Categories
Swords and Spaceships

Solving Your Own Murder, Dragon Slaying, and Other New Releases

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! It’s Alex, with a selection of new releases and some fun links for you on this last Tuesday of July. I’m fresh back from a mini-vacation over the weekend, during which I visited my family, read a lot of books, ate a lot of cheese, and drank a lot of wine, so I’m feeling energized and ready to tackle the start of August. Here’s hoping you find a long weekend to get a little relaxing done out of the smokey air soon, too. Stay safe out there, space pirates, and I’ll see you on Friday!

Thing that made me laugh this week: The Two Guards

Let’s make the world a better place, together. Here’s somewhere to start: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ and anti-asianviolenceresources.carrd.co


New Releases

Cover of The River Has Teeth by Erica Waters

The River Has Teeth by Erica Waters

This is not the first time that girls have gone missing in the woods, but Natasha is determined that her sister will be the last. Following rumors of supposed witchcraft, she asks Della for magical help to bring her sister home. But Della has her own fears that center on the woods, ones she keeps carefully secret–she believes the beast that takes the girls might in fact be her own mother, transformed by a spell gone wrong. With little to lose, they are each other’s only hope.

Far Out: Recent Queer Science Fiction and Fantasy edited by Paula Guran

An anthology of science fiction and fantasy short stories from the last decade that includes a wide spectrum of queer identities and voices. Authors include Sam J. Miller, Amal El-Mohtar, Neon Yang, Charlie Jane Anders, and many more!

Cover of The Dying Squad by Adam Simcox

The Dying Squad by Adam Simcox

Detective Inspector Joe Lazarus thought he was going to take down a drug ring; instead, when he storms a farmhouse in Lincolnshire, he discovers his own corpse and a woman named Daisy-May who has some bad news and some good news for him. The bad news: yes, he’s dead, and she’s a spirit guide. The good news? She’s there to recruit him into the Dying Squad, a detective force of the recently dead, so at least his afterlife won’t be boring. His first mission: solve his own murder, and do it before his memories fade away to nothing.

Hold Fast Through the Fire by K.B. Wagers

The crew of Zuma’s Ghost, one of the Near-Earth Orbital Guard ships, has won the Boarding Games for their second year in a row, cementing their reputation as an absolutely unstoppable team. But in the wake of this victory, they find out their commander and their Master Chief are both retiring, so a change in dynamic is inevitable–but they get more disruption than they counted on in the form of Spacer Chae Ho-Ki, who has a dark past as a convict and an even darker secret. As the crew of Zuma’s Ghost struggles to find its equilibrium again, the Trappist colonies start a war, and the ship is directly in their sights.

Cover of the Death Song of the Dragón Chicxulub by Randy H. Garcia

Death Song of the Dragón Chicxulub by Rudy H. Garcia

La Muerta Blanca is a mysterious dragon-like ghostly creature that’s been stalking Central America since the days of the Aztecs, eating hearts and spreading terror. Now, Miguel Reilly comes to modern-day New Mexico and falls in with a shaman named Tomás, who shows him that he’s not “pure” Irish-American while trying to train this innocent nerd into a dragonslayer. Along his journey, Miguel meets a Maya med student named Maritza who has survived a brush with the spectral monster and come away with her own ambitions to slay it. Náhuatl codices lead the two to Chichén Itzá for a final, fantastical battle to slay a dragon and find themselves.

News and Views

The new Dune trailer has dropped

The Fantasy Hive does another round of 5-Star Books in 5 Words

Kate Elliott on adapting history into SFF

Interview with Chuck Wendig

Interview with Cassandra Khaw

Interview with Shelley Parker-Chan

Apex Magazine is running its 2022 fundraising Kickstarter

Haunted Objects in Women’s Weird Fiction

Season 13 trailer for Doctor Who

Wheel of Time is coming to Amazon in November

On Book Riot

2021 World Fantasy finalists announced

How rereading The Lord of the Rings helped me cope with my OCD

This month you can enter to win a $250 Barnes & Noble gift card, a Kindle Paperwhite, and a Kindle Oasis.


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.

Categories
Swords and Spaceships

Genre-Savvy, Trope-Subverting SF

Happy Friday, shipmates! It’s Alex, with a look at some genre-savvy trope-subverting books and some news links for you to peruse over the weekend. By the time you’re reading this, I’ll be off visiting family in Idaho! Not sure how I feel about trying to get on an airplane even now. I’ll let you know how it feels on the other side. Stay safe out there, space pirates, and I’ll see you on Tuesday!

Let’s make the world a better place, together. Here’s somewhere to start: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ and anti-asianviolenceresources.carrd.co


News and Views

Congratulations to the winners of the Kitschies! Especially to Micaiah Johnson for winning the Golden Tentacle Award for debut for The Space Between Worlds!!!

And congratulations to the 2021 World Fantasy Award finalists!

