Computers will soon outsmart us. Does that make an AI rebellion inevitable?

The question, “Will Computers Revolt?” is really many different questions rolled into one. Will computers become the dominant intelligence on the planet and will they take our place? What does being “dominant” mean? Will computers and humans be in conflict? Will that conflict be violent? Will intelligent computers take jobs and resources from humans?

Most AI experts agree that computers will eventually exceed humans in thinking ability.  But then, even more questions arise. When will it happen? What would it be like to ‘exceed humans in thinking ability’? Will computer intelligence be just like human intelligence—only faster? Or will it be radically different?

Although today’s AI systems have remarkable abilities, they are not “thinking” in any general sense of the word.  Accordingly, we now use the terms AGI (Artificial General Intelligence), Strong AI, True AI, and others to differentiate the idea of true thinking from today’s AI systems which have tremendous capabilities but more limited scope.

With the coming of AGI, many new risks will emerge but before exploring these, let’s consider how far in the future this is likely to happen.

When Will AGI Happen?

Sooner than you think!  Why don’t we already have AGI? Two issues hold us back:

  1. Creating the computational power needed for AGI
  2. Knowing what software to write for AGI

AI experts have come up with differing estimates of the computational power of the human brain and predictions of increasing computational power of CPUs. The lines eventually cross at a “singularity” (coined by Ray Kurzweil) with CPUs exceeding brains in terms of brute-force computation in ten years, or twenty, or half a century, depending on the underlying assumptions.

But this may be the wrong question. We all know that lightning-fast searches on a properly-indexed database can produce results a million- or billion-fold faster than the brute-force approach. What portion of AGI will be amenable to this type of software efficiency?

Can a potato chip bag reveal your last conversation?

A team of scientists at MIT, Microsoft and Adobe​ have figured out a way to turn everyday objects into visual microphones.

Picture this: Two of your office colleagues are standing in the break room chatting, and you think to yourself: What if I could actually hear what they’re saying. You’re not a Marvel superhero with super-human powers to hear through walls. So what can you do? Enter science.

In the break room, on a table next to your colleagues, is an open bag of potato chips. What if that bag could listen in on the conversation and report back to you later on what was said? You’d think we were nuts for even suggesting the idea, but allow us to explain.

When people talk, their speech creates tiny, tiny, tiny sound vibrations into the air. Those vibrations then hit inanimate objects around the room. And imagine if you had a camera that was zoomed in on one of those objects extremely closely. In theory, you could actually see the object move along with the vibrations. You could then feed that video into some fancy shmancy computer software and – voila! – you can play back the audio of the conversation that just took place. You’re basically turning everyday objects into visual microphones.

The researchers placed a camera outside a soundproof glass wall and aimed it at the bag of chips on the floor.

The researchers placed a camera outside a soundproof glass wall and aimed it at the discarded bag of chips on the floor. (Photo: YouTube)

Ok, so we know what you’re thinking. That “sounds” kind of ridiculous, maybe something you’d see in a sci-fi movie, but can it actually be done? The answer is, surprisingly, yes.

A team of scientists at MIT, Microsoft and Adobe have created a piece of software that can pull off this amazing feat. What’s more, you don’t even need a high-end, fancy camera to help with the speech recognition. The researchers found that even using an inexpensive consumer-friendly camera would get the job done as well.

Watch them explain how it’s all done in this video below:

[embedded content]

In addition to the bag of chips, the scientists tried another example: They played “Mary Had a Little Lamb” next to a potted plant. If you look closely, you’ll see that the sound vibrations caused the branches of the plant to move ever so slightly with each note. Keep in mind that the naked eye couldn’t pick up the movement: the leaves moved by less than a hundredth of a pixel.

The camera was kept outside the room, behind a soundproof glass wall. And it simply zoomed in on the leaves. The researchers took the video, ran it through their computer algorithm and, lo and behold, they heard the song played back to them.

The experiment was first done a few years ago, but they continue to fine-tune the execution. One of the people behind the project is Michael Rubinstein, who graduated summa cum laude from Tel Aviv University and received his Ph.D. from MIT. The Israeli academic is now a research scientist at Google and speaks often on the topic. Here he is giving a TED Talk about it:

[embedded content]

So the next time you want in on a conversation at work, not to worry: Just look for a bag of chips and you’ll be AOK. Or, if you want, you could simply just walk into the break room and join in on the office gossip.

