John Scalzi's new novel Redshirts starts from a a well-worn, but clever premise: what if the characters in a hackneyed genre story realized that they were trapped by the poor imagination of a hack writer? In Redshirts' case, the prisoners of destiny are the red-shirted ensigns assigned to the flagship of a galactic federation in a derivative, B-grade Star Trek knock-off, whose cohort dies in great number on every mission. The ensigns begin to suspect that something's amiss when they discover that all the ship's old hands run and hide every time the members of the first-shift bridge crew come by, and after a few grisly deaths from their number, they begin to work it out, with the aid of a reclusive bearded prophet who hides in the ship's maintenance corridors, and who believes that they have been trapped in something called "The Narrative" and has even worked out its rules.
The premise has been considered before, and Scalzi's handling of it is deft, likable, and funny without sacrificing suspense or characterization. But, this being a Scalzi novel, quickly transcends the mere conceit and begins to consider the existential, human implications for both the characters and the 21st century actors who portrayed them, and before you know it, we're off on a provocative and heart-tugging philosophical meta-novel.
Redshirts both realizes and transcends its premise, and is at once a tribute to, and a piss-take on, the best and worst that space opera has to offer. It's the sort of thing that science fiction is especially good at, and the sort of thing for which Scalzi is justifiably loved.
Beneath the Sugar Sky is the third novella in Seanan McGuire's wonderful Wayward Children series, following from 2016's Every Heart a Doorway and 2017's Down Among the Sticks and Bones, chronicling the lives of the children who've accidentally returned from the magical kingdoms they adventured in, who haunt Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children praying that the door to their true homes will return and they can vanish into it forever.
I love Jen Wang's work: her debut graphic novel Koko Be Good was thought-provoking and challenging and beautiful; "In Real Life," her adaptation of my story Anda's Game took the tale to places that delighted and surprised me -- today, Firstsecond publishes The Prince and the Dressmaker, which I believe will be her breakout graphic novel.
You may have noticed of late that things in America are becoming less, well, American. A cruel misogynist with dangerously racist beliefs is running the show. Nazis and bigots of all stripes no long fear giving voice to their hatred in public. The nation’s journalists and the free flow of information are under attack. The […]
Trains may not be the most popular means of conveyance nowadays, but chances are you grew up playing with toy trains or building a model set to wrap around the Christmas tree. In either case, it’s safe to say that locomotives have long carried a unique sense of awe and scale, especially when they’re hundreds […]
When it comes to redesigning or renovating a living space, envisioning changes before they occur can be tricky for most. Thankfully, the web is home to tools that can remove some of the guesswork, like Live Home 3D Pro for Mac. This app lets you create detailed and furnished floor plans for everything from sheds and […]
For many startups and fledgling businesses, web hosting — and the fees associated with it — can take a sizeable chunk out of the company budget and limit growth down the road. But, that’s not to say there aren’t hosts out there who can get your site online while staying within your budget. Arch Hosting is a […]