Celebrating the women of SFF and an obscure (by which I mean fake) Egyptian Goddess

The Space to Exist: The Other Kind of Diversity in Storytelling

The Many Shades of Gatekeeping: How “Emerging Author” Hurts More Than Helps

Neutron Stars Have Mountains That Are Less Than a Millimeter Tall

SFF eBook Deals

Prime Deceptions by Valerie Valdes for $1.99.

The Other Log of Phileas Fogg by Philip José Farmer for $1.99.

The Green Man edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling for $1.99.

On Book Riot

This week’s SFF Yeah! podcast is about SFF set in the 1920s-ish.

You have until July 25 to enter to win a copy of Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard.

This month you can enter to win a $250 Barnes & Noble gift card, a Kindle Paperwhite, and a Kindle Oasis.

Free Association Friday: Genre Savvy Subversion

On Monday, I saw Nic Cage’s new movie, Pig. Which is a shockingly excellent film and not at all what I expected from it. I don’t want to spoil anything in case you’re an indie movie person, but one of the stand outs was the fact that the writer and the the director were obviously very familiar with revenge film (a la John Wick) tropes and both used them and subverted them to make something completely different and very unexpected. So I got to thinking… what books have that kind of twist to them? I think it’s an even harder lift for books to play with tropes in that exact way, because it’s normally a massive marketing error to imply the reader is going to get something they don’t end up getting–especially because a book is a bigger time investment than a movie. You have to really stick the landing. So, with that in mind, what did I come up with?

Beneath the Rising cover

Beneath the Rising by Premee Mohamed

This book is in the cosmic horror genre, and it’s got all the Lovecraftian beasties you could want coming in from the outer worlds. It’s very self aware of what that’s all about. But rather than the horror of man’s insignificance in the face of the unending night, the real horror of this book is a really awful, twisted relationship… and it’s working through a realization of that which almost drives someone mad.

Savage Legion by Matt Wallace

This is a book that’s very acquainted with the tropes of epic fantasy, and is interested in turning as many as possible upside-down with thorough examination through a class-analysis lens. The savage armies of the invading force? Conscripts pulled off the streets of the empire and ready to rebel against the system that’s given them the worst end of the stick. Wise leaders making difficult choices? An entire bureaucratic department of them that tries to make a new recruit and gets more than they bargained for.

Spin the Dawn cover

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

This starts out extremely fairy tale (in this case, The Weaver Girl and the Cowherd) then adds in a feminist twist with a girl taking her brother’s place and then also ending up in “The Quest for the Lost Husband” rather than “The Quest for the Lost Wife.” And more than halfway through the book, the main character changes her ambitions completely. It’s a delight.

The Light Brigade cover

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley

Tropes employed include those associated with corporate dystopias, military sci-fi, and time loop stories. And yet wherever I thought this book was going, I was wrong at every turn. Now, I can’t even tell you if this amounts to trope subversion or just being really freaking good at writing them. Maybe that’s part of the magic. It’s both. It’s neither. It’s just a really good book.

Under the Skin cover

Under the Skin by Michael Faber

Nominally a science fiction novel, it’s more on the horror side as far as I’m concerned. You never quite know where this book is going; it seems to start with a female serial killer, and then it keeps getting weirder and weirder and weirder, before diving into a new set of tropes that I’m not going to tell you because it’s a massive spoiler. I will say that the 2013 film of the same name is also very good (maybe even better than the book, sorry) and left me so wound up and disturbed that I couldn’t sleep for the entire night after watching it.

The Unspoken Name cover image

The Unspoken Name by A. K. Larkwood

This is another extremely genre-savvy fantasy book, though it’s more on the side of “I’ve definitely played this D&D campaign.” It plays with other worlds and portals in a really smart way, and the fact that the main character is a very smart orc lady who becomes an assassin and then gets to have an unexpected but adorable sapphic romance is an object lesson in the subversion of everything the genre ever tried to tell us about orcs.


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.

Categories
Swords and Spaceships

Stolen Destinies, Last-Chance Reincarnation, an Interstellar War, and Other New Releases

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! It’s Alex, and I’ve got quite the selection of new releases for you this lovely day. This weekend was a very hot one in Colorado, and I was hoping for some delicious watermelon to cool down — except our watermelon turned out to be rotten. At the first puncture of a knife, an unbelievable tide of slimy pink liquid that smelled like bad fish spurted out of it. It’s the most horrifying thing to ever happen in my kitchen. So, my wish for you this week, space pirates: may your watermelons be ever fresh and never bad! State safe out there, and I’ll see you on Friday!

Thing that made me smile this week: Check out the trailer for Reservation Dogs

Let’s make the world a better place, together. Here’s somewhere to start: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ and anti-asianviolenceresources.carrd.co


New Releases

Cover of She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

When a bandit attack leaves an eighth-born son destined for greatness and his second-born sister destined for nothing orphaned, it’s another trick of fate that the son dies. The daughter takes on her brother’s name, Zhu, and in an attempt to escape her own fate, enters a monastery masquerading as a male novice. But when the monastery, too, is destroyed, Zhu must fully take her brother’s fate of greatness and make it her own.

