Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for April 2

Happy Friday, shipmates! It’s Alex, with some books fresh from the Antipodes and some fun links today. I’m also just about vibrating out of my seat with excitement–by the time you’ve read this, I’ll have gotten my first dose of the Moderna Covid vaccine! Colorado just opened it up for all adults, and I got very lucky. Wishing you best luck and good health as well! Stay safe out there, and I will see you on Tuesday for the first new releases of April.

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

News and Views

Strange Horizons has released its special issue dedicated to Palestinian science fiction!

Cheryl Morgan on queering Medusa

A profile of Chinese science fiction writer Chen Qiufan

I talk more about the novels below, but here’s the full short list for the Aurealis awards, which includes a lot of really great short fiction!

Cora Buhlert’s monthly roundup of indie speculative fiction for March

Nerds of a Feather has started releasing their transcripts for ConZealand Fringe from last year.

An answer to which superhero we should call if the Suez Canal gets a boat stuck in it again

Vulcan salute monument!

On Book Riot

This week’s SFF Yeah! podcast is about series spin-offs.

The 5 finger fantasy rule: a plea for mercy from SFF authors

This month you can enter to win a $100 Books of Wonder gift card.

Free Association Friday: Aurealis Awards Finalists

The Aurealis Awards have been going since 1995, after being founded by Chimera Publications, the publishers of Aurealis magazine. Their purpose is to recognize Australian SFF and horror. I wanted to put a spotlight on the finalists this year, because particularly in the US, we don’t get to hear a lot about the SFF scene in Australia. So here are the finalists for Best science fiction and best fantasy novel! Congratulations to all!

(Since I’m reporting the award short list in its entirety, please note that the authors aren’t quite as diverse as we normally try to get.)

Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

An ancient evil is about to be unleashed on a galaxy it would like to consume, and it’s up to a squad of misfits and losers to stop it… if they can take care of their interpersonal drama and the other hornets nests they’ve recently kicked over first.

Ghost Species by James Bradley

Two scientists are recruited by a tech billionaire to spearhead his foundation’s effort to half climate change–and re-engineer and revive species long since lost. This effort includes Neanderthals… and when the first child is born, she struggles to figure out if she is human or not.

The Animals in That Country by Laura Jean McKay

A hard-drinking, no-nonsense grandma who likes animals better than people finds herself in the midst of a pandemic for which the chief symptom is the accelerating ability to understand animal languages before those sickened go mad.

Fauna by Donna Mazza

In her desperation to have another child, Stacey is recruited into an experimental program that will help her conceive and carry, as long as she allows the embryo to be blended with ‘edited’ cells.

Repo Virtual by Corey J. White

In a city made of nesting realities from concrete to the virtual, Julius is a repoman for the online and a thief for the real. But when he finds out his latest job caused him to steal the first sentient AI, his payday might become deadly.

The Mother Fault by Kate Mildenhall

When Mim’s husband goes missing and can’t be tracked, she must go on the run and find him or risk losing her children to the notorious BestLife.

Unfortunately, The Mother Fault may be difficult to find in the US. If you want to try another of Kate’s books, you can get Skylarking, though!

Hollow Empire by Sam Hawke

With the ancient spirits awoken, the city-state of Silasta must remake itself in a world now filled with magic and beset by assassins and witches.

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix

After a long search, Susan finds the father she’d never met, just in time to see him be turned to dust by a left-handed bookseller named Merlin. Merlin is part of a group of magical beings who police the mythic and legendary, and he’s got a quest of his own: to find the entity that had his mother killed.

Monstrous Heart by Claire McKenna

Arden has been tasked with keeping the lighthouse at Vigil burning with her magic, showing the way over a sea teeming with monsters. Her mysterious leviathan-slayer neighbor, Jonah, is rumored to have murdered his wife–and Arden can’t get him out of her mind.

Conquist by Dirk Strasser

In 1542, Cristóbal de Varga led 400 conquistadors through a doorway in the mountains of Peru and into a far more mysterious world from which they never returned…

Sadly, this book is not currently available in the US, but if you want to check out another of Dirk’s books, try Zenith.

The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte

Tempe lives in a world of endless water, but the ruins of the civilization destroyed by the Great Waves 500 years ago call to her from far below. The treasures she finds in them will buy a 24 hour return to life for her sister, who died bearing a terrible secret that Tempe needs to know.

The Ninth Sorceress by Bonnie Wynne

After seventeen years of innocent safety as an herbalist’s apprentice, Gwyn finds herself pursued by wizards and hunted by an ancient goddess.

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 March 30

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! It’s time once again for new releases, the last round of March 2021 (I promise you, it’s 2021), and this is Alex, here to deliver. My two biggest adventures over the weekend were getting my head shaved again (hair does insist on continuing to grow, doesn’t it) and watching Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar, which was absolutely hilarious if you need something bright in your life. (I’m currently reading A Desolation Called Peace, which is also very good, but has less of Jamie Dornan singing while ripping off his polo shirt.) I hope everyone had as peaceful of a weekend as possible, and chag sameach to all those celebrating Passover! Stay safe, shipmates, and I’ll see you on Friday.

