Atlas Shrugged: The Cobra Commander Dialogues

If you've been reading the comments on my Atlas Shrugged posts, you've probably seen the hilarious "Cobra Commander" dialogues written by commenter and jet-setting billionaire playboy author Sneezeguard (that's how he requested to be credited).In it, the fictional evil overlord inserts himself into the plot of Atlas Shrugged, accompanying the characters and trying to comprehend the difference between Rand's heroes and villains, and learns for himself that even evil has standards.I've … [Read more...]

SF/F Sunday: Goodnight Stars

Earlier this week, I posted about the "Sad Puppies'" reactionary campaign to hijack the Hugos. I have an addendum to that: two nominated authors, Annie Bellet and Marko Kloos, have announced that they're withdrawing their works from consideration.Both Bellet and Kloos were part of the Sad Puppies' slate, although neither sought out that support. In respective public announcements, they both stated that they don't wish to be associated with the SPs' campaign, nor do they want anyone to harbor … [Read more...]

The Sci-Fi Fans Who Fear Change

The Hugos, one of the most prestigious awards for sci-fi and fantasy writing, have been hijacked. After several years in which the awardees had become increasingly diverse, reflecting the broader reach and appeal of SF/F, readers discovered that this year's nominees were dominated by a ballot-stuffing campaign organized by a right-wing faction that calls itself, no joke, the Sad Puppies.The SPs' slate includes works by Vox Day, a.k.a Theodore Beale, a loathsome right-wing polycrank who … [Read more...]

SF/F Saturday: Terry Pratchett’s Death

I was devastated to learn that Terry Pratchett, the renowned fantasy author, died this week at the unfairly early age of 66. Pratchett had been suffering from early-onset dementia for several years, and while he was a vocal advocate of assisted dying, his own passing was natural. (He also worked almost right up to the end: his final Discworld book, The Shepherd's Crown, is set to be published posthumously this year.)The sad news was broken by family on his Twitter account, in a form any … [Read more...]

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

DarkForest

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...]

SF/F Saturday: The Long Earth

TheLongEarth

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...]

SF/F Saturday: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

"Can a magician kill a man by magic?" Lord Wellington asked Strange.Strange frowned. He seemed to dislike the question. "I suppose a magician might," he admitted, "but a gentleman never would."Since I've just heard the welcome news that it will soon be a TV miniseries, this SF/F Saturday presents a good opportunity to write about one of my favorite modern novels.Published in 2004, Susanna Clarke's debut novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is an alternate-history fantasy set in … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: December 28

Coffee

While you rest and recover from all the holiday feasting, some links:• The eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that buried the Roman city of Pompeii also buried another town, Herculaneum. One of the buildings that's been unearthed was a rich Roman's villa - including the library. The thousands of scrolls it contained were thought to be charred beyond recognition, but high-resolution CAT scans and multispectral imaging are finally making it possible to read the lost scrolls from the Villa of the … [Read more...]

SF/F Saturday: His Dark Materials

There's a lot of fantasy fiction that I enjoy in spite of its religious themes - C.S. Lewis' Narnia series, or Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. But sometimes I'm in the mood for fiction that takes an explicitly atheist and humanist point of view, which is why I've lately been rereading one of my favorite series, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy.The first book in the series, The Golden Compass (published as Northern Lights outside the USA), is set on an alternate Earth that … [Read more...]


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