A team of scientists at MIT, Microsoft, and Adobe​ have figured out a way to turn everyday objects into visual microphones.


Netflix Will Release ‘Bird Box’ And Others In Theaters Before Streaming To Improve Awards Chances


Netflix is altering its longstanding tradition of releasing its award-hopeful movies in limited theatrical runs simultaneously with their streaming release just to qualify.  While technically, these small theatrical runs are enough to qualify for the Academy Awards and other honors, so far they haven’t worked, as they don’t generate as much buzz and many voting purists view them as made-for-TV movies that have no place beside regular theatrical films.

Because Netflix chose to release these movies in theaters at the exact same time as they were made available to stream, many theater owners refused to carry them, and rightly so, as most people won’t pay money to see a movie in a theater when they can stream it for free at home.  Amazon, long ago, agreed to hold off on releasing its award-hopefuls on Amazon Prime Video, in order to give them a decent theatrical run first.  Last year’s ‘The Big Sick’ is a perfect example, as it earned raves and drew viewers to theaters to see what all the fuss was about because that was the only way to see it at first.

Among the films that Netflix will release to theaters first is the dystopian sci-fi thriller ‘Bird Box’, directed by Susanne Bier, starring Sandra Bullock, which has earned comparisons to ‘A Quiet Place’.

Being a genre movie, ‘Bird Box’ may be a long shot.  This move on Netflix’s part is largely centered around Alfonso Curón’s black and white Spanish-language family drama ‘Roma’. Joel and Ethan Coen’s ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ will be another film that goes to theaters first.

Netflix has a number of other awards-hopefuls due out by the end of the year, which may also go the same release route.  Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’ is the first mob movie by the filmmaker starring Robert DeNiro since ‘Casino’ in the ’90s.  There is also ‘The Laundromat’ starring Gary Oldman, Meryl Streep and Antonio Banderas, directed by Steven Soderbergh, the Henry V historical drama, ‘The King’ directed by David Michod, with Timothée Chalamet in the starring role, and the Ben Affleck and Anne Hathaway thriller ‘The Last Thing He Wanted’ directed by Dee Rees, and co-starring Willem Dafoe.

Unfortunately, two releases that are believed to have had a shot at the big prizes– Paul Greengrass’ ’22 July’ and Tamara Jenkins’ ‘Private Life’– have already been released on Netflix, so they won’t benefit from this change.

At this time, it is believed that this release formula will only be applied to movies that the streaming service thinks has a shot at the big awards.  Netflix is famously spending big bucks on “blockbuster”-type movies, like the Michael Bay/Ryan Reynolds action flick ‘6 Underground’ in hopes of drawing subscribers.  It’s not likely that they will allow these releases to be viewed in any other capacity.

Scott Stuber, head of Netflix’s film division stated:

“These upcoming engagements are following the success of our theatrical and Netflix releases of ‘Private Life’ and ’22 July’. There’s been an overwhelming response to all of our films this festival season, including ‘Outlaw King’, which will be in theaters and on Netflix next week, and this plan is building on that momentum. Netflix’s priority is our members and our filmmakers, and we are constantly innovating to serve them. Our members benefit from having the best quality films from world class filmmakers and our filmmakers benefit by being able to share their artistry with the largest possible audience in over 190 countries worldwide.”

Source: Deadline

Jax Motes

Jax’s earliest memory is of watching ‘Batman,’ followed shortly by a memory of playing Batman & Robin with a friend, which entailed running outside in just their underwear and towels as capes. When adults told them they couldn’t run around outside in their underwear, both boys promptly whipped theirs off and ran around in just capes.


The 5 Shows We’re Most Excited About at the New York Comedy Festival

The 15th annual New York Comedy Festival, which starts Monday, features a dense lineup of improv, sketch and stand-ups of varying levels of fame.

At sites large and small throughout the city, you’ll find the event’s usual mix of A-listers (like Conan O’Brien on Thursday at the Beacon) as well as up-and-comers (Desus Nice and the Kid Mero at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater on Sunday). But as a comedian myself, I am most excited for the lesser known performers who are about to receive the spotlight. The festival features several comedians of color, and also serves as a barometer of where the industry is as a whole. Podcasts, improv and sketch make up a good chunk of the programming, an indication of the diverse ways that comedy is consumed in 2018.

