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New Books in Science Fiction

Marshall Poe

86
Followers
263
Plays
New Books in Science Fiction

New Books in Science Fiction

Marshall Poe

86
Followers
263
Plays
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About Us

Bestselling and award-winning science fiction authors talk about their new books and much more in candid conversations with host Rob Wolf. In recent episodes, he's talked with Martha Wells (The Murderbot Diaries) about endearing-but-deadly bots, Sam J. Miller (Blackfish City) about “hopeful" dystopias, Daryl Gregory (Spoonbenders) about telekinesis and espionage, Meg Elison (The Book of Etta) about memory and the power of writing, Mur Lafferty (Six Wakes) about cloning and Agatha Christie, Maggie Shen King (An Excess Male) about the unintended consequences of China's one-child policy, and Omar El Akkad (American War) about the murky motivations of a terrorist.

Latest Episodes

Diane Cook, "The New Wilderness" (Harper, 2020)

Diane Cook’s The New Wilderness (Harper, 2020)is a poignant portrait of a mother and daughter fleeing the polluted cities of a near-future dystopia for a hand-to-mouth existence in the country’s last undeveloped tract. It’s also one of the unusual works of speculative fiction that’s been embraced by the world of high literature by (just this week) reaching the final round of the prestigious Booker Prize. Although Cook has lived mostly in cities, she loves spending time in nature and wrote some of The New Wilderness while trekking across the high desert of Oregon. “There is something about the expansiveness of lands that are empty that make my imagination feel a lot freer than it usually does in a city,” she says. For Cook’s protagonist Bea, the Wilderness State offers the only hope for saving the life of her 5-year-old daughter, Agnes. But as Agnes’ lungs heal from the city’s smog, her relationship with her mother grows strained, suffering rifts that might be typical for a mother and daughter but are magnified by the strain of having to invent a nomadic way of life in a remorseless expanse. “The Wilderness State is this very extreme place and this very extreme situation so it pushes everyone to a very extreme version of how they would normally be,” Cook says. Rob Wolfis the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author ofThe Alternate UniverseandThe Escape. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

36 min1 w ago
Comments
Diane Cook, "The New Wilderness" (Harper, 2020)

Rodrigo Quian Quiroga, "NeuroScience Fiction" (Benbella Books, 2020)

In NeuroScience Fiction (Benbella Books, 2020),Rodrigo Quian Quiroga shows how the outlandish premises of many seminal science fiction movies are being made possible by new discoveries and technological advances in neuroscience and related fields. Along the way, he also explores the thorny philosophical problems raised as a result, diving into Minority Report and free will, The Matrix and the illusion of reality, Blade Runner and android emotion, and more. A heady mix of science fiction, neuroscience, and philosophy, NeuroScience Fiction takes us from Vanilla Sky to neural research labs, and from Planet of the Apes to what makes us human. The end result is a sort of bio-technological “Sophie’s World for the 21st Century”, and a compelling update on the state of human knowledge through its cultural expressions in film and art. Dr. Rodrigo Quian Quiroga is the director of the Centre for Systems Neuroscience and the Head of Bioengineering at the University of Leicester. His research...

61 min2 w ago
Comments
Rodrigo Quian Quiroga, "NeuroScience Fiction" (Benbella Books, 2020)

Madeline Ashby, "ReV: The Machine Dynasty, Book III" (Angry Robot, 2020)

