You Wouldn’t Believe How Lonely You Get: Five Terrible Ways to Live Forever in SFF (And One That’s Actually Pretty Good)


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Science fiction and fantasy are full of horrible ways you can die, but the genre has also been pretty inventive in horrible ways to live forever. There’s something about the fantasy of never dying that brings out the pedant and the cynic in us all. What would you do with all that time? Wouldn’t you lose your humanity? Surely there’d have to be an awful downside? And, of course – what terrible thing would you do to get it?

In Greek myth, Tithonus asked for eternal life, but forgot about eternal youth, and shriveled up into a grasshopper. Immortality always has a gotcha clause. Maybe it’s just too good to be true, or too painful to imagine, given that it’s not something we’re ever going to get. Either way, if you really want to live forever you’d better read the small print.

 

The Homeward Bounders by Diana Wynne Jones

...

The Rise of Geoscience Fiction: Seven Books About Remaking the World


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Though science is a wide-ranging and varied pursuit, science fiction tends to focus almost exclusively on astronomy and physics, with the occasional dip into medical science. But that’s changing. Pioneers like Ursula Le Guin began to center anthropology and sociology in the genre fifty years ago, and today we’re seeing SF that explores environmental science, molecular biology, neuroscience, and more. My particular favorite is geology, also known as Earth science—or, if you’re beyond our little blue marble, planetary science.

My new novel The Future of Another Timeline is about time traveling geologists, and my inspirations come from other books that foreground the work of people who taste rocks, control plate tectonics, and explore the ecosystems of other worlds. Here are seven works that define the new subgenre of geoscience fiction.

 

The Broken Earth trilogy, by NK Jemisin

Perhaps the most obvious example of geoscience fiction is Jemisin’s much-lauded series ...

Cixin Liu’s Supernova Era to be Adapted for Film


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Hugo-award winning author Cixin Liu’s Supernova Era will soon be adapted for the big screen!

According to China Film Insider, the movie adaptation will be written and directed by Kong Ergou, who is also currently producing an adaptation of another of Liu’s The Three Body Problem.

Supernova Era is set in the future where humanity is dying out due to radiation from a supernova. The novel follows the last generation of people as they try to shape the future. The exact timeline for the film’s production is unknown, but it is expected to be released in about two years.

The most recent movie adaptation of Liu’s fiction, The Wandering Earth, released in China in February of this year and is now China’s third highest-grossing film of all time, 2019’s seventh highest-grossing film worldwide, and the second highest-grossing non-English film to date. An English dubbed version (and also the ...

Another Part of Me: Mindscape by Andrea Hairston


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In 2016, Fantastic Stories of the Imagination published my survey “A Crash Course in the History of Black Science Fiction” (now hosted here). Since then, Tor.com has published 28 in-depth essays I wrote about some of the 42 works mentioned, and a twenty-ninth essay by LaShawn Wanak on my collection Filter House. This month we’re delving into Mindscape, multiple award-winning author Andrea Hairston’s debut novel.

AFTERMATH

Set in a post-apocalyptic future in which lethal Barriers have mysteriously sprung up to divide Earth into isolated regions, Mindscape follows the fates of characters representing different tribes who’ve come into existence after generations of this mess.  There’s Lawanda, an “ethnic throwback” preserving the aesthetics and values of 20th-century African American culture; Ray, a film hero drawing on his studio experience to live out a real-life thrilling adventure; and Elleni, a Barriers-generated mutant with semi-autonomous dreadlocks. There are several ...

Everfair by Nisi Shawl

Blockbuster Action, Body Horror, and Wicked Humor: David Koepp’s Cold Storage


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Content Warning: mention of animal death.

Cold Storage is David Koepp’s first novel, but odds are good that you’re familiar with his work as a writer in a different medium. As a screenwriter, he adapted Jurassic Park for the big screen and wrote the David Fincher-directed thriller Panic Room. As a writer-director, he channeled the menace and social commentary of vintage Twilight Zone with his film The Trigger Effect and told an unsettling ghost story with Stir of Echoes, his adaptation of Richard Matheson’s A Stir of Echoes.

It will likely shock no one to hear that Cold Storage, a novel about the effort to contain a mutated versions of the cordyceps fungus, has a decidedly cinematic quality.

