Remembering the Moon Landing: Michael Collins’ Carrying the Fire


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There have been many accounts written about the American Apollo Program, which succeeded in placing men (Commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin) on the moon for the first time July 20, 1969. My favourite account is Michael Collins’ 1974 Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut’s Journeys. Collins was the Command Module Pilot. While the Lunar Lander descended to the Moon’s surface, it was Collins’ task to remain with the Command Module in Lunar orbit. Collins is therefore a man who has been within a hundred miles of the Moon without ever touching down on the surface of that world.

Rather than making any attempt at a dispassionate, neutral history of the Apollo Program, Collins provides a very personal account, a Collins-eye view of the American path to the moon. It’s not a short process, which is why it takes 360 pages before Collins and his more well-known companions ...

The Boys are Back! The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited


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The Adventure Zone returns this week with capers, magical items, and goofs galore. In the second volume of the series, we find Magnus, Taako, and Merle in a mystical world of exposition, followed up by an epic murder mystery slash train heist to retrieve a dangerous artifact. As always, though, it’s the comedic beats and the characters that drive the engine on this particular train. From the introduction of beloved podcast characters like Garfield the Deals Warlock and Boy Detective Angus McDonald, to the virtual demolishment of the fourth wall, Murder on the Rockport Limited delivers on every possible expectation. Fans of the original podcast will not be disappointed; in fact, if they’re like me, they will make embarrassing whoop-ing sounds while reading it in public.

All of this is to say that the McElroys still got it. But the real star here is artist Carey Pietsch.

[And Angus ...

Unexpected Connections and Strange Experiments: Paul Tremblay’s Growing Things


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Paul Tremblay’s fiction gets inside your head—sometimes literally: his novel A Head Full of Ghosts is about what may or may not be a demonic possession, and The Cabin at the End of the World centers around a home invasion by a quartet of people who may be menacing invaders, or who may be on a desperate mission to prevent the apocalypse. Tremblay’s fiction pulls off the difficult task of making the ambiguous scary: rather than show you a monster or demon, he creates the barest hint of one, offers an equally compelling mundane explanation, and allows the reader to grapple with which one is more terrifying in its implications.

His latest book is a story collection, Growing Things. In its range and assortment of techniques, it’s Tremblay’s most ambitious book; it’s also a work that abounds with references to his other novels, although prior knowledge of them is not ...

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To Encourage Reach Exceeding Grasp: This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone


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Two far-flung future societies—called Garden and the Agency, respectively—toe through timelines seeding potential, nudging some lives forward and decimating others, with the ultimate goal of preserving their own existence as the inevitable outcome of human culture. As elite agents for their opposing sides, Red and Blue bite at each other’s heels across time and space through dying worlds, long cons, strange pasts and stranger futures. One chance outreach between them, forbidden but irresistible, forges a connection neither could’ve anticipated. Impossible letters wait through centuries for discovery as the pair of them communicate about their goals, their missions, their shared distastes and pleasures—taboo informational liaisons that lead to far more.

One the one hand, This Is How You Lose the Time War is about that titular war: the protagonists are agents undertaking missions to stabilize (or destroy) certain strands in time to benefit their own potential future. On the other, the ...

Peace: Wolfe’s Masterful Rumination on Nostalgia, Memory, and Uncertainty


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If Gene Wolfe is oftentimes a writer hard to decipher, there is nothing unclear or equivocal about his allegiance to the genre. He is first and foremost a writer of science fiction and fantasy, and in this he was always straightforward.

But there are a few cases in his body of work when the reader is not that sure of what genre (if any) a particular narrative is part of. That seems the case with Peace.

Attention: spoilers.

Published in 1975, this novel is a narrative related to us by Alden Dennis Weer, an old, rich man who’s apparently suffered a stroke and is starting to confuse past and present, recalling from memory incidents of his childhood and adolescence through his later life.

Seems pretty simple, right?

We should know better by now.

Maybe Weer had a stroke, or a heart attack. In the beginning, he consults a doctor and ...

In Her Skin: Sealed by Naomi Booth


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Climate change is no longer something that can be denied by anyone at all. In Naomi Booth’s sharp, savvy second novel Sealed, the world has become hotter, and there’s a strange new disease that seems to be making people grow new skin over different orifices, eventually killing them by sealing them up inside their own epidermis.