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

New Releases

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

A Broken Darkness by Premee Mohamed

The elder beings tried to force their way into the world a year and a half ago, and now Nick Prasad is trying to rebuild his life. He’s joined the Ssarati Society and helps them monitor threats against humanity–including his former best friend Johnny. And once again, Johnny has a brilliant idea for an invention… that serves the purpose of Them even though she claims it’s all an accident.

Alias Space and Other Stories by Kelly Robson

The first short fiction collection from Nebula Award-winning writer Kelly Robson. This volume includes both previously published stories and new work, ranging from horror to science fiction, heartbreak to humor.

The First Omega by Megan E. O’Keefe

Riley has long since forgotten her real name, or any other life she had before she began protecting the supply caravans that cross the wasteland. Her face is the last thing many a thief has seen. But then she gets sent out to look at a supply caravan that went down too easily, and the bodies left behind her rotting away after only a few hours. And in the wreckage, Riley finds a girl who has no business being there, one with violently blue eyes, just like the ones Riley sees every time she happens to look in a mirror.

The World Is at War, Again by Simon Lowe

Two low-level assassins get a surprise field promotion in a war where things aren’t going too well, a promotion that sends them sailing off on a luxury cruise liner and leaving their son Peter at boarding school. For Peter, the school is nothing like he expects, and he’s soon trying to uncover the mysteries of the school in between double dates and encounters with ginger vodka. Little does he know another assassin is hanging around the school, looking for revenge on her cousin by posing as a teacher.

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo

Facing down an invasion by Fjerda, King Nikolai Lantsov must summon every tool at his disposal if he wants to win, including the demon within. Standing with him are a stormwitch who must embrace her powers and become a weapon for the king if she doesn’t wish to bury another friend, and a spy whose desire for revenge may cost her homeland its freedom but heal her broken heart.

News and Views

C.L. Clark: Five Things I Learned Writing The Unbroken

Finding comfort in apocalyptic stories

Black nerds redefining the culture

Silvia Moreno-Garcia wants to talk to you about some Indian SFF novels

Jennie Ivins has made an incomplete list of women currently writing SFF

Every King Arthur retelling is fanfic about who gets to be legendary

Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Pulps: The Expansion of Genre Fiction

Douglas Adams’s note to self reveals the author found writing to be torture

Liz Bourke interviews C.L. Polk

Bite into BBQ with Zig Zag Claybourne

SciFiNow speaks with the cast of Netflix’s supernatural take on Sherlock Holmes, The Irregulars

“Soon May the Wellerman Come”: Lived-In Worldbuilding in SFF

We’ve been landing on Mars for a long time

How Octavia E. Butler became a legend

On Book Riot

The call is coming from inside the spaceship: 6 works of space horror

This month you can enter to win a $250 gift card at Barnes & Noble, your own library cart, a $250 gift card to Powell’s Books, and/or 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.

Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for March 26

Happy Friday, shipmates–and happy Leonard Nimoy day if you’re in Boston!! We’re getting close to the end of March 2021, I promise. It’s happening. Just one more newsletter (a last round of new releases coming your way on Tuesday) and then we can escape the longest continuous month in recorded history. It’s Alex, and I’ve got the Andre Norton finalists for this year (and a few winners of years past) for you, and some news items that caught my eye. Stay safe out there, and I will see you on Tuesday!

Here, this made me smile: my favorite cat tweet of the week

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

News and Views

Peter S. Beagle has regained control of the rights to his work. THANK GOODNESS.

Fantasy Magazine has an interview with Charles Yu

New life and new civilizations: socialism, progress, & the final frontier

C.L. Clark wrote a The Big Idea feature of Scalzi’s blog

Maria Haskins’s quarterly short fiction roundup at Strange Horizons

When does a bad movie become great? Well, maybe pretty-good. Okay, weirdly compelling.

On Book Riot

This week’s SFF Yeah! is about heroes and villains.

A beginner’s guide to SFF novelettes

An introduction to the solarpunk genre

9 of the best fantasy maps in books

This month you can enter to win a $250 gift card at Barnes & Noble, your own library cart, a $250 gift card to Powell’s Books, and/or a Kindle Oasis.

Free Association Friday: Andre Norton Award Finalists

I talked about the 2020 Nebula finalists for novel and novella last week, but this week I wanted to shine a spotlight on the Andre Norton Award finalists. The Andre Norton award is specifically for SFF middle grade and young adult novels. At the end of the list, I’ve thrown in the last three winners as well.

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

Tarisai was raised in strict isolation without the normal warmth of a family by a demanding and distant mother she knows only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to compete to join the Crown Prince’s Council of Eleven, a body that is joined through the magic powers of the Ray in a bond deeper than blood. But what seems like a dream for lonely Tarisai becomes a nightmare when The Lady demands that she murder the Crown Prince, and she must choose between loyalty and her own deepest wishes.

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher

Mona is a fourteen-year-old wizard who can’t control lightning or shoot firebolts but instead has a way with bread and pastries. Her familiar is a sourdough starter, and she’ll need all of her magic and baking skills when the victim of an assassin ends up dead on the floor of her bakery–and Mona’s the next target.