Writers and readers of science fiction love stories about artificial intelligence, robots, and mechanical beings whose sentience mirrors, matches or exceeds that of humans. The stories stay fresh for the reasons stories about humans do—sentience confers individuality, which provides endless permutations for character and plot. Madeline Ashby’s trilogy, The Machine Dynasty, explores the limits of sentience, the meaning of free will, and what it means to look, act, and feel like a human but be denied basic human rights. Published in July, the third book, ReV(Angry Robot, 2020), shows readers the results of a final face-off between self-replicating humanoid robots and humans. That the robots, known as vN, want their freedom, is natural. What isn’t natural is the failsafe programmed into their consciousnesses that requires them to aid humans in distress or danger—or self-destruct. With the failsafe in place, humans use and abuse the vN as they please—as mates, sex objects, laborers. “The failsafe became a way to talk about free will and consent,” Ashby says. Robot stories are usually written from a human perspective, but Ashby tells the story from the perspectives of the vN. “There's a ton of science fiction stories about humans who can't tell robots apart from other humans. But there are very few stories about robots who can't tell humans apart from each other, or robots who are the ones judging what a human being actually is.” Rob Wolfis the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author ofThe Alternate UniverseandThe Escape. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

56 minAUG 27
Comments
Madeline Ashby, "ReV: The Machine Dynasty, Book III" (Angry Robot, 2020)

Premee Mohamed, "Beneath the Rising" (Solaris, 2020)

Premee Mohamed’s debut novel, Beneath the Rising (Solaris, 2020) came out in March, but don’t call her a new writer. “I find it funny that people refer to people who have just started to get published as new writers. I finished my first novel when I was 12. I'm not a new writer. What I am is new to publishing, and it's so weird to me that people conflate the two, as if you just started writing at the moment you started getting published,” Mohamed says. She’d completed the first draft of Beneath the Rising in 2002, around the time she’d received her undergraduate degree in molecular genetics, but it wasn’t until 2015 that she decided to try and publish it. Until then, writing was “very much my private little hobby.” Beneath the Rising combines horror, science fiction and fantasy in its portrayal of the complicated friendship of Nick and Joanna (Johnny). They’d been close since they were young children despite many differences (she’s a rich, white, world-famous scientist; he’s a poor, brown, ordinary guy). But their relationship gets tested when Johnny’s latest invention—a clean reactor the size of a shoebox—unleashes Lovecraftian monsters, and, in the process of helping Johnny battle this cosmic evil, Nick uncovers secrets that change his view of Johnny. The monsters pose the ultimate foil for Johnny, who, like many scientists, wants to both understand the world and control it. “As a scientist,” Mohamed explains, “she wants [the monsters] to be understandable, to be comprehensible. And, of course, they can't be reduced down to something you can study in the lab and that just drives her berserk.” Rob Wolfis the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author ofThe Alternate UniverseandThe Escape. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

32 minJUL 30
Comments
Premee Mohamed, "Beneath the Rising" (Solaris, 2020)

Ilze Hugo, "The Down Days" (Skybound Books, 2020)

Few science fiction writers have their vision of the future tested upon publication. But that’s what happened to Ilze Hugo, whose novel about a mysterious epidemic, The Down Days (Skybound Books, 2020), debuted in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. “For it to be published right in the middle of all this is the most surreal experience,” Hugo says. Many of the book’s details are spot on: masks, online funerals, elbow bumps in lieu of handshakes. But the South African writer is frustrated that she missed a few nuances like “the way that your glasses fog up when you're wearing a mask … or the fact that you get acne.” “Something that you can't really understand until you’ve experienced it is how at the beginning of [the Covid-19 pandemic], everyone was taking it fairly seriously, and they were quarantining and self-isolating. Now if you go to the shop, you have people acting as if we're not in a pandemic at all. It's as if people can only emotionally stress about it or think a...

33 minJUL 9
Comments
Ilze Hugo, "The Down Days" (Skybound Books, 2020)

Tochi Onyebuchi,"Riot Baby" (Tor.com, 2020)

