The Expanse Is Here And It’s Amazing

So, there’s this book series that I’ve really enjoyed – The Expanse. I read the first book before it hit stores, and I’ve been hooked since. Now, it’s been turned into a TV series on SyFy, and after watching the first four episodes, I’m pretty sure that it’s as good as Battlestar Galactica. Yeah, I said it.

The show does a good job adapting Leviathan Wakes, but it does do it’s own thing. They nailed the casting, and they absolutely nailed the sets and look and feel of the world.

I’ve been doing a lot with this show: earlier this May, I wrote up a major article for Barnes and Noble about how the Expanse came together, which is a really fascinating story. I’m very proud of that article. A little after that, I reviewed the 5th book, Nemesis Games for io9.

More recently, I’ve written up a couple of things:

Speaking of which.

The pilot is now available just about everywhere, including on YouTube:


You should go watch it. It’s pretty excellent.

You Can Now Read ‘Fragmented’ Over On The Art Of Future Warfare

My short story ‘Fragmented’ is now available for reading over on the Atlantic Council’s Art of Future Warfare project!

It was originally published with Galaxy’s Edge Magazine, and after June or July 2014, it went away when a new issue went up. I hadn’t really thought about submitting it as a reprint anywhere, until Brett Cox submitted his story, ‘Where We Would End A War’ for their site. So, you can now read Fragmented over on the Atlantic Council!

August Cole, author of the fantastic novel Ghost Fleet and guy in charge of the program, did a brief Q&A with me about the story as well – you can read that here.

Playboy’s Science Fiction

Playboy announced the other day that they’re pulling all of their nude photos from the magazine. The company made the decision in order to focus more on their written content, and so forth.

Something interesting that I learned earlier this year was that Playboy published a lot of science fiction. Earlier this year, Alice K. Turner, Playboy’s longtime fiction editor, passed away, and in the ensuing tributes and obituaries, I found that it was an interesting story, one that says a little about how Science Fiction began to go mainstream.

Go read Playboy’s Science Fiction over on Kirkus Reviews.

Leaving The Day Job

So, this is something that happened in the last couple of weeks: I’m leaving my job at Norwich University. I’ve reached a point where I realized I was happier doing work writing and reviewing, and that I’d gone about as far as I could go with Norwich at this time. So, in December, I’ll be heading out for good.

I’ll admit: it’s a little nerve-wracking. I’ve been working at the school since 2007 – eight years. I’ve been there even longer when I count the years that I spent there as an undergraduate.

One of the things that I’m looking forward to is spending more time with Bram. There’s a lot that I’ve wanted to do, but just haven’t been able to do. Now, I’m hoping that there’ll be more adventures for the two of us.

I’m also excited. I’ve got a ton of projects that I’ve been wanting to get to for weeks or months, and just haven’t been able to do much on them. This’ll give me more time to devote to those things, and explore some new ones. Stay tuned: if some of these things work out, there’ll be some cool things coming!

The Cosmic Horror Of William M. Sloane

Over the last couple of  years, I’ve gotten more and more interested in the pulp era of science fiction, particularly of the science-horror genre, dominated by the likes of H.P. Lovecraft and his circle of fellow authors. Recently, the New York Review of Books sent me a copy of a very interesting looking omnibus, The Rim of Tomorrow, by William M. Sloane, introducing me to a new author of cosmic horror.

Looking into his background, he seems to have had a fairly minor role in the pulp world, but wrote two very interesting novels, now collected in this book. If Stephen King’s raving about it, he did something right.

Read The Cosmic Horror Of William M. Sloane over on Kirkus Reviews.


The Metamorphosis of Astounding Science Fiction

There’s few institutions like Astounding Science Fiction or editors like John W. Campbell Jr. Together, they are probably responsible for much of the tone and content of the science fiction genre in its formative years. Thus, during the tumultuous years of the 1960s, the changes to the magazine are an interesting example of how science fiction was changing: shedding one image and adapting, while positioning itself for the future.