Assassin’s Orbit by John Appel

The planet Ileri is about to join the Commonwealth when a government minister is assassinated, threatening to spark an interstellar war. A disparate team must come together to solve this mystery and avert the possible destruction of their planet: a private investigator named Noo Okereke, a spy named Meiko Ogawa, and a police chief named Toiwa.

Cover of Colorful by Eto Mori

Colorful by Eto Mori, translated by Jocelyne Allen

The angel Prapura kicks a formless soul into the body of fourteen-year-old Makoto Kobayashi, who has just died by suicide. This is the soul’s second and last chance if he doesn’t want to be entirely removed from the cycle of rebirth. He needs to remember the worst mistake of his past life while living Makoto’s life and understanding the circumstances of his death.

Savage Bounty by Matt Wallace

The Savages that the empire culls from its cities and uses as shock troops have risen in rebellion and started their own war. Leading the legion is Evie, called the Sparrow General. Along with Dyeawan, a strategist operating in the shadows of imperial government; Lexi, the head of a guild who finds herself at the center of a political power play; and Taru, who has just been conscripted into a new legion of Savages, she will decide the fate of an empire and a world. (Full disclosure: Matt and I have the same agent.)

The Necessity of Stars cover

The Necessity of Stars by E. Catherine Tobler

Bréone Hemmerli is a diplomat negotiating what might be humanity’s most important alliance if we wish to survive a world devastated by climate change: peace with an alien race represented by a being named Tura. But Bréone’s memory is failing badly with age, and humanity’s time grows short.

News and Views

Congratulations to the winners of the 2021 Rhysling Awards!

Hayao Miyazaki’s Lost Magic of Parenthood

The Fellowship of the Ring and the memes of Middle-earth

The novel solutions of utopian fiction

Fantasy Faction has begun its Seventh Annual Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off

Cast of Wonders is celebrating its 10th anniversary

Brian Murphy argues that sword & sorcery needs a revival

The Heroine’s Journey – A Study in Story Structures

5 monsters in need of career advice

Post-Human Capitalism and Revolution: Detroit and Blade Runner 2049

Why the MCU’s Lighting Kind of Sucks

Loki costume designer tells us the secret of Tom Hiddleston’s magic pants

Check out The Cage, the first science fiction film made in Venezuela

On Book Riot

If you enter by the 22nd, you can win a $150 ThriftBooks gift card.

This month you can enter to win a $250 Barnes & Noble gift card, a Kindle Paperwhite, and a Kindle Oasis.


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.

Categories
Swords and Spaceships

I Will Keep Shrieking Until You Read This Book

Happy Friday, shipmates! It’s Alex with some links to take you into the weekend, and a book that really grabbed me by the heart that I want to talk about–The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore. And I’m still excited over here about all the Emmy nominations WandaVision got. (I bet Loki is going to get some next year, too.) Here’s hoping Marvel takes the hint and gives us something much weirder in the future. Have a great weekend, space pirates, stay safe out there, and I’ll see you on Tuesday!

Here’s a thing to smile about: I love excavators

Let’s make the world a better place, together. Here’s somewhere to start: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ and anti-asianviolenceresources.carrd.co


News and Views

Queer Dads: Demons and Machines in Sorcerer’s Son by Phyllis Eisenstein and the Terminator Franchise

Goodreads: Meet the Authors of the Summer’s Biggest Sci-Fi and Fantasy Adventures

Makeshift Modernity: The rise of African speculative fiction

Cixin Liu’s The Three Body Problem has now become a serialized podcast

How women are written in sci-fi movies

What We Do in the Shadows season 3 teaser

How WandaVision Went From “Totally Bananas” Underdog to Emmy Juggernaut

Elon Musk Is Correct, I Am Specifically Attacking Space Itself and Not Just His Mars Colonization Project

90-year-old William Shatner conquers his fear of sharks by swimming with them

The ultimate fate of a nearby four-planet system: cosmic pinball, then game over

We’re getting a Wheel of Time prequel film trilogy to augment Amazon series

SFF eBook Deals

Autumn Bones by Jacqueline Carey for $1.99

Alpha Bots by Ava Lock for $0.99

The Traitor’s Son by Pedro Urvi for $0.99

On Book Riot

Incredibly epic fantasy journeys for every reader

I spy with my little eye 9 fantasy books about spies

15 magical books like Legendborn

This week’s SFF Yeah! podcast is about our favorite SFF of 2021 so far

This month you can enter to win a $250 Barnes & Noble gift card, a Kindle Paperwhite, and a Kindle Oasis.

Free Association Friday

While I know I normally like to do fun little lists that the ol’ brain meats free associate this day of the week, I occasionally want to take this corner of the newsletter to talk about a particular book that’s really stuck with me, that I want to shove at everyone and shriek at them to read.

This is one of those Fridays.