Tochi Onyebuchi’sRiot Baby (Tor.com, 2020) tells the story of two siblings—Ella, who is gifted with powers of precognition and telekinesis, and her younger brother Kevin, whose exuberant resistance to systemic racism earns him a one-way ticket to jail. Onyebuchi’s first novel for adults is as much a tale of the siblings’ bond as it is a portrait of white supremacy, police brutality, and the anger of Black Americans at centuries of injustice. The book’s publication just months before the murder of George Floyd and the Covid-19 pandemic might seem prescient, yet the novel could have been written at any point in the last several decades (or centuries) and still felt timely. Kev is born during the riots in Los Angeles that followed the acquittal of the police officers who brutally beat Rodney King. A few years later, the police killing of Sean Bell leads Ella to run away from home, afraid that her anger, harnessed to the supernatural powers she can’t yet control, might cause her to hurt those she loves. “She's changed as a result of having seen [Sean Bell’s murder] in a way that I think a lot of people were changed when they saw footage of Laquan McDonald's death or Philando Castile’s, these immensely traumatic visual experiences,” Onyebuchi says. Onyebuchi rejects the notion that anger must be productive. “When I started writingRiot Baby,I was very angry, and I feel like one of the things that happens during these periods of American unrest, particularly along a racialized vector, is this idea of productivity, that the anger has to be productive,” he says. “And there was a part of me, a very large part of me, that was essentially ‘Screw that. I'm not here for respectability politics.’ Black people have been playing the respectability politics game since time immemorial. And in the history of modern America, what has it gotten us? And that was a lot of what powered the omnipresence of anger in the book, this idea that it doesn't have to be productive.” Rob Wolfis the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author ofThe Alternate UniverseandThe Escape. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

39 minJUN 18
Comments
Tochi Onyebuchi,"Riot Baby" (Tor.com, 2020)

Brian Greene, "Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe" (Random House, 2020)

Brian Greene is a Professor of Mathematics and Physics at Columbia University in the City of New York, where he is the Director of the Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics, and co-founder and chair of the World Science Festival. He is well known for his TV mini-series about string theory and the nature of reality, including the Elegant Universe, which tied in with his best-selling 2000 book of the same name. In this episode, we talk about his latest popular book Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe (Random House, 2020) Until the End of Time gives the reader a theory of everything, both in the sense of a “state of the academic union”, covering cosmology and evolution, consciousness and computation, and art and religion, and in the sense of showing us a way to apprehend the often existentially challenging subject matter. Greene uses evocative autobiographical vignettes in the book to personalize his famously l...

120 minJUN 2
Comments
Brian Greene, "Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe" (Random House, 2020)

Brian Crim, "Planet Auschwitz: Holocaust Representation in Science Fiction and Horror Film and Television" (Rutgers UP, 2020)

In his new book, Planet Auschwitz: Holocaust Representation in Science Fiction and Horror Film and Television (Rutgers University Press, 2020), Brian Crim explores the diverse ways in which the Holocaust influences and shapes science fiction and horror film and television by focusing on notable contributions from the last fifty years. The supernatural and extraterrestrial are rich and complex spaces with which to examine important Holocaust themes - trauma, guilt, grief, ideological fervor and perversion, industrialized killing, and the dangerous afterlife of Nazism after World War II. Planet Auschwitz explores why the Holocaust continues to set the standard for horror in the modern era and asks if the Holocaust is imaginable here on Earth, at least by those who perpetrated it, why not in a galaxy far, far away? The pervasive use of Holocaust imagery and plotlines in horror and science fiction reflects both our preoccupation with its enduring trauma and our persistent need to “work...

66 minMAY 29
Comments
Brian Crim, "Planet Auschwitz: Holocaust Representation in Science Fiction and Horror Film and Television" (Rutgers UP, 2020)

Megan E. O'Keefe, "Velocity Weapon" (Orbit, 2019)

