SF/F Saturday: The Years of Rice and Salt

I've been getting into alternate history novels lately - The Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove, Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague de Camp - and one of the better ones I've read is Kim Stanley Robinson's 2002 book The Years of Rice and Salt. I've read Robinson's Mars trilogy, which I thought was interesting but lacked a strong central concept to drive the plot, but this book is an accomplishment.The classic strategy of alternate history is to pick some important historical event, assume … [Read more...]

Season of the Tempter


On a dreaming night not long ago, I was walking by myself along a lonely road, in search of reflection and solitude. The nearest homes were only a far-off and fuzzy glow, a fleeting scent of woodsmoke through the bare and tangled arms of dark trees. It was a chilly, blustery night, and the snap of frost hung in the air like a premonition of winter. Shredded clouds scudded across the tarnished moon like a rake pushing dry leaves.I had been walking for the better part of an hour in silence, … [Read more...]

#Gamergate: The New Face of Misogynist Terrorism


Last month, in "The Mabus Problem", I mentioned the violent threats against feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian. The threat campaign hasn't let up, and as she continues to speak out, it's gotten even worse. Last month, there was a bomb threat against an awards ceremony that planned to honor her. Sarkeesian didn't blink at the threat, and the event went on as planned (with some extra police protection). But now, for the first time, she's had to cancel a talk.The talk in question was going … [Read more...]

Announcing: City of Light


Welcome, and news!Today I'm very pleased to announce the publication of the third book in my Caliel series, CITY OF LIGHT. It's the sequel to BROKEN RING from earlier this year, continuing the epic story of a world where mortals rebelled against the gods and won. Here's the synopsis:The world of Caliel is on the brink of war.In the lands of the god Vraxor, family turns against family and friend turns against friend, as the dark god's priesthood is riven by dissension and schism, … [Read more...]

Summer Twilight: A Humanist Sermon

On a night earlier this summer, a humid blue twilight in July, I stepped out of my home to run an errand. It was sweltering and heavy after the day's heat, but it must have been the perfect temperature for fireflies. There were hundreds of them, swarming in the air and the grass, glimmering and flashing like motes of gold in the gathering dusk.Through some means I can't imagine, it seemed as if they had agreed to synchronize, so that no two of them lit up at the same time. As soon as one … [Read more...]

The Mabus Problem: Fighting Anonymous Harassment on Social Media


I'm not much of a video gamer (I spend my free time writing!), but I've been following the work of Anita Sarkeesian, a media critic whose non-profit group Feminist Frequency critiques sexism in popular culture, with a special focus on video games. Her series Tropes vs. Women in Video Games points out lazy, sexist clichés that game designers resort to repeatedly: damsels in distress, women in refrigerators, scenes of sexual violence just to make the game world darker and "grittier", and so … [Read more...]

Repost: The Box Office Shrugs at Atlas Shrugged

[Author's Note: I'm reposting some old favorites while I'm away on vacation this week. This post was originally from March 2013.]Way back in 2011, I wrote about the hilarious box-office trainwreck (see what I did there?) that was Atlas Shrugged: Part I. Inexplicably, Ayn Rand's dense, multi-hour soliloquies in defense of capitalism failed to translate well into the medium of film. The last news I heard after the movie's belly-flop was that its producer, heroic rich guy John Aglialoro, … [Read more...]

I Think the MRAs Are Mad At Me Again

Quiche is delicious.

[Content note: This post contains obscene and sexist language that I wouldn't normally allow on my site. Consider yourself advised.]I wrote in May about the "men's rights activists" - a tribe of angry misogynists who, despite the name, have no interest in actual issues of justice that affect men but only want an excuse to insult and degrade women. A large faction of MRAs are atheists, but there are some who subscribe to traditional Christianity as well.One of the latter faction, who goes … [Read more...]

The Deceptive Tactics of Christian Evangelism


I like to think of myself as a basically honest person. And you'd think that, given that whole "false-witness" thing, Christians would feel the same way. So why are there so many instances where evangelical Christians misrepresent who they are and what they really want to trick people into giving them an audience?Last week, the Twin Cities Pride Festival was held in Minneapolis to support and celebrate the LGBT community. And as reported by The Column, the event was infiltrated - there's no … [Read more...]

SF/F Saturday: The Long Earth


Terry Pratchett is famous for his Discworld fantasy series, but he's tried his hand at science fiction as well. His most recent effort in this vein, in collaboration with the author Stephen Baxter, is The Long Earth, which is based on an idea that predates the Discworld books and that he's only now decided to bring to life.The premise of The Long Earth is humanity's invention of a device called the "stepper", which makes it possible to travel to parallel universes. But these universes come … [Read more...]