Here are the five acts I am most looking forward to. For show details, go to

Saturday and Sunday at Joe’s Pub

You’d be hard-pressed to find a time when the Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef’s material was more poignant, especially in the aftermath of the killing of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi.

Known as “Egypt’s Jon Stewart,” Youssef, a former heart surgeon, rose to fame after the revolution there for his satirical criticism of conservative sheikhs and others in power, including Mohamed Morsi, the Egyptian president then. In 2013, Time magazine named Youssef one of the 100 most influential people in the world. The next year, he announced he was ending his television show, citing safety concerns after Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took power. Youssef fled the country and now lives in the United States, the rare dissident comedian.

Last year, he released a book, “Revolution for Dummies: Laughing Through the Arab Spring,” and took his one-man show on tour. His festival performances will incorporate material from that show as well new details about his experiences in Egypt and his new life in the States.

Friday at the New York Comedy Club

Simply put, there are not many comedy shows in New York that focus solely on women of South Asian descent. Some notable exceptions come close — Dean Obeidallah and Maysoon Zayid’s “The Big Brown Comedy Hour” is performed throughout the year. But until recently, South Asian comics had a difficult time finding exposure. There has been some movement, as Hasan Minhaj’s new Netflix show, “Patriot Act,” and Aparna Nancherla’s rise both prove. (Minhaj will be performing at the festival with his sketch troupe, Goatface.)

Facial Recognition Comedy” features Ayanna Dookie, Fizaa Dosani, Sonya Vai, Karmen Naidoo, Zahra Ali and Pallavi Gunalan, all up-and-coming comedians and actresses. The artists have said the show “was formed out of frustration from being confused for each other due to our similar ethnic heritage and skin color, despite each comic’s distinct voice and life experiences.”

Friday at Sony Hall

Once in a blue moon, I hear a standup joke that makes me think, “That is absolutely a perfect joke.” For me, one of them is Tig Notaro’s “No moleste.”

She’s a brilliant, bold comic whose sense of deliberate patience is unmatched, even when the material might make audiences uncomfortable. Let’s not forget that one of her most audacious shows actually took place at the New York Comedy Festival in 2014. Following a double mastectomy, she performed the set topless.

Notaro has been busy, expanding her range far past stand-up. She recently delved into science fiction, joining the cast of “Star Trek: Discovery” for its second season next year. Variety reported last month that a Notaro-created one-hour dramedy was in development at ABC. And last spring, she released a Netflix special, “Happy to Be Here.” She is the kind of comic who makes you wonder what she’ll pull off next.

Friday at the Gramercy Theater

Ghost stories. True crime. Exploration of the paranormal. Boxed wine. Christine Schiefer and Em Schulz’s podcast, “And That’s Why We Drink,” seems like an odd fit for a comedy festival, but content is content, and this show, known for its audience involvement, is popular. Schiefer and Schulz have chemistry and present dark paranormal stories in an easily digestible way.

Wednesday at Sony Hall

Chris Gethard performing his solo show, “Career Suicide.”CreditSara Krulwich/The New York Times

Chris Gethard has always found strength onstage in vulnerability, and nowhere was this more clear than his solo show dealing with mental illness, “Career Suicide,” which was turned into an HBO special. Just last month, he published “Lose Well,” which examines the benefit of failing, one of several books he has written on looking inward. And I haven’t even mentioned his delightfully weird television series, “The Chris Gethard Show” (which was recently canceled).

It is his openness and willingness to reflect that makes his podcast, “Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People,” so compelling: in every episode, he takes one call and speaks to that person for an hour. There are no names and no ground rules. Well, there’s one: Gethard cannot hang up first.

A 2016 segment has always stuck with me, when an anonymous man from Denton, Texas, on his break from a soul-sucking customer service job, called Gethard to say he felt that he had “wasted the last year” and that he was giving up on life. In the course of the conversation, we learned that when he was born, the doctor who delivered him was Ron Paul, who would become better known as a libertarian congressman. Then the anonymous man revealed that his mother had been in prison on drug charges and had been let out to give birth.

