Failures in on-ship hibernation systems, and crashes destroying a third of their equipment further handicap the enterprise. They forge ahead — what else is there to do? Yet it can easily be classified as science fiction. The love that binds protagonist Tom Hazard to his 17th century wife Rose, and then again to 21st century French teacher Camille, is completely understandable and human. A fine and fascinatingly down-to-earth look at longevity. Yes, you take about the same amount of time to read one of these stories as you would to drink a latte.
Which is not without its rewards. The organizers of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference probably prefer for it not to get lumped in with genre conventions. Meanwhile, the Outer Dark Symposium on the Greater Weird is also hovering at and around the traditional convention plateau without quite landing there, having approached it from a totally different direction. Abolishing economic boundaries between professional writers and fandom, the Outer Dark asks all attendees to pay their way.
The focus on genre edginess and the presence of authors of color such as Craig Laurance Gidney and Silvia Moreno-Garcia are elements carried over from the compellingly intersectional podcast with which it originates. No one knows how or why music so easily evokes emotions, but we three are certainly not above using it to do so. The musical groups Sun Ra Arkestra and Parliament-Funkadelic are foundational Afrofuturists: in the s, Sun Ra traced his origins to Saturn; and Parliament-Funkadelic invoked a Mothership connection many a s freakazoid knew in their alien ated heart to be true.
Everywhere, musicians invoke SFFH. A brief survey of my fellow social media addicts yielded dozens of similar anecdotes. Whole volumes are devoted to the concept, like Stars , a tribute anthology composed hah! SFFH authors put together playlists of music we listen to while writing particular stories; we write about instruments only nonhumans have the physical capability to play; we pen national anthems for imaginary countries and revolutionary hymns for nonexistent religions.
We dance about extrasolar architecture. One is relatively straightforward, the equation to which a wave reduces; the other is as complex as the treasure-filled history of life beneath the sea. Elysium Fire Orbit by Alastair Reynolds also occupies that sweet spot found between police procedurals and science fiction. A sequel to The Prefect , it pits the Panoply, a sort of omnipresent, laissez-faire police force, against an epidemic of inexplicable, brain-frying murders. Dogged by the climbing death rate and a rabble-rousing secessionist, Prefect Tom Dreyfus and operatives Thalia Ng and Sparver a genetically enhanced pig struggle to preserve the integrity of their far-flung beat.
I didn't quite finish the novel by deadline.
I'm going on with it now; I expect cool action, but no major cultural novelties. I highly suggest you get on over there, too. Escapade features hours and hours of vidding premieres, uncensored. When I was little, my parents subscribed to Life magazine. It was our weekly dose of glossy photojournalism: enormous pages full of news and human interest stories. Apparently Life was following a long tradition of magazines getting such predictions horribly wrong. My favorite antidote to the unease Life stirred up in me is Samuel R.
Another sartorial SFFH trope — disposable clothing — seems even further from realization. So far, 3D printers are no help. The kicky-mod-paper-dresses of the s have given way to hazmat suits and adult diapers. And ubiquitous though recycling hoppers are on many fictional space stations and starships I oughta know, having installed them in a few of my own stories , the process by which their contents get reconstituted into wearables is never explored.
A final kind of fashion in which SFFH takes the lead: body modification. And that the sorts of revisions we make will vary with our abilities, but also, naturally, with what we perceive as new and cool. This surreal proto-feminist account of a nameless male bureaucrat questing after a nameless female fugitive in the down-crashing shadow of a global eco-catastrophe is an astonishingly easy read, given its uncompromising weirdness.
Lyric simplicity underlines the glacial starkness of the coming of a worldwide winter:. Renowned multiple award-winning anthologist Ellen Datlow has edited dozens of books stuffed full of good stories. If so, the point remains unbelabored. Catherynne M. Barrie based Peter Pan. Two authorial decisions make newcomer Julie C. Riveting inner turmoil sets the stage for an epic conflict to come. Membership runs between and people, so this will be a small crowd of fandom's usual suspects. You too?
Food in space! Apparently the recipe for this version differs significantly from the cinematic one. But they also stir up consideration of ethical questions around vegetarianism, the necessity for the suffering of living beings, and the negative environmental impact of traditional agriculture. The closed ecology envisioned for most interstellar vessels necessitates it. And the low probability of finding nutritionally adequate foodstuffs off Earth necessitates it for longer than the duration of voyages already lasting years, decades, even generations.
Various authors have dealt with this problem in various ways, including ignoring it, attributing its absence to a panspermian history of the universe, committing their fictional populaces to the eternal operation of huge hydroponics farms, and combinations of all three tactics. The atevi homeworld described in C. But the plan has far too many moving parts, plus Leckie portrays her heroine as a bit of a klutz, always losing hairpins and accepting villains at face value.