Cutis, it’s called, and while the authorities claim it’s just one more thing to add to the nonchalant list of worries that people already have, from polluted fruit to smog to wildfires, pregnant Alice fears the worst. She’s obsessed with Cutis, and starts collection information not just about it, but also about what she thinks may be it, or what may have started the outbreak. She’s certain her mother died of it, she’s certain numerous people have died of it, far more than the authorities are admitting to, particularly those housed in relocation ...

The Toll by Cherie Priest Is the Southern Gothic Horror Novel of the Summer


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Like so many other small manufacturing cities across the country, Staywater, Georgia, began its slide into irrelevance in the mid-20th century and never recovered. But being overlooked works just fine for the residents, both the living and the dead. Vintage mannequins swap clothing when no one’s looking. Dolls locked in an abandoned house chatter to themselves. A long-dead townie hangs out at the local bar every night. Two old cousins, Daisy and Claire, guard their young charge, Cameron, with spells and wards. And out in the nearby Okefenokee Swamp, a monster lurks.

Titus and Melanie don’t know any of this when they make the mistake of driving through the swamp on the way to their honeymoon. After driving across a bridge that shouldn’t be there, Titus wakes up lying on the ground. Melanie has vanished. As Titus’ search for his missing bride intensifies, Dave, a bartender who also woke up ...

Making Valdemar Work: Mercedes Lackey’s Eye Spy


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Mercedes Lackey and I go way back. I started reading her Valdemar series when I was twelve and I kept on because I love it unconditionally. For those of you new to Lackey’s work, Valdemar has a very unique form of government. People have to be Chosen by Companions—magical white horses who bond telepathically with specific humans—in order to have access to political power. Individuals who have been Chosen become Heralds. They ride around the kingdom conducting government business. Heralds have Gifts—some of them are telepathic, others can see or move things that are far away, and a few have really quirky talents like the ability to light fires or talk with animals. However, Valdemar is not a magical kingdom at this point in the series. REAL magic—both the ability to sense and manipulate magical energy and the people who can do it (unless they are Chosen by Companions)—is currently ...

On the Road Again: Wanderers by Chuck Wendig


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One morning, a teenage girl named Nessie leaves her house and walks. She doesn’t know where she’s going. She doesn’t know anything. Nessie is the first walker, but others soon join her. As Nessie’s sister Shana and their father tag along to protect their walker, a community of people calling themselves shepherds form around them. They watch over the flock of walkers and protect them from those who would do them harm. Over time other, stragglers attach themselves to the ever-growing group of pilgrims. A washed up rock star uses the herd to get attention and stroke his ego and an ex-cop with severe head trauma finds relief from her chronic pain. CDC scientists Arav and Cassie follow the herd as they desperately seek a cure.

Looming over everything is Black Swan, an artificial intelligence device used to detect and predict outbreaks of disease. It brings in Sadie, its handler, ...

The Deeper You Go, the Bigger the Worlds Get: Karl Schroeder’s Stealing Worlds


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Sura Neelin is on the run. In a near future where jobs are increasingly scarce, and making a living even more precarious if you aren’t a trillionaire, the news of the murder of her father, down in Peru, knocks her life completely off-kilter. Hunted by forces she doesn’t quite know or comprehend, she finds help and refuge, and starts to build a life and power for herself in an unanticipated way. For, you see, virtual reality overlay worlds—larpworlds—are slowly building in significance and power, and it is by joining and leading those communities that Sura has a chance not only to find out the truth about her father’s death, but perhaps help change society itself.

This is the setting and setup of Karl Schroeder’s Stealing Worlds.

Warning: Minor spoilers for the novel.

Schroeder’s novel borrows significantly from his previous work, combining various ideas he has explored in shorter fiction into ...

The Fifth Head of Cerberus: Wolfe’s Holy Trinity


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The Fifth Head of Cerberus Gene Wolfe Reread

The first novel by Gene Wolfe that received acclaim from critics and fans (you’ll recall, per the introduction, that Operation Ares isn’t going to be covered in this reread) is, as almost everything related to this author, significant—by the fact that it’s not quite a novel. As in one of the mysteries of the Catholic faith, it’s a trinity that is one; in literary parlance, a mosaic: three interlinked novellas, telling different aspects of the same story.