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

Elatsoe (but you can call her Ellie) is a Lipan Apache teenager who can raise the spirits of dead animals–including her dog, Kirby, her best friend for life. She lives in an America just a little stranger than ours, where the paranormal is every day, and her goal is to someday be an investigator. When her cousin dies in an apparent car accident, she knows it was murder–because his ghost told her. This is her first case to solve, and it puts her up against an entire town of wealthy white people in Texas.

A Game of Fox & Squirrels by Jenn Reese

Sisters Samantha and Caitlin are sent to live in rural Oregon with an aunt they’ve never met after their family life is shattered by the revelation of abuse. Their aunt gives Sam a card game called “A Game of Fox & Squirrels” and it seems like innocent, delightful fun until one day the trickster fox of the game shows up with an offer: if Sam finds the Golden Acorn, she can have anything she desires.

Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar

Sheetal is the daughter of a human and a star, and she spends her life trying very hard to pretend she’s a normal mortal. But when she accidentally loses control of her starfire and puts her father in the hospital, only the power of a star—like her mother, who left long ago—can save him. Sheetal must journey into the heavens if she wants to save her father, but she’s not prepared for the magic or the politics she’ll find there.

Riverland by Fran Wilde

2019 winner. Sisters Eleanor and Mike hide in a secret place under Eleanor’s bed when things are going wrong in their house and their father is angry. When their father breaks a glass witch ball that is a fairy heirloom, they are swept into a river that appears under Eleanor’s bed and must find a way to fix the fantastic world they find themselves in, where nightmares are trying to break into the real world.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

2018 winner. Zélie comes from a people who were slaughtered by a ruthless king who feared their magic and wanted it suppressed. Now she has one chance to bring the magic back with the aid of a rogue princess. Together they must outwit the crown prince, who would eradicate all magic for good.

The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller

2017 winner. Matt is surrounded by food and always hungry, because he’s discovered the longer he deprives himself of sustenance, the more powers he seems to gain. And he needs those powers if he’s going to figure out how a band of high school bullies drove his sister away.

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 March 23

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! It’s Alex with your new releases for the week and a selection of links, as per usual. I also know that this has been a really hard and upsetting and scary time for the AAPI community after the horrific, racist attack in Atlanta. Half the time the point of jumping in a rocket ship and blasting off to worlds unknown is to escape these things, but I want to say: I see you, I love you, and my heart breaks for you. Stay safe out there, space pirates.

Thing that made me smile this week: It’s more niche than I normally go, but I can’t stop looking at these Vanguard Pikachus

Let’s make the world a better place together:

New Releases

The Unbroken by C.L. Clark

Touraine is a soldier who was conscripted as a child. She’s now been sent back to her homeland with her company to stop a rebellion, where she discovers that some of her blood ties might still bind. There, she also meets Luca, who is looking for a turncoat to help her depose her uncle.

Requiem Moon by C.T. Rwizi

Salo has won permission to pursue his dream of being a mystic despite the taboo concerning the use of magic by men. Disguised by his queen, he attempts the pilgrimage to the Red Temple, only to be stopped by a magical barrier. He cannot return home without completing his pilgrimage, but city politics and the machinations of his own queen stand in his way.

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

Wendy and her two brothers went missing in the woods five years ago, and that time has mostly been forgotten. But with children newly going missing, her mysterious disappearance (and equally mysterious reappearance) are gaining fresh scrutiny. Then Wendy finds an unconscious boy in the middle of the road, a boy named Peter, and he asks for her help.

Dark Lullaby by Polly Ho-Yen

For twenty years now, the only way people can have children is via a painful fertility treatment. Children born in this time are monitored strictly, with government controls that allow the removal of children from parents deemed unfit. Kit is a woman who didn’t initially want children, but changed her mind after meeting Thomas. But soon their baby girl, Mimi, is in the government’s sights for removal due to a series of mistakes.

The Ladies of the Secret Circus by Constance Sayers

When Lara Barnes’s fiancé disappears on their wedding day, she embarks on a desperate search for answers that leads her to her great-grandmother’s diaries. In those pages, she reads of the dark and magical Secret Circus 80 years ago in Paris, where a daughter of the circus’ owners embarks on a passionate affair and may have set off a curse that will haunt her family for generations.

The Theft of Sunlight by Intisar Khanani

Amraeya ni Ansarim has lived in a kingdom rife with child disappearances as long as she can remember, but when her friend’s sister is taken, she must seek answers in the royal court. While her rural upbringing and physical disability invite the ridicule of some, she finds an unexpected ally in a foreign princess. With that aid, she turns to the dark streets of the city and uncovers a treachery that endangers the entire kingdom.

News and Views

Stitch has an urban fantasy 101 on angels

Aliya Whiteley: We come in peace

Classics of Science Fiction have collected together several short story lists and built their own with their list builder

Analog has posted its 2021 Readers’ Award Finalists, many of which can be read via PDF. File 770 also has the Asimov’s Readers’ Awards Finalists.