The story of how Astounding Science Fiction became Analog Science Fact and Fiction is an interesting one, not only for what they changed, but what they didn’t change. I think that the changes and non-changes are part of the reason for why they’re still around today.

Go read The Metamorphosis of Astounding Science Fiction over on Kirkus Reviews.


  • Transformations: The Story of the Science-Fiction Magazines, 1950-1970, Mike Ashley. As always, Ashley’s work is in depth and detailed, and he provides some good background information on to how and why these changes came about.
  • I, Asimov, Isaac Asimov. Asimov has a couple of interesting words about Campbell towards the end of his life.
  • A Requiem For Astounding, Ava Rogers. This is a fannish book dedicated to the legacy of Astounding, which has some good information about the magazine and its history.
  • Astounding / Analog, Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. As always, there’s a wealth of good information at the SFE, about Astounding AND Analog.
  • Analog Website. Analog’s own history has some good revelations.

Fragmented: The Audio Podcast


My short story ‘Fragmented’ is now available as an audio podcast! Earlier this year, StarShipSofa opened up for submissions and I submitted it. A day later, I got an enthusiastic e-mail back from them saying that it blew them away, and that they’d love to publish it – that was a nice boost.

Here’s a bit of background on the origins of the story.

The story is narrated by Mikael Naramore, who did an incredible job bringing the story to life. Here’s his bio:

Mikael Naramore has worked in the audiobook industry since 2001 when, fresh out of college, he was hired as a recording engineer for publisher Brilliance Audio (now Brilliance Publishing, subsidiary of Over time, he transitioned to Director, all the while absorbing technique and nuance from the best actors in the business. To date, Mikael has narrated well over 100 titles, under his own and assumed names. Authors range from best-sellers Nora Roberts, Lisa Gardner, Edward Klein and Clive Barker to sci-fi rising stars Wesley Chu, Ramez Naam and Mark E. Cooper.

Seriously, he did a fantastic job: I can hardly believe that I actually wrote the story, and he knocked it out of the park, and I’m hearing things differently from how I wrote it.

Give it a listen here.

Unfortunately, the text isn’t up on Galaxy’s Edge online, but you can pick up the physical copy of the magazine from Barnes and Noble and

Help Peter Allen


As some of you know, I’m a member of the 501st Legion’s New England Garrison, a group that’s known for its charitable work in addition to its costuming. Over the years, we’ve helped out a lot of people, either by participating in walks or by visiting sick kids in hospitals. One of our own members in the NEG needs some help, and I’d like to spread the word a bit.

Peter is suffering from ALS, and we’ve heard that he doesn’t have a lot of time. A couple of years ago, the NEG met Peter because of his love of Star Wars: he had been hoping to join our group, but because of his illness, he couldn’t complete his costume. The Garrison stepped in and finished it for him, and inducted him as a member. He’s now in Hospice care, and doesn’t have a lot of time.

Peter’s family has set up a GoFundMe account to help with some expenses, and garrison members are starting to chip in. I’d like to encourage you to do so, if you can.

I can’t do much, but I can offer a bit of a carrot. If you make a donation of $30 or more, I’ll send you a copy of War Stories: New Military Science Fiction. If you’re you’re from outside the United States, donate at least $15 and I’ll get you an ebook copy (Sorry, shipping books internationally is just too time consuming and annoying). Here’s what you can do:

  1. Make the donation.
  2. Take a screenshot or forward me your receipt for said donation, and an address where I can mail you the book.
  3. I’ll send you a copy of the book. (And maybe another random one as well!)

My e-mail address is: liptakaa [at] gmail[dot]com.

Thanks in advance.

The Early Career of Leslie F. Stone

There’s been a bit of talk about how women didn’t write SF early on: that wasn’t ever the case. Ignoring some of the earlier female authors such as Mary Shelley, women were reading and writing fiction for SF magazines early on, abeit in smaller numbers than their male counterparts. One such author was Leslie F. Stone, who enjoyed a brief career in the 1930s.