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore

I will say up front that this book comes with big trigger warnings for sexual assault and, to a lesser extent, bullying. It is an easy book to read because Anna-Marie McLemore’s prose is gorgeous and rich while still being sleek and light. It’s an incredibly hard book to read because of what it’s about, which is two teenagers who start out as strangers meeting on the worst night of their lives, during which they are both sexually assaulted. It follows them through the stutter-step process of reaching a full understanding of what happened to them and how it affects them and their friendships and their relationship to each other. It’s unflinching in its depiction of healing as an uneven, nonlinear process that takes time and is never entirely finished.

The Mirror Season isn’t a plot-heavy book because it’s so much about what’s going on with the characters, and it gives them space to process and interact and think and breathe, which is something I feel like I find only rarely in genre books. There’s a lot of push for things to be pacy in SFF, which makes it really stand out to me when I find a book that’s so completely focused on character.

Also, if you are even a tiny bit into baking, this book is an absolute feast. Which feels like a strange thing to say about a book built around recovery from sexual assault, but there’s very consciously a lot of joy in the pages of The Mirror Season to balance out the pain and anxiety. The main character, Graciela, works at a pasteleria and has a magical ability to tell exactly what kind of pan dulce every customer wants. In the immediate aftermath of the assault, she loses her power, but then slowly recovers it as part of her own healing. And the baked goods she describes! I spent a lot of this book absolutely desperate for a concha.

I’ll be thinking about The Mirror Season for a long time. Difficult, beautiful, and necessary.


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.

Categories
Swords and Spaceships

IKEA Assembly Manuals for Aliens

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! It’s Alex, with a selection of new releases for this week and a few news items for your clicking pleasure. In Colorado, we’re now firmly back into the season where “smoke” is a valid weather condition according to my weather app, so that tells you how we’re doing out here. Stay safe out there, space pirates, read some good books, and I’ll see you on Friday!

Thing that made my weekend: Cat drinking milk, becomes music. And part 2.

Let’s make the world a better place, together. Here’s somewhere to start: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ and anti-asianviolenceresources.carrd.co


New Releases

Hollywood Heroine by Sarah Kuhn

After years of being legends in the real world, superheroines Aveda Jupiter and Evie Tanaka are about to take the world by storm in their own TV show. But Aveda has a hard time getting excited; there’s Otherworld activity outside the Bay Area, and she still has to worry about the fate of the world. When on-set drama goes supernatural, Aveda and Evie must swing in to save the day again.

Cover of The Freedom Race by Lucinda Roy

The Freedom Race by Lucinda Roy

The second Civil War left behind an America that’s no longer the United States, riven with sickness and radiation and divided into factions. One of these factions, the Homestead Territories, has restarted the slave trade, and the other factions let it. Ji-ji was born enslaved in one of the plantations in the Homestead Territories; her possible way out is the annual Freedom Race. She also unknowingly holds the key to breaking the power of the Homestead Territories. To do so, she must unravel the voices of the dead.

The Justice in Revenge by Ryan Van Loan

Partners in crime-solving Buc and Eld have taken a place on the board of the Kanados Trading Company with the intention of destroying the nobility from within and trying to force a little more equality into the island nation of Servenza. But boardroom politics and mages keep progress slow, and the two reach out to a potential patron — the Doga who rules the nation. If they figure out who is trying to assassinate her, they’ll gain her support; if they fail their deadline, they’ll be exiled to to the ends of the world. (Full disclosure: Ryan and I have the same agent.)

Cover of In Beta by Prescott Harvey

In Beta by Prescott Harvey

In 1993, small-town high school seniors (and total geeks) Jay and Colin discover a disk that contains a computer program that’s a pixel-perfect replica of their entire town. And then they discover that if they alter the program, they alter reality. They react to this knowledge with all the calm thoughtfulness one can expect from two teenage boys. But someone is watching what they do, and that someone has their own way of warping reality.

The Fallen by Ada Hoffman

The planet Jai has now become a chaotic, galactic no-go zone; its laws of physics are forever altered and its inhabitants have all changed. The AI gods that once ruled the galaxy have become Jai’s jailers, and Tiv, who once believed utterly in these gods, turns to helping the survivors and fighting for freedom. Her girlfriend, Yasira, debilitatingly ill, cannot lead the necessary revolution. But somehow together, they must solve the mysteries that fractured their planet — and save it.

News and Views

If you’re quick, you can sign up for a flash science fiction reading courtesy of Space Cowboy Books tonight.

Congratulations to the winners of the 2020 Aurealis Awards!

Video interview with Farah Mendelsohn.

Interview with Cat Rambo.

Interview with Sheree Renée Thomas.

Fantasy Hive has a selection of SFF cover art done by women cover artists.

How to create fantasy villains.

Daario Naharis and The Death of Khans: From the Mongol Empire to Game of Thrones.

Future Lord of the Rings films should acknowledge the book’s queer leanings.

Writing with an emotional landscape.

IKEA made assembly manuals for aliens.

Bezos and Branson are going to space! Or maybe not. If you have paid much attention, you can already guess my opinion of the “billionaire space race.” But this is an interesting article that’s about the definition of space itself — particularly where it actually begins.