The Future Fire has some recommendations on progressive speculative noir

Mermaids Monthly has an interview with Brigit Truex, David Bowles, and Grainne Quinlan

7 wrong lessons that creators learned from Game of Thrones which seems relevant considering that apparently HBO is considering three additional GoT shows?

Redwall still has the best food porn ever written

How early sci-fi authors imagined climate change

An interview with Alexander Siddig about the Sid City social club and his love for Julian Bashir

Woman in Motion: How Star Trek and Nichelle Nichols forever changed the face of NASA

An image of the Milky Way made of 234 photos taken over 12 years

On Book Riot

13 great swashbuckling fantasy reads

This month you can enter to win a $250 gift card at Barnes & Noble, your own library cart, a $250 gift card to Powell’s Books, and/or 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.

Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for March 19: Nebula Finalists

Happy Friday, shipmates! It’s Alex, bearing news about this year’s Nebula finalists and a few fun links. I hope that everyone has a lovely weekend. (And that you have some leftover pie from pi day–I made apple crisp pie!) Stay safe out there, shipmates, and 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

Lambda Literary also announced their 2021 finalists! File 770 has highlighted the SFF books.

Aliette de Bodard tells you how to make the comfort food from Fireheart Tiger

Fans are rallying around blaseball, America’s favorite splort

N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy has been optioned

A brief history of the Falcon and the Winter Soldier in the comics

Some news about the new Man Who Fell to Earth adaptation

The new biggest piece of space trash from the ISS

11 facts about Donna Shirley, the first woman to manage a NASA program

On Book Riot

These are the finalists for the 56th annual Nebula Awards

Brown for no reason: finding books when Brandy Cinderella is your lodestar

8 of the best new and upcoming 2021 SFF books by Black authors

This week’s SFF Yeah! is about speculative migration.

This month you can enter to win a $250 gift card at Barnes & Noble, your own library cart, a $250 gift card to Powell’s Books, and/or a Kindle Oasis.

Free Association Friday: Nebula Finalist Showcase

Obviously you can check the whole list out over at Book Riot, but I wanted to showcase the Novel and Novella finalists here!

Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark

Novella finalist. With the release of Birth of a Nation in 1915, demons rose, fueled by the darkest thoughts of white people, and swelled the ranks of the KKK across the nation. Only resistance fighters are willing to take them down, with bullet, blade, and bomb, sending the demons of the Klan back to Hell.

Finna by Nino Cipri

Novella finalist. A customer goes missing in a Swedish big box store and it’s up to two minimum wage retail employees to find her in the depths of the infinite retail universe where all stores across all realities are interconnected. (Full disclosure: Nino and I have the same agent.)

Ife-Iyoku, the Tale of Imadeyunuagbon by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki from the Dominion Anthology

Novella finalist. A small group has survived nuclear war in Africa and develop otherworldly powers. They’re expected to lead and save their people, but one woman, Imade, refuses to bend to destiny or be a mere vessel for her people.

Tower of Mud and Straw by Yaraslov Barsukov

Novella finalist. After refusing to gas a crowd of protestors, a minister is banished to the border of his country to oversee the construction of the largest anti-aircraft tower ever made. He can only reclaim his life if the construction succeeds, but there are many forces–including from within himself–that want the tower to fall.

riot baby

Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi

Novella finalist. A Black girl with psychic abilities so powerful that she could level a city watches as her younger brother is incarcerated–and must decide what she will and won’t do about it as she watches him suffer through their connection.

The Four Profound Weaves by R.B. Lemberg

Novella finalist. In order to defeat an evil ruler, two trans elders must learn the final weave from Death itself.

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Novel finalist. At the eave of a solstice that coincides with a solar eclipse, the reincarnation of a god travels to the holy city in order to usurp power from the Sun priest.

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

Novel finalist. As the city of New York awakens, it embodies itself in six people instead of the more traditional one–one for each borough and one for the city itself. If the city is to survive its metaphysical birth, these people must find each other and defend the city itself from the otherworldly force that would destroy it.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Novel finalist. Noemi heads into the Mexican countryside after receiving a frantic letter from her cousin, who has just married a handsome Englishman who lives in a remote country estate belonging to a family that has fallen into ruin. This book is a love letter to classic gothic novels with an unflinching twist.

Network Effect: A Murderbot Novel by Martha Wells

Novel finalist. Murderbot’s human associates have been captured. When someone else who is totally-not-a-friend desperately calls for assistance, Murderbot swings into action. Of course things get shot and blown up.

The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk

Novel finalist. Women with magic in Beatrice’s world have two options: remain forever alone and be allowed to pursue their magic on the margins, or get married and have their magic locked away with a collar that is totally under their husband’s control. Beatrice’s family demands she marry to save their fortune; she wants only to learn magic. And then she meets someone she actually might be able to fall in love with… but it’s a choice she doesn’t want to face.

Piranesi by Susannah Clarke

Novel finalist. Piranesi lives in an infinite house filled with thousands of statues, which imprisons an ocean that sometimes floods up through rooms. The Other visits Piranesi twice a week and asks him to help him with his research, but soon Piranesi realizes there might be another person in there with him.

