Category: Science Fiction

‘Black Leopard, Red Wolf’ Author Marlon James ‘Spent Teen Years in Bedroom’

Man Booker prizewinner Marlon James’s new novel, Black Leopard, Red Wolf, was released this month to great acclaim. Described as “African Game of Thrones‘ by Michael B. Jordan, who has secured the rights for a TV adaptationBlack Leopard, Red Wolf is predicted to “propel James into a new galaxy of literary stardom.”

 

Image result for marlon james

Image via The Wall Street Journal.

 

In an interview with The Guardian, James discussed his “frustratingly middle class” upbringing as the son of police detectives in Jamaica. Despite being kept relatively safe from the turbulent social climate in Jamaica at the time, James did not fare too well in school, called names by the other students, and spending much time alone.

“My teenage years before college, I spent pretty much all of my time in my bedroom. I spent so much time there that my neighbours thought I did high school in America. I’d go to class, then I’d disappear. I’d just basically come home to eat dinner, sleep, draw comics.”

 

Image via Amazon.

 

His lack of success socially made certain comics, like X-Men,  resonate with him. “They’re outcasts,” he says, “they’re outsiders, they’re disliked by a world that they’re still a part of. Even other heroes didn’t trust the X-Men. And that connected with me in a really, really major way.”

He goes on to explain that he “never read any of the foundational fantasy novels” as a child. “Those fantasy novels that you might have thought would be everywhere, like Dune and Lord of the Rings, really weren’t [in Jamaica]. I read whatever cheap crap got dumped on the third world. I didn’t have a community telling me, ‘Read this, read that.’ A lot of what I write about in terms of the fantastic I picked up from comics, particularly Marvel comics. And even that idea of a group of people banded together, which people think I got from Fellowship of the Ring, it’s more like X-Men or one of those anti-teams like Doom Patrol or Suicide Squad. Because comics were easier to get hold of than books.” `

It may be reassuring for any aspiring writers out there who feel like they don’t fit in, to know that even Man Booker prize winner and author of an incredible book, comparable to Game of Throne spent his teen years in his bedroom, in his own fantasy world!

 

Read the full interview with James here.

 

 

Featured Image via Chicago Tribune.

Tomi Adeyemi's hit 'Children of Blood and Bone'

Female, Nonbinary Authors of Color Majority of Nebula Award Finalists

The Nebula Awards may honor the most out-of-this-world science fiction and fantasy, but its finalists are highly representative of the diverse world we’re living in. White men may still dominate high school reading lists (and the government, depending on your country of origin), but women and nonbinary authors of color are filling the rosters for one of genre fiction’s most prestigious awards. Chances are, you’ve read some of these. And chances are even higher you’ll love all the ones you haven’t.

 

The Nebula Awards logo

Image Via The Wild Detectives

 

Categories for winners include Best Novel, Novella, Novelette, and Short Story. There’s also a specific prize for YA sci-fi and fantasy: The Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Fiction. Since there are fifty nominations in total across each category, let’s focus on the ten nominees for Best Novel and The Andre Norton Award, two categories in which some real some real magic is happening. First, let’s take a minute to reflect on exactly how big a deal these awards are: YA superstars J.K. Rowling (who you know) and Holly Black (who you really should) have both been Nebula Award-winners.

Now that we’ve established the prestige level of this award (to clarify: massively high), let’s consider that, in these two categories, female and nonbinary authors of color comprise fully half of the nominees. In case this actually needs establishing, that’s a massive deal.

Though the other categories don’t boast such incredible statistics, they’re still strikingly diverse. The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation has two particularly high-profile works among its nominees: Janelle Monae‘s album Dirty Computer; Boots Riley‘s film Sorry to Bother You, and Ryan Coogler‘s international sensation Black Panther(This list seems to indicate that including Tessa Thompson will statistically increase your chances of a nomination. Is this true? True enough.)