Read up on The Early Career of Leslie F. Stone over on Kirkus Reviews.


  • Partners in Wonder: Women and the Birth of Science Fiction, 1926-1965, Eric Leif Davin. Davin’s book is a pretty exhaustive resource when it comes to women writing in the earlier days of science fiction, and he provides some excellent information on Stone here.
  • Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century, Justine Larbalestier, Larbalestier has assembled a really interesting book of short stories and companion essays. Stone gets some good treatment here.
  • Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction, edited by Arthur B. Evans Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr., Joan Gordon, Veronica Hollinger, Rob Latham, and Carol McGuirk. This is a fantastic anthology, and there’s a good biographical sketch here.
  • The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction, by Justine Larbalestier. This book is a good examination of feminist SF during the early years.
  • SF Encyclopedia. As always, there’s a good examination of the author here.

Current Reading List


It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts. I’ve had a number of really cool looking books show up in the last month, and it’s turned my to-read list into something really spectacular.

The House of Shattered Wings, Aliette de Bodard

In the late twentieth century, the streets of Paris are lined with haunted ruins, the aftermath of a Great War between arcane powers. The Grand Magasins have been reduced to piles of debris, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine has turned black with ashes and rubble and the remnants of the spells that tore the city apart. But those that survived still retain their irrepressible appetite for novelty and distraction, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over France’s once grand capital.

Once the most powerful and formidable, House Silverspires now lies in disarray. Its magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls.

Within the House, three very different people must come together: a naive but powerful Fallen angel; an alchemist with a self-destructive addiction; and a resentful young man wielding spells of unknown origin. They may be Silverspires’ salvation—or the architects of its last, irreversible fall. And if Silverspires falls, so may the city itself.

I’ve really enjoyed de Bodard’s short fiction in the past, and her debut novel looks like it’s an astonishingly good fantasy. I haven’t started it yet, but I’ve seen people whose judgement I trust really enjoy it, and I’m looking forward to this one.

The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet, Becky Chambers

When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn’t expecting much. The patched-up ship has seen better days, but it offers her everything she could possibly want: a spot to call home, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and some distance from her past.

And nothing could be further from what she’s known than the crew of the Wayfarer.

From Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the chatty engineers who keep the ship running, to the noble captain Ashby, life aboard is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. That is until the crew is offered the job of a lifetime tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet. Sure, they’ll earn enough money to live comfortably for years, but risking her life wasn’t part of the job description.

The journey through the galaxy is full of excitement, adventure, and mishaps for the Wayfarerteam. And along the way, Rosemary comes to realize that a crew is a family, and that family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe…as long as you actually like them.

I actually got this in earlier today, and read the first couple of chapters. So far, it’s really, really fun – a fun, adventurous space opera, something that I’ve always enjoyed.

Sorcerer To The Crown, Zen Cho

The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, one of the most respected organizations throughout all of England, has long been tasked with maintaining magic within His Majesty’s lands. But lately, the once proper institute has fallen into disgrace, naming an altogether unsuitable gentleman—a freed slave who doesn’t even have a familiar—as their Sorcerer Royal, and allowing England’s once profuse stores of magic to slowly bleed dry. At least they haven’t stooped so low as to allow women to practice what is obviously a man’s profession…

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers and eminently proficient magician, ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up. But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…

I’m not familiar with Cho’s work, but it looks like it’s an interesting fantasy novel set in London. Comparisons to the fantastic Suzanne Clarke are always welcome.

The Traitor Baru Cormorant, Seth Dickinson

Baru Cormorant believes any price is worth paying to liberate her people-even her soul.

When the Empire of Masks conquers her island home, overwrites her culture, criminalizes her customs, and murders one of her fathers, Baru vows to swallow her hate, join the Empire’s civil service, and claw her way high enough to set her people free.