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 March 16

Hello from the depths of Colorado’s second winter! (We normally have about… three winters per year, so we’re right on track, don’t worry about us.) It’s Alex, with a cup of hot tea in one hand and your new releases for the week balanced in the other. Outside, it’s not the two+ feet of snow I was promised, but I’ll settle for a foot and a half if that’s all I can get. May you have snow if that’s what you want and sun if that’s what you prefer. Stay safe (and warm) out there, shipmates, and I’ll see you on Friday.

Thing that made me smile this week! Random internet drama as a song part 5: the 15,000 pound horse.

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

New Releases

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

The Descent of the Drowned by Ana Lal Din

Roma and Leviathan are young people trapped in a system of caste and colonization. Roma is the sacred slave of a goddess who desperately hopes to save her younger brother from the same fate; Leviathan is the casteless bastard son of an immortal tyrant, and his only allowable purpose is to kill. Their destinies become intertwined as Leviathan’s father hunts for a living treasure that will doom humankind–and for which together they are the key.

Body of Stars by Laura Maylene Walter

Celeste lives in a world where the future of a woman is predicted based on the markings they bear in childhood, the constellations of freckles, moles, and birthmarks. Puberty will bring a second set of auguries that will set her fate in stone, and she fears that the future will be one she doesn’t want–or worse, that she won’t make it through her ‘changeling period’ when girls are often abducted. Her brother, Miles, can interpret the future, an unusual thing for men, and he sees her fate as the only hint he’ll have of his own. But Celeste’s change reveals a secret about Miles that may destroy her family and puts her on the path to fighting the societal belief in the fates of women.

Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley

The Skyward Inn is a refuge where veterans and civilians alike come together to tell stories of what life was like before the war with Qita. But Qita surrendered immediately to the invasion of Earth; the veterans of that war might have their regrets, but they have few scars or tales of loss. The arrival of a visitor, searching for help, brings a reminder of this past and forces all present to ask themselves a disturb question: Did Earth actually win the war?

The Memory Collectors by Kim Neville

Ev can feel the emotions people have imbued in the objects they once owned. Most items that cross her path should be destroyed, in her estimation, but she sells the few she feels are safe in order to survive. Harriet hoards these items to the point that the concentrated emotions begin to seep through her apartment walls and sicken her neighbors. Harriet hopes that Ev can help her make this collection into a museum of memory that can help and heal–but they both know the dark fate of the only other person like them, and that darkness is rising again.

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore

Graciela and Lock were both assaulted at the same party, and the effect on them both is devastating in different ways. Graciela loses her culinary magic and finds the trees in her neighborhood have vanished, to be replaced with mirrors. Lock has lost his memory of that night, but his life is being destroyed by a single piece of mirrored glass. Graciela decides to help him, but it means hiding the truth–because for the sake of their mutual survival, no one can know what happened.

The Blue-Spangled Blue by David Bowles

Jitsu is a world that was once dominated by corporate ownership until its worker population rose up and gained independence. Corporate rule was replaced with fundamentalist theocracy. Now, Jitsu has reached out to rejoin the rest of humanity. A religious reformer named Tenshi meets Brando, who has come from Earth to accept a teaching position. They fall in love, with Brando accepting Tenshi’s reformist teachings; together they must face the cruelty of Tenshi’s enemies and help Jitsu reforge itself anew once more.

News and Views

Kameron Hurley: How to Survive a Decade in Publishing

Turns out hunting down a story can be very satisfying: on the rise of lore

E. Lily Yu: Against Authentic

The untold truths of the origins of cyberpunk

Ziv Wities’ YouTube video about the story structure lessons from Discworld.

Locus has also posted its 2020 Magazine Summary

Pringles has made Moa Burger chips so that’s a thing

New kind of space explosions reveals the birth of a black hole

On Book Riot

Got romance in in your SFF? 8 romantic sci-fi and fantasy reads

Enter by tonight to win a copy of Tales from the Hinterland by Melissa Albert.

This month you can enter to win a $250 gift card at Barnes & Noble, your own library cart, a $250 gift card to Powell’s Books, and/or 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.

Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for March 12: Revenge of the Irish SFF Showcase

Happy Friday, shipmates! It’s Alex with some Irish SFF and news links for you this snowy day. The Colorado Front Range is in the midst of our own Snowpocalypse, though since this regularly happens here, our infrastructure is built for it (no shade on other states–just saying, don’t worry about us). Time for hunkering down with a good book! I’m currently on a little romance kick so I’m reading The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite, which is SFF-adjacent because it’s a sapphic historical romance with a lady astronomer and there’s a lot of oof-worthy stuff about women loving science when it (or rather the men who gatekeep it) doesn’t love them back. And don’t forget it’s Pi Day on Sunday! I’m making an apple crumble pie. (It is also Daylight Savings Time on Sunday so… whee.) Stay safe out there, shipmates, and 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

Mark your calendars! This year’s Nebula Awards will be streaming live on March 15 at 8:30 PM ET

Author Colson Whitehead on 60 minutes

How Octavia E. Butler Reimagines Sex and Survival

Marina Lostetter: Le Morte d’Author: on Aggregate Storytelling and Authorial Hope

An interesting look at Mary Poppins and how it relates to permissive childrearing

Richard Marpole at Fantasy Faction has a roundup of the SFF content that got him through 2020

The definitive list of works that have been on the Hugo shortlist and have been adapted for film

Nerds of a Feather has their February 2021 short fiction round up

Octavia Butler and Katherine Johnson will be inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame this year

Kevin Standlee toured an atomic test site in Nevada

The CDC has updated its zombie apocalypse preparedness site. Sure, why not.

