Nov 16, 2021 3 min read

We're back after a hiatus!

We're back after a hiatus!

Welcome back fellow frivolous!

A lot has happened in the last few months, what with the World Fantasy Award winners, the FIYAHCon's Ignyte Award winners, and lots of November 2021 releases (some intriguing ones listed below).

Let's get into it!

Recent/New Release Picks

A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske - (November 2, 2021)

The debut novel by Marske centers around a Robin Blyth, who has enough on his plate and definitely doesn't have enough time to be made the civil service liaison to a hidden magical society.  His predecessor in this role has disappeared, and as Robin learns about, and adjusts to, this hidden layer of reality, his life gets that much more complicated.  Not to mention, dangerous and bizarre.

Debut books are my thing; and this seems to be a perfect mash of historical fantasy with darker edges.

The Apollo Murders by Chris Hadfield - (October 12, 2021)

I watched several of Chris Hadfield's videos while he was on the ISS, so this caught my attention pretty easily.  I'm also keen to read science fiction from professional scientists.  AND I enjoy mysteries in or about space.  So, this was an easy pick, although the one downside of the premise is a classic "US-vs-Russia" political plot.  A NASA mission in which crew members have hidden agendas, a deadly accident 250,000 miles from earth, and scientific details about space travel make for fun and quick read.

Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson - (November 16, 2021)

Stephenson's been in the news lately for the whole "metaverse" thing that Facebook kicked off (you can read about that here).  But in other news, his new climate fiction novel was just released.  Amid a lot of climate fiction this caught my eye because the story isn't about a solution for the climate crisis, but rather the ramifications and optics of any solution.  The politics and societal reasons for any solution seem, at least in Stephenson's view, just as important as the solution itself.  This is timely, considering COP26 and the promises-without-enforcement challenges we're struggling with.

Leviathan Falls by James S. A. Corey - (November 30, 2021)

A hat-tip to the last installment in a massive space opera.

Serialized vs. Episodic shows

Andrew Liptak has a good article on his Transfer Orbit site on the two main formats of genre shows currently streaming: serialized, lengthy and heavy shows like The Expanse or Game of Thrones; and the episodic, motley-crew/found family band of space farers going from adventure to adventure, all the while navigating life in close proximity to a group of people they may or may not get along with and translating the meaning of their latest adventure.

His thoughts struck a chord: I'm reluctant to watch shows with lengthy, season-long arcs, feeling like I don't have the wherewithal for all that investment, both time and emotionally; I've preferred episodic shows that I can watch an episode at a time and that resolve within those 40-50 minutes. I personally really enjoyed SyFy's Dark Matter and am toying with watching Killjoys, while Whedon's Firefly remains a benchmark.

What say you all - what's your speed?

Ham and Cheese

Apparently there's a connection between books and ham & cheese.  The breakdown:

AI Tests of Consciousness

Analee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders have a podcast called Our Opinions are Correct.  They're an excellent pair to be running this podcast and while I haven't listed to all their shows, I've listened to a few.  One to point out: Episode 91: Three Simple Tests That Reveal A.I. Consciousness.  Beyond a basic recap on the Turing test of AI sentience, Newitz and Anders talk to Chen Qiufan, co-author of the brand new book A.I. 2041.  They walk through a number of current discussions around that state of AI today and the direction that AI's going.  Their conversation with Quifan is a perfect wrap to the episode with Quifan talking about what future ramifications of AI would be.  The book is co-authored with Kai-Fu Lee, former president of Google China.

If you're enjoying this newsletter, I'd love for you to spread the word and invite your friends & family to subscribe.  You'll get book reviews and releases each month along with weekly need-to-knows and curiosities all around sci-fi and fantasy works.

As always thanks for reading and hit me up with what caught your eye, what you'd like to see mentioned!

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