141 episodes

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.

New Books in Science Fiction Marshall Poe

    • Books
    • 4.5 • 37 Ratings

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.

    Rebecca Roanhorse, "Black Sun" (Gallery/Saga Press, 2020)

    Rebecca Roanhorse, "Black Sun" (Gallery/Saga Press, 2020)

    The first chapter of Rebecca Roanhorse’s new novel, Black Sun (Gallery/Saga Press, 2020), features a mother and child sharing a tender moment that takes an unexpected turn, ending in violence.
    It’s a powerful beginning to a story whose characters struggle with the legacies of family expectations, historical trauma, and myth.
    These three strands are most powerfully manifest in Serapio, the child in the opening scene, who is raised to fulfill a legacy on the day of the convergence, a solar eclipse on the winter solstice. His sole purpose is to avenge a massacre of his mother’s clan, drawing upon magic to carry out the mission. And yet he has never lived among his mother’s clan, nor was he alive when the massacre occurred, raising complex questions about duty, history, and how individuals find meaning in their lives.
    “Serapio has always been on the outside,” Roanhorse says. “He feels like he has a purpose, a destiny tied up with something pretty dark, that he's doing on behalf of people that don't even know he exists.” Roanhorse explores “what that feels like and what your obligations are even to the point of putting aside your own needs to try to fulfill something that in the long run may not be the best thing for you, but you’ve been set on that path by others. How do you break free of that, if you can, and if you should? I think those are the sort of questions I'm trying to raise that I hope readers struggle with and think about.”
    Set in a fictional Mesoamerica and inspired by American indigenous and Polynesian cultures, Black Sun is the first book in a planned trilogy. Roanhorse appeared on New Books in Science Fiction in 2018 to talk about Trail of Lightning.
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    • 34 min
    Kim Stanley Robinson, "The Ministry for the Future" (Hachette, 2020)

    Kim Stanley Robinson, "The Ministry for the Future" (Hachette, 2020)

    The Ministry for the Future (Orbit, 2020) is a sweeping novel about climate change and how people of the near future start to slow, stop and reverse it.
    The story opens with a devastating heat wave that kills thousands in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. From there, Kim Stanley Robinson pulls back to show us the world’s reaction, taking readers from the eponymous Ministry for the Future (which advocates for new laws and policies, like carbon quantitative easing) to scientists in Antarctica, where glaciologists pump out water from under glaciers to slow their slide into the ocean.
    The book’s kaleidoscope of viewpoints goes beyond humans to include animals, inanimate objects and abstract concepts, like caribou, a carbon atom and history. Robinson also uses multiple forms, from traditional first- and third-person narratives and eyewitness accounts, to meeting notes and history lessons, to riddles and dialogues. The effect is epic, conveying both the complexity of the problem and a wake-up call.
    “I want to make the very strong point that it's never game over,” Robinson says. “It’s never too late to start doing the right things.”
    And the right things add up. The novel spans 30 year, and over that time, the cumulative efforts of individuals, governments, scientists and even terrorists start to reverse the damage.
    “Especially for young people, I'm always trying to emphasize that it's not like we were having fun … in the carbon-burn years and now you've got to suffer and live like saints forever. It's actually that we were obese and hurting and stupid. And now you could be smart and stylish and clever and have more fun.”
    Rob Wolf is the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author of The Alternate Universe and The Escape.
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    • 46 min
    Paul Kingsnorth, "Alexandria" (Graywolf Press, 2020)

    Paul Kingsnorth, "Alexandria" (Graywolf Press, 2020)

    Over the last ten years, Paul Kingsnorth has become recognised as one of the most extraordinary of contemporary writers. After The Wake, which was listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2014, and its follow-up, Beast, Kingsnorth was hailed as "a furiously gifted writer," his prose suggesting "Beckett doing Beowulf." In his outstanding new novel, Alexandria, just published by Graywolf Press in the US and forthcoming in the UK from Faber, Kingsnorth completes his Buccmaster trilogy, conjuring our world one thousand years into its future, in which the last surviving humans come to terms with some very ancient fears - and hopes.
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    • 30 min
    Alix E. Harrow, "The Once and Future Witches" (Redhook, 2020)

    Alix E. Harrow, "The Once and Future Witches" (Redhook, 2020)

    Alix E. Harrow’s The Once and Future Witches (Redhook, 2020) begins with the familiar phrase “Once upon a time” but the novel is anything but a traditional fairytale. Yes, there are witches. But there are also suffragists. Yes, there are spells. But there are also women who fall in love with each other.
    While Harrow loves fairytales “because they give us this shared language,” she hates them for the limits they impose. Through her main characters, the Eastwood sisters, she turns the familiar archetypes of Maiden, Mother, and Crone on their heads. “The Maiden-Mother-Crone triptych is something that I have always hated. It's pretty gross to define a woman's existence by her reproductive state at that moment,” Harrow says. “I wanted to be embodying and subverting it at the same time.”
    As the story unfolds, women’s demands to rediscover and use magic parallel their demands for political power and social freedom. In the guise of a fairytale, The Once and Future Witches explores the long afterlife of family trauma, the evils of demagoguery, and the blind spots of the American suffragists when it came to overcoming divisions of race and class.
    Harrow’s debut novel, The Ten Thousand Doors of January, was a finalist for the 2020 Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy awards. The Once and Future Witches is her second novel.
    Rob Wolf is the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author of The Alternate Universe and The Escape.
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    • 36 min
    P. Djèlí Clark, "Ring Shout" (Tordotcom, 2020)

