A giant squid, Nazis, a Trek-obsessed magician. We’re so there.

By Nick Mamatas at Sci Fi Wire
Kraken is fantasist China Mieville’s most realistic novel to date. Sure, one can trip over a bar set that low, but Mieville’s examination of the microcults and the infighting of marginal religions in an otherwise lickable, tastable London is the high point of the book.

As the title suggests, a giant squid—dead and preserved—features prominently in the book. Worshiped by the Krakenists, its inexplicable theft triggers a chain of events that could lead to one of two different apocalypses, and does lead to an exciting romp.

There are plenty of novels these days about a secret police department that tracks down occult threats, but vampires and werewolves and demons have been trotted out so often that every drop of awe and wonder has long since been wrung out of ’em. Mieville plays a whole new game, clearly mining his own experience on the radical left and various subcultures for an understanding of how small handfuls of people with very strange ideas can conceive of history with only themselves in the center.

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Richelle Mead talks about her popular Vampire Academy books

By Alicia Rancilio at The Canadian Press
Richelle Mead’s popular Vampire Academy series is taking a bite out of the publishing world. The young adult books follow Rose Hathaway, a 17-year-old half-vampire training to be a protector against evil vampires who are out for blood.

“Spirit Bound,” the fifth book in the series, hit the best-seller lists when it was released last month. The sixth and final book in Rose’s story will be published in December. Mead will then begin writing another six Vampire Academy books about different characters.

The author talks about her protagonist, adult readers and whether Vampire Academy will appear on the big screen or television.

AP: Did you intend for the character of Rose to be so strong?

Mead: I’m not sure how I would write someone not strong. … I wanted someone who has so much potential and isn’t afraid to throw herself into danger. … but she’s learning self-control.

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New Iain M. Banks Culture Novel

Tim Holman at Orbit Books
Tweet it from the rooftops, a new Culture novel by Iain M. Banks will be released in October.

The title is SURFACE DETAIL, which refers to a number of things, not least one of the principal characters, who is covered, externally and internally, with congenitally administered tattoos.

It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters.

It begins with a murder.

And it will not end until the Culture has gone to war with death itself.

Lededje Y’breq is one of the Intagliated, her marked body bearing witness to a family shame, her life belonging to a man whose lust for power is without limit. Prepared to
risk everything for her freedom, her release, when it comes, is at a price, and to put things right she will need the help of the Culture.

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David Cronenberg to direct black hole love story As She Climbed Across the Table

By Meredith Woerner at io9
What happens when the one you love is in love with a black hole? Body horror legend David Cronenberg’s is about to find out, as he’s adapting Jonathan Lethem’s love story As She Climbed Across the Table. Pajiba is reporting that Cronenberg’s next picture will be about the unrequited love between one scientist and his lab partner. Sadly, the “other man” is a black hole the woman has created, which she’s become infatuated with.

Particle physics, false vacuum bubbles, an alternate universe—this is the stuff of Jonathan Lethem’s novel As She Climbed Across the Table. The tale echoes Alice in Wonderland in its mad tumble through a rearranged reality. Narrator Phillip Engstrand is a university professor who has made a career out of studying academic environments. Engstrand is in love with Alice Coombs, a particle physicist engaged in a bold attempt to replicate the origins of the universe. The result of the experiment is Lack, a very selective black hole that sucks some things into its void—a cat, a pair of socks, a strawberry — and rejects others, namely, a love-struck Alice. As Alice’s unrequited obsession with Lack grows, Phillip becomes so desperate to save his beloved from this empty rival that he risks a journey down the metaphysical rabbit hole.

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Don’t Stop Believing: Utopian Sci-Fi and Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed

Sean Grattan at Tor
I am about to embark on a bit of a series of sorts. Or, at least a generically linked set of posts revolving around utopian fiction—I feel this post is more overview than insight because I want to get the ball rolling, but if utopian fiction is supposed to do anything it is supposed to illuminate and challenge the limits of our imagination: So too, speculative fiction. I want to think about ways that utopian fiction inspires us to re-imagine our lives, if only for a moment. Furthermore, no other genre is as adept at mapping the world we live in by trying to imagine a world we would rather live in.

I want to begin with the book that was certainly the beginning for me. Bored by, and moving away from humor sci-fi and fantasy (Harry Harrison…well, certain Harry Harrison…or Piers Anthony for example) I decided I wanted to read something challenging, daring, adult. The sci-fi fantasy section in the used bookstore by my house was so daunting that I rushed passed the beginning (missing Asimov and Bradbury for instance) and blindly stumbling to Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed.

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Why Is It Still A Man’s World In The Future?

by Heather Massey at The Galaxy Express
Yesterday, Verona St. James reviewed NO WORDS ALONE by Dorchester author Autumn Dawn. This passage in particular caught my eye [Spoiler Alert]:

I also felt like Ryven caved much too quickly on forcing her to essentially be a highly-ranked stay-at-home mom. His capitulation that she can have a career was basically that, a throwaway line on the last page, like, “Ok, honey, you can have a job if you want one that badly.” And even then he’s still in control because he’s giving her permission.

While not one hundred percent unexpected, patriarchal societies in science fiction romance are more prevalent than I’d like. After all, this is a subgenre that is currently dominated by women authors. Why aren’t we asking them to create worlds with other types of hierarchies? (Well, except for Jess Granger—she already did that in BEYOND THE RAIN). But let’s say the alternatives are unrealistic or are more fantasy than plausible science. Okay, but even if a society is technically a patriarchy, it can still involve much more progressive laws, institutions, and practices that ensure a stronger sense of gender equality than we have now. Seriously, is either of those choices too much to ask?

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Books That Made a Difference To Zoë Saldana

Mamie Healey at O Magazine
Different Seasons
By Stephen King

I read these four novellas when I was 11 or 12 years old. A lot of people know them already: “The Body” became the movie Stand By Me, and of course “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” was also adapted for the screen.

Why she chose it:
It’s true that Stephen King writes about human psychology and digs into the darkness of it, but there’s also a lot of beauty and liberation in his stories. “Shawshank Redemption” is my favorite. One character, Andy, never lost hope. Despair was all his fellow inmate, Red, had known. In the end, Red became infected by Andy’s hope. This story has one of the most amazing endings. I cried for three days after I read it.

See the Rest here

I’d seen Kraken before, but I hadn’t heard of As She Climbed Across the Table. It sounds really interesting. As f or the man’s world article, I’ve noticed that Sci Fi reflects the social norms of their time, unless the author makes a large effort not to. And we live in a society where patriarchy still exists. Nothing like it did 20 or 30 years ago, but enough to be a factor. If it didn’t, the book would have been labeled old fashioned rather than futuristic. I’m glad to see someone featuring utopian book, considering all of the attention dystopians are getting.

Do you prefer utopian book or dystopian books? What did you think of Richelle Mead’s interview? Are you excite about the new Culture book?