Cold Storage opens in 1987. A pair of government operatives, Roberto Diaz and Trini Romano, link up with a scientist, Dr. Hero Martins. Something odd is happening in an isolated ...

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Gene Wolfe’s The Shadow of the Torturer: Part 2


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A couple of weeks ago, when I was finishing the Part 1 of this article/review, I was talking to a student of mine at my Worldbuilding class at the university about how much I hate the Hero’s Journey. Really. To bits.

Naturally, that was a provocation of sorts: the reason I complain has more to do with the way everyone seems to overvalue and overuse this scheme, especially in films. Naturally, there are plenty of positive examples of the structure being used quite effectively, particularly in fantasy. The Lord of the Rings is one of the most mentioned, of course—but The Book of the New Sun tetralogy is one the most successful cases of the Hero’s Journey, IMHO, even if it doesn’t exactly fit the bill—and maybe just because that this series deserved much better recognition. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

In the previous article, our first installment ...

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Reread — A Stitch in Time


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A Stitch in Time
Written by Andrew J. Robinson
Publication Date: May 2000
Timeline: 2376 is the novel’s “main” present, but given that it’s a memoir connecting the past to that present, numerous other years are visited: 2349, 2352, 2356, 2360, 2364, 2368, late 2374, and much of 2375

Progress: As was pointed out by Keith R. A. DeCandido in the comments section of my discussion of Avatar, Book One, this entire 400-page narrative is the “letter” sent by Garak to Doctor Bashir in that other novel. Though originally published as the twenty-seventh and final standalone title in the numbered Ds9 novel series, A Stitch in Time was later incorporated into the Relaunch line, and with good reason. Though much of the book focuses on Garak’s upbringing on Cardassia Prime and his career as an operative of the Obsidian Order, the novel also chronicles his experiences on the planet ...

On the Origins of Modern Biology and the Fantastic: Part 13 —Ursula K. Le Guin and Lynn Margulis


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“The unexpected is what makes life possible.” —Estraven in The Left Hand of Darkness

The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) is about the necessity of perspective. In it, Genly Ai, an envoy from an association of worlds populated by the Hainish progenitor race, has traveled to an icy planet of androgynes to recruit them to share in humanity’s knowledge. He joins with a political exile, Estraven, and the two must transcend their ethical boundaries in order to not only survive, but to save Estraven’s people from themselves. Like many of Ursula K. Le Guin’s books, it’s a gorgeous and thoughtful study in anthropology, politics, and philosophy which challenged ideas about gender at a time when second-wave feminism was entering the public consciousness. 

Previous installments of this column have dealt solely with the work of men, despite science fiction’s feminist roots. Feminism, speculative fiction, and biology all grew out ...

Read Annalee Newitz’s The Future of Another Timeline: Chapter Five


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From Annalee Newitz comes a story of time travel, murder, and the lengths we’ll go to protect the ones we love. The Future of Another Timeline publishes September 24th with Tor Books. Read chapter three below, or get caught up with chapters one, two, three, and four.

1992: After a confrontation at a riot grrl concert, seventeen-year-old Beth finds herself in a car with her friend’s abusive boyfriend dead in the backseat, agreeing to help her friends hide the body. This murder sets Beth and her friends on a path of escalating violence and vengeance as they realize many other young women in the world need protecting too.

2022: Determined to use time travel to create a safer future, Tess has dedicated her life to visiting key moments in history and fighting for change. But rewriting the timeline isn’t as simple as editing one person or event. ...

When Speech is An Assault: Linguistics and First Contact in Peter Watts’ Blindsight


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Peter Watts’ 2006 novel Blindsight is a hard SF take on first contact, and there are, naturally, some linguistic aspects in the mix, here. Language is not the principal focus of the story, as it is in “Story of Your Life”/Arrival, but it’s a sizeable chunk. A group of bleeding-edge augmented humans led by a resurrected vampire is sent to investigate aliens after a massive number of extraterrestrial probes arrived in a coordinated pattern encircling the globe, first surveying the entirety of the planet in a single scan, then burning up on entry. The job of the astronauts onboard the Theseus is to figure out what the aliens want, and to blow them up if they’re hostile. You know, the usual things people do… I’ve focused on the linguistics-related aspects of the book in this article, since that’s what my column is about; the main plot is not ...

