Science Fiction Anthologies To Watch For in 2022

With the new year fast approaching, there’s a whole new lineup of science fiction anthologies to get excited about.

Personally, I find that science fiction anthologies are the best of both the novel and short story worlds. You get the thick book like a novel, but you get dozens of individual stories, some connected by theme or place and time.

In this blog, we’ll run down some of the newest science fiction anthologies coming our way in 2022.

The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories

This anthology is a collection of translated short stories from Chinese SFF writers. They focus heavily on fiction from female and nonbinary writers, and the team behind the anthology has a long history in the genre.

Regina Kanyu Wang, one of the editors, has frequently appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine, was featured in Ken Liu’s Broken Stars anthology, and had a story published in the March 2018 issue of Galaxy’s Edge Magazine.

science fiction anthologies

Yu Chen, the other editor of this science fiction anthology, has also been involved in the SFF community for a long time. She’s presented at workshops, conventions, and published multiple books from Asian sci-fi writers like Han Song and Song Mingwei.

I’m looking forward to this anthology, and will definitely grab it on release day, March 8th, 2022.

The Best Science Fiction of the Year

I always look forward to Neil Clarke’s anthologies. His collection of the best science fiction short stories always boasts some of the year’s most intriguing, thoughtful pieces from new and established writers alike.

This will be the sixth anthology in the best of the year series, featuring stories from Yoon Ha Lee, Annalee Newitz, Rich Larson, and Ann Leckie, to name a few.

This science fiction anthology will hit shelves on January 25th, 2020.

Triangulation: Energy

Triangulation is one of the oldest science fiction anthologies that I know of. They started publishing spec fic short stories in the early 2000s, and have kept up the yearly tradition ever since. Each issue has a specific theme, and for the past few years they’ve covered sustainability topics like light pollution, eco-friendly housing, and biodiversity.

This year’s anthology will feature stories about sustainable energy, and all that that encompasses.

While there isn’t an exact date for the anthology yet, they are usually released at the end of the summer.

Check out the interview we did with Diane Turnshek and John Thompson, the editors of the 2021 anthology, Triangulation: Habitats.

The Reinvented Heart

This anthology is edited by Cat Rambo and Jennifer Brozek, and seeks to explore emotional relationships in science fiction.

So much of sci fi is caught up in the physical tech, and often overlooks emotional responses to those same technologies. This science fiction anthology is filled with stories and poems about “how shifting technology may affect social attitudes and practices.”

The anthology features work from Jane Yolen, Seanan McGuire, Ana Maria Curtis, Aimee Ogden and more!

Watch out for this anthology on March 10th, 2022.

Orpheus + Eurydice Unbound

This speculative fiction anthology is expected to release in the summer of 2022 from Air and Nothingness Press.

The anthology will feature stories that re-imagine the Orpheus and Eurydice story from Greek mythology. The book will consist of four sections, with stories that fit each step of the mythological tale, including The Wedding, The Snake, The Quest, and The Look Back.

science fiction anthologies

The theme seems to be fairly narrow, but I have confidence that it will be an exception anthology. Air and Nothingness Press has a reputation for putting out great books, and this one should be no different.

Professor Feif’s Compleat Pocket Guide to Xenobiology for the Galactic Traveler on the Move

This one seems super fun! Dedicated to all flora and fauna of the alien worlds, as far flung as they may be, this anthology is bound to be filled with interesting stories of carnivorous plants, oozing goop, and other weird things.

This science fiction anthology from Jay Henge Publishing has yet to get a solid release date, but I assume it will appear sometime in 2022. Jay Henge has published numerous science fiction anthologies, including Sunshine Superhighway, Sensory Perceptions, and The Chorochronos Archives.

What sci fi anthologies are you excited for? Let us know in the comments below!

And if you’re looking for a New Year’s gift, nothing is better than a subscription to Galaxy’s Edge!

What’s Happened With The Wheel of Time Show?

For those of you that have been keeping up with The Wheel of Time show on Amazon Prime, there’s certainly a lot to unpack.

If you’re a fan of the books, you know that the last few episodes of the new fantasy TV series took a hard left from the source content.

In this article, we’ll break down the biggest departures from the story that we’ve seen in the first season of The Wheel of Time show, as well as predictions for the next installment.

(Spoilers ahead for The Eye of the World and the first season of The Wheel of Time TV show.)

Missing Characters

If you read our previous post on The Wheel of Time, we talked about how there are some characters missing from the first season of the show. And not like Tom Bombadil characters, like, really important characters.

Within the first few episodes, it becomes clear that the showrunners had to make certain choices to omit characters or alter their story arcs to fit into the 8-episode format.

To be fair, The Eye of the World is a big book, and Robert Jordan was notorious for adding plenty of new characters along the journey. Some of which aren’t as critical as others.