Eventually, Gethard convinces the man to change his life, starting with screaming as loud as he can. By the end, he is ready to start doing comedy open mics and has seemingly found a new lease on life.

After hearing himself on the podcast, the man quit his job.


Hobart gets science-fiction makeover thanks to photo-editing skills of bored scientist

Posted November 06, 2018 08:00:39

Don’t worry, Hobart hasn’t actually been invaded by aliens or giant robots.

Photos popping up on social media of spacecraft scoping out the city and laser-beaming robots blowing up the iconic MONA ferry are the handiwork of Peter Topliss.

The clever manipulations have turned familiar Hobart landmarks into surreal science-fiction scenes.

Mr Topliss, an environmental scientist by trade, describes himself as a “master of stupidity”.

“I get bored with things very quickly,” he told Helen Shield on ABC Radio Hobart.

“I like photography and I went out and did what everyone else does and take pictures of the same things.”

But his interest in model making gave him the idea to connect the two hobbies together.

Mr Topliss looks for iconic Tasmanian settings and vantage points.

“Then I’ll sit something stupid in the middle of it,” he said.

His proudest work so far is a Star Wars walker in the middle of Hobart’s Macquarie Point.

Other strange scenes include a dinosaur in the River Derwent peering at diners inside MONA, and his prized Iron Giant model wrapped around the Mount Wellington/kunanyi television antenna.

‘I’m no photoshop master’

Mr Topliss taught himself how to use photo-editing programs, with help from the internet.

“I’m not a master of Photoshop, but with a bit of googling and a bit of YouTubing it’s actually surprisingly easy.”

Mr Topliss takes his models along when photographs the scene to avoid having to photoshop all the light settings.

“So I literally take my model, and when no-one is watching, because it’s a bit embarrassing, I get my model out and stick it on a tripod in front of the camera.

“I’m not a photographer. I don’t know what I call myself.”

He did concede he would “get bored of it eventually”.

Topics: photography, social-media, internet-culture, offbeat, human-interest, hobart-7000


10-day 24/7 book sale in Davao starts Nov. 23

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 05 Nov) – The biggest book sale in the world will be in Davao City soon.

The founder of the Big Bad Wolf, the firm behind the ten-day, 24/7 book fair here on November 23 to December 2, hopes the event will inspire more Dabawenyos to read.

“The mission that we have, the dream that we have is similar, we use books as a product, we use books to create dream, and we use books to bring forth hope. It all comes from love. Love not just between yourself and family, but love across mankind. That’s the love that we give but, for us, it’s through books,” Malaysian national Jacqueline Ng, founder of the Big Bad Wolf, the firm behind the book sale, told a press briefing at the Union Market in Azuela Cove on Monday.

Ng told reporters they partnered with Gawad Kalinga to bring the book fair here, the third destination this year after Manila and Cebu in February and July, respectively.

A portion of the proceeds will go to Gawad Kalinga to help build more communities and help farmer-beneficiaries.

Guests browse through samples of books that will be sold in the Big Bad Wolf book fair in the Azuela Cove in Davao City on November 23 to December 2, 201`8. Organizers met with the press at the Union Market in the Azuela Cove on Monday, 05 November 2018. MINDANEWS PHOTO

She said the book fair will feature more than a million brand new books with 20,000 titles, featuring popular authors, novels, science fiction, business books, biographies, art and design at 50% to 90% discounts.

The book sale will be held in a 2,000-square meter area at the The Tent in Azuela Cove.

She said the company usually spends around $3 million to $5 million (159 million to P266 million pesos) to pull off a fair for each venue

She and husband, Andrew Yap, started the Big Bad Wolf in Malaysia in 2009 and has since become a landmark event in the country. They brought the book sale to Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, and Philippines.

Organizers are planning to bring it to 30 other cities in the world next year.

Aside from Manila, Cebu, Davao, Gawad Kalinga executive director Luis Oquiñena announced they are planning to stage 10-day book sale events in three more cities in the country next year due to a growing demand and to “create love for reading, inspire, and empower more people.”

He said a portion of the revenues will go to Gawad Kalinga to help build more communities and help farmer-beneficiaries.