Which story is this? This is never a simple question when reading Gene Wolfe. He doesn’t make it any easier for the reader—nor should he. Wolfe’s stories are labyrinths, and one should be very careful to enter them. As with any book, in fact, but in Wolfe’s case one tends to get lost in trying to understand things too clearly.

Attention: spoilers.

The book is called The Fifth Head of Cerberus...

Love, Hate, and Everything Between: Wicked Fox by Kat Cho


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Young adult urban fantasy gets a jolt of diversity with Wicked Fox by Kat Cho. In this K-drama inspired tale, two teens fight against a host of magical odds, a task made more difficult as they develop feelings for each other. People they trust betray them, and their enemies might not be opponents after all—nothing ends up being as straightforward as they initially thought. Action? Check! Mystery? Check! Romance? Triple check!

Gu Miyoung has just moved to Seoul after many years away. New school, new students, new house, same old life. After the hell of her last school, all she wants to do is slide through her last two years of high school without making any waves. Unluckily for Miyoung, her plan is ruined before it even starts when a boy named Ahn Jihoon catches her becoming a gumiho (nine-tailed fox) and killing a dokkaebi (goblin) in the woods. Worse, ...

Now and Forever: Hexarchate Stories by Yoon Ha Lee


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The Machineries of Empire trilogy wrapped up last June—bringing to a close one of the most engaging, provocative high-concept sf series I’d read in some time. Yoon Ha Lee, however, has not finished with that sprawling universe at large. Hexarchate Stories brings together a set of stories that spans over four-hundred years of worldbuilding and a handful of regime changes, shifting in style and tone from intimate (sometimes sexy!) flash fiction to plot-rich, dramatic tales of intrigue and violence.

Three of the stories in the collection are previously unpublished, including the closing novella “Glass Cannon” (set after Revenant Gun, the third Machineries of Empire novel), while the earliest reprinted piece is from 2012. The scope of initial publications ranges from magazines like Clarkesworld to Lee’s blog, and as such, the length and style of the stories also varies significantly throughout. That level of variation makes for a fast, ...

The Iron Dragon’s Mother Is Michael Swanwick’s Triumphant Return to Faerie


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“She didn’t know that the dragons were coming for her.” With good reason: Dragons rarely intrude into American hospital wards, but it’s in that incongruous setting that Michael Swanwick begins his new novel, The Iron Dragon’s Mother. We meet Helen V. at the end of an interesting—she’s “gone scuba-diving in the Maldives [and] found herself inexplicably judging an air guitar competition in an unlicensed slum bar in Johannesburg [and] spent a summer trying to convert a rusty old Ferrari to run on vegetable oil because she’d fallen in love with a boy who wanted to save the world”—but ultimately unsatisfied life. She’s dying in a hospital with no visitors, little grace, and few consolations. She derives her scant pleasures from tormenting her caretakers with snark and allusion; they retaliate by delivering sermons or withholding morphine. She’s a lifelong walker-out and escaper-from; since she can’t leave the hospital, she’s immersed ...

Winning Isn’t Everything, it’s the Only Thing: Welcome to The Gameshouse


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Claire North’s The Gameshouse was first published in 2015, as a series of three, interconnected, digital-only novellas. In 2019, at long last, the three are collected into a single volume, and in a format where it can sit snugly on the shelf alongside North’s other works.

In case the laudatory flavour of that introduction is in any way misleading, let me be clear: I wholly believe The Gameshouse is one of the ‘single’ best works of modern fantasy. Nor, thanks to its unusual path to publication, is this recency bias. I’ve had four years to read and re-read The Gameshouse, and it gets better every time.

If North has a ‘shtick’, it is our world—our real, wonderful, edgy and oft-baffling world—with a hidden twist. The introduction, for example, of a single, fantastical power—such as invisibility (The Sudden Appearance of Hope) or a limited type of time travel ...

Winning Isn’t Everything, it’s the Only Thing: Welcome to The Gameshouse


This post is by Jared Shurin from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Claire North’s The Gameshouse was first published in 2015, as a series of three, interconnected, digital-only novellas. In 2019, at long last, the three are collected into a single volume, and in a format where it can sit snugly on the shelf alongside North’s other works.