Velocity Weapon (Orbit, 2019) by Megan E. O’Keefe centers on siblings: Biran, a member of an elite cadre that controls the interstellar gates by which humans travel among star systems, and his sister, Sanda, a gunner who finds herself waking 230 years after her last battle on an empty, enemy spaceship, believing she’s the last human alive. O’Keefe’s characters search for truth in a universe where the secrets are centuries old and where A.I.s depend on humans as much as humans depend on A.I.s. Among the many themes O’Keefe’s space opera explores are the limits of human perception. In Sanda’s case, her reality is controlled by a spaceship. “They are elements of horror when you can’t trust the environment you live in, when the only thing keeping you alive might be dishonest,” O’Keefe says. O’Keefe challenges Tolstoy’s claim that “all happy families are alike” by giving Biran and Sanda an upbringing in their two-dad home that is as happy as it is unique. “I enjoy taking the opportunity to explore a family that is actually united—they have their squabbles, of course—but they love each other and are trying to do the right thing in an impossible situation.” Velocity Weapon, which was shortlisted for the Philip K. Dick Award, is the first book in O’Keefe’s Protectorate trilogy. The second book, Chaos Vector, is scheduled for publication in July. Rob Wolfis the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author ofThe Alternate UniverseandThe Escape. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

24 minMAY 28
Comments
Megan E. O'Keefe, "Velocity Weapon" (Orbit, 2019)

Laura Lam, "Goldilocks" (Orbit, 2020)

Laura Lam’s new book Goldilocks (Orbit, 2020) takes readers into space with an all-female crew bound for a distant Earth-like planet. The all-female crew isn’t the only twist; there’s also the fact that the five astronauts steal their spaceship. The crew aren’t mere bandits, but the spacecraft’s original crew, who’d been shoved aside by a reactionary patriarchy intent on confining women to home and family. “As a little girl, I thought sexism was on the way out. And in the last few years, I’ve realized, ‘Oh no, it’s definitely not,’” Lam says, discussing her motivations to write the book. When NASA confiscates the spacecraft of Valerie Black, a billionaire entrepreneur who Lam describes as a “cross between Elon Musk and Sigourney Weaver,” Black steals it back. She and her crew “know they’re the best people with the skills and training to find this new planet, which is humanity’s last hope because Earth has only 30 years left of habitability due to climate change,” Lam says. Lam found inspiration in the unsung women who’ve played a role in the history of spaceflight, including the Mercury 13, a group of women who’d passed the same physiological tests as the seven men of the Mercury project in the late 1950s. “The Mercury 13 really helped me focus the book. … There are all these women who have been influential in space flight, but we still haven’t had a woman on the Moon,” Lam says. Rob Wolf is the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author of The Alternate Universe and The Escape. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

33 minMAY 7
Comments
Laura Lam, "Goldilocks" (Orbit, 2020)

Latest Episodes

Diane Cook, "The New Wilderness" (Harper, 2020)

Diane Cook’s The New Wilderness (Harper, 2020)is a poignant portrait of a mother and daughter fleeing the polluted cities of a near-future dystopia for a hand-to-mouth existence in the country’s last undeveloped tract. It’s also one of the unusual works of speculative fiction that’s been embraced by the world of high literature by (just this week) reaching the final round of the prestigious Booker Prize. Although Cook has lived mostly in cities, she loves spending time in nature and wrote some of The New Wilderness while trekking across the high desert of Oregon. “There is something about the expansiveness of lands that are empty that make my imagination feel a lot freer than it usually does in a city,” she says. For Cook’s protagonist Bea, the Wilderness State offers the only hope for saving the life of her 5-year-old daughter, Agnes. But as Agnes’ lungs heal from the city’s smog, her relationship with her mother grows strained, suffering rifts that might be typical for a mother and daughter but are magnified by the strain of having to invent a nomadic way of life in a remorseless expanse. “The Wilderness State is this very extreme place and this very extreme situation so it pushes everyone to a very extreme version of how they would normally be,” Cook says. Rob Wolfis the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author ofThe Alternate UniverseandThe Escape. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

36 min1 w ago
Comments
Diane Cook, "The New Wilderness" (Harper, 2020)

Rodrigo Quian Quiroga, "NeuroScience Fiction" (Benbella Books, 2020)