On Book Riot

8 female authors like Sarah J. Maas

Everything we know about the Ursula K. Le Guin stamp the USPS is releasing

This month you can enter to win a $250 Barnes & Noble gift card, a Kindle Paperwhite, and a Kindle Oasis.


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.

Categories
Swords and Spaceships

SFF Cures for Summer Boredom

Happy Friday, shipmates! It’s Alex, with a few book suggestions for fighting any summer boredom that might be weighing you down, as well as links to check out. The good news is, after mainlining Benadryl for a day and a half because my mosquito bites were that bad, I am coherent and awake, so any spelling mistakes you find are completely my fault. Stay safe out there, space pirates, and I’ll see you with new releases on Tuesday!

Fun thing for the weekend: This crossover of my two fandoms fills me with delight.

Let’s make the world a better place, together. Here’s somewhere to start: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ and anti-asianviolenceresources.carrd.co


News and Views

Shortlist for the SFF Rosetta Awards has been announced

Interview with Katherine Addison

Catherynne Valente will discuss her new book The Past Is Red via Zoom on July 20

Troy L. Wiggins: The Necessity of Slavery Stories

Ainehi Edoro: What is Africanjujuism?

Abigail George: Moscow in Autumn

How Marginalized Authors Are Transforming Gothic Fiction

Young People Read Old SFF covers “Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman

This is kind of funny: DC and Marvel superheroes top breached password lists.

SFF eBook Deals

The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu for $1.99

Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb for $1.99

Vox by Christina Dalcher for $1.99

On Book Riot

This week’s SFF Yeah! podcast is about SFF that’s perfect for camping.

This month you can enter to win a $250 Barnes & Noble gift card, a Kindle Paperwhite, and a Kindle Oasis.

Free Association Friday: Anti-Boredom SFF

July is apparently National Anti-Boredom Month, which I didn’t even know was a thing. I suppose that makes sense for a month when all the under-18s are out of school and potentially at loose ends. And books are a cure for boredom, right? Especially when they’re out there challenging tropes and doing something different.

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Bored with quasi-European epic fantasy? This is the start of a series that’s got it all–magic, gods, tons of politics, family drama, giant animals that people ride around on, and a deep history that unfolds without requiring infodumps… and it’s all set in a fantasy Mesoamerica.

(Also check out The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter, which is African-inspired epic fantasy with dragons.)

The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera

Bored with fated lovers who always seem to be a heterosexual couple? Here’s Barsalayaa Shefali, a horse-riding female warrior, and O Shizuka, a divine empress, and they have a big destiny together that may be leading them to either their deaths or the godhood they must attain to save the world.

Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

Bored with fantasy that front and centers fighters? This one’s about a scholar and a politician trying to maintain their places in a crumbling empire… then you throw a mage who shouldn’t exist into the mix, and they’re all sent on dark journey through some even darker history–and deadly secrets.

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Bored with the AI always being the bad guy? This starts a series about an embodied AI who takes on an empire in her quest for revenge–and then justice.

Also, Martha Wells’s Murderbot series, starting with All Systems Red, scratches this itch nicely as well… and gives us an AI with some severe social anxiety.

The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson

Bored with dystopias? Much of Kim Stanley Robinson’s work is quasi-utopic, though in a way that’s very uniquely his. Rather than trying to imagine a future where technology runs everything and resources are abundant, he looks for the ways people can aim for utopia with work and managing scarce resources.

The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

Bored with chosen ones? Here’s a thief who finds out that he might be the missing son of a prince, but rather than being swept into an epic quest, he’s drafted into his ruthless family’s political machinations. Worse, if he’s got a great destiny at all, it’s not that he’ll save the world — he’s going to be the one to destroy it.


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.

Categories
Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for July 6

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! It’s Alex with your new releases for the first Tuesday of July. My Fourth of July was absolutely bonkers; since most of the cities around cancelled their fireworks (with good reason!), we ended up with neighborhoods basically filled with noise and gunpowder smoke as people shot off their own worryingly huge rockets. Not great, when you live in a place that gets bad wildfires. On the other hand, I got to have s’mores with friends! Hope everyone had a good and safe weekend. See you on Friday, space pirates!

Thing I loved this week: this thread of pictures of ship’s cats in tiny hammocks

Let’s make the world a better place, together. Here’s somewhere to start: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ and anti-asianviolenceresources.carrd.co


New Releases

Cover of We Have Always Been Here by Lena Nguyen

We Have Always Been Here by Lena Nguyen

The Deucalion, a survey ship crewed by human specialists and androids, is sent to the ice planet Eos to assess its potential as a colony world. Dr. Grace Park, a misanthropic psychologist, has been assigned to monitor the crew, but finds herself befriending the androids instead. After arriving at Eos, the crew is trapped aboard the ship by a radiation storm. The androids start behaving strangely, the humans start having waking nightmares, and as the paranoia ratchets ever upward, Grace begins to realize that nothing around her is as it seems.