“With this partnership, Big Bad Wolf is donating a portion of its proceeds to GK so we can continue doing our work organizing communities, helping the farmers. Every book that you actually buy, a portion of that will go to different communities,” he said.

Majority of the books are sourced from the United States and the United Kingdom, Ng said.

‘We believe it’s not just about the price of the books.  It has to be affordable. We believe in the quality of the books, so we make sure that suppliers or publishers should be able to sell at a desired price point for our customers,” she said.

Over 10 millions books were sold last year, she said.

“Can you imagine how much worth that is to source and negotiate for 10 million books? We believe that a good book for someone, we are talking about non-readers here, readers would know what is good, but for non-readers, we need to give them very exciting, something very good quality for them to get first the interest of even start flipping through the first page,” she said.

Big Bad Wolf -Philippines marketing head Miguel Mercado added they want the less-fortunate to experience the joy of reading of books because “books today, good books cost a lot.”

“What we realize is when you drop the prices, the market comes. You drop the prices and you get quality books, the market comes. Wherever we go the book market gets bigger and the advocacy also spreads because more and more kids are reading,” he added. [Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews]




I Think I’m Ready For Doctor Who to Stop Proving That It’s Still Doctor Who

When I bought a Surface Laptop over a year ago, I did so largely because I had little faith in the Surface Pro line. I wasn’t sure the Type Cover was sturdy, having experienced the first generation. The premium on the hardware I’d need seemed , and Windows doesn’t have a stellar reputation as a tablet OS.

But over the last week, I’ve been able to try out a Surface Pro 6 out of sheer good fortune. And after working all of PAX, typing on couches, blow up mattresses and a transpacific light later, I’ve done a complete 180 on the device.


Local author gives up 9-5 to create ‘Nightlord’ realm of vampires and wizards

Imagine rolling out of bed, puttering your way to the in-home office, writing, eating when hunger calls, writing more, doing the laundry, then sleeping when the needs washes over you.

Such can be the life of the stay-at-home writer who does the work because, well, it gets food on the table. And it also beats getting a real-world, someone-else-is-the-boss job.

One of the lucky few allowed to live in such a manner is Texarkana’s own Garon Whited, whose passion for science fiction and fantasy have inspired so much success that he’s sold thousands of copies of his main book series, “Nightlord,” which is now in its fifth volume and, this past week, had its Audible version released. “Void” is that latest volume.

Whited, a Kansas native who was born in 1970 or ’69, depending on which version of his birth certificate he shares with you, turned to full-time writing just a few years ago after being laid off from an IT job. He turned something he worked on during his spare time into a full-blown career, all with self-publishing.

His inspiration for this career comes from writers like Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, J.R.R. Tolkien and Isaac Asimov.

All rumors of me being a vampire are blown way out of proportion.

Garon Whited

They helped Whited prepare for creating a series like “Nightlord,” which tells the winding tale of a physics professor who becomes a vampire and a reluctant king. They helped Whited envision Rethven, one of the worlds in the “Nightlord” series.

“Nightlord is the main series so far. It’s basically the diary of Eric. He’s a computer programmer, physics teacher, that kind of thing,” Whited said. Eric doesn’t believe in the supernatural, but lo and behold he’s turned into a vampire. That will change one’s perspective, but becoming a vampire is the least of his problems.

A lot happens in “Nightlord.” Eric, unwittingly, becomes a king. He didn’t mean to do so, the author says. But it’s just one of the permutations in a series that has multiple universes.

“He winds up in more than one of those. He winds up with a pet rock. It’s a mountain,” Whited said, flashing his ever-present dry wit. “Blazingly fast for a pet rock, but the bar isn’t that high.”

Eric also gets married, another thing he didn’t intend to do. “There’s a lot of stuff that happens to him, which he’s not very pleased with,” Whited said of this protagonist. He’s a man who feels put upon, in many ways.

Eric isn’t autobiographical, but the author and his character share knowledge of physics and computer science in a write-what-you-know manner.

“As a writer, I have to fake it convincingly,” Whited says, also saying, “All rumors of me being a vampire are blown way out of proportion.”

He’s been doing the writing thing for 43 years. “I started when I was 5,” he admits. But professionally? About 10 to 15 years. And now he makes a living at it. “I’m a professional author,” he said. Then, gesturing to the hardcover copies of his books on the shelf, he said, “Those things there, that’s all I’ve been doing for the past three or four years now.”