Her plan fails — entertainingly, of course. This debut novel certainly introduces readers to charmingly eccentric characters similar to those these vintage authors wrought. But it has its thoroughly modern elements as well: gaming is a legitimate creative venture; mixed race backgrounds are truly background; and blended families are equally unremarkable. The plot resonates nicely with typical youthful angsty outsiderness: year-old protagonist Freddy Duchamp inadvertently goes time-traveling with one of her new nonhuman neighbors and discovers that her sad inability to conform may not be such a handicap as she thought it was…and that her pedantic baby sister and their barely tolerated stepbrother can help her outsmart archetypes-gone-wild who want to rule over her by virtue of the power of storytelling.
Peter S. Beagle, author of The Overneath Tachyon knows that power well, and wields it with the skill of a lifelong practitioner. Not one but two former Dr. Proceeds benefit an area PBS station and British media purveyor. Smofcon is a sort of meta-convention.
Want to learn how to pick good Guests of Honor? How to run an inclusive event welcoming to all races, abilities, and genders? These folks can help. Among the many differences between this crowd and my usual cohort was an absence of what is often referred to as "the fannish physique. At this event, weighing pounds and straining the capacity of my O cups, I was a definite outlier. Which goaded me into speculating about how the literary dimensions of SFFH reflects its physical oomph. For the better. Stereotypes of the obese depict us at one of two temperamental extremes: unrelentingly jolly or unrelievedly evil.
Only later did I realize my hatred for him was actually supposed to be blended with disgust and pity. Not envy. Pity is evoked much more successfully in James Tiptree Jr. Yet, with a wealth of futuristic medical technology at their disposal, why should anyone be overweight?
Which suits her, and me, just fine. As are we all. Also it has survived the death of its founder, David Hartwell. I found very little overlap between the old series and the one this new book begins in terms of characters: a slave-poetess here, an immortal automaton there, an aging veiled assassin everywhere. Or even whether they should. Maybe the spine alone — a wash of color, font s spelling out its title and the name of its author with any luck, legibly. What can you tell at first glance? Which Tor gave me with Everfair ; editor Liz Gorinsky showed me a preliminary sketch done by the brilliant Victo Ngai and I pointed out that the human hand in it should be black.
And she made it so. Because there are times they do exactly the opposite for the information they think you should. Delving deeper into this code, specific artists are identified with specific subgenres and even with particular authors: Thomas Canty with high fantasy, Kinuko Y. The results can be edifying. If the book jacket prints a statement from Samuel R. So yes, often you can judge a book by its cover. But then there are those times when things go horribly wrong. One way around these messes is to self publish. Another is to publish with a small press such as Tachyon, Aqueduct, or Small Beer.
A free-of-charge Youth Community Day is promised also, though no details are available yet. VCON , on the other hand, has existed since Structured only around the length of a movie or the rules of a game, VCON Which sounds stingy as compliments go, but is actually extremely high praise. In between these two Sims manages to introduce several authors less familiar to modern SFFH readers, or probably to modern readers of any genre.
Something's got to happen. Who wants to read about happy characters dwelling contentedly in the land of status quo with no worries, no desires, no agendas? Paying customers prefer action. We authors love our characters who are often facets of our own selves , but in pursuit of stories others will read we torture and provoke them, prod them, plumb their depths. Conventional Western wisdom declares that at their heart, good stories are about conflict. In the U. Note the gender specificity. And writers are trained to satisfy readers with these closely educated tastes.
But I counsel my students to aim for a slightly different focus. Because conflict can be just as boring as its absence. Consider the pitched battles of epic fantasy. Battle after battle. War after war. The point is not the event depicted on the page but its effect. Weirdly, my tension epiphany occurred as I watched the end of Doctor Zhivago.
As Omar Sharif chased Julie Christie through the streets of Moscow, dying of a heart attack before getting her to notice him, I was caught up in their story as never before. He had to reach her. He would never reach her. The arc it jumped. Where else in fiction do I find these seductive lacunae? Lots of places. Most effective are the tales of those whose difference could easily have disqualified them from inclusion in past authorial pantheons.
Is there anything in-between? Daniel H. According to him robots have been with us always. A neat trick in perspective and a pleasing one. Unlike the Hugos, award categories include both comics and graphic novels, and four separate game varieties. This wide spectrum of choices reflects the literature-plus orientation of Dragon Con, with its weighty emphasis on movies, cosplay, and a myriad other ways to interface with the unknown. Louis, MO. Some folks consign SFFH to the nether regions of literature.
