The muslimness of Dune

One of Dune’s overarching concerns is to locate and explore a “Muslimness in time.”  The novels fixate on change across time and space: How does a tradition adapt, or not, across centuries, environments, and societies? The novels interrogate this question through a range of Muslim approaches to it. They look to Muslim scholarly traditions, historical interpretations, and experiences as they shift from place to place and generation to generation. The saga finds answers in Muslim beliefs in the sanctity of the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad’s teachings; in Muslim practices of mysticism and experience as a response to legalism and scientism, or to the (orientalist) binary of reason against unthinking following; in a respect for other traditions that nevertheless preserves a unique commitment to the bespoke quality of Islam; and in Muslim narratives of political succession and revolutionary power.

Haris Durrani, writing on Dune in “The Muslimness of Dune: A Close Reading of “Appendix II: The Religion of Dune“,

Another story bundle…

The Magic and Mystery Bundle, curated by the Melissa Snark:

“A great fantasy story is, to my mind, about endless possibilities. If every author penned their tale according to a rigid set of guidelines, the genre would have all the flavor of stale saltines. A fantastical saga, a magical realm, a raven’s flight, a god of chaos sparks a fire in your imagination.

Magic and Mystery is a collection of ten books that touch on fantasy fiction’s stunning breadth and diversity, from cat assassins to faerie kings. A New Orleans haunted mansion and a talking cockroach—we have that, too. Our stories will seize and sweep you away.

Our featured charity for this bundle is the The Salish Sea School, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting local marine ecosystems and the education of future student leaders in marine conservation.”

Bundle available until 11th November at

News from The Nova Mob

Murray included some notes which may be of interest:

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Australian Science Fiction Fandom 1936 to 1960, with Leigh Edmonds

Wrong Turns on the Wallaby Track:: Australian Science Fiction Fandom to Aussiecon – Part 1, 1936 to 1960

A Zoom videoconference with Leigh Edmonds and Perry Middlemiss. FANAC Zoom series. No link as yet. To be provided.

December 4 (US) and December 5 (Australia), 2021 – 7PM Dec 4 EST, 4PM Dec 4 PST, 11AM Dec 5 Melbourne AU

Perry says, “Leigh is doing the talking, I’m just there to steer things along.”

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The White Library by Paul Voermans

Paul Voermans enjoyed his October Nova Mob discussion on The White Library so much that he later provided an article which I’ll circulate real soon now. 

We recommend you contact your local library for them to buy the Gollancz hardcover. After all, the novel is set in Melbourne’s State Library and the narrative includes librarians. And it’s fun.

Here’s the link to the very reasonably-priced eBook:

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Fourteen fantasy novels for A$25 

Speaking of e-books, may I make an exception to the “no advertisements” guideline for these emails? This e-book bundle is for a short time only, it originates from the SFWA, and there’s some interesting writing:

The books in the bundle…

Received from Matthew Hughes, Canada’s version of Terry Dowling’s Jack Vance aspect.

“The professional association of science fiction and fantasy authors of America (SFWA) has launched a new StoryBundle – Magic and Mayhem – offering fourteen carefully chosen fantasy novels (one of them mine), that span the sub-genres of fantasy while showcasing magic-induced mayhem, from the hilarious to the horrible and everything in between.
“If you haven’t encountered StoryBundle before, it’s a cool way to snag a passel of great genre reading at a bargain price.  And you’ll almost certainly discover some authors new to you that you’ll want to read more of.
The basic deal is US$5 for FOUR NOVELS in any ebook format you like, to read on your laptop, tablet, e-reader, or smartphone.
“But wait, there’s more!  Boost your spending to US$15 and you get TEN MORE books.  That’s FOURTEEN full-length novels for basically a buck a book.  Each title in the Magic and Mayhem bundle has been curated by SFWA’s pros out of a slew of books that came in after a call for submissions.
“Some of the titles they particularly liked:
• Darkmage – ML Spencer’s award-winning debut novel filled with epic battles, flawed heroes, and a brutal struggle

• Playing with Fire – R.J. Blain’s snarky romantic comedy with a body count, featuring a fire-breathing unicorn on a mission of destruction

