The Trouble With Yetis: Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

Welcome to Freaky Fridays: War on Christmas edition! From now until Santa has murdered all the naughty children and Krampus is doing a jig in their guts, we’ll be talking about the weird old paperback novels that put the “ow” in snowman.

Normally, I don’t start these columns talking about the cover art, but look at that guy. Just look at him. What you’re seeing is the online dating profile used by the Abominable Snowman when he’s looking for a mate. First, he thoughtfully tells us his age (“thousands of years”) so that we understand he’s a sugar daddy looking for a sugar baby, then he makes sure we know his interests (likes to stalk the earth; is a foodie) ensuring his dietary preferences are front and center because, as we all know, most sugar babies are body conscious and wouldn’t be comfortable feasting at all, let alone on the flesh of humans, since they’re mostly vegan.

OKCupid says men’s profile photos are most effective when they look away from the camera and don’t smile. Yeti’s on it. You should be doing something interesting, preferably with your pet. Yeti is hiking, and he’s his own pet: done. eHarmony advises that your profile photo be flattering, genuine, and accurate. Check, check, and check again. He’s even listed his full name (Norman Bogner) under his username (Snowman). Okay, Yeti is ready to fire his proton torpedoes into your thermal exhaust port, so what’s stopping this hairy snowman? Turns out: everything. YETI IS TERRIBLE AT DATING.

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The Morning in Publishing: December 9, 2016

The Raven Cycle author Maggie Stiefvater hit a career highlight this week when a fan brought a live raven to one of her readings! We can only hope it asked a good question during the Q&A. If you’re looking for publishing news highlights, you’ve come to the right place! Click through and you will find news from Neil Gaiman, Brandon Sanderson, and even more best book of the year lists.

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Westworld and Superintelligence: Life Finds a Way

What will you do when the robots rise against us? We know it’s coming; even in a show like Westworld, where the robots (or “hosts”) are specifically designed not to hurt humans, they find a way. “Life finds a way,” as Jeff Goldblum said in the seminal classic of our time. But are these robots alive? And do they qualify as a superintelligent, smart enough to be an existential threat to humans? Let’s talk artificial intelligence in Westworld through the lens of Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom.

For many people, Bostrom’s book, released in 2014, is the definitive answer to the questions, “Will we eventually create an artificial intelligence powerful enough to doom ourselves? If so, how?” Bill Gates named it as one of two books we need to read in order to understand artificial intelligence. It’s safe to say that Superintelligence can help us understand the hosts in Westworld and their actions.

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John Glenn, 1921-2016

We are saddened to report the passing of astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth. Best known for his 1962 mission circling the Earth in the space capsule Friendship 7, Glenn also became the oldest man to travel to space at age 77, on the shuttle Discovery in 1998.

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Breaking Away from Your Programming: Wreck-It Ralph

By 2006, the Disney Animation Studios had collected a number of projects in various stages of development, including ideas that had been lingering around for decades, somehow never quite managing to take the next step into development stage. One of many such projects was a little thing about a video game—something Disney storyboard artists had worked on back in the 1980s, and then again in the 1990s, going nowhere until John Lasseter, Disney’s then-new Chief Creative Officer, hearing the magic words “video game,” thought of bringing up the concept to veteran television animation director Rich Moore.

[Even villains can want more out of life. Major spoilers ahead.]

Shirley Jackson Prize Pack Sweepstakes!

December 14, 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of Shirley Jackson’s birth. To celebrate, we’re taking a look at some of her most memorable novels and short fiction—and we’re sending one lucky winner a prize pack of five Jackson books!

One winner will receive:

We Have Always Lived in the Castle, from Penguin Classics
The Haunting of Hill House, from Penguin Classics
The Lottery and Other Stories, from Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery by Miles Hyman, from Hill and Wang
Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin, from Liveright

Comment in the post to enter!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States and D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec). To enter, comment on this post beginning at 2:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on December 8th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on December 12th. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Tor.com, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

Hearts of Darkness: The Short Fiction of Shirley Jackson

December 14, 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of Shirley Jackson’s birth. To celebrate, we’re taking a look at some of her most memorable novels and short fiction.