However, The Wheel of Time show has hopped and skipped over what should have been at least one episode’s worth of content.

the wheel of time show characters
Perrin, Egwene, Rand, and Nynaeve at Fal Dara

After the group separates at Shador Logoth, the doomed city, Rand and Mat travel to the city of Caemyln, having been saved from a Fade by Thom Merrilin.

In the city, we’re introduced to a number of important characters, including:

  • Elayne Trakand, heir to the kingdom of Andor
  • Gawyn Trakand, Elayne’s brother
  • Galad Damodred, half-brother to the Trakand, a strong warrior
  • Queen Morgase, Elayne and Gawyn’s mother, Queen of Andor
  • Elaida, an Aes Sedai of the Red Ajah, advisor to the throne of Andor
  • Gareth Bryne, Captain-General of the Queen’s Guard

Very early on in The Wheel of Time show, we’re introduced to the false Dragons, chief among them Logain Ablar. That storyline was altered because Rand and Mat actually meet Logain in Caemlyn, but in the show he’s gentled at about the midpoint and imprisoned in the White Tower.

The glossing over of Caemyln doesn’t bode well for the rest of the show. Elayne, Gawyn, and Galad are all crucial characters throughout the rest of the books, and Elaida is a long-standing Aes Sedai who becomes more important as revelations at the White Tower unfold.

Plus, we’re missing Elyas Machera, the wolf man who guides Perrin and Egwene to safety after Shadar Logoth. He is a vastly important catalyst for Perrin’s arc, which was woefully forgotten in the show.

What Happened at The Eye of The World?

It’s been some time since I read The Eye of the World, but one thing I never forgot was the importance of that titular element. In The Wheel of Time show, the Eye is portrayed as the Dark One’s prison, when in reality, it is a vault of sorts, as well as a well of untarnished power.

The Eye of the World contains one of the seals to the Dark One’s prison, the shiny stone Moiraine holds at the end of the last episode. It’s known as cuendillar and is extremely rare, coming from the Age of Legends, thousands of years before the show takes place.

Also in the vault are the Dragon Banner of Lews Therin Telamon, which was woefully absent in the show, and the Horn of Valere, which has mysteriously made its way into the throne room at Fal Dara.

Both of these items are of great importance later on in the series, as they call back to the ages past. Hopefully, the Horn of Valere, a major aspect of The Great Hunt, remains so in the show.

But after watching the season finale, you might be wondering, what actually happened at The Eye of the World? Is the Dark One dead? Where will Rand go? Has Moirainne actually been cut off from the One Power?

Let’s break it down:

In the book, the whole group travels to the Eye of the World, where they meet Someshta, essentially a mystic tree man guardian of the vault. The group is attacked by the servants of the Dark One, including the Forsaken Aginor, Balthamel, and Ishamael. (The Forsaken are the Dark One’s top followers, all of which are like semi-undead evil channelers).

the wheel of time show ishamael
Fares Fares as Ishamael

Rand uses the One Power to defeat Aginor, and harnesses the power of the Eye to thwart the trollocs and Ishamael, and that’s how Moirainne knows he’s the Dragon Reborn.

But, in The Wheel of Time show, that’s not what goes down.

Rand and Moirainne trek into the Blight, where Rand is confronted by who he thinks is the Dark One. And I hope you didn’t think that was the Dark One too, because you’d be wrong.

That mysterious dream man with the flaming eyes was Ba’alzamon, a disguise worn by Ishamael, the most powerful of the Forsaken. He attempts to trick Rand into freeing the Dark One from his prison, and is eventually blown away by Rand’s sheer power.

But, not before Ishamael seemingly stilled Moirainne. This is perhaps the biggest “oh-no” moment at the end of the series. Moirainne is not stilled in the books, and she continues to channel throughout the series, to critical effect. It’s unclear what the future holds for her, just as it’s unclear how the story will change now that Rand has set out on his own, presumably to travel to the Aiel Waste.

What’s Up Next for The Wheel of Time Show?

A lot of the setup needed for The Great Hunt, the next installment of the book series, was altered in The Wheel of Time show. Though, the Seanchan are revealed at the very end of the season finale, which does hint that they’ll play a part in the second season.

Is Loial dead? He certainly cannot be, because he, too, plays a big role later on. And what about Mat? Did Moirainne really set the Red Ajah on him? Will Egwene and Nynaeve return to Tar Valon to be trained as Aes Sedai?

the wheel of time show red ajah
Liandrin and other members of the Red Ajah

Only time will tell, but if the first season of The Wheel of Time show was any hint, I think fans of the books are in for a few frustrating years. The series has great production value and it’s great to see the books finally make it to the big screen, but adapting the first book in any series is always the foundation for the rest of the show.