5 Books in Which Giant Insects Ruin Everyone’s Day


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There’s something about insects in literature that make them the perfect monster. It doesn’t matter how they’re written. They can be small and deadly, or gigantic and misunderstood. They can be acting on instinct or driven by hyper-intelligence. Whatever the case, they’re perfect because up close, insects can look delightfully alien, with their multitude of legs, assortment of eyes, segmented bodies, and exoskeletons.

Also because ew. Bugs.

So let’s take a closer look at five insects that ruin everyone’s day in five awesome books.

 

PRAYING MANTISES in Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

What happens when a strain of plague is discovered in a small town junk shop, and the virus starts mutating people into giant, eager-to-mate praying mantises? Absolute chaos and hilarity, mixed it with a dash of teenage angst and sexual confusion.

A brilliant piece of YA science-fiction, that touches on a lot of challenging issues. Also, giant ...

Shelob Lord of the Rings

Read an Excerpt From Last Ones Left Alive


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Raised in isolation by her mother and Maeve on a small island off the coast of a post-apocalyptic Ireland, Orpen’s life has revolved around training to fight a threat she’s never seen. More and more she feels the call of the mainland, and the prospect of finding other survivors.

But that is where danger lies, too, in the form of the flesh-eating menace known as the skrake.

Then disaster strikes. Alone, pushing an unconscious Maeve in a wheelbarrow, Orpen decides her last hope is abandoning the safety of the island and journeying across the country to reach the legendary banshees, the rumored all-female fighting force that battles the skrake.

But the skrake are not the only threat…

Sarah Davis-Goff’s Last Ones Left Alive is available from Flatiron Books—read an excerpt below!

 

 

Chapter One

My toenail has blackened, and I have to pull to get it off. You’d feel ...

Duty and Dystopia: Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein


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In this bi-weekly series reviewing classic science fiction and fantasy books, Alan Brown looks at the front lines and frontiers of the field; books about soldiers and spacers, scientists and engineers, explorers and adventurers. Stories full of what Shakespeare used to refer to as “alarums and excursions”: battles, chases, clashes, and the stuff of excitement.

A couple of weeks ago, while rummaging through old books, I came across my old copy of Citizen of the Galaxy. “That was a good one,” I thought. “Perfect for re-reading out in the backyard on a sunny summer day.” I’d first read it back when I was 12 or 13, but didn’t remember many details. It turned out that the book is both more preachy and a lot darker than I had remembered…which made me wonder why so many authors write books for juveniles and young adults that expose the protagonists to so ...

Revealing Benjamin Oliver’s The Loop


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We’re pleased to share the cover for Benjamin Oliver’s The Loop, the start of a new dystopian science fiction series in the vein of The Maze Runner and The Fifth Wave—publishing with Scholastic in May 2020.

Sixteen-year-old Luka Kane has been wrongfully imprisoned inside The Loop, the futuristic death row where young offenders await their execution. Inmates have the option of taking part in “delays,” medical and scientific experiments that push back the date of their execution, but when rumors of war start to circulate, Luka realizes breaking out of The Loop might be his only chance to save himself.

Cover art by Maeve Norton

The Loop has already been optioned by Lime Pictures for a multi-part television series developed by Louise Sutton, producer of Black Mirror! She writes, “This fantastic cover art really sets the scene for a YA sci-fi story. Our plans are for TV series are well ...

Isolation, Violence, and Body Horror: Sarah Davis-Goff’s Last Ones Left Alive


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When the term “dystopian” has become shorthand for nearly any vision of a future that isn’t all friendly robots and rejuvenation technology, it’s nice to have a reminder of what a genuinely horrid vision of tomorrow might look like. Sarah Davis-Goff’s Last Ones Left Alive sits uneasily between science fiction and horror, which places it in an ideal place to offer readers a harrowing vision of the near future. Davis-Goff’s novel details a future hostile environment, and charts out the effects of living in such a world. This isn’t a place in which the objective is to rule or acquire cool skills; instead, it’s one where survival means doing terrible things, and where the collapse of civilization has allowed the worst of humanity free rein to entertain their worst impulses.