Capture the Crown by Jennifer Estep

Gemma only appears to be a pampered, vacuous princess; under the carefully crafted persona, she’s a spy and a powerful mind magier. Her current mission: figure out who is stealing tearstone from one of the royal mines. There she encounters Prince Leonidas, her mortal enemy… and of course she promptly gets herself into a bind where she has to join forces with him if she wants to finish her mission and survive all the plots she’s uncovering.

Cover of Summer in the City of Roses by Michelle Ruiz Keil

Summer in the City of Roses by Michelle Ruiz Keil

Iph has always protected her younger brother, Orr. Unfortunately, their father doesn’t agree; he takes Iph to a gala in downtown Portland as a distraction while Orr is taken away to a wilderness survival bootcamp to be toughened up. Iph storms out of the gala and meets up with George, a bicycle-riding queer Robin Hood, who offers her a place to hide while she tracks down Orr. And Orr, in the meantime, has escaped camp and hooked up with an all-girl punk band. Separately, they must navigate their new environs and find each other again.

The Empire’s Ruin by Brian Stavely

The Annurian Empire is falling to ruin, its magical gates becoming defunct and its other advantages falling to pieces. Even the Kettral have been decimated from within, but one of the survivors has a chance to save it all. They must travel beyond the known world to find where the war hawks nest. But the empire’s time is almost up, with an ancient race of god-like beings beginning to stir.

Cover of Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

Shiori’anma is a princess, and one with forbidden magic. Her determination to keep it a secret ends on the morning of her wedding day when she loses control of her magic. She’s not sorry to miss out on the wedding, but her stepmother Raikama, also secretly a sorceress, banishes her and turns her brothers into cranes with a special curse. If Shiori ever speaks of it, with each word, one of her brothers will die. Destitute and voiceless, Shiori must save both her brothers and her kingdom before it’s too late.

City of Iron and Dust by J.P Oakes

At the end of a war that the goblins won against the fae, they built the Iron City as both prison and industrial blight. But life still struggles to break free there, where a multitude of stories tangle together around one bag of Dust, the only drug that can still give the fae magic. And that collision of lives will change the Iron City for all time.

News and Views

Congratulations to the nominees for the 2020 Shirley Jackson awards!

Sad news: Lovecraft County was not renewed for season 2

First teaser trailer for 大怪獣のあとしまつ, a movie about the aftermath of a kaiju attack when the people of the city have to figure out what to do about the giant corpse.

The History of Papercutting and the Magic of The Chosen and the Beautiful

Janelle Monáe has a collection of cyberpunk short ficton coming!

The History of Politics and Wuxia

On Book Riot

On Wednesdays, we read Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings fandom in 2021

This month you can enter to win a $250 Barnes & Noble gift card, a Kindle Paperwhite, and a Kindle Oasis.


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.

Categories
Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for July 2

Happy Friday, shipmates! It’s Alex, with some award-nominated books for you to check out (and they’re not all the usual suspects) and some SFF links to click. If you’re in the US, we’re headed into a holiday weekend–please be safe and have fun! (And if you live in the Western US, I beg of you, no fireworks.) May we all be headed into a relatively cooler start to July. See you on Tuesday for new release day, space pirates!

Let’s make the world a better place, together. Here’s somewhere to start: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ and anti-asianviolenceresources.carrd.co


News and Views

When Sword & Sorcery Cast a Spell in the 1980s

The Ghost Work Behind Artificial Intelligence

Queer readings of The Lord of the Rings are not accidents

CW for discussions of transphobia, but this long piece on Isabel Fall’s “Helicopter Story” and the Twitter implosion around it is, in my opinion, worth reading: How Twitter can ruin a life. I will note that yes, I have read the story, and I found it very meaningful to my experience as a trans person; your mileage may vary and that’s all right.

A roundup of indie spec fic for the month of June

Camestros Felapton has collected chapters 1-33 of the Debarkle in one volume, for free

Loving Sally Ride

What Venus has instead of plate tectonics

SFF eBook Deals

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse for $1.99

Tooth and Talon by Alex Hernandez for $0.99

The Stones of Resurrection by Tameri Etherton for $0.99

On Book Riot

This week’s SFF Yeah! is about LGBTQ+ SFF

15 adult fiction books from Bookfest that go straight to the TBR pile

18 of the best trans fantasy and sci-fi books

6 SFF books with genderfluid characters

Free Association Friday

The shortlist for the 2020 Kitschies is out, and I want to shine the spotlight on some of the books they’ve named, which I don’t think we’ve ever had in the newsletter before. (Also on the shortlist are Piranesi, The City We Became, The Ministry of the Future, and Raybearer, all of which we’ve talked about multiple times.) The Kitschies are a juried award that focus on “progressive, intelligent, and entertaining” speculative fiction, and tend to have a pretty eclectic and fun shortlist. (Full disclosure from me: I won a Kitschie for my debut novel in 2017, so I may love them a little extra.)