In NeuroScience Fiction (Benbella Books, 2020),Rodrigo Quian Quiroga shows how the outlandish premises of many seminal science fiction movies are being made possible by new discoveries and technological advances in neuroscience and related fields. Along the way, he also explores the thorny philosophical problems raised as a result, diving into Minority Report and free will, The Matrix and the illusion of reality, Blade Runner and android emotion, and more. A heady mix of science fiction, neuroscience, and philosophy, NeuroScience Fiction takes us from Vanilla Sky to neural research labs, and from Planet of the Apes to what makes us human. The end result is a sort of bio-technological “Sophie’s World for the 21st Century”, and a compelling update on the state of human knowledge through its cultural expressions in film and art. Dr. Rodrigo Quian Quiroga is the director of the Centre for Systems Neuroscience and the Head of Bioengineering at the University of Leicester. His research...

61 min2 w ago
Comments
Rodrigo Quian Quiroga, "NeuroScience Fiction" (Benbella Books, 2020)

Madeline Ashby, "ReV: The Machine Dynasty, Book III" (Angry Robot, 2020)

Writers and readers of science fiction love stories about artificial intelligence, robots, and mechanical beings whose sentience mirrors, matches or exceeds that of humans. The stories stay fresh for the reasons stories about humans do—sentience confers individuality, which provides endless permutations for character and plot. Madeline Ashby’s trilogy, The Machine Dynasty, explores the limits of sentience, the meaning of free will, and what it means to look, act, and feel like a human but be denied basic human rights. Published in July, the third book, ReV(Angry Robot, 2020), shows readers the results of a final face-off between self-replicating humanoid robots and humans. That the robots, known as vN, want their freedom, is natural. What isn’t natural is the failsafe programmed into their consciousnesses that requires them to aid humans in distress or danger—or self-destruct. With the failsafe in place, humans use and abuse the vN as they please—as mates, sex objects, laborers. “The failsafe became a way to talk about free will and consent,” Ashby says. Robot stories are usually written from a human perspective, but Ashby tells the story from the perspectives of the vN. “There's a ton of science fiction stories about humans who can't tell robots apart from other humans. But there are very few stories about robots who can't tell humans apart from each other, or robots who are the ones judging what a human being actually is.” Rob Wolfis the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author ofThe Alternate UniverseandThe Escape. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

56 minAUG 27
Comments
Madeline Ashby, "ReV: The Machine Dynasty, Book III" (Angry Robot, 2020)

Premee Mohamed, "Beneath the Rising" (Solaris, 2020)

Premee Mohamed’s debut novel, Beneath the Rising (Solaris, 2020) came out in March, but don’t call her a new writer. “I find it funny that people refer to people who have just started to get published as new writers. I finished my first novel when I was 12. I'm not a new writer. What I am is new to publishing, and it's so weird to me that people conflate the two, as if you just started writing at the moment you started getting published,” Mohamed says. She’d completed the first draft of Beneath the Rising in 2002, around the time she’d received her undergraduate degree in molecular genetics, but it wasn’t until 2015 that she decided to try and publish it. Until then, writing was “very much my private little hobby.” Beneath the Rising combines horror, science fiction and fantasy in its portrayal of the complicated friendship of Nick and Joanna (Johnny). They’d been close since they were young children despite many differences (she’s a rich, white, world-famous scientist; he’s a poor, brown, ordinary guy). But their relationship gets tested when Johnny’s latest invention—a clean reactor the size of a shoebox—unleashes Lovecraftian monsters, and, in the process of helping Johnny battle this cosmic evil, Nick uncovers secrets that change his view of Johnny. The monsters pose the ultimate foil for Johnny, who, like many scientists, wants to both understand the world and control it. “As a scientist,” Mohamed explains, “she wants [the monsters] to be understandable, to be comprehensible. And, of course, they can't be reduced down to something you can study in the lab and that just drives her berserk.” Rob Wolfis the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author ofThe Alternate UniverseandThe Escape. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