I hope the showrunners can pull it off, because frankly, I’m a little worried. Glossing over so many important characters (like Elayne, who has a much larger role in the second book) and altering the timelines hasn’t given me confidence that the show will succeed.

But, for the time being, it’s something fun to watch, albeit sometimes infuriating, and I’m anxious to see where the series goes from here.

A Cyberpunk Short Story About Tequila, Candy, & Bar-fights

We usually don’t discuss a singular sci fi short story on Signals from the Edge just because they’re short, and we like to have a lot to talk about.

But that changes today, with a discussion of the cyberpunk short story “The Life Cycle of a Cyber-Bar” by Arthur Liu, published in Issue 12 of Future Science Fiction Digest. From the first few sentences, this story really caught my attention, not just as a quirky, fun story, but as an example of the evolution of cyberpunk as a genre.

Is Cyberpunk Dead?

In the past few weeks, there have been a lot of articles published online about the cyberpunk genre as a whole. Everyone from WIRED to has written some kind of piece with their own take, and they pretty much all come to the same conclusion: the traditional cyberpunk genre is either dead or dying, and what’s coming out of the ashes is the new era of cyberpunk.

And for the most part, they’re right. The cyberpunk of forty years ago embodies a time of massive technological growth and rampant capitalistic greed. Computer tech was improving with every passing day, and wealth was amassed by a few as the rest struggled to keep up.

Those things made their way into cyberpunk literature, and paired with a keen sense of existential dread, the genre pinpointed the problems—and future problems—our society was faced with.

To a certain point, those principles still apply today. William Gibson’s warnings about artificial intelligence in Neuromancer are seen coming to fruition with the likes of GPT-3, and tech moguls are using Neal Stephenson’s metaverse ideas as a guidebook to create their own virtual reality societies.

But it begs the question: Where do we go from here? While our modern tech hasn’t quite caught up with that of traditional cyberpunk, we’re seeing more and more aspects of cyberpunk culture in our everyday lives. Fashion, video games, music, and most importantly, ideologies.

The cyberpunk of the 1980s is still relevant, but it’s nearing the end of the line. Soon, our tech will catch up, and we’ll have lived out the predictions of Gibson, Stephenson, and Sterling, and what comes after?

That’s where modern cyberpunk comes in. Enter stage right: “The Life Cycle of a Cyber-Bar”.

Don’t Drink the Tequila

In Arthur Liu’s cyberpunk short story, we see a sentient cyber-bar work toward it’s three great feats. Primary among these feats is to reproduce, which seems weird coming from a seedy bar, but bear with me.

Essentially, everything within the cyber-bar is part of a larger organism. The cups, the tequila, the ice, the floorboards—all of it is connected to the cyber-bar, either as “fluid discharged from the excretory system,” or a “hyperplastic growth”.

By the end of the story, we see the bar reach its goal, manipulating itself into flames where the smoke carries its spores deep into space, where it will travel on spaceships or asteroids to populate a new planet.

How is this cyberpunk? It seems like one of those weird sci fi short stories online that doesn’t fit into a sci fi subgenre.

There you’d be wrong.

The story gradually expands in scope. In the beginning, we see the customary cyberpunk characters enter the bar, the guys “all cast from the same mold: flattop haircut, tough, silent, smelling of cigarettes, with suspicious eyes and heads full of obsolete microchips.” This is an homage to traditional cyberpunk, the likes of Case and Hiro Protagonist.

But then we see the same situation plaid out in the eyes of the bartender, who knows the nature of the cyber-bar. She endures constant nights of bar fights and blood, her body shattered by bullet holes only to be repaired by the nanocells the cyber-bar gifted her. She notes to us readers that she plans on spending her whole life at the bar.

That’s the ideology. The notion that a company or entity will garner your loyalty by providing more than just a paycheck, like a body modification or a cure to an ailment.

And as the story continues, we see the deviation from the traditional cyberpunk themes.

Instead of focusing on hard-pressed, edgy characters with dark pasts and flawed morals, we see a whole new side of the genre: the structures. The cyber-bar is a big part of the genre, whether it’s a popular hang out for the tech-gangsters, or where the protagonist goes to drown their sorrows.

What Makes the Cyber-Bar Special?

Aside from the sentient nature of Liu’s cyber-bar, there’s something underneath all the biological process talk that speaks to the genre as a whole.

The idea that the cyber-bar is a growing, thinking, planning, and evolving creature might be seen as a metaphor for the cyberpunk genre.

We start off with a single cyber-bar, which to an untrained eye resembles any other bar. But, when the bar turns into a candy house and mutates those who consume it, we get a second cyber-bar, directly across the street from the original.

