A few months ago—before the shelter in place started, but not long before—I started watching The Expanse. This is an adaptation of the science fiction book series of the same name; the first season (mostly) follows the plot of the first book, Leviathan Wakes, which I read last year during my recovery from The Event. I say it “mostly” follows the plot of Leviathan Wakes because it includes characters and subplots I’ve never seen before, which is what’s making me a little reluctant to watch too much of the series just yet, because …
When adaptations are involved, I usually try to read the book before watching the adaptation, so that I can properly position the adaptation somewhere on “the book was better”* spectrum. (By this measure, The Expanse is pretty good.)
So this week I’m continuing my recent spree of reading translated works* with The Three-Body Problem, by Cixin Liu (or Liu Cixin, depending). As you may be able to guess by the author’s name, this is a Chinese science fiction novel.
It’s been quite a while since I reached into my giant pile of rejection letters, so today I spun up random.org and it told me to pick the third letter from the “L” folder. As it turns out, this is a rejection from the magazine The Leading Edge for my short story “Draw”, a science fiction Western, previously excerpted in a Teaser Tuesday.
It’s probably not a surprise to anyone that I watch the Netflix dystopian anthology series Black Mirror regularly, although not frequently, because, seriously, who can stand to binge that much plausible dystopia*? Not me, man. Not me. *shudder*
Anyway, recently I was watching one of the more acclaimed episodes of Black Mirror, “Nosedive”, which is about a woman named Lacie, played by Bryce Dallas Howard (yes, Richie Cunningham’s daughter), who is obsessed with improving her social media ranking. Because, you know, if you don’t have a good enough ranking, you might not be able to get into the apartment complex you want. Or into an exclusive restaurant. Or into the office building where you work. Or … well, you get the idea.
So this week I was reading All the Birds in the Sky, the Nebula and Locus award-winning pre-apocalyptic SF/Fantasy mashup by Charlie Jane Anders, in which a small group of witches goes to war with a small group of techies as each tries to save the world in its own particular idiom, which are, unfortunately, sort of diametrically opposed. Or at least that’s what they think.
So this week, and probably for a week or two more, I’m reading Great North Road, a science fiction murder mystery by Peter F. Hamilton. As far as I know, this book, like the excellent Fallen Dragon, is a standalone novel, unrelated to and not set in the same universe as the “Commonwealth” novels (the also-excellent Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained, the what-most-people-seem-to-consider-better-but-I-consider-only-pretty-good “Void” series, of which I’ve so far only read the first one) or the “Night’s Dawn” series, of which I’ve so far read, uh, nothing. It’s also, being Peter F. Hamilton, a doorstopper, or would be if it weren’t an eBook, which is why I’ll probably still be reading it next week. Fortunately, like most Hamilton books, it’s shaping up to be―you guessed it―excellent.
As it’s been a while since I dipped into my trove of rejection letters, this week I turned to random.org, asked them for a letter, and got an “E”. So I reached into the folder and pulled out this nice one, from Pulp Eternity, which is either from the end of 1998 or the beginning of 1999:
This week I’m reading volumes 1-3 of The Great Iron War, by Dean F. Wilson, a science fantasy steampunk series in which Earth (or someplace like it) is invaded by outsiders, called “demons” (even though I’m pretty sure that’s not what they are) who come in search of iron. Hence the name of the war.