32 minJUL 30
Comments
Premee Mohamed, "Beneath the Rising" (Solaris, 2020)

Ilze Hugo, "The Down Days" (Skybound Books, 2020)

Few science fiction writers have their vision of the future tested upon publication. But that’s what happened to Ilze Hugo, whose novel about a mysterious epidemic, The Down Days (Skybound Books, 2020), debuted in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. “For it to be published right in the middle of all this is the most surreal experience,” Hugo says. Many of the book’s details are spot on: masks, online funerals, elbow bumps in lieu of handshakes. But the South African writer is frustrated that she missed a few nuances like “the way that your glasses fog up when you're wearing a mask … or the fact that you get acne.” “Something that you can't really understand until you’ve experienced it is how at the beginning of [the Covid-19 pandemic], everyone was taking it fairly seriously, and they were quarantining and self-isolating. Now if you go to the shop, you have people acting as if we're not in a pandemic at all. It's as if people can only emotionally stress about it or think a...

33 minJUL 9
Comments
Ilze Hugo, "The Down Days" (Skybound Books, 2020)

Tochi Onyebuchi,"Riot Baby" (Tor.com, 2020)

Tochi Onyebuchi’sRiot Baby (Tor.com, 2020) tells the story of two siblings—Ella, who is gifted with powers of precognition and telekinesis, and her younger brother Kevin, whose exuberant resistance to systemic racism earns him a one-way ticket to jail. Onyebuchi’s first novel for adults is as much a tale of the siblings’ bond as it is a portrait of white supremacy, police brutality, and the anger of Black Americans at centuries of injustice. The book’s publication just months before the murder of George Floyd and the Covid-19 pandemic might seem prescient, yet the novel could have been written at any point in the last several decades (or centuries) and still felt timely. Kev is born during the riots in Los Angeles that followed the acquittal of the police officers who brutally beat Rodney King. A few years later, the police killing of Sean Bell leads Ella to run away from home, afraid that her anger, harnessed to the supernatural powers she can’t yet control, might cause her to hurt those she loves. “She's changed as a result of having seen [Sean Bell’s murder] in a way that I think a lot of people were changed when they saw footage of Laquan McDonald's death or Philando Castile’s, these immensely traumatic visual experiences,” Onyebuchi says. Onyebuchi rejects the notion that anger must be productive. “When I started writingRiot Baby,I was very angry, and I feel like one of the things that happens during these periods of American unrest, particularly along a racialized vector, is this idea of productivity, that the anger has to be productive,” he says. “And there was a part of me, a very large part of me, that was essentially ‘Screw that. I'm not here for respectability politics.’ Black people have been playing the respectability politics game since time immemorial. And in the history of modern America, what has it gotten us? And that was a lot of what powered the omnipresence of anger in the book, this idea that it doesn't have to be productive.” Rob Wolfis the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author ofThe Alternate UniverseandThe Escape. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

39 minJUN 18
Comments
Tochi Onyebuchi,"Riot Baby" (Tor.com, 2020)

Brian Greene, "Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe" (Random House, 2020)

Brian Greene is a Professor of Mathematics and Physics at Columbia University in the City of New York, where he is the Director of the Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics, and co-founder and chair of the World Science Festival. He is well known for his TV mini-series about string theory and the nature of reality, including the Elegant Universe, which tied in with his best-selling 2000 book of the same name. In this episode, we talk about his latest popular book Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe (Random House, 2020) Until the End of Time gives the reader a theory of everything, both in the sense of a “state of the academic union”, covering cosmology and evolution, consciousness and computation, and art and religion, and in the sense of showing us a way to apprehend the often existentially challenging subject matter. Greene uses evocative autobiographical vignettes in the book to personalize his famously l...

