It’s time for a very speculative Friday, y’all! I am writing this from your past, and you are reading this in my future. Welcome back.
Who’s ready for a new Nick Harkaway novel??? (Answer: Me, I am, right here.) He answered 20 questions for the Times Literary Supplement and there’s a section in it about Gnomon, which is coming to the UK in October and the US in January (sob).
The adaptations roll on:
– Wired feels some kind of way about The Dark Tower trailer and if that one’s on your list, this piece is worth a read.
– Game of Thrones is getting FOUR spin-offs (and here I just want one measly Jacqueline Carey adaptation).
– The Black Company series by Glen Cook has been optioned by Eliza Dushku’s production company (#TeamFaith). Guess I need to read these now!
“If we do not imagine the future, how can we invent (or prevent) it?” The healthcare industry in the UK wants your science-fictional ideas, and I love everything about this contest.
What do we think about the new design for the World Fantasy Awards? Does anyone else feel like that tree wants to talk to them, and not in a friendly way? Creepiness aside, this seems like a solid choice, both in terms of symbolism and in terms of picking something that is currently inclusive and can stay inclusive in meaning.
It’s Friday, we all deserve a beer! Alex has some pairings for you — speculative fiction and beer pairings, naturally.
For this week’s reviews, let’s have some astrophysics and some necromancy!
Astrophysics for People In a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson
If you are like me and often skim through the sciencier parts of science fiction, this book is for you! If you cannot get enough of NDT’s dad jokes, this book is also for you. If you are already an astrophysicist and/or a science-nerd, you probably know everything in it already.
Tyson is, as we know, great at breaking complex theory into digestible nuggets. And as the title suggests, that’s the goal here: to bring astrophysics to readers who otherwise don’t have time for it. (Hi Neil, it’s like you know me!) While I read this just to feel a little bit smarter — which I 100% did, upon finishing — I also found that it complimented the harder sci-fi reading I’ve done. Faster than light travel, dark matter, the origins of moons, exoplanets: these things all make sense now in ways they didn’t before, and I was deeply entertained by Tyson’s bons mots sprinkled throughout the actual explanations. In addition to being funny and informative it is less than 300 pages, and has an absolutely gorgeous cover.
So, to sum up: if you or someone you know has forgotten everything you learned in college physics (assuming you took it) and would like a powerhouse scientist and pop culture figure to explain it to you, look no further than Astrophysics For People In a Hurry.
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
Before we talk about anything else, I have to warn you that this book is extremely Book 1 of a Series. The ending actually made me yell “WHAT!?!” to an empty room, and we’re going to have to wait till March of 2018 for the next installment. So if you’re not prepared to sequel-wait, put this towards the bottom of your TBR list — but definitely still put it there, if you’re a fan of necromancy, world-building, and/or female characters who refuse to play by the rules.
The Bone Witch follows Tea, who is born with the power to raise the dead and channel Dark magic. She doesn’t find this out until she accidentally resurrects her dead older brother at his funeral, of course. Awkward! In Tea’s world, “bone witches” or Dark asha are known and training is available, but they’re also looked on with suspicion and fear. The story alternates between the discovery of her powers in her early teens and subsequent training, and her at 17, on a beach and making some very dark choices indeed. This was my favorite part of the book — I love a complicated heroine, and when the heroine in question might burn down the world you have my full attention.
If I had to point to a flaw, it would be the lack of any plot resolution; no threads are tied up, and we’re left with far more questions than answers. But that’s part of what makes the story so urgent, and keeps the pages turning. It’s an origin story, an immersion into a beautifully-rendered and complex Asian-inspired new world, and a meditation on power: who can wield it, and what happens when it wields the user. For an excellent dive into that last in Bone Witch, see this piece on Tor.com (especially all the Buffy fans in the audience).
Magic and ritual, darkness and light, politics and passion: The Bone Witch has these all in spades. Consider me very ready for whatever comes next.
This newsletter is sponsored by Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.
Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.
His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend dumped him, and there’s a monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz, his roommate and nemesis, would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and he hasn’t shown up.
Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, and a mystery. It has as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far more monsters.