Stories – The Lost Words
Of course this bothers some of us. Note that mimetic is the label applied to this sort of writing by nonmimeticists. Two out of three right. Physics is always good, ditto mathematics, astronomy, and chemistry. One factor keeping writers out of the ranks of hard SF authors in the past was being born non-white and non-male. Space opera, a subgenre of interstellar tales long associated and often overlapping with hard sf, has recently rebooted itself. People enjoy categorizing the world. Chapters alternate viewpoints between a pot smoking, masturbating teen prone to out-of-body experiences; a crippled con artist; a human lie-detector; and a man whose tortured existence proves that a genuine ability to see the future would make obsessive compulsive personality disorder a picnic by comparison.
The action alternates, too, switching between the scenes set in the s and the summer of The plot involves revenge, with the inexplicable Rube Goldsbergesque machinations of precog Buddy providing a ticking time bomb, and the denouement a highly pleasurable explosion. Delightfully strange, these ten stories transport readers to futures full of sentient cars pining for their owners, automated horses, and tomatoes grown to give blood transfusions — an odd and interesting and deceptively bucolic setting for the narration of some astonishing events.
Subtitled The True Story of Captain Hook, this new novel follows the pattern Henry established in her earlier novels Alice and Red Queen, retelling a familiar tale from a wrenchingly different viewpoint. Fairies and fairy dust are unheard of. Sweat and dirt and blood are sprinkled liberally throughout the pages. And lend an air of grace and credibility to the overall proceedings, I hope. Lansdale , Chris Brown , and L. Timmel Duchamp.
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But Austin, okay? Not all the cool kids are coming to Armadillocon, though, because Worldcon , the 75th World Science Fiction Convention, takes place in Helsinki the very next week. Though I wish I could. Just remember not to feed the trolls. Every month, Nisi Shawl presents us with news and updates from her perch overlooking the world of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Last night I dreamed, prosaically, that I was conversing with my oldest niece. My half-sobs kept trembling up to disturb the surface of our conversation; I excused myself to her by saying how much she looked like her mother, my baby sister, dead now four years.
So there you have two forms of immortality: survival via remembrance and via genetic legacy. But this has never been enough for the bulk of us. Like religion, SFFH has sought for centuries to address that lack. Which you would naturally expect from ghostly tales of haunted mirrors and clairvoyant ascetics and so forth, but sometimes science and technology get dragged into the fray. That honor goes to Dr. James Bedford , whose body, after his death in , was cooled to a temperature of minus 79 centigrade and is now stored at Alcor Life Extension's Arizona facilities.
The answers to moral, technical, and other questions rising from the practice of cryogenic suspension — Would revived corpsicles have legal rights? What would motivate their resuscitation? Who could be held responsible in the case of accidental thawing? In Octavia E. Already we have a sharp disparity in average life expectancies due to the availability of insurance and the quality of care afforded the rich as opposed to the poor. Already we have toilets that monitor urine flow and analyze hormone secretion.
Never mind the excruciating pain she must subject herself to — this is a largely financial decision. Also one on which market forces, planned and unplanned obsolescence, and general demographics come to bear. Her superpowers neither free nor cure Hildy, though. Instead, she struggles to integrate them into a humane and principled philosophy while fending off the self-interested alliances of warring would-be time-mongers.
She girds herself for battle in red-heeled boots, silk head scarves, and penciled-on eyebrows, but kindness and self-reflection prove to be her most kickass weapons. Firebrand Tor Teen is A. With her usual flair for leaping headfirst into trouble and sorting out the consequences later, she takes on a psychopathic assassin, a supernatural legend come to haunting life, and a hate-spewing white supremacist in her pursuit of truth and at least an approximation of justice.
The results satisfied both my cautious mind and my crusading heart. Our entry point into this near-future scenario, though, is the somewhat feckless Coryn Williams, whose older sister Lou strikes out on her own as soon as she can to do cool stuff like reintroduce wolves to the prairie. Revolt among non-city dwellers and deception among city rulers make for a gloriously unpredictable denouement and hold out hope for more action in the rest of the series. Westercon is your prototypical large regional science fiction convention.
This is its 70th year of meeting those expectations. Then Readercon is your cup of vodka. Two tracks of panels talking about books and one room of dealers selling them. Authors are the only Guests of Honor — two living and one dead per year — plus a plethora of guests of no particular honor but plenty of literary distinction, like Samuel R. Delany, Kit Reed, and Jonathan Lethem.
She knew whereof she spoke. But unlike fellow octogenarian Ursula K. Those places are gone. Pushing my way through the librarians and donors surrounding her — did I mention this event was a fundraiser? Where do we go from there? How do we get to somewhere better? Depends on the writer. Fictional fixes applied to unsustainability can be technological or magical or political or any combination of the three; they can come from alternate timelines or aliens or marginalized humans, the forgotten past or the distant future.