If you asked anyone about a American short story that stuck with them for their entire lives, it would not shock me if they were to think for a moment, and then say, “that one story, ‘The Lottery,’” followed up with some form of, “that shit is fucked up.”

One of the seminal works of American short fiction, “The Lottery” is the most widely-read piece of Shirley Jackson’s to worm its way into the heart of many a reader, but it is far from her only piece worth of attention. While “The Lottery” remains her best known story, Jackson was a prolific writer of short fiction, and though her other stories may not have involved a signature pile of smooth stones, they all demonstrate what Shirley Jackson did best: examined the domestic and interior lives of the insular, the middle class, the lonely, the strange, the aloof, and the cruel, and artfully spun their stories like a stained-glass spider illuminating an indifferent, dark, sharp world.

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Go On Home and Stop Smoking Scrolls: The Golden Child

It is your DESTINY to join me for another Movie Rewatch of Great Nostalgia! You cannot deny it! It was on a scroll and everything!

Today’s entry covers one of my favorite movies to quote of all time: 1986’s The Golden Child. Sweet!

Previous entries can be found here. Please note that as with all films covered on the Nostalgia Rewatch, this post will be rife with spoilers for the film.

And now, the post!

[“So, I gotta go to Tibet, because I’m the Chosen One. Why can’t anybody choose me to go to the Bahamas?” Excellent question, Mr. Jerrell]

Series: Movie Rewatch of Great Nostalgia

Battle Hill Bolero

Trouble is brewing between the Council of the Dead and the ghostly, half-dead, spiritual, and supernatural community they claim to represent. One too many shady deals have gone down in New York City’s streets, and those caught in the crossfire have had enough. It’s time for the Council to be brought down—this time for good.

Carlos Delacruz is used to being caught in the middle of things: both as an inbetweener, trapped somewhere between life and death, and as a double agent for the Council. But as his friends begin preparing for an unnatural war against the ghouls in charge, he realizes that more is on the line than ever before—not only for the people he cares about, but for every single soul in Brooklyn, alive or otherwise…

In the third book of Daniel José Older’s Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series, the time has come for the dead to rise up against the shady powers-that-be. Battle Hill Bolero is available January 3, 2017 from Roc.

[Read an Excerpt]

Warbreaker Reread: Chapter 8

Welcome back to the Warbreaker reread! Last week, Siri nervously entered the God King’s bedchamber, Lightsong pondered, and Blushweaver flirted. This week, Siri wakes, sleeps, explores, and wonders what to do with herself.

This reread will contain spoilers for all of Warbreaker and any other Cosmere book that becomes relevant to the discussion. This is particularly likely to include Words of Radiance, due to certain crossover characters. The index for this reread can be found here.

Click on through to join the discussion!

[Black rugs on a black floor with black furniture. These Hallandren certainly know how to run with a motif.]

Series: Warbreaker Reread

Musical Monsters: Revealing the Cover for Cassandra Khaw’s A Song for Quiet

We’re excited to share the cover for A Song for Quiet, book two in Cassandra Khaw’s Persons Non Grata dark fantasy series. Book one, Hammers on Bone, introduced the unusual occult detective John Persons, hired to hunt a monster. In this standalone story, Persons encounters a new threat that can summon inter-dimensional horrors through the magic of music.

Learn more about the novella and check out the full cover by artist Jeffrey Alan Love below!

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Agents of Chaos: Babylon’s Ashes by James S. A. Corey

The Expanse made a tremendous first impression, and the next novels in the blockbuster space opera Leviathan Wakes started went from strength to strength, knocking the overarching first contact narrative out of the park at the same time as remaining satisfyingly self-contained. But then there was a wobble—a wobble of opportunity squandered that nearly drove this reader from the series. It fell, finally, to Nemesis Games to right not a sinking ship, but one that was at least listing.

I was delighted that it did. By contracting as opposed to expanding—by firmly and finely focusing on the characters that had been at its heart from the start—Nemesis Games recaptured the intimate magic that The Expanse’s latter chapters lacked, and although it didn’t address the presence of the protomolecule, something dramatic did actually happen in book five: something that completely changed the state of play across the Milky Way.

[Spoilers for the series so far follow.]