they guard for many lifetimes, but those barriers are beginning to crumble and the fairies have their own dangerous agenda.

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

Hold Off On Booking That Tolkien House Stay

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! We’re midway through December now and publishing has just about gone into hibernation until 2021, but we’ve still got a few new books for you to check out (and a few awesome 2020 indie books too, continuing that feature). We had a snowy weekend here, so I stayed inside and did a lot of both reading and playing video games since biking wasn’t an option. I read The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho in one sitting–just devoured it–and I want you to know it is DELIGHTFUL. For its slim length, it’s got a lot of plot and a lot of very lovable characters, and is as wuxia as promised. I’ve also started reading The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood and I’m really enjoying it so far. (Plus it has the first fantasy map I’ve actually liked in quite some time, because I am a well-known curmudgeon about maps.) Hope you’ve got good books to keep your company, and I’ll see you on Friday!

This is very local news to me, but I think it’s cool: Denver’s Tattered Cover bookstore is now the largest Black-lowned bookstore in the US

New Releases

The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True by Sean Gibson

In a fantasy world filled with epic adventure, the kind that makes for excellent stories, the truth tends to get bent a little. Heroes are told to be more heroic than they were, villagers more helpless, and so on. But Heloise the Bard is there to set the record straight about how easy adventuring isn’t and how truly rare heroism happens to be. This time, she’s skewering the story of the fearsome red dragon, Dragonia.

The Garden of Promises and Lies by Paula Brackston

The proprietress of the Little Shop of Found Things has no choice but to take responsibility for accidentally transporting a dangerous man from his time to her own, and now she has to figure out how to make things right and keep herself and Flora safe. Then a beautiful, antique wedding dress makes itself known to her, and she realizes the dress and her enemy are connected. She’ll need the help of her boyfriend and a long step back into the 19th century to put things right.

Lockdown Tales by Neal Asher

Neal Asher has kept himself busy during the lockdown by writing five brand new novellas and novelettes and reworking one previous novella, all of them exploring the Polity universe and beyond. He’s collected them all into one book, for fans old and new.

Indie Book Celebration!

Since December doesn’t tend to have many new releases, let’s look back at some awesome indie books that came out over the last year! If you want to check out more SFF indie goodness, look at these replies over on Twitter.

Liquid Crystal Nightingale by EeLeen Lee

Pleo has survived the loss of her twin sister and the tragedy that utterly broke her father. She has one goal: to escape this colony, an attainable goal only for the rich or the lucky. Then she’s framed for the murder of a rival student who happens to be from a wealthy family, and she must go on the run. Escape might just destroy the old colony entirely…

Visitation Seeds by Ben Berman Ghan

Life has mysteriously sprung forth on the Moon, and humanity is all too eager to seize on this new land to colonize. Decades later, the dead are no longer laying quiet in the ground and murmurings of rebellion echo through the living. A cyborg is dispatched from earth to investigate, but she might uncover a secret that will undo all the life that has sprung up from the barren world.

Kill Three Birds by Nicole Givens Kurtz

Tasifa is a Hawk, one who investigates strange and difficult situations in the kingdom of Aves. She’s dispatched to a small mountain village where a young girl has been found dead… but when she arrives, she discovers the dead actually number three, and the town is filled with secrets and murder.

News and Views

I wish I could enthuse about all the cool stuff Disney revealed will be coming, but I can’t in good conscience do so until Disney pays Alan Dean Foster and stops endangering the livelihoods of authors everywhere.

Arkady Martine and Amal El-Mohtar in conversation at the Brooklyn Book Festival

Mary Robinette Kowal’s talk about her Lady Astronaut series for the 2020 National Book Festival

Michelle Sagara writes about The Emperor’s Wolves over at File 770 has acquired two novellas from Christopher Rowe (full disclosure: Christopher and I have the same agent)

Sarah Gailey’s Personal Canons series has ended; here’s the wrap up post that indexes all the essays

I mentioned the effort to buy the Tolkien house previously… turns out the Trustees of the Tolkien Society have major reservations about the plan

Alex Brown’s recommendations for must-read speculative short fiction from November

A.C. Wise has done her round up for her favorite short fiction of 2020

A female-led Zorro? SIGN ME UP.

On Book Riot

This week’s SFF Yeah! is about mecha two ways

This month you can enter to win a $100 Books-A-Million Gift Card and a 1-year Kindle Unlimited subscription.