• Phaethon – Rachel Sharp’s tech fantasy that weaves computer hackers, faeries, and corporate greed into a twisted tale

• Ragnarok Unwound – Kristin Jacques’s story of a young woman tangled up in a prophecy that sets her off to save the world with the help of a brownie, a Valkyrie, and the goddess of death herself

• Cutie and the Beast – E.J. Russell’s novel pairing a former Queen’s Champion of Faerie’s Seelie Court with a cheeky yet adorable human temp worker, as they prove, once again, that when fae consort with humans, it never ends well

•And my own 9 Tales of Raffalon – Matthew Hughes’s intriguing mosaic novel combining nine stories of an enterprising thief as he grapples with crooked guild masters, ghosts, spies, ogres, and a talented amateur assassin
“All the books are DRM-free.  You can email them to your friends.  And you can give Magic and Mayhem as a gift to that guy who’s always asking you, “What’s so great about fantasy?”
“And you’ll be doing some good, supporting indie authors like me, plus part of the proceeds will go to the good works SFWA does, like helping out writers in need of health care and other worthwhile causes.
“It’s a limited time offer (ends around Nov 3rd), so better not wait to check it out:

Truth, Justice and…

DC Comics is changing what Superman stands for.
The company released a new mission statement for the 83-year-old icon who famously fought for “Truth, Justice and the American Way.”

Now Clark Kent’s Man of Steel is about “Truth, Justice and a Better Tomorrow.”
“To better reflect the storylines that we are telling across DC and to honor Superman’s incredible legacy of over 80 years of building a better world, Superman’s motto is evolving,” announced DC Chief Creative Officer and Publisher Jim Lee at the company’s DC FanDome fan event on Saturday. “Superman has long been a symbol of hope who inspires people, and it is that optimism and hope that powers him forward with this new mission statement.”

“I’m tired of having my actions construed as instruments of U.S. policy. ‘Truth, Justice and the American Way’ — it’s not enough anymore. The world’s too small. Too connected.”

Superman, In the 900th issue of Action Comics, when he renounced his U.S. citizenship (2011)

Nova Mob: Paul Voermans Oct 6

Murray notes:
As our lockdown continues and Victoria opens up on the modelling that it’ll be a 50/50 coin-toss whether or not our hospitals get overwhelmed, I’m hoping that your spirits are well and you and your friends and family are reaching out to each other with care and fun.

Here’s some fun! Paul Voermans is our guest at the Nova Mob on Wednesday 6 October! 

Paul will be telling us about his latest novel, 2020’s The White Library. It is highly likely that byways and tangents of sfnal, surrealist and fannish interest may be pointed at, explored, and poked with sticks.

“the novel is a joy to read, brimming with wild ideas, vibrant characters and a cinematic, sense-of-wonder denouement”
— Ian Mond, in Locus

Paul says, “I’ve attended a few Nova Mobs in my day, but I assume that this one will not include attending a restaurant in Richmond! I suspect that dates me….” 

In truth it dates all of us because that was pre-pandemic. Our meeting will be by Zoom, invitation below, but first the calendar:


Sep 28 – Nova Mob Special 1-hour meeting: Clarke Awards announcement.

Oct 6 – Paul Voermans on The White Library.

Oct 27 – Critical Mass Adelaide – Online SF Magazines Lightspeed, Escape Pod, Uncanny.

Oct 29 – Australian Science Fiction Foundation Awards Night with Nova Mob party room.

Nov 3 – Ian Mond – 2021’s ten best books of SF interest not branded as SF.

Nov 27 – Critical Mass Adelaide – Roman Orszanski on Empires, Galactic and Magic. 

Dec 1 – Iain McIntyre – Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950 to 1985 by Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre.

Dec 18 – end of year Nova Mob lunch hopefully face to face. To be confirmed, it’s subject to  pandemic restrictions and requirements.

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Meeting: Paul Voermans on The White Library (2020)

You are invited to a scheduled Zoom meeting of the Nova Mob.