On Book Riot

5 unusually structured speculative fiction novels

Create a fantasy world and get a romantic fantasy series recommendation

This week’s SFF Yeah! podcast is about novelettes

You have until tonight to enter to win a copy of House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas. Or enter by March 16 to win a copy of Tales from the Hinterland by Melissa Albert.

This month you can also enter to win a $250 gift card at Barnes & Noble, your own library cart, a $250 gift card to Powell’s Books, and/or a Kindle Oasis.

Free Association Friday: Revenge of the Irish SFF Showcase

It’s been about a year, so I felt it was high time to showcase Irish (and Northern Irish) SFF authors again! This time, I focused on finding some recent novels, and I was not disappointed! Since this is entirely authors from Ireland and Northern Ireland, the list isn’t as racially diverse as we normally aim for–and unfortunately while there’s actually a lot of SFF written in gaelic, trying to find copies available from the US is a different matter.

Connect by Julian Gough

Naomi is a single mother and a brilliant scientist in the field of biology. Her son, Colt, is socially awkward and finds his best escape in a virtual reality game world where he stands out as someone with excellent coding skills. When Colt secretly releases the data about his mother’s latest scientific breakthrough, he brings his estranged father back into their lives–with the power of a secret security agency behind him. Colt must grapple with the world outside his game, while Naomi has to decide how far she’ll go to protect both her son and her research.

Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin

When a woman goes missing, the twins Mae and Rossa know the truth of what happened to her. But it’s a secret they’ll keep forever, along with their knowledge of the uncanny cat, the owl in the wall, and the creatures that eat both love and fear. (Full disclosure: Sarah and I have the same agent.)

Welcome to Coolsville by Jason Mordaunt

A satire set in a fictional suburb of Dublin, this book involves genetic engineering in the search for immortality, a chemical agent that makes people docile, and an order of warrior nuns that is quite Charlie’s Angels-esque.

Inish Carraig: An Alien Invasion Novel by Jo Zebedee

The alien invasion is over and the earthlings lost. But life goes on, people survive, and John Dray now works for the local hard man in Belfast to try to keep his younger siblings safe and alive. Unfortunately, he gets sent to Innish Carraig, an alien prison, and there he discovers a new plot which threatens to destroy the earth entirely.

Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis-Goff

The Irish mainland has fallen to a flesh-eating evil known as the skrake. Orpen has known only the small island she was raised on, safe from its depredations but training always to fight. But when disaster strikes, her only hope is to abandon the island and head to the mainland in the hopes of joining the legendary Banshee, an all-female fighting force that battles the skrake.

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 March 9

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! It’s Alex, with your weekly bundle of new releases and some fun links to check out. In Colorado, it was an absolutely gorgeous weekend–sunny and warm. Spring definitely feels like it’s coming! I got to ride my bike around every day and listen to an audiobook (though not scifi right now–I’m on an Ann Rule kick) while I was hitting the trails. I hope your weekend was a chance to catch your breath and rejuvenate a little. Stay safe out there, and I’ll see you on Friday!

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

New Releases

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

The Bone Maker by Sarah Beth Durst

Twenty-five years ago, a group of five heroes defeated a corrupt magician and his army of animal-bone creatures. One of the heroes made the ultimate sacrifice. Kreya, the group’s leader, has lived in self-imposed exile since, searching for the magic that will resurrect her dead husband. The price of his return to life will be time taken from hers, and she’s willing to pay it–but more difficult is finding the human bones required by the spell. She returns to the battlefield where he died, and the story of five heroes begins again… because defying the laws of land and magic open new doors for old evil.

We Shall Sing a Song into the Deep by Andrew Kelly Stewart

Leviathan is an aging nuclear submarine, the last of its kind, lurking beneath the waves. Its mission is to trigger the Second Coming when the time is right. Remy is taken from the surface world and added to the choir of young boys in the sub. But Remy has a secret–she’s a girl, and she was given the missile launch key by the old caplain as he lay dying. The new caplain has his own view on the mission and the timing of the Second Coming, and it’s up to Remy to judge for herself the ultimate fate of the world.

The Second Bell by Gabriela Houston

Salka is a Striga, a child born with two hearts. Rather than abandon her in the woods, her mother Miriat chose to hide with her in a remote village where she continues to risk everything to keep her daughter safe from the urgings of her second heart. But Salka is headstrong and adventurous, and soon she’ll have no choice but to plumb the depths of her hidden nature if she wants to save herself and her mother.

