A Good Horror Story Hinges on Sincerity

I watch a lot of horror movies. However many you’re thinking right now, I regret to inform you that you have woefully underestimated the number of horror movies that I have watched in my lifetime. I watch a lot of horror movies. My earliest cinematic memories involve horror movies—Alien when I was three years old, sitting on my uncle’s lap in the living room of our old apartment; The Blob after a midnight trip to the emergency vet to have a cattail removed from my cat’s eye; Critters in my grandmother’s living room, elbows buried in the plush beige carpet, dreaming of marrying the handsome red-haired boy in the lead role. So many horror movies. The only form of media that has arguably had more of an influence on me than the horror movie is the superhero comic book (which is a whole different kettle of worms).

The standards of horror have changed with time, of course. The things we’re afraid of now and the things we were afraid of fifty years ago are not the same, and neither are the avatars we choose to face those fears. We’ve gone from jut-jawed heroes to final girls to clever kids to slackers who somehow stumbled into the wrong movie, and when it’s been successful, it’s been incredible, and when it’s failed, we haven’t even needed to talk about it, because everyone knows. But there’s one ingredient to a really good horror movie that has never changed—that I don’t think ever will change—that I think we need to think about a little harder.


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It’s Time to Light The Lights: The Unrepeatable Magic of the Theater

In this ongoing series, we ask SF/F authors to describe a specialty in their lives that has nothing (or very little) to do with writing. Join us as we discover what draws authors to their various hobbies, how they fit into their daily lives, and how and they inform the author’s literary identity!

As I write this, the control box has just given us the fifteen minute call. The rest I wrote earlier today; these lines I left until now, for immediacy. I have to go and talk to my cast. Nerves must be settled, egos massaged, quirks and querulousness calmed and general encouragements dispensed.

I’m directing an amateur production of Jessica Swales’s Blue Stockings. We’re entered in Bangor Festival, one of eight plays competing for glitz and glory and places in the Northern Ireland and All-Ireland Finals. In Ireland, amateur drama festivals are a Thing. The All-Ireland makes the news in Dublin. There are daily reports on RTE Radio. Standards are vertiginously high. Competition is Darwinian. To paraphrase the late, great football manager Bill Shankley: “Amateur drama isn’t a matter of life and death; it’s much more important than that.”

[You wonder where I find the time to write.]

Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: “The Pirates of Orion”

“The Pirates of Orion”
Written by Howard Weinstein
Directed by Bill Reed
Animated Season 2, Episode 1
Production episode 22020
Original air date: September 7, 1974
Stardate: 6334.1

Captain’s log. There’s been an outbreak of choriocytosis on the Enterprise, but McCoy has it under control, so the ship can still fulfill its mission to attend the dedication ceremony for a new Academy of Sciences on Deneb V. However, Spock collapses on the bridge and is taken to sickbay. He’s contracted choriocytosis, and it’s fatal to beings with copper-based blood.

The nearest supply of the only drug that can cure him is four days away, but Spock will only live for three. (Why the Enterprise didn’t stock up on the drug when the outbreak first occurred is left as an exercise for the viewer.) However, Kirk is able to arrange a delivery—the Potemkin is able to obtain the drug, they’ll transfer it to the Freighter Huron, which will deliver it to the Enterprise. Spock is put on restricted duty.

[We get what we want, plus our neutrality remains intact?]

Series: Star Trek: The Original Series Rewatch

Tor.com’s Lovecraftiana Sweepstakes!

On April 4th, Tor.com Publishing releases Ruthanna Emrys’s Winter Tide into the wild—and to celebrate, we want to send you a prize pack containing five Lovecraft-related tales!

One lucky winner will receive copies of:

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 1:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on March 29th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on April 2nd. 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.

Are You Ready to Float? Check Out the New Trailer for Stephen King’s IT

Some of us don’t need any more reasons to fear clowns, but for those sunny few who were OK with them, Stephen King released a massive book called IT in 1986 that gave us the scariest clown imaginable. And now Mama director Andrés Muschietti has directed a new adaptation of the story, and if the trailer is anything to go by it’s going to be exactly the horror movie everyone wants. Bill Skarsgård looks perfect as Pennywise, and the Loser’s Club looks promising, too.

Click through for the full trailer!

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How “Tallyho!” is Not Always Applicable to Airship Battles

They say it’s not the fall that kills you—for Josette Dupre, the Corps’ first female airship captain, it might just be a bullet in the back.

And yet somehow author Robyn Bennis always finds a way to make that kind of situation funny.

Below is just one example from her forthcoming military fantasy adventure novel The Guns Above—out on May 2nd from Tor Books—which chronicles Dupre’s struggle to achieve victory despite her doubting crew, her untested airship, and the shameless Lord Bernat, a gambling flirt who is actively trying to undermine her command.

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H.P. Lovecraft and the Chamber of Secrets: Lovecraft and William Lumley’s “The Diary of Alonzo Typer”

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 William Lumley’s “The Diary of Alonzo Typer,” first published in the February 1938 issue of Weird Tales. Spoilers ahead.

[“I turned to flee, but found that vision of the titan paws before me…”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

Why the Next SpaceX Launch Is Important

SpaceX is constantly making headlines, so to say that the next launch is important seems disingenuous; after all, between supplying our astronauts on the ISS and successfully landing the first stage of their Falcon 9 rocket, it seems as though every launch is important. Which certainly is the case. There’s nothing easy or routine about spaceflight, after all.

But SpaceX’s next launch, currently scheduled for Thursday, March 30, a 6:27 PM EDT, is different. It’s historic. And if it’s successful, it’s going to shape the trajectory of things to come. Tomorrow, SpaceX plans on flying a reused first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket for the first time.

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Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind: A New Kind of Action Hero

Over 30 years ago—in March of 1984—Hayao Miyazaki’s first original movie soared into theaters. This was Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, and it proved a watershed moment in the history of anime. Here was a film built around real thematic concerns, with a heroine who fronted an action movie without becoming an action cliché. Here monsters were revealed to be good, and humans were revealed to be… complicated. Here, Miyazaki created a film that would serve as a template for the rest of his career.

And maybe best of all, Nausicaä’s success led to the foundation of Studio Ghibli the following year.

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Little Girl Meets a Water Heater, Decides It’s a Robot Friend

If you need a dose of adorable child behavior today, we’ve got you covered! Redditor shadeogreen shared this delightful video of his daughter Rayna—the two were out for a neighborhood stroll when Rayna encountered a water heater, decided it was a robot, and greeted it like a long-lost friend. So now we know who to send as humanity’s ambassador when the uprising comes.

Click through for the cutest video you’ll see this side of the Singularity.

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