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Posts Tagged ‘sff’

Here’s a heaping helping of free fiction, with a side of motivation. John Scalzi’s first novel is posted free to read on his site. It’s the web version, with each chapter its own link and charmingly antiquated page design, but the novel is fun.

Agent to the Stars

After a long day of work sometimes you just want to dust yourself off, meet an alien at the corner bar, and laugh a little. At least I do:)

Scalzi refers to this as his practice novel, but it’s well written and entertaining. (If you’d rather get the full version, the book was eventually published via traditional means, so visit your favorite retailer.) It’s also a great example of what can be done if you just knuckle up to the keyboard and see what comes out.

Which I will absolutely do. Tomorrow.

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Photo by Thom Milkovic on Unsplash

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Busy day today, and none of the three ideas I had for this post came together. Instead, have some fiction, this time read to you by Levar Burton. (You know, the Jeopardy host, and oh yes, Roots and Star Trek and Reading Rainbow and a few other things as well;)

His podcast is Levar Burton Reads, and he picks some of the best speculative short* fiction out there. So when you have a few minutes, sit back, listen, and relax.

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Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

* Shortish, anyway. Reading aloud always takes a bit of time, so a typical episode is about an hour.

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How does fiction help us reimagine the future of worlds, including our own? This essay explores the history of that relationship:

A Century of Science Fiction That Changed How We Think About the Environment

If we think about science fiction (sf) in terms of the genre’s connections to pressing issues in 21st-century culture, no topic is more urgent than climate change and the ways it promises to transform all aspects of human life, from where we live to how we cultivate our food to what energy sources will fuel our industries.

Preparedness discourse responds to change, understood as disaster, through strategies of containment. But science fiction offers something much more. It offers us a way of thinking and perceiving, a toolbox of methods for conceptualizing, intervening in, and living through rapid and widespread change — and the possibility to direct it toward an open future that we (re)make.

Here’s to thinking new thoughts, building new worlds, and making them.

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Photo by veeterzy on Unsplash

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One of my favorite reads is the terrific* Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews.  

Here’s the first book:

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1) by Ilona Andrews

This husband and wife team also have a number of other great books, all starring kick-ass women willing to go to any lengths to save what needs saving.

The writing is excellent, the plots fresh and unpredictable in the best ways, and the characters, even the bad ones, are complex and well-drawn. (The authors are particularly adept at helping readers understand, and at times forgive, even the darkest characters.)

What’s not to love?

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So when I decided it was time to learn how to make a vintage-style travel postcard, I thought of Atlanta. Not the vibrant city it is now, but as Kate sees it after magic returns to the world, complete with mysterious denizens, vampire Casinos, witch jungles, shapeshifter Keeps, ruins and one lone high rise. 

Welcome to Atlanta.

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Original photos by Shashidhar SMorica PhamHidayat AbisenaMichael DenningCory GazailleToa HeftibaAustrian National Library & Christopher Alvarenga on Unsplash

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* Feel free to disagree with me, I don’t mind. Just know that I am right;)

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Have I mentioned that I have a museum? Its archives are mysterious and its vaults are deep.

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Shadows of multi-dimensional butterflies, visible only once every two-hundred thirty-four years. Faithfully recorded by Miss Kara Ellen Swanlea.

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It’s Tuesday and there’s a nasty storm coming (heavy rain and powerful winds with a potential side of hail and tornadoes, so that’s fun). Is it time to take a trip to the virtual used spaceship lot?

Who knew the Halo Pelican was almost the size of the Millennium Falcon? (Also, with apologies to Mr. Bezos and Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson, but yours are definitely not the biggest!).

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Drabble for a Monday morning.

Today might be crap. Wake to rain, the car won’t start and the kid’s hamster is under the weather too.

You’re out of coffee.

Steam builds and you dash headlong toward the Scylla of anger and the Charybdis of self-doubt. You seriously consider a cup of despair.

The boss asks you to step in last-minute for the most important meeting of the year or the kid’s hamster dies or it really is uphill both ways or (fill in the blank here) and you think, “I just… can’t.”

I hear you.

But. 

What if this is the ‘verse where you can?

— J.R. Johnson

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Photo by Tom Henell on Unsplash

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Editor’s Note: That isn’t a typo in the title. Well, it was a typo when I named the original file, but it was funny and my brain is mostly off at this point so I kept it.

I tried a new photo-to-oil-paint method today. The technique is straightforward, if time-consuming, but I can tell I’m not an actual painter. The arm and face are a little weird but my eyes have gone wonky and I’ve started thinking seriously about adult beverages, so this is what we’re going with today!

With apologies to whoever made the fine costume I blurred out, I give you “Portrait of a Mandalorian Primcess.”

She looks anything but prim.
Original Photo by Alexander Jawfox on Unsplash

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Mr. Man had to get up early so we started the day with an extra hour. I decided to use it to learn something.

Suddenly, that extra time has disappeared and taken its friends with it.

On the plus side, I found an angel.

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Original Photo by Joseph Gonzalez on Unsplash

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Oh hey, just when I was running out of high-quality sci-fi, the universe gives me (drum roll please)… The 2019 Nebula Award Finalists!

Free links where available. Enjoy!

Novel

  • Marque of Caine, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E. Harrow (Redhook; Orbit UK)
  • A Memory Called Empire, Arkady Martine (Tor)
  • Gods of Jade and Shadow, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey; Jo Fletcher)
  • Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir (Tor.com Publishing)
  • A Song for a New Day, Sarah Pinsker (Berkley)

Novella

  • “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom”, Ted Chiang (Exhalation)
  • The Haunting of Tram Car 015, P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com Publishing)
  • This Is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone (Saga; Jo Fletcher)
  • Her Silhouette, Drawn in Water, Vylar Kaftan (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Deep, Rivers Solomon, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson & Jonathan Snipes (Saga)
  • Catfish Lullaby, A.C. Wise (Broken Eye)

Novelette

Short Story

The Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book

  • Sal and Gabi Break the Universe, Carlos Hernandez (Disney Hyperion)
  • Catfishing on CatNet, Naomi Kritzer (Tor Teen)
  • Dragon Pearl, Yoon Ha Lee (Disney Hyperion)
  • Peasprout Chen: Battle of Champions, Henry Lien (Holt)
  • Cog, Greg van Eekhout (Harper)
  • Riverland, Fran Wilde (Amulet)

Game Writing

  • Outer Wilds, Kelsey Beachum (Mobius Digital)
  • The Outer Worlds, Leonard Boyarsky, Megan Starks, Kate Dollarhyde, Chris L’Etoile (Obsidian Entertainment)
  • The Magician’s Workshop, Kate Heartfield (Choice of Games)
  • Disco Elysium, Robert Kurvitz (ZA/UM)
  • Fate Accessibility Toolkit, Elsa Sjunneson-Henry (Evil Hat Productions)

The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation

  • Avengers: Endgame, Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (Marvel Studios)
  • Captain Marvel, Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck & Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Marvel Studios)
  • Good Omens: “Hard Times”, Neil Gaiman (Amazon Studios/BBC Studios)
  • The Mandalorian: “The Child”, Jon Favreau (Disney+)
  • Russian Doll: “The Way Out”, Allison Silverman and Leslye Headland (Netflix)
  • Watchmen: “A God Walks into Abar”, Jeff Jensen & Damon Lindelof (HBO)

 

*** pew pew! ***

Photo by Nathan Duck on Unsplash

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