It’s noted that the secondary cyber-bar is a facsimile of the original, which is a commentary on the state of cyberpunk. The themes of the genre are so potent and cliché at this point, that generally, any two works in the cyberpunk genre, when broken down, are the same.

Two bars equate then to two cyberpunk novels (or any medium, really, video games, films, etc.), the same in every way.

And when the cyber-bar finally reaches space, it has ascended (literally). It represents the rebirth of the genre. We move from the dirty streets flooded with neon lights to a new frontier, where sentient cyber-bars are the norm.

Liu’s poignant take on cyberpunk gives me hope for the future of the genre. He’s right that a lot of the current cyberpunk short stories, novels, movies, and games are deep down copies of traditional cyberpunk from years past.

But this new cyberpunk doesn’t do away with the economic struggles and “high-tech, low-life” mantra, instead it shifts the focus from the replayed characters and conflicts, showing us aspects of the world we have yet to explore.

Where 2021 was full of great sci fi short stories, “The Life Cycle of a Cyber-Bar” stands out as a cry for support, a new cyberpunk manifesto.

What do you think? Is cyberpunk bound for extinction, or are we witnessing the revival of the genre? Let us know in the comments below!

If you’re looking for more great sci fi short stories, consider subscribing to Galaxy’s Edge Magazine, where we publish work from new and experienced authors alike, six times a year.

Classic Sci Fi Book Covers That Made The Genre

As someone who has a keen appreciation of old art, I find that many of today’s sci fi book covers lack a certain luster. In the course of forty or fifty years, we’ve moved away from book covers of full illustrations, painstakingly painted by hands by leading artists in the genre. Today, most sci fi book covers have an abstract quality that doesn’t say much about the book.

I know the adage, of course: “Don’t judge a book by its cover!” And yeah, for the most part that’s true. But as attention spans decrease and the flashy effects of TV and video games influence our tastes in science fiction art, book covers had to adapt to draw in new readers. Where there were once detailed oil paintings, there are now abstract, digital designs.

In this article, I want to showcase some of the classic sci fi book covers that helped defined the genre and influenced not just future art, but writing as well.

Darrell K. Sweet’s Red Planet by Robert A. Heinlein

Darrell K. Sweet is a big name when it comes to sci fi and fantasy illustration. He’s best known for his fantasy book covers for The Wheel of Time, The Lord of the Rings, and The Shannara Chronicles.

His grasp of fantasy concepts is really quite spectacular. As a kid, rummaging through library book sales and second-hand bookstore shelves, his art stuck out to me as an embodiment of the books themselves. His portrayals of Rand al’Thor, Gandalf, and the Eagles inspired me to not only read those books, but to explore his art as well.

classic sci fi book covers red planet

Aside from fantasy masterpieces, Sweet was also known for his covers of Heinlein novels. While simple, the cover for the 1981 edition of Red Planet perfectly embodies the sci fi feel of Mars, while not being so weird it’s inaccessible.

The image of a massive Martian monster striding through a marsh of big frond leaves is serene, isn’t it?

Frank Frazetta’s The Moon Trilogy by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Frank Frazetta has a very specific style, and he’s gained renown for his work on Conan and Tarzan novels. He pits the classic, muscular heroes against hideous monsters with malicious eyes and sharp teeth.

He did a set of covers for Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Moon Trilogy, which was originally serialized in Argosy magazine from 1923 to 1925. Later, the series was reprinted in a few different editions, and Franzetta did the cover art for the 1978 reprint.

The art for The Moon Men, specifically, gives me a Hercules vibe, crossed with the scene from Star Wars where Luke is facing off against the Rankor. Frazetta does a great job of portraying conflict, and as I looked into more of his work, he has a keen sense of contrast. A lot of his paintings and classic sci fi book covers have a clear delineation from dark to light, making them super interesting.

Chris Foss’ Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov

The Foundation series is one of Asimov’s best works, and it was recently adapted for television. But, before it came to Apple TV, it had a lot of different imagery associated with it.

The series has been reprinted multiple times, but the edition that sticks out to me is the 1976 reprint with covers by Chris Foss.

classic sci fi book covers chris foss

Foss’ paintings usually focus on mechanical things, like spaceships, vehicles, or robots. He’s done designs from the Dune universe, as well as other military science fiction books.

Perhaps the most intriguing part about his illustrations for the 1976 Foundation books is the simplicity of them. The covers place an immense focus on the space ships, which perfectly reflect light and seem almost like a photograph. And the background is almost pure blue, presenting an interesting contrast between the hard light of the ships in the foreground.

Bruce Pennington’s Out of their Minds by Clifford D. Simak

Bruce Pennington is one of those sci fi illustrators that took their game to the next level. He’s worked on over 200 book covers for big-name writers, including Asimov, Heinlein, Aldiss, and Herbert.