Sing Me Forgotten by Jessica S. Olson

Isda was thrown into a well at birth for her ability to manipulate memories when someone is singing. She was saved by Cyril, the owner of the nearby opera house. All he’s ever asked in return for his protection is that she keep out of sight and make sure the customer keep buying tickets. But then Isda meets a charming boy who has the voice of an angel–and memories that hint how she could break free and live her own life.

All the Murmuring Bones by A.G. Slatter

The O’Malley family has long prospered from a deal they made with a mer. Their ships are guaranteed safe passage; the price is one child from each generation. But the O’Malleys have gone into decline, unable to keep up their end of the bargain… until Miren’s grandmother decides that she will pay the price, with her granddaughter’s freedom.

News and Views

Annapurna to adapt Sarah Gailey’s novel The Echo Wife for film

Hard science fiction is still overwhelmingly white–but it’s getting better

Surviving childhood by reading science fiction

Navigating Fantasy Maps

Why Shirley Jackson is a reader’s writer

Trailblazing Black fantasy author Charles Saunders’s headstone now features gorgeous art of his character Imaro

The future of Star Wars has arrived, and it takes place hundreds of years in the past

Octavia Butler’s Pasadena: The City That Inspired Her to Create new Worlds

This is a really good personal essay about the societal obsession with the “cyborg” concept of artificial limbs, and how the design concept rarely if ever takes into account the needs to disabled people they’re supposedly for: I have one of the most advanced prosthetic arms in the world–and I hate it

The European Space Agency has launched the Parastronaut Feasibility Project which is aiming define necessary adaptations of space hardware so that technically qualified individuals with physical disabilities will be able to participate in space missions, in cooperation with the International Paralympics Committee.

On Book Riot

8 great romantic fantasy books to make your heart swoon

Enter to win a copy of House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas!

This month you can enter to win a $250 gift card at Barnes & Noble, your own library cart, a $250 gift card to Powell’s Books, and/or 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.

Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for March 5: SFF 30 Years Ago

Happy Friday, shipmates! We made it to the first Friday in March, 2021, which is a surreal feeling. It’s Alex, with some news links and a trip back in the ol’ time machine. I’ve been having a rough time focusing this week, I think because the weather on the Colorado Front Range has been so completely gorgeous… though my brain might also be out to lunch because we’re coming up on the one year anniversary. My housemate decided to celebrate with a smoked turkey leg; there are definitely worse ways to do it. Stay safe out there, and I’ll see you on Tuesday!

Fun thing for the week: this absolutely amazing thread about classical music in cartoons

Let’s make 2021 better than 2020. Jackson, Mississippi is going on three weeks without many of its residents having access to clean water. ShowerPower, Yellowhammer Fund, and the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund are all working hard to get clean water to people right now.

News and Views

Jéhan Òsanyìn is adapting and directing N.K. Jemisin’s story The Effluent Engine

Congratulations to Nghi Vo for winning the Crawford Award for The Empress of Salt and Fortune!

Seduced by the Ruler’s Gaze: An Indian Perspective on Seth Dickinson’s Masquerade

Darcie Little Badger reads her short story Story for a Bottle, found in Love After the End

A short fiction round up from Jeff Xilon

C.S. Lewis, the Four Loves, and The Magician’s Nephew

What WandaVision and Doctor Strange say about magical gender roles

Thunder Force is finally coming in April and I am VERY EXCITED.

More actors joining the D&D film. This is going to be a glorious train wreck.

Wesley Chu’s War Arts Saga series has been optioned for TV

On Book Riot

6 of the darkest SFF reads coming in 2021

Dangerous girls: 7 witchy reads for WandaVision fans

10 innovative sci-fi novels about robots and AI

This week’s SFF Yeah! podcast is about shared world stories

This month you can enter to win a $250 gift card at Barnes & Noble, your own library cart, a $250 gift card to Powell’s Books, and/or a Kindle Oasis.

Free Association Friday: SFF 30 Years Ago

As is wont to happen, someone on Twitter with way too many followers had a Bad Opinion(TM); in this case, it was that books should automatically fall out of copyright after 30 years. I’m not here to subtweet (sub-newsletter?) about this, but it made me wonder… what SFF books were published in 1991 (yes, that was thirty years ago, and I hate it, too) that you might have heard of? (Or alternatively, if you hadn’t heard of them, maybe they’re worth checking out?)

As a note, because I’m cruising through a fairly limited selection of books, this list is unfortunately not as diverse as I’d like. Publishing has at least improved a little in the last thirty years, if not nearly enough.

The Famished Road by Ben Okri

Azaro is a spirit child, constantly harassed by spirits from another world who want him to rejoin them in the land of spirits. Azaro refuses out of love for his parents. Around him, the city he lives in undergoes political turmoil as his family tries to better their condition.

Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold

The story of how Cordelia Vorkosigan went from being the dismissed, foreign wife of the Regent of Barrayar to one of the most feared and respected women in the empire by way of defeating a coup and saving her infant son.