Cover of A Tall History of Sugar by Curdella Forbes

A Tall History of Sugar by Curdella Forbes

This is the story of two soulmates who live in Jamaica, starting just four years before the end of colonial rule. Moshe was born without skin; his strange appearance makes it impossible to tell what race he is. Arienne is his soulmate and does her best to protect him from the social and emotional burden of looking like he does.

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow by Natasha Pulley

A translator named Thaniel and a watchmaker who can remember the future named Mori travel to Japan together on separate business. While there, they begin to experience ghostly apparitions together–and then Mori vanishes. As the ghosts begin to haunt more of the country, Thaniel concludes that this has something to do with Mori–and that his friend is in danger.

Cover of Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara

Jai is a boy who lives at the end of the Purple metro line in a tin-roofed home, so far removed from the high-rises of the city that they might as well be a different planet. When a classmate goes missing, he decides to put all of the skills he’s learned by watching far too many reality police shows to use in solving the disappearance. It seems like a game at first… until other children start disappearing and rumors of soul-snatching djinn begin circulating around.

The Animals in That Country by Laura Jean McKay

Jean is a foul-mouthed, no-nonsense grandmother who works as a guide in an outback wildlife park. Then a pandemic begins sweeping across the country, with its main symptom that its victims can understand the language of animals until the rising tide of unstoppable voices drives them mad. When Jean’s son, Lee, goes missing in this madness, she sets off to find him, with a dingo named Sue riding shotgun.

Cover of Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn

Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn

As a seven-year-old, Nainoa fell overboard from a cruise ship, only to be rescued and delivered back to his mother by a shark. This miracle marks the beginning of strange powers for Nainoa, ones that eventually drive his family apart and leaves him struggling to understand himself as he works as a paramedic in Portland. More supernatural events push his scattered family back together in Hawai’i, where they must reckon with the cost of survival and what heritage means.

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

Okay yes, you got me, I have mentioned this book a zillion times before, so I should have put the link in the opening paragraph. TOO BAD, MY NEWSLETTER, MY RULES. I will take every opportunity to tell you how freaking amazing this book is if you haven’t read it yet. Beautiful prose! A different take on parallel worlds! Complex and conflicted characters! This was my favorite book of 2020, dangit.


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.

Categories
Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for June 29

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! Here we are, already at the end of June, and it’s Alex with the last new releases for the month. If you’re getting hit by the heat wave out there, I hope you’ve found a way to stay cool. Please take care of yourselves, space pirates. I’ll see you on Friday as we head into July.

Thing that made me happy this week: I listened to the audiobook of The Witness of the Dead by Katherine Addison in basically one day, and it was pretty much everything I wanted except I wanted it to be twice as long.

In non-SFF news, if you have not seen the trailer for The Harder They Fall, YOU NEED TO.

Let’s make the world a better place, together. Here’s somewhere to start: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ and anti-asianviolenceresources.carrd.co


New Releases

Cover of Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta

Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta

Godolia warlords are tightening their tyrannical rule on the Badlands using mechanized weapons called Windups. Eris is a gearbreaker who specializes in destroying Windups, but she ends up in a Godolia prison when a misson goes awry. There she meets Sona, a Windup pilot. While at first they seem to be enemies, they soon learn they’re fighting the same enemy… and maybe falling in love.

When the Sparrow Falls by Neil Sharpson

Agent South works just hard enough to make no enemies in the Caspian Republic, the last bastion of humanity that’s run by an artificial intelligence that allows no deviation. Then a Party official is killed and discovered to be a “machine” and South is given the task of chaperoning his widow–also a “machine,” and someone who bears a strange resemblance to South’s deceased wife.

Cover of The Return of the Sorceress by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Return of the Sorceress by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Yalxi was the Supreme Mistress of the Guild of Sorcerers until her love took both her throne and the diamond heart, which gave Yalxi her magical powers. Now Yalxi is on a mission to get her power and her place back, but making allies isn’t easy; she forged her path to power in blood, and the consequences are coming home to her now as well.

Double Threat by F. Paul Wilson

In the desert of the American Southwest, a cult prays that the “Visitors” will return, vigilant for signs of the “Duad” that will stand in their way. A woman named Daley wakes to find an alien consciousness in her mind that gives her the gift of healing–and won’t shut up. Daley tries to hide her new power, but when the cult discovers her, they decide that she must be the Duad they have to defeat.

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

Briseis has an unusual gift: she can grow plants from tiny seeds to maturity with just a touch of her hand. Which sounds like a great power… if she could control it. When her aunt in rural New York dies, Bri and her parents head to the woman’s dilapidated estate for the summer to get a little breathing room. What they find there is a mystery that centers on a walled garden filled with deadly plants, a place only Bri can enter. Soon strangers are arriving, asking for medicines and potions, and Bri discovers she has a talent for making those, too. But the community has its own dark secrets, and there are those who would harness Bri’s power to make an elixir for mortality, whether she’s willing or not.

A War of Swallowed Stars by Sangu Mandanna

A massive beast is devouring stars one by one as war rages through the galaxy. An exiled prince must face the consequences of his mistakes while a princess has vanished without a trace… and a sleeping god stirs on a hidden planet.