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 December 11: A Celebration of Standalones

Happy Friday, shipmates! It’s Alex with some news and so many books that I am just going to keep this brief. Stay safe, have a great weekend, and I will see you on Tuesday!

Funny thing: If you are like me, this will make you laugh a lot.

News and Views

Cover reveal for Rivers Solomon’s upcoming novel, Sorrowland

And a cover reveal for Zen Cho’s next book, Black Water Sister

And how about a cover for The Hidden Palace: A Tale of the Golem and the Jinni

The Poppy War series is headed to TV

And so is Ring Shout!

Jason Sanford made a list of SFF Kickstarter campaigns if you want to spread a little holiday cheer and get future you a present.

I love this so much: The Galactic Federation interviews Earth for membership

ALA made a Baby Yoda poster and bookmark

A heartbreaking analysis of the footage from the collapse of Arecibo

NASA harvested radishes on the International Space Station

On Book Riot

On rereading The Wheel of Time series two decades later

Read these 10 books like The House in the Cerulean Sea

This month you can enter to win a $100 Books-A-Million Gift Card and a 1-year Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Free Association Friday: A Celebration of Standalones

Sometimes you just want a one-and-done book–and you’re in luck, because this year, a bunch of them came out! Here’s 18 for your holiday perusal:

The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk

In a world of magic where those who can bear children are barred from practicing, Beatrice longs to become a full-fledged magus while all her family wants is for her to marry well and save them from financial ruin.

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

Women fighting for access to the ballot box in 1893 turn to old magics–but there are those who still will not suffer a witch to live, let alone vote.

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

People can travel to parallel universes, but only the ones their doppelganger has already died in. Luckily for Cara, she’s dead in all but 8 of the worlds hers can reach.

The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson

A history of the near future about the ways humanity will have to learn to survive climate change–and hopefully thrive.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

An exploration of memory, knowledge, and communicaton built by a labyrinthine, endless house in which dwells Piranesi, who is beginning to realize that he’s not alone, and nothing is as it seems.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Noemí heads to an isolated village overseen by a rotting manor house to try to save her cousin from an outwardly charming but extremely sinister husband and his even creepier family. It’s classic gothic tropes examined with very new twists.

Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi

A young woman with psychic powers must decide what to do with her abilities as she watches her brother be incarcerated and suffer through it.

The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez

Three strangers build themselves a place of belonging and the family they lack across space and time–but all of them are pursued by pasts they cannot escape.

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

When Ellie’s cousin is murdered, she has to use all of her knowledge of the paranormal and her ability to summon the ghosts of animals to save the rest of her family–and break open a nasty secret festering in the heart of Texas.

Goldilocks by Laura Lam

An all-female mission is heading out to explore a planet in the Goldilocks zone of another solar system–but then things begin going wrong on the ship and it might well be sabotage.

Repo Virtual by Corey J. White

In a city that partially exists in virtual spaces, a repo-man and sometimes thief is hired to steal an object from a tech billionare. When that object turns out to be the first sentient AI, he realizes he’s got trouble coming bigger than any possible paycheck.

Burning Roses by S.L. Huang

What if Red Riding Hood and Hou Yi the archer were old, retired, and lesbians? What if they were trying to forget the mistakes and traumas of their pasts? What if those pasts caught up with them?

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

In a future American Southwest where bandits and queer librarians fight against fascists, a girl stows away on a Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape an arranged marriage.

The Vanished Queen by Lisbeth Campbell

A scholar finds an unlikely ally in a younger prince in her quest to overthrow the utterly corrupt and cruel king.

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

Immanuelle is an outcast in the very puritanical (and cult-like) lands of Bethel–and those lands are about to be visited by the vengeance of witches murdered long ago, apparently called up by the rage of Immanuelle’s dead mother.

The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Two girls go out looking for monsters; one falls through a crack between parallel worlds. And that’s only the beginning–because the cracks are getting wider, and soon much larger, more extraordinary things will start falling through into our world.

Master of Poisons by Andrea Hairston

An exiled old wizard has to hope again, even as the world falls apart around him and poisoned deserts spread.

Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots

A temp administrative assistant to super villains gets badly injured in a superhero attack. She gains her vengeance by collating the data on who else these so-called heroes have hurt and using it on social media.