He went through Amazon to get his books out there. All of them are on Kindle. The “Nightlord” series also got picked up by Podium Publishing, and so audio books give him additional income. They’re more expensive to produce, but that means he gets a bigger cut from each sale.

Other Whited books include “Luna,” which Whited describes as a “straight-up post-apocalyptic science fiction novel.” In fact, “Luna” may just be the most cheerful such novel you can find, he says. “Dragonhunters,” his other book, is a fantasy with noble heroes venturing out to kill a dragon and get eaten, as he put it.

“And then the story really starts,” Whited said.

He ventured out into the full-time writerly work because he lost a job at the Northeast Texas Workforce Board. The federal funding stream for the job disappeared, and he was presented an opportunity. With a nest egg, he didn’t need a job that instant, and he was in the middle of the next “Nightlord” volume.

“You know what, let me finish book two. I can pull that off. I’ll finish it much quicker because I’m not going to be distracted by a job eight hours a day,” Whited recalled of his thinking at the time. “Let me get that done, then I’ll look for a job.”

Book two came out, and he survived. He started the next book, vowing to look for another job when he got below “X” amount. Didn’t happen. He kept writing. And selling his books. Finding a person to market his work helped a lot; gaining traction went slowly, but it happened.

Fantasy and science fiction have been integral aspects of his life for a long time. “The Lord of the Rings” was junior high reading. His copies tend to fall apart from paging through them so much. “I played D&D back when it was first edition, and a variety of other role playing games,” Whited said.

Running a D&D game, he’s making up a story, so in that sense it’s similar to writing. It’s part of the appeal. “It’s also kind of a mental exercise,” he admits. He’s also dealing with what other people think, want and choose to do during the game when they play people in the world he creates. That makes it more difficult, in a way, than writing a novel, where his characters will do what he compels them to do.

For “Nightlord,” Whited created several worlds. His author website even has a map of Rethven, the first world Eric finds himself in during the course of events. Eventually, Eric learns to move from one reality to another.

“Rethven is basically a pretty typical fantasy world. You’ve got guys in armor. They’ve got swords. You’ve got wizards who throw spells. In that respect, it is pretty normal from a fantasy standpoint,” said Whited, who adds that his first book is “a third of a million words.” He says he’s sold “hundreds of thousands” of books, mostly digital, the cheapest way to get a copy.

“I don’t think I’ve broken a million yet, but just you wait, just you wait, there will come a day,” Whited said.

Sitting in a bookstore and perusing, then reading deeper into, one of the latest vampire novels he pulled from the shelf, that is what motivated him to write the first “Nightlord” book. What he read failed to impress him. He waited for it to get better. It didn’t. He could do better.

“To be blunt, I thought I could eat a pen and tomorrow I could produce a better book,” Whited said. “So I did.”

He hopes to take “Nightlord” to book seven, four books beyond the original trilogy he anticipated. Eric’s story has become more organic, Whited says. “He grows and as he’s growing things change for him because he sees things differently,” said the author.

Although as a self-employed writer he, with tongue-deep-in-his-cheek, calls his employees lazy, what he does remains satisfying, in certain respects.

“The thing is I’m creating a world, multiple worlds, actually. I’m telling stories, and there’s something fundamental about the human psyche that says, ‘I want to tell stories,'” Whited says. “People also want to be told stories. I am a storyteller. There are a lot of people who want to be storytellers. But we also want to hear the stories, want to read the stories, want to be part of the stories.”

And the fact people become delighted with his stories—”and want to live in them”—this is what satisfies him. He has fans all over the world. He heads out for book tours.

And advice to give to someone who wants to be a writer?

“Don’t quit your day job. Write but work. Always carve out time to do that. Write your book. Write your next book. Write the book after that, because if you don’t write it nobody’s going to. And then when you have some traction, when people are starting to notice, that’s where you start going, you know, maybe I don’t need to be a full-time whatever it is you are,” Whited says.

Wait for that moment. Find a comfortable middle-ground where you “land in the water and swim.”

“Carve out time time to write. If you’re meant to be a writer, you will find a way to write,” Whited said.