However, the classic sci fi book cover that stuck out to me was for the 1973 edition of Clifford D. Simak’s Out of Their Minds.

Now, I’ve never read this book before, but I really want to. The cover Pennington did is fantastic. It’s weird, bright, and unforgettable. It features a huge tower/tree that resembles a brain, set against a barren landscape. It’s eerie. The truck is made of vertebra, and the rocks on the ground resemble molars.

I think this is a great example of how science fiction book covers can entice readers to pick up the book and give it a shot. All the other editions of Simak’s novel don’t stand out to me, but Pennington’s sparks a keen interest in what inspired the art.

At the end of the day, all I wanted to do with this article was talk about some vintage sci fi book covers that stand out more than some modern book covers ever could. I think the golden age of science fiction had a lot of problems – racism, sexism, imperialism, etc.—but it certainly had fantastic art.

What are some classic sci fi book covers that your really love? Let us know in the comments below!

Sci Fi Book Review: This Eden by Ed O’Loughlin

I don’t often read thrillers, but This Eden by Ed O’Loughlin is anything but a conventional page-turner. This vaguely sci-fi noir book drips with paranoia, each chapter sweeping the rug out from under our feet.

The setting jumps from continent to continent, taking us from Canada to Silicon Valley to the heart of the Mediterranean, and to the foggy shores of Ireland.

But, if this is a thriller, why is it classified as a sci fi book review? Well, the book’s not exactly just a thriller. Yeah, it’s psychologically-trippy, but the whole thing reeks of evil tech. Like, E-Corp from Mr. Robot evil, like, societal domination evil. And of course, there’s a nice little sci fi twist that I’ll leave for you to discover.

Some Background

This Eden by Ed O’Loughlin was published in June 2021, and was O’Loughlin’s fourth book. Before becoming an author, O’Loughlin worked for 20 years in journalism, including working as a foreign correspondent in Africa and the Middle East.

This Eden deviates from his previous books. It’s been described as “smart modern-day adventure reminiscent of both the cyber noir novels of William Gibson and the golden age of espionage fiction,” whereas O’Loughlin’s other books have all tackled imminent real-world problems, like drone warfare or African politics. His third book, Minds of Winter, was a historical mystery novel about polar exploration.

Despite stepping into relatively new waters, O’Loughlin crafts a realistic and frightening grim world in This Eden.

The book follows Michael, an engineering school dropout who is grieving the loss of his coder girlfriend, Alice. Michael gets sucked into the world’s biggest tech company, Inscape, as a middleman between shadow operatives and the company’s head, Campbell Fess.

But when things go sour, Michael goes on the run with Aoife, an Irish spy, and Towse, a permanently disheveled hacker. As they run from Inscape Michael and Aoife begin to question Towse’s intentions, and just exactly who he is. NSA? FBI? Is he even American at all?

All they know is that the clock is ticking, and Campbell Fess’ new cryptocurrency is set to dominate the world economy, and only Towse knows how to stop it.

sci fi book review this eden

Creating a Modern-Day Cyberpunk Noir

Hacktivist sentiments wreathed in cigarette smoke converge under dark, Irish bridges and in abandoned Canadian payphones. A hitchhike across Europe is wrought with paranoia and despair; the streets of Paris are so close, a respite from bland countryside, yet unattainable.

A lot of This Eden is based on the untouchable, the intangible. Michael doesn’t know the details of Alice’s death, his parents’ deaths, of even why he’s a part of Towse’s gang to begin with.

And that sentiment is reflected in a lot of the book’s subject matter. Cryptocurrency, something we’ve all heard about and few of us understand. COVID-19, a virus we can’t see but all at once seemed to take control of all of our lives. Religions that are hard to fathom shaping our outlooks and our opinions.

This Eden imagines the dystopian cyberpunk worlds that Gibson and Stephenson wrote about years ago, but it places it firmly in 2020. Coming out of a month-long Internet detox, Michael and Aoife emerge into a world unfamiliar to them, with people wearing masks and pubs closed down on Friday nights.

But it gets weirder for the pair.

The villain they’ve been running from this whole time, big tech, isn’t actually the villain. It’s the puppet of evil money. And no, that’s not a metaphor. The money funneling through the bank accounts of Campbell Fess and his associates is literally evil.

Whether Ed O’Loughlin is making a cheeky commentary on the state of our world, or if he’s just picking out warning signs and extrapolating, the idea hits hard. Cyberpunk for a long time has raged against capitalism and the people behind it. Well, for Michael and Aoife, the people are a front, and capitalism is money itself.

It’s a nice take on the traditional cyberpunk themes, and is hauntingly similar to our current geo-political, economic state.