120 minJUN 2
Comments
Brian Greene, "Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe" (Random House, 2020)

Brian Crim, "Planet Auschwitz: Holocaust Representation in Science Fiction and Horror Film and Television" (Rutgers UP, 2020)

In his new book, Planet Auschwitz: Holocaust Representation in Science Fiction and Horror Film and Television (Rutgers University Press, 2020), Brian Crim explores the diverse ways in which the Holocaust influences and shapes science fiction and horror film and television by focusing on notable contributions from the last fifty years. The supernatural and extraterrestrial are rich and complex spaces with which to examine important Holocaust themes - trauma, guilt, grief, ideological fervor and perversion, industrialized killing, and the dangerous afterlife of Nazism after World War II. Planet Auschwitz explores why the Holocaust continues to set the standard for horror in the modern era and asks if the Holocaust is imaginable here on Earth, at least by those who perpetrated it, why not in a galaxy far, far away? The pervasive use of Holocaust imagery and plotlines in horror and science fiction reflects both our preoccupation with its enduring trauma and our persistent need to “work...

66 minMAY 29
Comments
Brian Crim, "Planet Auschwitz: Holocaust Representation in Science Fiction and Horror Film and Television" (Rutgers UP, 2020)

Megan E. O'Keefe, "Velocity Weapon" (Orbit, 2019)

Velocity Weapon (Orbit, 2019) by Megan E. O’Keefe centers on siblings: Biran, a member of an elite cadre that controls the interstellar gates by which humans travel among star systems, and his sister, Sanda, a gunner who finds herself waking 230 years after her last battle on an empty, enemy spaceship, believing she’s the last human alive. O’Keefe’s characters search for truth in a universe where the secrets are centuries old and where A.I.s depend on humans as much as humans depend on A.I.s. Among the many themes O’Keefe’s space opera explores are the limits of human perception. In Sanda’s case, her reality is controlled by a spaceship. “They are elements of horror when you can’t trust the environment you live in, when the only thing keeping you alive might be dishonest,” O’Keefe says. O’Keefe challenges Tolstoy’s claim that “all happy families are alike” by giving Biran and Sanda an upbringing in their two-dad home that is as happy as it is unique. “I enjoy taking the opportunity to explore a family that is actually united—they have their squabbles, of course—but they love each other and are trying to do the right thing in an impossible situation.” Velocity Weapon, which was shortlisted for the Philip K. Dick Award, is the first book in O’Keefe’s Protectorate trilogy. The second book, Chaos Vector, is scheduled for publication in July. Rob Wolfis the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author ofThe Alternate UniverseandThe Escape. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

24 minMAY 28
Comments
Megan E. O'Keefe, "Velocity Weapon" (Orbit, 2019)

Laura Lam, "Goldilocks" (Orbit, 2020)

Laura Lam’s new book Goldilocks (Orbit, 2020) takes readers into space with an all-female crew bound for a distant Earth-like planet. The all-female crew isn’t the only twist; there’s also the fact that the five astronauts steal their spaceship. The crew aren’t mere bandits, but the spacecraft’s original crew, who’d been shoved aside by a reactionary patriarchy intent on confining women to home and family. “As a little girl, I thought sexism was on the way out. And in the last few years, I’ve realized, ‘Oh no, it’s definitely not,’” Lam says, discussing her motivations to write the book. When NASA confiscates the spacecraft of Valerie Black, a billionaire entrepreneur who Lam describes as a “cross between Elon Musk and Sigourney Weaver,” Black steals it back. She and her crew “know they’re the best people with the skills and training to find this new planet, which is humanity’s last hope because Earth has only 30 years left of habitability due to climate change,” Lam says. Lam found inspiration in the unsung women who’ve played a role in the history of spaceflight, including the Mercury 13, a group of women who’d passed the same physiological tests as the seven men of the Mercury project in the late 1950s. “The Mercury 13 really helped me focus the book. … There are all these women who have been influential in space flight, but we still haven’t had a woman on the Moon,” Lam says. Rob Wolf is the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author of The Alternate Universe and The Escape. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

33 minMAY 7
Comments
Laura Lam, "Goldilocks" (Orbit, 2020)
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