News and Views

Congratulations to the winners of the 2021 Locus Awards!

The 2020 Kitschies short list is out

Accelerated History: Chinese Short Science Fiction in the Twenty-First Century

Stealing Science Fiction : Why the Heist Works So Well in Sci-Fi

SFF has some people on this list: The Early Careers of 12 Famous Novelists

Chris Carter (creator of The X-Files) weighs in on the UFO report that just came out

The Kyo Come to Visit: Clearing Up Some Important Questions in CJ Cherryh’s Foreigner Series

LeVar Burton is going to teach a Masterclass on “the Power of Storytelling”

Vin Diesel wants to do a Fast and Furious musical

On Book Riot

30 must-read queer fairytale retellings for Pride

You have until tonight to register to win copies of My Lady Jane and My Contrary Mary by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

This month you can enter to win a 1-year subscription to Audible, a Kindle Paperwhite, your own library cart, a $250 gift card to Powell’s Books, an iPad Mini, and a summer reading prize pack.


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.

Categories
Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for June 25

Happy Friday, shipmates! It’s Alex, and for the last Friday of Pride, I’m coming at you with some books that have genderfluid protagonists and a little handful of links to check out. I’m still watching the Loki series–Infinity War broke my Asgard-loving heart–and so far, so good. Also, I have the audiobook for Witness for the Dead and I am unspeakably excited to start it! If you’re in the northern hemisphere, I hope you’ve been staying cool as we crossed over the longest day of the year. Stay safe out there, space pirates, and I will see you again on Tuesday!

Non-SFF-related, but I cannot get over the Big Breakfast song

Let’s make the world a better place, together. Here’s somewhere to start: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ and anti-asianviolenceresources.carrd.co


News and Views

NPR wants you to tell them about your favorite new SFF books

Interview with Rin Chupeco

Adam Nimoy: I absolutely adored Spock. Loving Dad was much more complicated.

Looking for Body Positivity and Fat Protagonists in YA Fantasy

Wellington Paranormal is coming to America

The Trouble With Writing (Too) Smart Characters

The Personal Impact of Doctor Aphra

SFF eBook Deals

Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler for $1.99

Not So Stories edited by David Thomas Moore for $0.99

Noumenon Ultra by Marina J. Lostetter for $1.99 (full disclosure: Marina and I share an agent.)

On Book Riot

10 great middle grade superhero books

15 books like A Court of Thorns and Roses

This week’s SFF Yeah! is about favorites from the last five(ish) years

You have until June 29 to register to win copies of My Lady Jane and My Contrary Mary by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

This month you can enter to win a 1-year subscription to Audible, a Kindle Paperwhite, your own library cart, a $250 gift card to Powell’s Books, an iPad Mini, and a summer reading prize pack.

Free Association Friday

Hello friends! For this last Friday of Pride Month, let’s get in some SFF with genderfluid characters.

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Two unlikely friends meet on the pirate ship Dove. Flora becomes Florian in the brutal life of a pirate, which is still better than being a starving street urchin. Lady Hasegawa is en route to an arranged marriage she doesn’t want, carrying her own casket with her. Soon they go on a series of wild adventures, including freeing a captured mermaid, finding an opportunistic witch, and going up against the Pirate Supreme.

No Man of Woman Born by Ana Mardoll

A collection of short stories with trans, nonbinary, and genderfluid characters that fulfill–and subvert–gendered prophecies.

Cover of Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Sallot is a genderfluid thief who wants to use the skills they’ve developed in highway robbery to get closer to the nobles that destroyed their life. Their chance comes in the form of a chance to join the Queen’s personal assassins, but the audition is more than Sal bargained for. Their common criminal childhood didn’t prepare them for circus acrobats, apothecaries, and ex-soldiers, but they have to figure it out if they want to survive–and win the heart of the scribe they’ve fallen in love with.

Nine of Swords, Reversed by Xan West

Dev and Noam have lived a good life together for years, practicing magecraft together, caring for each other when their disabilities flare up, with Noam acting as Dev’s service submissive. But when Dev’s arthritis worsens, xe is unable to shield properly, which means xe can’t touch Noam without transferring too much of their pain via xyr empathy. Together, Dev and Noam must navigate this change in their relationship, with the help of a timely tarot reading.

Cover of No More Heroes by Michelle Kan

No More Heroes by Michelle Kan

Young Vigilantes across the world keep watch over cities. A new enemy comes onto the scene, identity and motive unclear, but one thing’s for certain: they’re killing Vigilantes. When someone wants to disturb the peace in a city where the gifted make the rules, who will stop them?

Sing for the Coming of the Longest Night by Katherine Fabian and Iona Datt Sharma

Layla and Nat have nothing in common except a deep, mutual dislike–and a boyfriend named Meraud. But when Meraud vanishes during a magical experiment, they must work together to follow the cryptic clues and deadly obstacles that will lead them to him… and then possible let him get back home. Worse, their time is growing short–if they don’t get him home by the winter solstice, Meraud will be lost forever.


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.