Five Themes at This Year’s Texas Book Festival

What’s hot, what’s intriguing, and who’s gonna be at the annual literary bonanza

Hello, Darkness

If you've turned on the TV lately you may have heard: Things are not good. That makes the C-SPAN Tent a spot-on place to catch a couple panels plumbing This Age of Frayed Nerves, with Jeff Goodell discussing The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet (Nov. 11, 4pm, Book TV on C-SPAN 2, Congress and 11th) and two spins on the topic of Power Players: Plunging Democracy Into Darkness? (Nov. 12, 1:45pm, Book TV on C-SPAN 2) featuring former WaPo Editor Marty Baron (Collision of Power: Trump, Bezos, and the Washington Post) and constitutional law expert Stephen Vladeck (The Shadow Docket).

History Makers

Enjoy deep dives into history both recent – the blam! pow! terrific Superfans, Assemble: Inside the Marvel Cinematic Universe by Joanna Robinson, Dave Gonzales, and Gavin Edwards (Nov. 12, 10am, Capitol Extension Room E2.010) – and long-past – Founding Partisans: Hamilton, Madison, Jefferson, Adams and the Brawling Birth of American Politics by ace historian H.W. Brands (Nov. 12, 1:15pm, House Chamber).

Future Imperfect

A trio of panels explore how futuristic premises in novels can bring clarity to our present condition: The Future as Fiction & the World of Creativity (Nov. 11, 12:30pm, Capitol Extension Room E2.014) pairs Eskor David Johnson (Pay As You Go) and Sean Michaels (Do You Remember Being Born?); The Space Between: Cerebral Speculative Fiction Addressing Real-World Problems (Nov. 12, 11:15am, Capitol Extension Room E2.030) leans into more fantastic realms with Yume Kitasei (The Deep Sky) and Cadwell Turnbull (We Are the Crisis); and A Typical Day in Science Fiction With Clones, Supervillains & Spy Cats (Nov. 12, 10:15am, Capitol Auditorium E1.004) explores sci-fi premises crossbred with a comic novel and a murder mystery with John Scalzi (Starter Villain) and Katie Williams (My Murder).

Weird As It Ever Was

Three books already familiar to Chronicle readers illuminate Austin arcana via nonfiction and fiction avenues. Crime anthology Austin Noir imagines mystery lurking in all our town's nooks and crannies (Nov. 11, 2:15pm, Capitol Extension Room E2.026), while Keepers of the Weird: Austin Artists & Musicians (Nov. 12, 1pm, Capitol Extension Room E2.028) pairs the authors of A Curious Mix of People: The Underground Scene of '90s Austin and ATX Urban Art.

Resistance and Resilience

Two complementary panels explore the Black experience from the personal to the political and the poetical: Saturday panel Texas Authors on Navigating Black Womanhood in America (Nov. 11, 11am, First United Methodist Church, 1201 Lavaca) features Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton (Black Chameleon), Brianna Holt (In Our Shoes: On Being a Young Black Woman in Not-So "Post-Racial" America), and Melania Luisa Marte (Plantains and Our Becoming: Poems), while civil rights activist Ernest McMillian (Standing: One Man's Odyssey During the Turbulent '60s) and essayist Daniel Black (Black on Black: On Our Resilience and Brilliance in America) team up Sunday for From the 1960s to Present Day, How Black Resilience Has Shaped American Democracy (Nov. 12, 4:15pm, Book TV on C-SPAN 2).

Free and open to the public, the Texas Book Festival runs Nov. 11-12 in Downtown Austin. See the insert in our print issue for a complete schedule or visit

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