Sent as an Imperial agent to distant Aurdwynn, another conquered country, Baru discovers it’s on the brink of rebellion. Drawn by the intriguing duchess Tain Hu into a circle of seditious dukes, Baru may be able to use her position to help. As she pursues a precarious balance between the rebels and a shadowy cabal within the Empire, she orchestrates a do-or-die gambit with freedom as the prize.

But the cost of winning the long game of saving her people may be far greater than Baru imagines.

I met Dickinson at ReaderCon, and got this book about the same time: I’m intrigued by the plot and the world that he’s set out.

The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin

A season of endings has begun.

It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun.

It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter.

It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.

This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.

I loved Jemisin’s Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and while I haven’t picked up her others, this one has really captured my attention. I can’t wait to dig into it.

Speak, Louisa Hall

In a narrative that spans geography and time, from the Atlantic Ocean in the seventeenth century, to a correctional institute in Texas in the near future, and told from the perspectives of five very different characters, Speak considers what it means to be human, and what it means to be less than fully alive.

A young Puritan woman travels to the New World with her unwanted new husband. Alan Turing, the renowned mathematician and code breaker, writes letters to his best friend’s mother. A Jewish refugee and professor of computer science struggles to reconnect with his increasingly detached wife. An isolated and traumatized young girl exchanges messages with an intelligent software program. A former Silicon Valley Wunderkind is imprisoned for creating illegal lifelike dolls.

Each of these characters is attempting to communicate across gaps—to estranged spouses, lost friends, future readers, or a computer program that may or may not understand them. In dazzling and electrifying prose, Louisa Hall explores how the chasm between computer and human—shrinking rapidly with today’s technological advances—echoes the gaps that exist between ordinary people. Though each speaks from a distinct place and moment in time, all five characters share the need to express themselves while simultaneously wondering if they will ever be heard, or understood.

I’ve been reading this one for a little while now, and it’s an interesting one, with a story spanning centuries, from the distant past, to the near-ish future, ostensibly about robotics, but really about the types of stories that we tell. It’s interesting that the book’s title is Speak, given that the book is made up of written accounts from a really interesting cast of characters.

Landfall, Naomi J. Williams

In her wildly inventive debut novel, Naomi J. Williams reimagines the historical Lapérouse expedition, a voyage of exploration that left Brest in 1785 with two frigates, more than two hundred men, and overblown Enlightenment ideals and expectations, in a brave attempt to circumnavigate the globe for science and the glory of France.

Deeply grounded in historical fact but refracted through a powerful imagination, Landfallsfollows the exploits and heartbreaks not only of the men on the ships but also of the people affected by the voyage-indigenous people and other Europeans the explorers encountered, loved ones left waiting at home, and those who survived and remembered the expedition later. Each chapter is told from a different point of view and is set in a different part of the world, ranging from London to Tenerife, from Alaska to remote South Pacific islands to Siberia, and eventually back to France. The result is a beautifully written and absorbing tale of the high seas, scientific exploration, human tragedy, and the world on the cusp of the modern era.

I get a lot of books here at the house: most are ones that I’ll put aside, but every now and again, I find a book that absolutely catches my eye. This one looks excellent: a historical, nautical novel, about science. It’s an era that I really want to read up on, and I’m eager to see how it turns out.

A Planet For Rent, Yoss

In his bestselling A Planet for Rent, Yoss critiques ‘90s Cuba by drawing parallels with a possible Earth of the not-so-distant future. Wracked by economic and environmental problems, the desperate planet is rescued, for better or worse, by alien colonizers, who remake the planet as a tourist destination. Ruled over by a brutal interstellar bureaucracy, dispossessed humans seek better lives via the few routes available — working for the colonial police; eking out a living as black marketeers, drug dealers, or artists; prostituting themselves to exploitative extraterrestrial visitors — or facing the cold void of space in rickety illegal ships.

This book is one of the first Cuban science fiction novels to be translated and brought to the United States. I’m reviewing this book for Lightspeed Magazine in an upcoming issue, and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read thus far.