City of Bones by Martha Wells
Martha Wells has recently entered the spotlight with her delightful, award-winning science fiction novella All Systems Red, but she’s also got a fabulous backlist. City of Bones wars with Death of the Necromancer for my favorite Martha Wells novel, but City of Bones undoubtedly wins the place of “Best Standalone by Martha Wells.”
— Sarah Waites, in her list of 10 standalone Fantasy Novels on Tor.com
Jules Verne was a ridiculously prolific author, publishing more than 90 novels, short stories, non-fiction books, essays, and plays over his 50-odd year career. His magnum opus was the Voyages Extraordinaires, a series of 54(!) novels that sought “to outline all the geographical, geological, physical, and astronomical knowledge amassed by modern science and to recount, in an entertaining and picturesque format…the history of the universe.”
From Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (Alphonse de Neuville and Édouard Riou)
But it wasn’t just Verne’s inventive prose that captivated 19th century audiences. The Voyages Extraordinaires also included plenty of lavish illustrations, most in black-and-white, depicting each protagonist’s globetrotting adventures.
Thanks to the work of the late Verne scholar Dr. Zvi Har’El, you can peruse all of the original illustrations online.
— more details at Tor.com
This evening I will present my first and probably somewhat random foray into scifi and fantasy stuff coming out of Asia – beyond Stein;s Gate and Three-Body Problem. This is a vast and interesting space and my talk will present but a few snapshots of popular culture, internet, film and books. As you dig, you discover. There will be sure more to come in future.— Beata
As usual, 6:45 at Kappy’s (22 Compton St, Adelaide) for a 7pm start,
In a universe of towers that soar and platforms that project precariously out into space (in brilliant background designs by Philip De Guard), where electric eyes trigger doors opening up on even bigger electric eyes, Jones finds opportunities for customary slapstick (does Daffy get repeatedly blasted and disintegrated? Of course!), subversions of SF concepts (who knew rocket ships had reverse gears?), and a few lashings of Cold War anxiety as Daffy’s feud with Marvin over the highly coveted Planet X (last repository of Illudium Phosdex, “the shaving cream atom”) escalates eventually to planetary annihilation.
— see the full list in Dan Parsons’ The Last Ten Decades Represented in Ten Classic Science Fiction Cartoons, at Tor.com
With the Thirteenth Doctor, played by Jodie Whittaker, and her friends landing back on our screens early next year, BBC America has announced an exciting host of new directors as well as both new and returning writers for the next season of Doctor Who.
Three new writers have jumped on board the TARDIS for the upcoming season: Nina Metivier, Maxine Alderton and Charlene James.
Also making their debut in 2020 are four new directors ready to travel through space and time: Nida Manzoor, Emma Sullivan, Jamie Magnus Stone and Lee Haven Jones.
Showrunner Chris Chibnall said: “We’re thrilled that Doctor Who continues to attract some of the most the most exciting and dynamic talent working in television. Along with our returning faces, we’re excited to welcome new members to the Doctor Who family. The Doctor Who team is crammed with British television’s brightest writers and directors: we’ve adored working with them, and can’t wait to show you the explosive stuff they’ve created!”
— News from BBC America
The Watch has found its Lord Vetinari! BBC America has announced the latest batch of casting updates for its Terry Pratchett adaptation, and Anna Chancellor will be playing the Lord Patrician of Ankh-Morpork.
In a statement to BBC America, Chancellor gave a preview of her take on the character: “With the combining characteristics of Dracula and Elvis – Lord Vetinari has sprung to life in the most alarmingly joyful way,” she said.
Lord Vetinari isn’t the only character with gender-neutral casting. Chancellor will also be joined by Ingrid Oliver (Doctor Who) as Doctor Cruces, head of the Assassins Guild, Ruth Madeley (The Rook) as wily merchant Claude Maximillian Overton Transpire Dibbler aka Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler aka Throat, and Bianca Simone Mannie (Homeland) as Lupine Wonse, the ambitious secretary to Lord Vetinari. Meanwhile, James Fleet (Outlander) will take on the role of the Archchancellor, head of the Unseen University school for wizards, and Hakeem Kae-Kazim (Dynasty) will play Vimes’ mentor Captain John Keel.
— update from tor.com
One of the most compelling themes in Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series is the way in which he represents childhood as both a sacred time and a space for profound frustration at the complexities of the adult world. It’s one of the most unifying themes across all of children’s literature, and a difficult trick to pull off effectively. It is especially difficult to strike this balance in children’s fantasy, since the magical elements of the world can sometimes serve as deus ex machinae that make the adult world literally less complex.
— Tyler Dean, “Childhood and the Burden of Knowledge” at tor.com
As is our custom, the december Critical Mass will be a dinner gathering.
We’re looking at meeting at 6pm Wednesday, December 4th at madré, the fancy new pizza place on Gilbert St.
It’s a popular venue, so if you’re interested in joining us, please send roman an email, so that we can book for the appropriate numbers.
In the spirit of xmas, we ask you to bring along a book you think should be better known, along with a brief reason why you’d recommend it.
Looking for a christmas present? This bundle avaialble for the next week:
The Historical Mystery Bundle – Curated by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Most people misunderstand the mystery genre. They expect Agatha Christie type stories—you know, bodies in the library and implausible murders and lots of puzzles. And while that is a form of mystery (cozy), it is not the entire genre.
Really, if we were going to name the genre correctly, we would call it the crime genre. But if we do that, then readers expect true crime, which is a nonfiction genre.
So we’re stuck with the inadequate word “mystery” when we mean “crime.” At least the word “historical” works for us. Although it covers a broad scope. At least in this bundle.
All of the authors in this bundle take us somewhere vivid and give us a crime appropriate to the era. Note that I did not say all eleven authors in this bundle, because we have two anthologies, Fiction River: Past Crime (which I edited) and Quoth The Raven (edited by Lyn Worthen).
And, frankly, I cheated when I put Quoth The Raven in this bundle, because the stories aren’t historical: they’re contemporary. But they’re here for two reasons: First, many scholars believe Edgar Allen Poe invented the mystery genre. Or, at least, detective fiction. (Because if you say he invented the genre, you’d be ignoring half of Shakespeare. But detective fiction? Yeah, you might have a point there.)
The second reason is that this anthology is reimagined Poe, so the stories have a distinct 19th century flavor because of their subject matter. (Besides, they might give you a good excuse to revisit Poe’s short stories. They’re stunning.)
The Witch Who Came in from the Cold takes place in Prague, between January 18 and March 2 in the year 1970. Prague (now the capital of the Czech Republic) is in 1970 the capital of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, a nation within the ambit of Soviet Russia’s sphere of influence. The city’s dark and wintry atmosphere, as well as its age and character, are deftly evoked within the pages of the serial. So is its sense as contested territory, a field for not-quite-open war – and this same sense is evoked within the lives of each of the characters. Prague in 1970 is a place where CIA agents and KGB officers may frequent the same cafes and the same diplomatic soirées, while attempting to recruit their various local pawns.
Alongside the CIA and the KGB – and among them – are agents of two warring magical factions, the Ice and the Flame. The Ice and the Flame are vying for control of elemental Hosts – according to members of the Ice, the Flame want them in order to destroy the world.
— from Liz Bourke’s review of The Witch Who Came in from the Cold, Locus