The Wild Cards universe has been thrilling readers for over 25 years.
One act of terrorism changes the life of Michael “Drummer Boy” Vogali forever in Stephen Leigh’s “The Atonement Tango.” Now without his band, Joker Plague, Michael must figure out a way to re-build his life–and seek revenge.
Moena lives in a world of her own making, sealed off from the deadly pathogens of Bangalore in her own personal biome. But when she meets Rahul, a beautiful man working to clean up his city, her need for him draws her into danger. She will risk her health and her work to satisfy her lust for Rahul, and may find love along the way.
“A Human Stain” by Kelly Robson is a disturbing horror novelette about a British expatriate at loose ends who is hired by her friend to temporarily care for his young, orphaned nephew in a remote castle-like structure in Germany.
The Wild Cards universe has been thrilling readers for over 25 years. In Carrie Vaughn’s “The Thing about Growing Up in Jokertown,” a group of teenage jokers yearn to explore outside the confines of their strange little neighborhood and get a real taste of the Big Apple.
Oona’s blood is a river delta blending east and west, her hair red as Tennessee clay, her heart tangled as the wild lands she maps. By tracing rivers in ink on paper, Oona pins the land down to one reality and betrays her people. Can she escape the bonds of gold and blood and bone that tie her to the Imperial American River Company?
In the wake of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, as we wait with bated breath for the moment Harry Potter and the Cursed Child comes to Broadway, I’ve been revisiting the story of Draco Malfoy and pondering how some of the lessons his life provides tend to be overshadowed by the exploits of Harry, Hermione, and Ron.
A quick reading of Draco is that he’s a racist, a white supremacist, and a product of his awful environment. For some people, the analysis of Harry Potter’s nemesis ends there. But I’ve always thought that there was more to the character than just a broad villain. I’ve always seen Draco as both a tragic figure and a character that fans of the Harry Potter books can, and should, learn from. Draco’s character arc is something that is especially important in the times we’re embarking on now.
For most Star Wars fans, there’s one true thing that surrounds us, and binds us. Sure, we may squabble about which movie is the best and argue over who Snoke really is (it’s the angry resurrected ghost of Qui-Gon Jinn, obvs), but we all agree that there’s no such thing as too much Star Wars. But the fact is, only so much Star Wars exists. Granted, when all’s told between movies, TV shows, canon novels, non-canon novels, video games, board games, and comics, there’s a lot of content out there. But as the dust is settling on the box office juggernaut that is Rogue One, a grim reality is taking hold: there’s eleven long months that separate us from our next cinematic Star Wars fix. And if you’ve already read/watched/consumed everything there is to consume, you’re going to need to fill your time with…something.
Well, if you can’t have Star Wars, there’s always the next best thing: Stuff that’s like Star Wars! Here’s six novels that can help tide you over until Episode VIII drops in December.
I emerged from the fourth season of the BBC’s once awesome Sherlock in a kind of incoherent rage at what successful writers get away with when they are, apparently, deemed too big to fail. I’m not the only one, of course. There was a nice skewering of the show’s degeneration from cerebral mystery to James Bond-lite action film in the Guardian and the program’s principal show runner, Steven Moffat, has been drawing feminist flak since season two, so rather than go after elements of the show itself (and spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it in the process) I want to step back from Sherlock and focus on a troubling element I’ve seen in a lot of recent storytelling: the disastrous pursuit of surprise.
I’m talking about plot twists, and I’ll start by saying yes, I love them. There are few more compelling feelings than reading a book or watching a TV show and suddenly thinking “Wait! This isn’t what I thought it was at all! Everything I thought I knew about this story was wrong! The good guys are the bad guys (or vice versa). Up is down and black is white and I can’t wait to see how this works out!!!”
The Incrementalists are a secret society of two hundred people—an unbroken lineage reaching back forty thousand years. They cheat death, share lives and memories, and communicate with one another across nations and time. They have an epic history, an almost magical memory, and a very modest mission: to make the world better, a little bit at a time.
Now Phil, the Incrementalist whose personality has stayed stable through more incarnations than anyone else’s, has been shot dead. They’ll bring him back—but first they need to know what happened. Their investigation will lead down unexpected paths in Arizona, and bring them up against corruption, racism, and brutality in high and low places alike.
But the key may lay in one of Phil’s previous lives, in “Bleeding Kansas” in the late 1850s—and the fate of the passionate abolitionist we remember as John Brown.
Some English translations of Household Tales, aka The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, place “The Twelve Huntsmen” in the front. Some hide the tale in the center, and others omit the story altogether. Rather befitting a story that, although definitely collected by the Grimms, in many ways seems to be the complete antithesis of what they originally hoped to do with their fairy tale collection—both in the original edition, most definitely not edited or published with children in mind, and the later editions, which were.
Everyone in the Good Place has lived an exceptional life — everyone, that is, except Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), who arrives there seemingly by mistake after dying in a freak shopping-cart accident. She is, as she charitably describes herself, “a medium person,” but once she’s in the Good Place she wants to stay, so she enlists her soulmate Chidi to teach her how to be good and hopefully earn her place there. What makes The Good Place (just picking up from its mid-season break on NBC) so brilliant is the ways it explores the moral ramifications of this dilemma without passing judgment on anyone, even Eleanor. She’s arguably the villain of the story, yet we sympathize with her because she represents all of us “medium” people.