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 December 8

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! It’s Alex with your new releases for this second Tuesday in December. It’s been weirdly warm and sunny all week here, bringing with it concerns of fire season picking back up, but I’ve been trying to make the most of it by riding my bike. Hope you’re getting some sun and fresh air where you’re at! Stay safe, and I’ll see you on Friday.

Fun thing for the day: A Twitter thread that proposes Home Alone 3

New Releases

Crosshairs by Catherine Hernandez

In the near future, massive floods have led to untold destruction and rampant homelessness. Fascist government elements take their opportunity to round up people of color, disabled people, and LGBTQ people and shove them into labor camps. But new heroes rise to lead a resistance: Kay, a drag queen in mourning for his lost love; a social worker named Firuzeh; Bahadur, a transmasculine refugee. With the help of a rogue army officer, they plan a revolution that will very much be televised.

Gallowglass by S. J. Morden

In the midst of a massive climate crisis, the space race has come back to life, with corporations offering massive rewards for anyone who will go out into the black to claim resources in their name. Jack is desperate to escape earth and joins a team chasing down an asteroid… but he doesn’t realize that everyone on the ship is just as desperate as him, if not more so. And they’ll do anything to get to the steroid first–and make sure they get a bigger share.

When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo

Chih and their companions are at the mercy of a band of tigers. If they want to keep themself and their friends alive long enough to be saved by their mammoth allies, they must unravel a secret hidden in a story about a tiger and her scholarly lover.

Memoria Kristyn Merbeth

The Kaiser plan might have helped avert a multi-planet war that they themselves were probably the cause of, but two planets have been left devastated by alien technology. Now with the Kaiser family trying to settle into quiet obscurity, the vultures are circling in to strip these razed planets of their remaining resources, and tensions are building again. The Kaisers need to find the truth of what happened to these two worlds… and avert another war.

Afro Puffs are the Antennae of the Universe by Zig Zag Claybourne

Captain Desiree Quicho and her crew of utter BAMFs do not have time for your nonsense, because they have a universe to save from an evil billionaire, a criminal queenpin, political factions scrambling in a power grab, and an AI on a rampage. Captain Quicho just wanted a peaceful moment and some good barbecue, but she’ll have to fight to get it.

Indie Book Celebration!

Since December doesn’t tend to have many new releases, let’s look back at some awesome indie books that came out over the last year! If you want to check out more SFF indie goodness, look at these replies over on Twitter.

Annihilation Aria by Michael R. Underwood

The crew of the Kettle is an eclectic set: Max, a xeno-archaelogist from Earth stranded far from home; Lahra, a warrior from a nearly extinct people, who does battle with sword and song; Wheel, the grumpy cybernetic pilot with a shady past. Together, they hunt artifacts that they mostly sell–but they always hope it can show them the way home, for certain values of home. But when they pick up an artifact that’s far more powerful than they could have imagined, they end up squarely in the crosshairs the space fascists called the Vsenk–and the crew will have to go from hunting ruins to fomenting rebellion.

The Salvage Crew by Yudhanjaya Wijeratne

A crew of absolute losers overseen by an AI arrive on a planet on the ass-end of space with a mission of salvaging a long-dead UN starship. They’re expecting a long, ugly, boring, and very thankless job. What they get is a backwater filled with megafauna and a competing salvage crew, and a planet that seems to be actively trying to kill them besides. They need to engineer their way to both survival and their payday with every card in the deck stacked against them.

Run With the Hunted 3: Standard Operating Procedure by Jennifer R. Donohue

Dolly almost has a legit profession in this cyberpunk future–she recovers abandoned sports cars from parking lots in Dubai and sells them off for parts. But when her friend Bristol catches wind of an auction for the most expensive dog in the world, she gets pulled in for one more job. Because how hard could a dog heist be?

News and Views

Alan Dean Foster and Mary Robinette Kowal sat down with Daniel Greene to talk about #DisneyMustPay

Lavie Tidhar on The best of World SF Anthology

The Lord of the Rings cast reunited to fundraise for a project to buy the home of JRR Tolkien with the intent to turn it into a literary center has made a helpful list of all original short fiction it published in 2020

First look at the heron mark blade from the Wheel of Time show.

Twenty new cast members join Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series

The Utah monolith is gone. But hopefully the conversation it has sparked about misuse of publish lands remains. Take only pictures, leave only footprints, people.

On Book Riot

This week’s SFF Yeah! is about holiday movies, two ways

This month you can enter to win a $100 Books-A-Million Gift Card and a 1-year Kindle Unlimited subscription.

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.