The novel is set in Ireland, several decades in the future. Our narrator is Orpen, raised by her mother and ...

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Gene Wolfe’s The Shadow of the Torturer: Part 1


This post is by Fabio Fernandes from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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In pre-Internet times, it was hard for everyone who didn’t live in an English-speaking country to buy science fiction and fantasy made in the US or in the UK. It was far from impossible, but very often it wasn’t feasible: we had to send letters (yes!—paper ones, mind you) to bookstores, but the whole operation would only be interesting money-wise if we gathered in a four- or five-person group to buy, say, two or three dozen books. And I’m talking about used books, of course. Most of my English-language books during the Eighties and Nineties were acquired this way, including Neuromancer (but that is another story, as the narrator in Conan the Barbarian would say), in the notorious A Change of Hobbit bookstore, in California.

Some of them, however, I borrowed from friends who had been doing pretty much the same, or buying the occasional volume in one of ...

Gene Wolfe’s The Shadow of the Torturer: Part 1


This post is by Fabio Fernandes from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




In pre-Internet times, it was hard for everyone who didn’t live in an English-speaking country to buy science fiction and fantasy made in the US or in the UK. It was far from impossible, but very often it wasn’t feasible: we had to send letters (yes!—paper ones, mind you) to bookstores, but the whole operation would only be interesting money-wise if we gathered in a four- or five-person group to buy, say, two or three dozen books. And I’m talking about used books, of course. Most of my English-language books during the Eighties and Nineties were acquired this way, including Neuromancer (but that is another story, as the narrator in Conan the Barbarian would say), in the notorious A Change of Hobbit bookstore, in California.

Some of them, however, I borrowed from friends who had been doing pretty much the same, or buying the occasional volume in one of ...

Gene Wolfe’s The Shadow of the Torturer: Part 1


This post is by Fabio Fernandes from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




In pre-Internet times, it was hard for everyone who didn’t live in an English-speaking country to buy science fiction and fantasy made in the US or in the UK. It was far from impossible, but very often it wasn’t feasible: we had to send letters (yes!—paper ones, mind you) to bookstores, but the whole operation would only be interesting money-wise if we gathered in a four- or five-person group to buy, say, two or three dozen books. And I’m talking about used books, of course. Most of my English-language books during the Eighties and Nineties were acquired this way, including Neuromancer (but that is another story, as the narrator in Conan the Barbarian would say), in the notorious A Change of Hobbit bookstore, in California.

Some of them, however, I borrowed from friends who had been doing pretty much the same, or buying the occasional volume in one of ...

Gene Wolfe’s The Shadow of the Torturer: Part 1


This post is by Fabio Fernandes from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




In pre-Internet times, it was hard for everyone who didn’t live in an English-speaking country to buy science fiction and fantasy made in the US or in the UK. It was far from impossible, but very often it wasn’t feasible: we had to send letters (yes!—paper ones, mind you) to bookstores, but the whole operation would only be interesting money-wise if we gathered in a four- or five-person group to buy, say, two or three dozen books. And I’m talking about used books, of course. Most of my English-language books during the Eighties and Nineties were acquired this way, including Neuromancer (but that is another story, as the narrator in Conan the Barbarian would say), in the notorious A Change of Hobbit bookstore, in California.

Some of them, however, I borrowed from friends who had been doing pretty much the same, or buying the occasional volume in one of ...

The Flash Gordon Serials of the 1930s Changed the Face of Sci-Fi


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One of the first things I watched when I signed up for Netflix was a suspense serial from the silent film era called Phantomas, and while it was very enlightening to see this first step in the evolution of recorded crime dramas, ultimately it… wasn’t very good. Maybe that’s not fair—it had its moments, but I would have a hard time recommending it to anyone but the most curious film archivists.

Thanks to the growth of streaming services, a vast archive of antique entertainment is now easily accessible to the public, though whether it should be or not is a matter of personal opinion. In the case of the Flash Gordon serials that Universal created from 1936 to 1940, the debate over such material’s worth is a significant matter to science fiction fans. The serials, starring Larry “Buster” Crabbe as Flash (a character who had first appeared in newspaper ...