In the pilot, Michael (Ted Danson), one of the “architects” of the Good Place, explains that each person’s destination after death is determined by the sum total goodness or badness of every action of their entire life. Most of us can get on board with this concept, which makes no mention of belief in or allegiance to a deity. Eleanor herself listens to this explanation with equanimity, even as Michael goes on to explain that only the very best humans who have ever lived make it into the Good Place—not even Florence Nightingale qualified.
Trust no one with anything—especially in Amberlough City.
Covert agent Cyril DePaul thinks he’s good at keeping secrets, especially from Aristide Makricosta. They suit each other: Aristide turns a blind eye to Cyril’s clandestine affairs, and Cyril keeps his lover’s moonlighting job as a smuggler under wraps.
Cyril participates on a mission that leads to disastrous results, leaving smoke from various political fires smoldering throughout the city. Shielding Aristide from the expected fallout isn’t easy, though, for he refuses to let anything—not the crooked city police or the mounting rage from radical conservatives—dictate his life.
Enter streetwise Cordelia Lehane, a top dancer at the Bumble Bee Cabaret and Aristide’s runner, who could be the key to Cyril’s plans—if she can be trusted. As the twinkling lights of nightclub marquees yield to the rising flames of a fascist revolution, these three will struggle to survive using whatever means—and people—necessary. Including each other.
Combining the espionage thrills of le Carré with the allure of an alternate vintage era, Amberlough will thoroughly seduce and enthrall you.
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Welcome back to the Warbreaker reread! Last week, Vivenna tried to figure out what to do with her newly-acquired Breath and herself in T’Telir, while Siri prepared for her Court presentation. This week, most of our main characters converge on the arena for the Assembly.
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.
They say a Rider in possession of a good blade must be in want of a monster to slay—and Merybourne Manor has plenty of monsters.
Passionate, headstrong Aliza Bentaine knows this all too well; she’s already lost one sister to the invading gryphons. So when Lord Merybourne hires a band of Riders to hunt down the horde, Aliza is relieved her home will soon be safe again.
Her relief is short-lived. With the arrival of the haughty and handsome dragonrider, Alastair Daired, Aliza expects a battle; what she doesn’t expect is a romantic clash of wills, pitting words and wit against the pride of an ancient house. Nor does she anticipate the mystery that follows them from Merybourne Manor, its roots running deep as the foundations of the kingdom itself, where something old and dreadful slumbers… something far more sinister than gryphons.
It’s a war Aliza is ill-prepared to wage, on a battlefield she’s never known before: one spanning kingdoms, class lines, and the curious nature of her own heart.
Elle Katharine White’s debut historical fantasy Heartstone recasts Jane Austen’s beloved Pride & Prejudice in an imaginative world of wyverns, dragons, and the warriors who fight alongside them against the monsters that threaten the kingdom. Available now from Harper Voyager!
So you want to run a reading series, do you? That’s fantastic news! The more places authors have to showcase their work, the better. But while running a reading series may seem like a cakewalk to the casual outside observer, there are many things you must consider to make sure your series is successful.
I’ve been co-hosting the Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series in Manhattan alongside Ellen Datlow for over eight years (the series itself has been running since the late 90s), and in that time I’ve learned many things about how to run a successful reading series, some of which I’ll share with you here.
Logan is the best fumbling dad slash reluctant comic book hero in the latest trailer for Logan, his standalone Wolverine-and-Professor-X-road-trip movie that looks kinda great. The two, who seem to be the last of their kind, are trying to make a run for it and hide from the cyborg baddies, when they pick up another passenger: young mutant Laura Kinney (Dafne Keen), a.k.a. X-23—a fact that the trailer fully embraces, showing her in action.
So many stories of leaving Earth to establish new homes on distant planets don’t consider what happens when we reach the fringes of our new territory—when distant space stations, and little else, mark the edges of human expansion. Some of these stations are established in neutral zones for negotiating with alien races; others are outposts to watch for old enemies’ returns; still others are cut off from the center of civilization, failed colonies or secret hiding places.
Space is limitless, human civilization less so. Hop aboard and set a course to explore the edges of space (and, in some cases, time) with these five stations.
These corgi YA book covers are fruits of a fun little competition that Eric Smith created as a result of social media silliness around his adorable pup. The whole story is quite lovely, in fact, and you should read all about it over on his blog.
Today we are having some ’90s nostalgia thoughts, looking at readers from all over the world, and talking about stage adaptations!
The chances of anything coming from Mars were a million to one, but still, in The War of the Worlds, they came: they came, in aluminium cylinders the size of ships; they conquered, with their towering tripods and hellish heat rays; and then, believe it or not, they were beaten—by bacteria!
So the story goes. But the story’s not over—not now that the estate of H. G. Wells has authorised a superb sequel by science fiction stalwart Stephen Baxter which, while overlong, turns the terrific tale Wells told in his time into the foundation of something greater.
The Massacre of Mankindtakes place a decade and change since the aliens’ initial invasion, and though the Martians may have been beaten, it would be foolishness in the first to conclude that they’re completely defeated. As Baxter has it, all we did was knock out the scouts. And it seems that those scouts served their purpose perfectly, because when the bad guys come back, they come back bigger, and better. Add to that the fact that they’ve adapted; I dare say no mere microbe is going to be their undoing on this day.
Here’s the cast of Stranger Things at their first table read! Plus, note new cast members Sadie Sink and Dacre Montgomery acting as bookends to the Season One cast. Collider shared the image along with the highlights of an interview in which the Duffer Brothers promise a bigger, “darker” season, and Noah Schnapp, who plays Will Byers, promises that he’ll have a lot more to do going forward.