    P. Djèlí Clark, "Ring Shout" (Tordotcom, 2020)

    P. Djèlí Clark’s new novella, Ring Shout (Tordotcom, 2020) is a fantasy built around an ugly moment in American history—the emergence of the second Ku Klux Klan in the early 20th century.
    The story follows three monster hunters: Maryse Boudreaux, who wields a magic sword; Chef, who had previously disguised herself as a man to serve with the Harlem Hellfighters during World War I; and Sadie, a sharpshooter who calls her Winchester rifle Winnie.
    The monsters are Ku Kluxes—member of the KKK who have transformed into huge, six-eyed, pointy-toothed, flesh-eating demons.
    The idea to turn hate-filled racists into larger-than-life demons came from Clark’s work as a historian. (In addition to an award-winning writer of speculative fiction, Clark is a professor of history at the University of Connecticut.)
    When reading narratives of formerly enslaved individuals collected by the Federal Writers' Project, he’d been struck by the way they described the KKK. “They often talk about them … wearing simply a pillowcase, sometimes having bells on them, sometimes having horns or tails. And they speak of them as haints, that is as ghosts and spirits,” Clark says.
    Clark’s two careers—historian and fiction writer—have grown side by side (his first major publication, A Dead Djinn in Cairo, was published the day he defended his PhD.) While he has tried to keep the careers separate (by writing under a pen name), Clark believes they complement each other.
    Fiction can help restore stories lost to history, he says.
    “Finding the voices of enslaved people, finding out what they thought is very difficult. There weren't a lot of people going around asking them what they thought during that time. And so what you have to do, for instance, if you're trying to understand an enslaved person, you might read a lot of court records or you might try to read what their owners thought and then you have to speculate and piece together that enslaved person's life.”
    Rob Wolf is the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author of The Alternate Universe and The Escape.
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    • 32 min
    Jasper Fforde, "The Constant Rabbit" (Viking, 2020)

    Jasper Fforde, "The Constant Rabbit" (Viking, 2020)

    In Jasper Fforde’s The Constant Rabbit (Viking, 2020), residents of the United Kingdom live among human-sized anthropomorphized rabbits.
    The rabbits make fine citizens—more than fine, in fact. They in live harmony with the environment (embracing sustainable practices like veganism, for instance). They have a strong sense of social responsibility. They’re also smart: The average rabbit IQ is about 20 percent higher than the average human IQ.
    Yet despite their upstanding qualities, the haters keep hating.
    Fforde is an accomplished satirist and uses humor to spotlight some of our ugliest impulses, including racism and xenophobia. In The Constant Rabbit, a populist party known as TwoLegsGood has parlayed leporiphobia (fear of rabbits) into a successful political movement. In control of the government, TwoLegsGood is planning to segregate the nation’s more than 1 million rabbits in a “MegaWarren” where they will be under round-the-clock surveillance and their freedoms curtailed.
    TwoLegsGood’s treatment of rabbit has echoes of all caste-based and hate-filled societies, from Jim Crow to apartheid to the Nazis. “When it comes to the sort of demonizing of the minority other, there's just so much to draw on. You don't need to go to any specific place in the world or a specific time. You can just pick and choose from here, there and everywhere,” Fforde says.
    “The rabbits are being got rid of because they're not human. But, of course, one of the first things that any discriminatory group will do against another group of humans will be to dehumanize them, to make them non-human. And this is often done through language. We had a politician recently in the in the U.K. who started referring to immigrants a plague.”
    The novel’s first-person human protagonist, Peter Knox, denies having animus toward rabbits—in fact, he finds himself falling in love with one—and yet he’s forced to come to terms with the fact that he, too, has played a significant role in their oppression.
    “I think the book is hoping to say to people, ‘Look, you cannot look at the hate groups and say “These people are the hate groups. I'm nothing like them.” In fact, perhaps what you should be thinking is “Maybe I am complicit, and in what ways could I possibly be so?” ’
    Rob Wolf is the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author of The Alternate Universe and The Escape.
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    • 44 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
37 Ratings

37 Ratings

Arconna ,

Fantastic Interview Show

This show's approach to interviews with authors about their influences and craft is fantastic. The interviews really dig into the work, the author's approach, the world of science fiction, etc. That makes for a show that feels more like a Lipton-style craft and life conversation than a simple PR-centered conversations. Those are the interviews I tune back into because I actually feel like I've learned something new and interesting.

So if you love SF literature and you really want to hear authors discuss their work in depth, this show fits the bill!

TheMatrix ,

Another shill

Could not keep politics out of a science fiction interview. Deleted

JDParenti ,

Wonderful Series

An extremely well-produced, insightful, thoughtful interview series. Couldn’t ask for a better podcast for new books!

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