In addition to fixes there are adjustments: do we change our environment or change ourselves? The answer, of course, is both.
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You get great ideas for doing the former and mental practice doing the latter when reading and writing cli-fi or whatever else you want to call it; futurist Brenda Cooper, author of the forthcoming cli-fi novel Wilders loathes that particular term for what she writes. There are panels, but usually no more than four. Readings, but only one.
Parties, but just two.
The Great Time Machine Hoax
The main attraction is the Saturday afternoon lunch-cum-awards ceremony, emceed by the mighty Connie Willis with kibitzing from the indefatigable Nancy Kress. Another not-con, NubiaOne Fest , will take place at a library in Auburn, Georgia over the evening June 16 and the afternoon of June Cherryh, who has written over 60 novels, we must content ourselves with excerpts from only two. Which could be sad-making. Returning to Bulikov, setting of the first book, City of Stairs , Bennett leads readers through an astounding landscape: war-ravaged, partially restored, and lurching unsteadily into the future.
Is there Divine involvement? The presence of a toxic pocket universe say yes. Harkvaldsson survives entry and exit unfazed. Future Alternative Past: Religion. Published by Nisi Shawl Every month, Nisi Shawl presents us with news and updates from her perch overlooking the world of science-fiction, fantasy, and horror. Future Alternative Past: Vegetable love Published by Nisi Shawl Every month, Nisi Shawl presents us with news and updates from her perch overlooking the world of science-fiction, fantasy, and horror.
Future Alternative Past: Talking Trash Published by Nisi Shawl Every month, Nisi Shawl presents us with news and updates from her perch overlooking the world of science-fiction, fantasy, and horror.
Future Alternative Past: Yes, but is it art? Future Alternative Past: a stroll through a columnists memory Published by The Seattle Review of Books Every month, Nisi Shawl presents us with news and updates from her perch overlooking the world of science-fiction, fantasy, and horror. Sometimes we look forward by looking back Editor's note: Nisi Shawl is taking a well-deserved vacation in August, so we're presenting this look back at the past twenty-one months of her look into SFFH.
Future Alternative Past: Yesterday's bleak tomorrow Published by Nisi Shawl Every month, Nisi Shawl presents us with news and updates from her perch overlooking the world of science-fiction, fantasy, and horror. Future Alternative Past: Kicking it around Published by Nisi Shawl Every month, Nisi Shawl presents us with news and updates from her perch overlooking the world of science-fiction, fantasy, and horror.
Future Alternative Past: The word we want is "inclusive" Published by Nisi Shawl Every month, Nisi Shawl presents us with news and updates from her perch overlooking the world of science-fiction, fantasy, and horror. Thank you. Future Alternative Past: drugs Published by Nisi Shawl Every month, Nisi Shawl presents us with news and updates from her perch overlooking the world of science-fiction, fantasy, and horror. Purple Haze Drugs are good. The Future Alternative Past: now with animal pictures Published by Nisi Shawl Every month, Nisi Shawl presents us with news and updates from her perch overlooking the world of science-fiction, fantasy, and horror.
Dog stars Like so many writers, I have a cat. Future Alternative Past: in need of schooling Published by Nisi Shawl Every month, Nisi Shawl presents us with news and updates from her perch overlooking the world of science-fiction, fantasy, and horror. The best way to learn something My friend Kristin King asked a while back for book recommendations on Facebook, as you do.
Future Alternative Past: Sound it out Published by Nisi Shawl Every month, Nisi Shawl presents us with news and updates from her perch overlooking the world of science-fiction, fantasy, and horror. And the reverse? Writers of SFFH inspired by music? Someone should probably write a book about it. Future Alternative Past: where's the future wear? Fashion: Beep beep. Has SFFH fared any better?
Future Alternative Past: impeccable taste Published by Nisi Shawl Every month, Nisi Shawl presents us with news and updates from her perch overlooking the world of science-fiction, fantasy, and horror. Magellanic pseudopods and chipped funkleweed Food in space! Future Alternative Past: covering it Published by Nisi Shawl Every month, Nisi Shawl presents us with news and updates from her perch overlooking the world of science-fiction, fantasy, and horror.
Publishers speak cover art fluently. If they want to. Future Alternative Past: Present tense Published by Nisi Shawl Every month, Nisi Shawl presents us with news and updates from her perch overlooking the world of science-fiction, fantasy, and horror. Conflict vs. So what else is there? What keeps readers scrolling? Future Alternative Past: Dividing past the dividing lines Published by Nisi Shawl Every month, Nisi Shawl presents us with news and updates from her perch overlooking the world of science-fiction, fantasy, and horror.
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