Experimenting With Voice

Right away, readers will notice that This Eden has a very particular voice. The story is told from a seemingly third-person omniscient narrator, even though they aren’t actually omniscient. They are pretty darn close, though, siting security cam footage of Michael, Aoife, and Towse, Internet activity, credit card transactions—the whole nine yards.

And what the narrator can’t see, they fill in the blanks. In this way, it’s uncertain what’s fact and what’s an educated guess. This makes the story interesting to read, not just from a content standpoint.

The way the story is told gives the reader a sinking suspicious and a paranoia of their own. Is there some omniscient narrator out there telling my story by reading my emails, tracking my phone, watching what I stream on Netflix?

I certainly think Ed O’Loughlin hit the nail on the head with this novel, and I’m excited to see what he writes next. I doubt there will be a sequel to This Eden, but I’m sure his next book will be just as riveting.

At the end of the day, I give This Eden a 9/10. The buildup is excellent, the story is well-thought out, but I felt the ending lacked the luster the rest of the story had. Perhaps it’s just me, but I felt like not enough was explained in the last few pages.

Other than that, the book was great, and a must read for anyone looking to bridge the gap between traditional espionage fiction into the weird world of cyberpunk noir crime.

If you liked this sci fi book review, check out some of the other articles in this series:

Cowboy Bebop on Netflix is the Classic Anime Re-Imagined

Ever since the live action Cowboy Bebop on Netflix aired November 19th, 2021, the Internet has been alight with criticism. Wired wrote an article about how the show flops, and other popular news outlets claim the 46% Rotten Tomatoes score as an indicator of the show’s worth.

But, even though the new Cowboy Bebop show on Netflix might anger and frustrated hardcore fans of the classic 1998 anime of the same name, there’s a lot to love in this new show.

Some Background

The original Cowboy Bebop aired in 1998 as a singular season with 26 episodes. It quickly gained a cult following, and its jazz-fueled space noir style brought something new and fun to the cyberpunk genre.

In a world of 900-episode long anime series, Cowboy Bebop was blissfully short, but it packed far more of a punch than most of its counterparts. The anime won countless awards, including the 1st place at the 1999 Anime Grand Prix.

In 2017, there was talk of bringing the anime to life in a live-action series, and a year later, Netflix announced the show would come to their streaming platform. In 2021, we finally got to see years’ worth of work come to fruition, but fans were relatively unimpressed.

The live-action show hasn’t stayed entirely faithful to the source material, instead opting for a rendition instead of a truthful adaption.

And for many people, this ruffled feathers. Such an acclaimed and loved anime, seemingly defiled in another live-action remake.

However, there’s a lot to love about Cowboy Bebop on Netflix, and when we look at it as an alternative version of the anime instead of a poor adaption, it stands up on its own fairly well.

cowboy bebop on netflix

What’s to Love About Cowboy Bebop on Netflix?

As someone who watched the anime, the live action show took some getting used to. At first, I was a bit confused about the timeline and the story that the show was running with, but after a few episodes I was able to overlook the inconsistencies and view the show as a honoring of the source material.

The characters in the Netflix show are deep, motivated, and fun, more fun, I might say, then the original characters.

Faye Valentine, one of the female leads, has much more depth than in the anime. Her whole story revolves around not knowing her past, having been awoken from a cryogenic sleep with amnesia. Her motivations are realistic and her attitude mirrors the frustration she feels at living half a life.

In the anime, she’s very sexualized, which was a trope of anime of it’s time (frankly, it still is a trope), but the Netflix show re-imagines Faye as a badass bounty hunter with a me-against-the-world attitude.

And the banter that made me fall in love with the anime hits really hard in the Netflix show. I found myself laughing at the grumpy nature of Jet, Spike’s smart ass remarks, and Faye’s pithy one-liners.

For Spike, his transition to the big screen was the most intriguing. In the anime, there’s this duality about him. He’s funny and grim, full of heart and a scoundrel at the same time.

In the Netflix version, he oozes emotion, and is much less of an ass than in the anime. He builds relationships with Jet and Faye, and even though he keeps secrets, he’s much more loyal to his friends than in the anime. And this change made the Netflix show stand out.

They turned surly characters into deep, troubled heroes, but in a way that still follows the main themes of the source material.

What’s Stayed the Same?

One of the most endearing elements of the anime was the bounty-of-the-week style. Yes, there are plot-heavy episodes, but largely the story follows the Bebop’s crew as they hunt down wacky, villainous bounties.

And the Netflix show incorporates that while also running with a larger, underlying conflict.

We see those weird villains, like Mad Pierrot, and we see the more serious villains like Asimov and Vicious.

Vicious’ character in particular is deplorable. In the anime, he appears off and on as a returning antagonist, but in the Netflix show, he’s so full of emotion and violence, coming to life as more than a vague villain.