(On the Net:


Winter Is Coming, So Here Are All the Best New Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books Out This November

Detail from the cover of Molly Tanzer’s Creatures of Want and Ruin.
Image: John Joseph Adams/Mariner Books

Halloween is over, and you’ve got a brief window of time before holiday-related activities take over all your free time. Now is the time to pounce on new books by George R.R. Martin (alas, not the one we’re all waiting for), M.R. Carey, and many others. Here’s our list of November releases to look out for.


How to Fracture a Fairy Tale by Jane Yolen

The fantasy author (The Devil’s Arithmetic) presents a collection of old and new tales for all ages inspired by fairy tales and legends, with new author notes and original poems to accompany each. (Nov. 5)


An Agent of Utopia: New and Selected Stories by Andy Duncan

Two new short stories (including the title tale, which concerns Sir Thomas More) top off this collection of works by the author, which takes on subjects as wonderfully weird as “an aging UFO contactee, a haunted Mohawk steelworker, a time-traveling prizefighter, a yam-eating Zombie, and a child who loves a frizzled chicken.” (Nov. 6)


Diamond Fire by Illona Andrews

On the eve of her older sister’s wedding—when the use of magic is strictly forbidden—maid of honor Catalina wonders if she should break the rule in order to make sure the increasingly endangered fairy-tale celebration goes off without a hitch. (Nov. 6)


Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao

In this sequel to East Asian-inspired fairy tale Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, Princess Jade must learn to embrace her birthright, including the crown she doesn’t really want, and gather her strength to defeat the Serpent God and free her people once and for all. (Nov. 6)


Nothing to Devour by Glen Hirshberg

The Motherless Children horror trilogy comes to an end as a group of people across America—including a compassionate vampire and a woman who creates “monsters” like her—are drawn together for a variety of reasons, including (but not limited to) revenge. (Nov. 6)


Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

The prolific fantasy author kicks off a new series with this tale of a young girl who dreams of being a pilot to help fight the aliens that have been the enemy of her world for generations. But a dark chapter in her family’s past may keep her grounded. You can read an excerpt here. (Nov. 6)


Someone Like Me by M.R. Carey

The author of The Girl With All the Gifts leaves zombies behind to investigate a new terror: a devoted mom who will stop at nothing to get what she wants, and isn’t above activating her secret dark side to stay in control. (Nov. 6)


Static Ruin by Corey J. White

The Voidwitch saga concludes with Mars Xi on the run and with a hefty price on her head. To complicate matters, she’s got her mutant pet cat and a fellow “human weapon,” a young boy who can’t control his deadly powers, in tow. Can her long-estranged father, living somewhere on the edge of the galaxy, help her make things right? (Nov. 6)


They Promised Me the Gun Wasn’t Loaded by James Alan Gardner

In this sequel that picks up just days after the events of All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault, Jools and her gang of freshly-minted superhero buddies get drawn into the wild scramble to find a villain’s inconveniently misplaced super-gun. (Nov. 6)


Bedfellow by Jeremy C. Shipp

In this dark fantasy, a beastly “thing” attaches itself to an ordinary family and forces them to make increasingly horrifying sacrifices on its behalf. If they stick together, can they break free from its grasp? (Nov. 13)


Creatures of Want and Ruin by Molly Tanzer

It’s the time of Prohibition, and a woman who’s helping put her brother through college counts on the money she earns from bootlegging booze. Her good intentions go sideways, however, when a batch of mushroom moonshine has some terrifying effects on those who imbibe it. (Nov. 13)


Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch

In this seventh Rivers of London installment, Peter Grant—detective and wizard-in-training—must seek the help of a disgraced former colleague to catch a slippery murderer known as the Faceless Man, whose sinister grand scheme threatens the entire city. (Nov. 13)


Not One of Us: Stories of Aliens on Earth edited by Neil Clarke

This reprint anthology gathers stories by Cixin Liu, Ken Liu, Nancy Kress, Ted Chiang, Kelly Robson, and others, all writing about clashes between humankind and extraterrestrial life (as well as all the things aliens have come to represent in science fiction). (Nov. 13)


A Rising Moon by Stephen Leigh

This sequel to A Fading Sun follows Orla, a freedom fighter in alt-history ancient Britain, who struggles to find her place after the death of her mother, a powerful warrior. (Nov. 13)