 

Tessa Thompson in 'Sorry to Bother You'

Image Via Glamour

 

YA has always been a particularly diverse genre, quick to shirk the confines of more traditional literary fiction. As the YA craze reaches a wider audience, it has more people to represent. Let’s just say the genre has risen to the challenge. For example, let’s look at underrated YA romance release Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann, depicting the experiences of an asexual and biromantic black teenage girl with a nuanced and thoughtful touch. Many feel that the publishing world’s interest in YA reflects an alarming cultural trend: a departure from the classics and other works of value. But literary fiction is a genre like any other—it’s not a synonym for good. Publishers aren’t the only ones all over YA fiction; readers gravitate towards the books that represent their own experiences.

 

Asexual romance novel 'Let's Talk About Love' by Claire Kann

Image Via Goodreads

 

Diverse YA releases like Tomi Adeyemi‘s Children of Blood and Bone, a fantasy debut inspired by Nigerian mythology, have gotten massive attention—from media coverage to a reported seven-figure book deal. And everybody’s talking about Samira Ahmed‘s upcoming Internment, a dystopian novel in which American Muslims are detained in camps. While many are quick to complain about the market’s saturation with YA genre fiction, readers shouldn’t be so eager to decry its literary value—some of these dystopian worlds no longer come with all the logic of an Internet personality quiz. Instead, these groundbreaking authors are using technology and magic as metaphors to comment upon reality.

 

"Read to Resist" 'Internment' by Samira Ahmed

Image Via Samira Ahmed Twitter

 

YA is growing increasingly diverse from the top down—even lesser-known releases are incorporating richer cultural contexts into their works. An underrated December release, The Disasters by queer author M.K. England, features a world in which space exploration has been driven by African and Middle-Eastern science and technology. It’s all space ships, shenanigans, Muslim calls to prayer, and seriously making sure you’re not wearing a bright turquoise hijab when avoiding interplanetary mercenaries in a crowd! (Looking at you, character-who-will-not-be-named.)

Though many are quick to associate sci-fi in particular with white teen boys thirsting after Princess Leia, these skeptics should maybe slow down with the assumptions.

 

 

Featured Image Via Fierce Reads.

‘Dune’ Fills ‘Fantastic Beasts 3’ 2020 Release Date Spot

Denis Villeneuve’s Dune remake now has a release date. Warner Bros. announced that the film will come out on November 20th, 2020. This is the second film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 science-fiction epic after the 1984 film by David Lynch.

Dune follows the Atreides family as they acquire control of the planet Arrakis, a desert planet that is the only source of a valuable drug that can extend human life on Earth. The novel explores the various royal families and political figures all fighting over control of the drug.

The all-star cast features Timothée Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Charlotte Rampling, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem and Jason Momoa.

 

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Owen Kolasinski/BFA/REX/Shutterstock Via Variety

Interestingly, the Dune remake is occupying the release date previously occupied by Fantastic Beasts 3, the third installment in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter spin-off series centered around Newt Scamander. Critical and commercial reception for The Crimes of Grindelwald was the lowest for the Harry Potter series yet. Filming for the third installment was delayed until autumn of this year for retooling.

Are you excited for the new film?

 

 

Featured Image Via Sci-Fi Addicts

'Lord of the Rings' Middle Earth Illustration

There’s a New University Just For Sci-Fi & Fantasy Studies

Students no longer have to travel to a galaxy far, far away to learn all there is to know about science-fiction literature. Instead, they can do it from the comfort of their living room (more specifically, the comfort of their pajamas). Signum University isn’t just an online college: it’s a university entirely dedicated to the study of genre fiction from a literary, historical, and philosophical perspective. Talk about the ultimate fantasy—which, of course, is also a subject. So, congratulations, genre nerds! (Of course, I say that with the utmost affection.) You can now put “majored in Tolkien” in your Tinder bio and mean it.