He has motivations and heartbreak, more than the anime allowed him to have. Despite being much more mad in the Netflix show, Vicious settles into his role of the big baddie very nicely.

cowboy bebop on netflix, vicious and spike

Cowboy Bebop on Netflix is a Must-Watch

At the end of the day, if you are a big fan of the anime, watch Cowboy Bebop on Netflix as a loving rendition instead of an attempt to change the canon.

As a science fiction and fantasy enthusiast, it can suck to see a story you love adapted for screen. Take The Wheel of Time, for example. The first few episodes have changed a lot about the books, and while I’m irked by certain choices, I still enjoy seeing a series I love reach a wider audience.

Same goes with Cowboy Bebop. I guarantee that people who’ve never seen the anime will go back and watch it after binging the Netflix show, and will find something to love in both shows.

I hope we get to see more of Cowboy Bebop on Netflix. While the show hasn’t stayed true to its source material, it reinvents the anime, enriching the characters and making the cyberpunk noir setting really pop out.

Plus, I’m always down for some cowboy banter and Ein, the adorable Corgi sidekick.

Space Miners May Be Hunting For More Than Ice In The Future

As our civilization has evolved, we’ve gone from gathering resources above ground for our shelters and day-to-day lives. Wood, stone, and natural fibers all functioned as the backbone for early human civilizations.

But as time went on, we started to look deeper, digging through the ground at our feet to discover iron ore and other precious metals.

And at this point in time, we’re pretty familiar with all the resources Earth has to offer, and are making quick use of them.

So, it begs the question: Where will we turn for resources once the Earth’s bounty has been depleted?

The answer is space. And mining in space might be closer to reality than we think.

Codexes for Space Miners

Science fiction writers have been thinking about this issue for a long time. Mining asteroids is a popular element of many space opera novels.

Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds has characters mining cometary ice in our solar system. Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey opens with the ship Canterbury hauling that same ice to Ceres Station. Powerstat by Ben Bova investigates harnessing massive amounts of solar energy from space. Countless other novels explore the idea of collecting resources from space, like The Web Between the World by Charles Sheffield and Macao Station by Mike Berry.

It’s fair to say that space miners are a critical part of many space operas, but how close to reality are these sci fi stories?

What Are We Mining in Space?

A recent article from Scientific News states that the collision of two neutron stars can produce massive amounts of heavy metal, like gold and platinum.

When two dead stars collide, debris and other materials are shot out into space. Eventually, they’re transformed into familiar heavy metals through a phenomenon known as the r-process.

This process occurs when “atomic nuclei climb the periodic table, swallowing up neutrons and decaying radioactively”.

But this is old news, these discoveries are at least 5 years old at this point. Yet, this data suggests that in the future, we might be mining more than just asteroid ice in space.

Not only could we collect gold and platinum from space, but mining asteroids could yield nickel, cobalt, iron, aluminum, and a slew of other materials, including hydrogen, one of the proponents of rocket fuel.

space miners 16 psyche asteroid
16 Psyche, an asteroid rumored to contain $10 quintillion worth of iron and nickel

Urgently Hiring: Space Miners

An article by Alex Gilbert in the Milken Institute Review, published in April 2021, claims that mining in space might happen as soon as 2024.

NASA recently handed out contracts to four companies, allowing them to extract sample material from the moon. The moon will probably be a hotspot for mining and exploration, with it being only a few days’ journey from Earth. Studies of have shown that there are large, frozen deposits of water in many of the moon’s craters, and who knows what’s lying under the surface.

But, just like in the works of science fiction we so revere, scientists are setting their sites farther than the moon. Asteroids and other moons—include those of Mars—are targets for potential mining operations. Japanese and Chinese space missions are already planned to bring back samples from one of Mars’ moons.

However, the realm of interplanetary mining gets into some sticky legal red tape. There isn’t a formal set of guidelines of who gets to mine what, or colonize where. Space law is still in its infancy, but the US, Luxembourg, and the United Arab Emirates are leading the charge in developing space-resource laws.

But certain treaties pose as roadblocks for space exploitation, and for good measure. The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 states that no celestial bodies shall be exploited for national gain. We can only assume that must also apply to individuals such as Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, who have set their eyes on the stars as a way to line their pockets.  

The difficulty of ironing out interplanetary doctrines between all the nations gives the technology ample time to meet the standards for widespread mineral harvesting.

See You Later, Space Miner

All of this is to say that sci fi worlds filled with space miners, pirates, and intergalactic diplomacy might not be far off. While we might not see it in our lifetimes, the foundations for mineral exploitation and far-flung space travel are under construction as we speak.

And our successors might not just be chunking up space ice, but rather harvesting gold, platinum, and other precious metals from neutron star fallout and hefty cash-cow asteroids.