He, She, and It by Marge Piercy

Shira Shipman returns to Tikva, the Jewish free town in which she grew up, after her marriage falls apart and a corporation takes her young son from her. Her brilliant adopted grandmother welcomes her home with open arms and introduces her to a cyborg that has intelligence and emotions… and is very capable of killing.

A Woman of the Iron People by Eleanor Arnason

A crew of human explorers arrives at a planet circling Sigma Draconis determined to not disturb or influence the life on that world. But an internal conflict on the ship begins to influence the ground crew in unexpected ways, endangering their goal of observing without touching this world that is not theirs.

The Summer Queen by Joan D. Vinge

This is actually the sequel to The Snow Queen but I had to include it because I love the covers on these books SO MUCH. This book spans thousands of years on the world of Tiamat, where its dolphin-like native people are harvested to make a serum that prolongs youth. Under its capital, a forgotten technology continues to influence the data bank that the universe runs on. And the ruler of Tiamat, the Summer Queen, will create a new future for her people, no matter the cost.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Maybe you’ve heard of 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.

Swords and Spaceships

Swords and Spaceships for March 2

Happy Tuesday, shipmates! It’s Alex, with new releases for this first week of March. Because… it sure is March again. I don’t know about you, but it feels like we never really left this month. And it’s okay to have some feelings about that, from the horrible to the merely complicated. (We passed by the anniversary of the last meal I had out with my friends, which was on my best friend’s birthday. That was a lot harder than I thought it would be.) Take care and be gentle with yourselves, shipmates. I’ll see you on Friday.

Thing that made me laugh a lot this week as a person with a BA in Japanese Language and Culture: 38 ways to say ‘no’ in Japanese

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

New Releases

A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine

Mahit Dzmare and Three Seagrass travel out to the edge of Teixcalaanli space to take on a new impossible task even as they reel from the upheaval of the empire. An alien armada waits for them, one that no one has been able to communicate with. Failure will guarantee the death of billions. Success will save Teixcalaan, and in so doing allow it to continue its aggressive expansion. (Full disclosure: Arkady and I have the same agent.)

Dead Space by Kali Wallace

Hester Marley is far from home, stranded injured and indebted on a mining station in the asteroid belt. Her only chance to survive is taking a dead-end security job from the company that owns the station. Then she receives a message from an old friend who claims to have new information about the terrorist attack that injured her… and he winds up dead before they can meet. As she investigates his brutal murder, she soon realizes that finding his killer will unearth secrets about him, her, and the outpost that has been her home–one that very dangerous and powerful people will kill to keep hidden.

Machinehood by S.B. Divya

A bodyguard witnesses her client being murdered in front of her, and it seems the culprits were the mysterious Machinehood, a terrorist group whose members seem to be part human, part machine. And what the Machinehood wants is an end to the production of the pills humans depend on to allow them to compete with AI in the worldwide gig economy. As pill production slows down, frightened people turn on their bots… and the US government turns to the bodyguard in need of redemption to take the Machinehood down permanently.

One Day All This Will Be Yours by Adrian Tchaikovsky

When time warriors break time, the end result is a Causality War that no one remembers anything of–not who started it, not who fought in it, and not who ended it. Or maybe almost no one. Because the one who ended it is the lone survivor, and they’ve taken up a new mission: to make sure it never happens again.

The Conductors by Nicole Glover

Hetty and her husband were Conductors on the Underground Railroad, rescuing countless people from enslavement with their wits, skill, and the magic of the constellations. Now with the Civil War at an end, they use those skills to investigate crimes ignored by the white authorities; this time, it’s the murder of an old friend that promises to unearth long-buried secrets.

News and Views

Cora Buhlert has a roundup of Indie Speculative Fiction from February

Blood Matters: Growing Up in an SF/F House

SciFiNow has an interview with my favorite Doctor, Sylvester McCoy

Afrofuturism: the rise of Black science fiction and fantasy

Trailer for Shadow and Bone!!!

I normally would not be excited about yet another Superman reboot, but this one has Ta-Nehisi Coates attached as a writer. Tell me more.

The Middletown Public Library has posted an interview with Adrian Tchaikovsky

CrimeReads has an interview with Jeff VanderMeer

Jane Yolen on the occasion of her 400th book

George RR Martin and Kalinda Vazquez are developing an adaptation of Zelazny’s Roadmarks

TW for abuse and harassment: Inside Joss Whedon’s ‘Cutting’ and ‘Toxic’ World of ‘Buffy’ and ‘Angel’

A fascinating piece about modern action film, looking at bodies that are simultaneously fetishized and desexualized: Everyone is Beautiful and No One is Horny

8 facts about Attack the Block (if you haven’t seen this movie, please do. It put John Boyega on the map, and it’s EXCELLENT.)

APOD: The Perseverance landing site from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

On Book Riot

Tango Delta: Celebrate the Perseverance Landing With 18 Books About Mars (this list isn’t all SF/F but includes some great SF/F titles)

10 Innovative Sci-Fi Novels About Robots and AI

This month you could win a Kindle Oasis, a 1-Year subscription to Book-of-the-Month, and/or a $250 gift card to Powell’s Books.

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.