 

Signum University

Signum University

Yes, Signum University’s logo looks like it should be adorning the cover of a Hunger Games novel. Signum University’s specializations include Tolkien Studies; Imaginative Literature; Classic, Medieval, and Renaissance Literature; and Germanic Philology (the study of Germanic languages). Each of these programs falls under the M.A. in Language & Literature, an accredited program of graduate study. While the degree takes two to seven years to complete depending on the number of credits per semester—which can vary due to work or financial reasons-students are welcome to audit single classes for drastically reduced costs. You may not be able to major in Star Wars, but you can take an academic course on it.

 

'Star Wars' characters

Image Via Time Magazine

Other courses of note include Sherlock, Science, and Ratiocination; Literary Copernicus: The Cosmic Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft; The Potter Saga; and Tolkien’s World of Middle-earth. Though degree credits are more expensive, individual, twelve-week courses can cost as little as $95—for some, that’s a small price to pay for a world of information (or several, as the case may be). Cory Olsen, the university’s founder, said that the ideal students are working professionals who want to take the courses for “personal enrichment.” That enrichment, it seems, isn’t about getting rich—there probably aren’t a lot of entry-level jobs in Tolkien Studies. But you can study the Harry Potter franchise and make your coursework magical.

 

Signum University course catalogue

Image Via Signum University

 

Though early in its certification process, Signum University‘s New Hampshire accreditation is its first step to national official recognition, which would allow the institution to begin conferring master’s degrees nationwide. Let’s hope this degree program also moves out of this country—that would only make sense when it’s already out of this world!

 

Featured Image Via Financial Times

Nightflyers Syfy Promo

Syfy Cancels George R.R. Martin’s ‘Nightflyers’

If you ever have impostor syndrome over your creative work—which is practically a given if you make creative work—sometimes it’s reassuring to know that even your idol can’t always be perfect. Even George R.R. Martin can’t always make winners. That’s bad news if you’re a fan of Syfy’s Nightflyers… but it turns out, few people were.

 

'Nightflyers' Still from Premier

Image Via Variety

 

The TV show, based on George R.R. Martin’s futuristic novella of the same name, was one of the network’s riskiest undertakings. As the most expensive series Syfy has ever produced, even this best-seller wasn’t a sure thing. As a result, the show needed to nab higher earnings than the GDP of most of the nations of Westeros. Ultimately, it only recieved 420,000 viewers for its finale, a drastic drop from its initial 630,000 views for the premier. Given that Game of Thrones premiers and finales can get double-digit millions of views, the network’s gamble didn’t exactly pay off. Syfy attempted to boost the show by releasing the entire series across all platforms. Sadly, Nightflyers didn’t make it too far off the ground.

 

'Nightflyers' Still, ft. man screaming on spacecraft

Image Via Wired

 

Even though the show is leaving Syfy after one season, the novella is still available for our enjoyment. Though we primarily know George R.R. Martin for his fantasy writing (or maybe his massive wizard beard), he’s also an award-winning author of horror and science fiction. Nightflyers combines elements of both genres while also ditching the length of his fantasy works—this may not be a book big enough to use as a blunt-force weapon, but the storytelling will still knock fans flat. Take a look:

 

'Nightflyers' Novella by George R.R. Martin

Image Via Goodreads

 

Nine misfit academics on an expedition to find the volcryn, a mythic race of intersteller nomads, and the only ship available for this strange quest is the Nightflyer, a cybernetic wonder with a never-seen captain…

Nine innocents are about to find themselves in deep space, trapped with an insane murderer who can go anywhere, do anything, and intends to kill them all.

 

Despite the limited success of the adaptation, the novella itself is an acclaimed work of fiction. Shortly after its release, it was nominated for a prestigious Hugo Award and adapted into a feature film. So, what went wrong? Apparently, George R.R. Martin had little involvement in the show’s development. Turns out you can’t just sell a big name. The show may have been set in 2093, but it didn’t have a future.

 

Featured Image Via Kill 2 Birds TV