But what do you think? What will become the most valuable resource in space? Hydrogen? Iron? Let us know in the comments below.

Science Fiction Book Review: Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth Powell

I like weird, fun science fiction books, and I love doing sci fi book reviews of weird, fun books.

This week we’ll be talking about Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth L. Powell.

I discovered this book while writing a post about dieselpunk, and decided the check it out. The premise was too good to ignore: A sentient, gunslinging, Nazi-killing, fighter-pilot monkey wakes up out of a simulation to wreak havoc on fascists in 2059. I was hooked.

And this book is a nice intersection of genres—the war-fueled frenzy of dieselpunk 1944, and the futuristic, political, cyberpunk world of 2059. In this science fiction book review of Ack-Ack Macaque, I’ll discuss some background for the book, as well as what I loved, and vice versa.

The Background

Ack-Ack Macaque first appeared as a short story in Interzone in 2007, and was later transformed into a trilogy of novels, the first one published in 2012.

Gareth L. Powell is a British science fiction author who has tens of short stories in professional venues as well as a few stand-alone novels and other trilogies.

His debut novel, Silversands, garnered a favorable review in The Guardian by Eric Brown. After that, he published a few other books, including The Recollection, and a space opera trilogy that starts with Embers of War.

Ack-Ack Macaque is by far his most recognized work, having won the British Science Fiction Association Award for Best Novel in 2013. The two other books in the Ack-Ack Macaque series are Hive Money and Macaque Attack.

Primate With the Big Iron on His Hip

One of the things that drew me to Ack-Ack Macaque was the cover art, featuring a cigar-munching monkey wielding his massive chrome Colt .45. It’s such a bizarre image that I knew there was a great story behind it.

And I was right.

While Ack-Ack Macaque is the titular character, the book is split into three different perspectives. The monkey, the heir to the throne of Brittany, Prince Merovech, and a cybernetic journalist, Victoria Valois.

Both Merovech and Valois are wrapped up in a nationwide conspiracy, watching the doomsday clock tick closer and closer to nuclear Armageddon. When Merovech and his friend Julie manage to pull Ack-Ack from the simulation he’s been living in, the primate is more than eager to, as he would say, “blow shit up.”

While at first glance, the novel seems to be about a battle-hardened monkey shooting down Nazi ninjas in his fighter plane, the story is a lot deeper than the crash-and-burn of WWII carnage.

sci fi book review ack ack macaque

Bridging Two Genres

Powell begins to tackle topics of live after death via android bodies and downloaded consciousnesses, as well as the exploring the fine line between what’s human and what’s machine.

I’m a big fan of conversations about artificial intelligence and “more human than human” ideas, and I wasn’t expecting to find those things in Ack-Ack Macaque.

My expectation was to read a fun, wild ride full of gun-toting monkeys, and in some ways, Powell stayed true to that promise. However, I feel that the combination between dieselpunk 1944 and futuristic 2059 was a tad forced.

Ack-Ack Macaque seems too well-adjusted when he pops out of the simulation, and we slowly glean information about his life before taking up the mantle of Nazi-killer in the video-game simulation bearing his name.

You’d think he’d need a lot more time to figure out what’s what, having just spent who-knows-how-long in a fictional world without computers.

But I think it had to be done for the sake of timeliness. Ack-Ack Macaque is about 400 pages, but it really flew by, and I think Powell achieved this by simplifying the character arks. The main characters have singular purposes, for the most part, and each scene is meant to push those purposes forward. There’s not a lot of backstory or humming-and-hawing, and every chapter ends on a mini-cliffhanger.

For a book of this type, that kind of pacing is important to keep up the excitement, and it works.

As I continue to read the other two books in the series, I’d like to see some more fleshed out details about Ack-Ack’s past, as well as the past of some of the other characters too.

Science Fiction Book Review Rating

I really enjoyed Ack-Ack Macaque. It combines two seemingly different genres and pulls them together under one cover, and it’s full of twists, even though you can see most of them coming.

Where I think the book excels is with its contemplation of human-ness. Ack-Ack is a primate, albeit a highly-advanced, daiquiri-drinking primate, but he exudes more humanity than some of the other characters. And throw in android clones and downloaded consciousnesses into the mix, and you’ve got a while dilemma on your hands.

I’m excited to see where the story goes after the first book, and I hope there’s more Spitfire dogfights, even though that ship may have sailed.

Overall, I rate Ack-Ack Macaque an 8.5/10.

In many ways, Powell’s style of writing embodies what I want to do with my own writing, which is create a weird, fun story with moments of deep introspection. And for that reason, I think the meta of Ack-Ack Macaque is almost more important than the story itself.

So, get out there, find your monkey, and let him blow stuff up.