Wow, the Iron Throne Makes an Excellent Phone Charger!

Finally, a use for all those weird little cocktail swords!

YouTube crafters Natural Nerd have a new video up showing viewers how to make their own custom Iron Throne phone charger. It’s marvelously simple, and could make for a good starter project if you’re interested in exploring nerd crafts. Basically, make a throne out of blocks of wood, glue on a ton of cocktail swords, coat in metallic paint, and thread in the charger cord, and you’re there!

[Click through for how-to]

Healthcare for All, Even the Monsters: Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw

Vivian Shaw has written an astoundingly accomplished debut novel. Let’s get one thing out of the way first: Strange Practice is really good, a compelling, well-characterised novel with tight pacing and a great sense of humour. You should run, not walk, to get your copy now.

(Seriously. I’m not joking. It’s so good.)

Dr. Greta Helsing inherited a highly specialised medical practice. From her consulting rooms on Harley St., where she operates on a shoestring budget, she runs a clinic for the monsters that hardly anyone knows about. (She sees, for example, cases of vocal strain in banshees, flu in ghouls, bone rot in mummies, and depression in vampires.) Greta’s just barely making ends meet, but she’s living the life she’s always wanted. She’s making people’s lives—people who can’t easily access medical care anywhere else—better.

[Read more]

I Want My Necromancy: H.P. Lovecraft and C.M. Eddy Jr.’s “The Loved Dead”

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

Today we’re looking at Lovecraft and C.M. Eddy, Jr.’s “The Loved Dead,” first published in the May-June-July 1924 issue of Weird Tales. Spoilers ahead.

[“It is midnight. Before dawn they will find me and take me to a black cell…”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

Five Books About Strange Cities

There are lots of rules about writing, but few worth paying any heed. But one concept I would argue for is that character is everything—without character you have no story, you have no plot, you have no consequences, no changes, no desires, no obstacles, no goals. Everything—and I mean everything—in a great novel comes from great character.

And character doesn’t need to be limited to those who walk and talk and have their adventures between the pages of your favourite novel. Some of the best books use setting as character—the place in which the action unfolds can be just as important as the people (or robots or aliens or super-intelligent shades of the colour blue) whose trials and tribulation we follow.

Here are five books where the setting—in this case, strange cities—is key.

[Read more]

Series: Five Books About…

Get an Early Unreleased Novel by Brandon Sanderson Over on The 17th Shard

Epic fantasy readers can now get a deep look at what Brandon Sanderson’s creative process was like before he became a published author!

Before fantasy author Brandon Sanderson debuted on book shelves with 2005’s Elantris, he wrote several novels. Some of them were practice; novels not meant to see the light of day. Some of them were rough drafts of the books that eventually became Elantris, Mistborn, and White Sand, and some of them are non-canonical tales that contain the seeds of what would eventually grow into Sanderson’s all-encompassing Cosmere.

Aether of Night is one of those early non-canonical novels, and it’s now available to read for free through Sanderson fan forum The 17th Shard.

[Read more]

Finding Horror in the Details: Revenge by Yoko Ogawa

Yoko Ogawa has been gifting Japan with dark, obsessive fiction for over thirty years, but only some of her work in currently available in English. Ogawa’s debut The Breaking of the Butterfly won the 1988 1988 Kaien literary Prize, and since then she’s written a number of bestselling and award-winning novels and short stories, two of which were adapted into films. In 2006, she teamed up with a mathematician, Masahiko Fujiwara to write a non-fiction work about the beauty of numbers titled An Introduction to the World’s Most Elegant Mathematics. She won 2008’s Shirley Jackson Award for Best Collection for The Diving Pool.

Revenge, which came out in 1998 in Japan, was translated into English by Stephen Snyder in 2013. It’s what’s referred to as “a collection of linked short stories”—but here the links tend to be macabre hinges that hint at a darker and far more frightening world than what we see on the page.

[Read more]

Illustrating the Arc of a Series: The Art of the Bone Universe

As I gleefully watched my Bone Universe come to life through Tommy Arnold’s stunning art over the past three years, I’ve noticed both small details and bigger themes—from wing architecture to landscape to color choices.

With the series’ conclusion this fall (September 26th—and, hey! you can preorder your copy of Horizon now!), one of the things I wanted most to do was to talk with Tommy and Tor’s Creative Director, Irene Gallo, about their processes and how they went about making this series resonate visually.

Luckily, they were happy to oblige.
[Read more]

Space Opera, Now With Poetry Contests! Tor Books to Publish Debut Novel From Arkady Martine

Tor Books recently announced a debut space opera from author and historian Arkady Martine. The novel will follow the adventures of a diplomat from a spacefaring port, who has to solve her predecessor’s murder while thwarting the galactic empire that wants to annex her people. But, more importantly, Martine promises that there will “plot-bearing poetry contests” in the book, so we’re looking forward to depictions of zero-G lyrical battles! But please, no spoken word entries…

[Read more]

Matt Groening Will Riff on Fantasy Tropes with New Animated Series Disenchantment

After introducing us to the 31st century with Futurama, Matt Groening is exploring the other side of the SF/F divide for Netflix: His next project is the adult animated comedy Disenchanted, set in a fantasy land populated by princesses and elves and orcs yet also filled with the same quotidian issues as our ordinary human lives.

[Read more]

Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: Star Trek Beyond

Star Trek Beyond
Written by Simon Pegg & Doug Jung
Directed by Justin Lin
Release date: July 22, 2016
Stardate: 2263.2

When Star Trek Beyond was released a year ago, I reviewed it for this site, and even did it in the rewatch format. My take on the movie hasn’t really changed, so I present that review once again to finish off the movie portion of the Original Series Rewatch. Next week, the TOS Rewatch will conclude with an overview of the ten films.

Captain’s log. Three years into the Enterprise’s five-year mission to explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations, and boldly go where no one has gone before, Kirk is suffering a bit of burnout. Things have gotten almost “episodic,” he laments in his log. (Ahem.)

[I joined on a dare……]

Series: Star Trek: The Original Series Rewatch

Continuing Adventures: Sovereign by April Daniels

April Daniels’ debut novel, Dreadnought, opened a fresh new young adult superhero series. I don’t normally like superhero series, but I really liked this one—it grabbed you by the throat and didn’t let go.

Sovereign is Dreadnought’s sequel. It has the same verve and energy as Dreadnought, but instead of being, essentially, Danny Tozer’s origin story as the superhero Dreadnought, it shows her facing the difficulties of working as a superhero with limited support—either physical or emotional. She’s protecting her home city of New Port pretty much on her own even though she’s still a minor; her parents are transphobic assholes who kicked her out of their house; her mentor, Doc Impossible, is an android who is also an alcoholic; she’s grown apart from her friend Calamity; she has had to retain a lawyer and publicist; and New Port’s only other resident superhero, Graywytch, is a transphobic gender essentialist “radical feminist” who really hates Danny for being trans and wants Danny either dead or no longer a superhero—preferably both.

[That’s just where Danny’s problems begin.]

The One Book That Taught Me There’s More to Life Than Sniffing Unicorn Poo: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Though many years have passed since I first laid my eyes on The One Book, I still remember the gray October afternoon as if it were but yesterday. When I cradled The One Book in my trembling hands, a part of me might have sensed that my life was about to change for good. But did I anticipate what I was up for?

No, I really didn’t. Had I chosen differently if I’d known what reading that novel would do to me? Absolutely not.

[Read more]