Date and Time: Oct 6, 2021 8:00pm Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney, 7:30pm Adelaide

Join Zoom Meeting

Passcode: nova

Meeting ID: 417 758 3193

Paul speaks from about 8.10pm to around 9.00pm followed by questions and discussions. Formal close after discussions, say 9.20pm, and final close for those who wish to linger and chat will be at or before 10pm.

The White Library by Paul Voermans

Ian Mond reviews The White Library in Locus:

Melbourne’s State Library is the setting for Paul Voerman’s third full-length published novel, The White Library. 

What’s the weirdest thing you could imagine going on in a national library?

Dropout physics student Angela Donohoe is about to discover just that. Release it.  Become it. All in a world where colonial history did not quite turn out like ours, where the global power is the Federated Kingdom of Mendana and David Bowie was an astronaut, The White Library is a surreal escapade of library friends and enemies, love—and a remarkable woman.

Full review in Locus

It’s also a slightly sideways sequel-by-association to Paul’s The Weird Colonial Boy.
Says Paul:

“Unlike the faithful, who have ordered copies and even circulated them among poverty-stricken friends, I’m not expecting people to have forked out for a hardcover at about $65 including delivery from the UK and we are still working on the Australian distribution, so the link to the very reasonable e-book is
Only GBP 2.99! Please feel free to forward this to anybody you think might like a foolish SF novel set in the State Library of Victoria.”

[I’ve bought the e-book and it worked out at AU$5.89 — I received the email link within five minutes and had a choice of mobi or epub ]

50 favourite sf books of the past decade

NPR (National Public Radio) announced “Your 50 Favorite Sci-Fi And Fantasy Books of the Past Decade”, a list with a top 50 selected by Amal El-Mohtar, Ann Leckie, Fonda Lee, and Tochi Onyebuchi. Titles are separated into categories, such as “Worlds To Get Lost In” and “Will Mess With Your Head”, and include a range of subgenres and interests.

For the complete list, see the NPR website.

Space Opera Story Bundle!

The Cosmic Visionaries Bundle, curated by Robert Jeschonek

What is it about space opera that makes us love it so much? The action, the exotic settings, the colorful characters, the alien species? The promise of countless adventures in the face of the great unknown? The excitement of imagining what humanity may someday become and accomplish in the vast reaches of the final frontier?

Whatever your reason for loving the genre, this bundle has it in abundance. The ten books I’ve selected (one of them a five-book set, actually) are jam-packed with space opera goodness that will propel you out to the furthest reaches of the universe and give you all the best feels while provoking plenty of deep thoughts along the way. – Robert Jeschonek

For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of four books in any ebook format—WORLDWIDE.

  • Star Smuggler by T.S. Snow
  • Space: 1975 edited by Robert Jeschonek
  • Maelstrom by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • The Earth Concurrence by Julia Huni

If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all four of the regular books, plus six more books (including two StoryBundl exclusives), for a total of 10!

  • Project Charon 1: Re-Entry by Patty Jansen
  • Galactic Capers of the Amazing Conroy by Lawrence M. Schoen
  • Ardent Redux Saga Boxed Set – Complete First Season by J.L. Stowers
  • Ball of Confusion by Dean Wesley Smith (StoryBundle Exclusive)
  • Krimson Run by Craig Martelle and Julia Huni
  • Encounter at Vilahana by Blaze Ward (StoryBundle Exclusive)

The bundle is available until sept 8th

At Last Dangerous Visions!

J. Michael Straczynski told Facebook readers August 12th that The Last Dangerous Visions has been finished.

THE LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS has at last been completed. The final draft went off to the agency that will be handling the sale about fifteen minutes ago. This has been a massive effort…112,000 words…tracking down the estates of the original writers to be included in the book, and nailing down some newer A List writers; fans of Harlan’s who wanted to be a part of TLDV. (And for the record, Harlan continued to buy stories for the anthology right through the 90s, and stopped only due to illness. He saw TLDV as a living document, and fought to keep it relevant when some stories became less timely or were supplanted by real world events.)

I will have more to say about the contents at a later date, but suffice to say that they include some of the most visionary writers in the science fiction genre over the last 48 years.