Terran Tomorrow by Nancy Kress

The story that began in the Nebula-winning novella Yesterday’s Kin, and continued with If Tomorrow Comes, wraps up in Terran Tomorrow. The Earth scientists who only barely escaped the plague they encountered in space return home to find deadly spores have wiped out almost all of humanity in their absence. (Nov. 13)


Vita Nostra by Sergiy Dyachenko and Maryna Shyrshova-Dyachenko

Magic, suspense, horror, and science combine in this fantasy adventure, a Russian best-seller that’s now getting a definitive English language translation. It’s about a teenage girl who meets a mysterious and manipulative man, eventually enrolling (at his behest) in a strange school that teaches “special technologies” that test everything she knows about space and time. (Nov. 13)


City of Broken Magic by Mirah Bolender

In this fantasy debut, non-magical humans called sweepers are trained to destroy magic weapons. It’s a dirty job, and dangerously deadly—facts that become all too clear for one rookie who suddenly finds herself serving as the last line of defense for her city. (Nov. 20)


The Dark Days Deceit by Alison Goodman

The Lady Helen trilogy comes to a close with one more adventure, as the demon-hunter gets sidetracked during wedding planning by the even more towering task of defeating a terrible force that threatens to wipe out humankind. (Nov. 20)


Dragonshadow by Elle Katherine White

This sequel to Heartstone picks up that novel’s Pride and Prejudice-goes-fantasy story, as newlywed dragonriders Aliza and Alastair cut their honeymoon short to help fight an ancient evil that’s sparking a terrible new war. (Nov. 20)


Fire and Blood: 300 Years Before Game of Thrones (A Targaryen History) by George R.R. Martin

The author behind Game of Thrones—perhaps you’ve heard of him—takes a deep dive into Targaryen history in the first of two volumes all about the legendary dragonlords. (Nov. 20)


My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

A Nigerian woman comes to the unsettling realization that her beautiful younger sister is killing her boyfriends—and then becomes her unwilling accomplice, at least until her longtime crush takes an interest in her deadly sibling. (Nov. 20)


Willful Child: The Search for Spark by Steven Erikson

The parody series (of guess-which towering sci-fi franchise?) continues with more deep-space adventures for the starship A.S.F. Willful Child. (Nov. 20)


Bright Light: Star Carrier by Ian Douglas

The eighth volume in the author’s nine-part military sci-fi series finds hero Trevor Gray demoted just as Earth is about to fall to a race of technologically-advanced aliens. But he comes to realize that his new circumstances are all part of a plan, cooked up by a super-powerful AI, that might end up saving humanity. (Nov. 27)


Hazards of Time Travel by Joyce Carol Oates

In an oppressive future world, a rebellious girl is exiled 80 years into the past to be taught a severe lesson—but what she finds there isn’t exactly the punishment her contemporaries imagined for her. (Nov. 27)


The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman

The new Invisible Library installment begins with the murder of a dragon—amid a secret a dragon-Fae peace summit, no less. Librarian spies Vale and Irene begin their murder investigation by traveling back in time to 1890s Paris. (Nov. 27)


The Razor by J. Barton Mitchell

An engineer incarcerated on a prison planet must rally the galaxy’s worst criminals to work together when they’re stranded ahead of an impending disaster. (Nov. 27)


Rewrite: Loops in the Timescape by Gregory Benford

This “thematic sequel” to the author’s Nebula-winning Timescape sends a history professor back to 1968, where his 16-year-old self connects with some big names (Albert Einstein, Philip K. Dick) who share his ability to time travel. (Nov. 27)


The Spectral City by Lianna Renee Hieber

In the early 20th century, a teenage medium heads up “the Ghost Precinct,” helping the New York City police solve crimes of a supernatural nature—until a sinister new mystery that challenges her powers means she must pierce the veil to find answers. (Nov. 27)


The Dinosaur Tourist by Caitlín R. Kiernan

The author releases her 15th short fiction collection with this collection of 19 tales that “explore that treacherous gulf between what we suppose the world to be and what might actually be waiting out beyond the edges of our day-to-day experience.” (Nov. 30)

Amazon link