In case the laudatory flavour of that introduction is in any way misleading, let me be clear: I wholly believe The Gameshouse is one of the ‘single’ best works of modern fantasy. Nor, thanks to its unusual path to publication, is this recency bias. I’ve had four years to read and re-read The Gameshouse, and it gets better every time.

If North has a ‘shtick’, it is our world—our real, wonderful, edgy and oft-baffling world—with a hidden twist. The introduction, for example, of a single, fantastical power—such as invisibility (The Sudden Appearance of Hope) or a limited type of time travel ...

Finding Role Models in Madeleine L’Engle’s A House Like a Lotus


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A House Like a Lotus bears many of the traits common to Madeleine L’Engle’s work: family members swap kids; a deeply eccentric adult mentors a deeply precocious child; ESP exists when convenient; half of the characters are the youngest/most eccentric members of old, old families; precocious children are abused at school; extraordinarily intelligent parents insist that precocious children stay in schools where they don’t learn anything because of the nebulous concept of “social intelligence” which in the L’Engle-verse seems to mean “learning to put up with idiots”; and, of course, international travel. But, other than that instance of convenient ESP, and one fictional terminal illness, Lotus is pretty straight realism.

Or, if you’ll humor me, pretty queer realism.

Polly O’Keefe, daughter of Meg Murry O’Keefe and Calvin O’Keefe, and central character of L’Engle’s previous books The Arm of the Starfish and Dragons in the Waters, is trapped in finding ...

Wastelands 3: The New Apocalypse Presents a Distinctly American Perspective on the End of the World


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Wastelands: The New Apocalypse is the third volume in John Joseph Adams’ curated series of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic short stories. With this edition, the series now collects over 80 different stories of cataclysm, disaster, and general tribulation.

The New Apocalypse differs slightly from its predecessors, in that it includes original stories as well as carefully selected reprints. With over 30 stories included, there’s no perfect way to draw conclusions about the anthology—however, there are some clear patterns that emerge across the book.

First, a simple demographic note. Wastelands: The New Apocalypse is an American perspective on the apocalypse, with only a very few contributors coming from outside of the United States. There are, for example, nine contributors from California, compared to one from all of Europe. Or, amusingly, as many contributors from Kansas as from, say, the entire Southern Hemisphere. This is a book as quintessentially American as A People’s ...

Wastelands 3: The New Apocalypse Presents a Distinctly American Perspective on the End of the World


This post is by Jared Shurin from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Wastelands: The New Apocalypse is the third volume in John Joseph Adams’ curated series of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic short stories. With this edition, the series now collects over 80 different stories of cataclysm, disaster, and general tribulation.

The New Apocalypse differs slightly from its predecessors, in that it includes original stories as well as carefully selected reprints. With over 30 stories included, there’s no perfect way to draw conclusions about the anthology—however, there are some clear patterns that emerge across the book.

First, a simple demographic note. Wastelands: The New Apocalypse is an American perspective on the apocalypse, with only a very few contributors coming from outside of the United States. There are, for example, nine contributors from California, compared to one from all of Europe. Or, amusingly, as many contributors from Kansas as from, say, the entire Southern Hemisphere. This is a book as quintessentially American as A People’s ...

I Made Her From Clay: Broken Places & Outer Spaces by Nnedi Okorafor


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Following her compelling talk, “Scifi stories that imagine a future Africa” (2017), the TED Books series now presents Nnedi Okorafor’s Broken Places & Outer Spaces. Part memoir, part craft text, the book is a personal narrative of the route Okorafor took to arrive at her career as a writer of science fiction. In the TED talk, she discusses the roots and influences of her science fiction as an Africanfuturist and reads selections from Binti and Lagoon; in this companion book her approach is more personal, focusing primarily on the life-changing experience of a scoliosis surgery that left her—a college athlete and track star—paralyzed.

Confined to her hospital room and laboring under the emotional and physical pain of her recovery, Okorafor first experiences her creative awakening—a process that comes in fits and starts, as does her rehabilitation. As she reflects on this experience in intense, intimate detail over ...