Tie-In Fiction, and Stepping Outside of Tribal Nerdery

Sometimes I wonder what color my vomit will be when someone tries to hold up Revenge of the Nerds as an important cultural piece of pop culture history.

That might sound crude, of course, but in my defense I didn’t specify what would cause the bodily ejection. I’ve just been at New York Comic Con, see, where I’ve been alternately drinking heavily and meandering through a crowd where we are all breathing heavily on each other and generally absorbed in the miasma of color and sound that is our beautiful pop culture landscape.

And it’s kind of hard to imagine going back to an era where nerds were persecuted.

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Fall 2016 Anime Preview: That Ice Skating Show

It’s that time again—new anime is here along with the fall leaves, and it is our duty, as usual, to divide the 2D wheat from the chaff. Fall is traditionally a strong season for anime, and though this one is a bit lacking, there are still a few new shows worth checking out. Joining a roster of strong sequels—Haikyu!! is back, along with Kyoto Animation’s Sound! Euphonium, the second part of Bungo Stray Dogs and Iron-Blooded Orphans, and the fifth season of Natsume Yuujinchou (hallelujah)—are a smattering of interesting offerings. Fans of madcap comedies might check out ClassicaLoid, a show about classical composers making magical gyoza, and shoujo and BL fans can unite this season over unlikely romcom Kiss Him Not Me. If you’re in the UK, count yourself lucky because The Great Passage, a literary drama about publishing a dictionary, is apparently available only in your region.

And if you just want the best of the season’s new anime without all the funny business, keep reading—I’ve picked three promising shows that you can start watching right this minute. Here’s a little hint: axel, lutz, loop.

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Revealing the Table of Contents for The Djinn Falls in Love

Imagine a world filled with fierce, fiery beings, hiding in our shadows, in our dreams, under our skins. Eavesdropping and exploring; savaging our bodies, saving our souls. They are monsters, saviours, victims, childhood friends. Some have called them genies: these are the Djinn.

Editors Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin have teamed up for The Djinn Falls in Love, and Other Stories, bringing together over 20 new and classic tales of Djinn from amazing authors from all around the world. The anthology publishes in March 2017 with Solaris, and we’re excited to share the full table of contents—including works from K.J. Parker, Nnedi Okorafor, and Neil Gaiman—below!

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The Medieval Origins of Halloween

We’ve been knee-deep in pumpkin spice for weeks, now, which means (1) Starbucks may be part of a secret cabal intent on world domination through tasty means, and (2) Halloween is nigh. We all know what Halloween is these days—costumes and candy, pumpkins and fright nights—but that doesn’t mean the holiday makes sense. Sure, it’s fun to play dress-up and eat buckets of candy, but how did such a strange tradition start? Why do we do it on the same day every year? In short, where did this whole Halloween thing come from?

Well, like most awesome things (the medievalist said with all the bias), it begins in the Middle Ages.

[How? Let’s start with the word and see…]

Series: Medieval Matters

The Sequel to Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere is Coming to Radio!

Radio 4 is producing “How the Marquis Got his Coat Back”, the follow-up to Gaiman’s 1996 novel/BBC series Neverwhere. The novella was originally published in George R.R. Martin’s Rogues anthology, and features the fantastic Marquis de Carabas’ attempts to retrieve his beloved coat, amongst other adventures. The cast of this new radio drama is The most interesting thing here is that the casts from both the ‘90s BBC television series and the 2012 radio production will combine to form a giant mega cast! The Marquis will once again be played by Paterson Joseph, while Richard Mayhew and Old Bailey will be played by two veterans of the radio production, James McAvoy and Bernard Crimmins.

And as if all that isn’t enough, Neil Gaiman is also making an appearance! He’ll play The Boatman, who ferries The Marquis across Mortlake, the River of the Dead.

McAvoy enthused about his return to London Below, saying, “It’s just a privilege professionally… it’s just fun to go back into that world where so much is unknown and anything is possible.”

And Neil Gaiman is excited to revisit the character, saying, “The Marquis is probably the most fun character I’ve ever written. He is always unpredictable, he is conniving, he is unreliable. He is… especially in Neverwhere, we see him from the outside. So I thought, it would be fun to see him from the inside. It would be fun to watch what happens when we’re actually following the Marquis on a usual day! I mean, a usual day for him seems to involve the threat of him losing his life, several old enmities coming back, brainwashing and some unwanted family relationships. Plus, having to wear a poncho.”

You can head over to Radio Times for a special “first listen” preview of the drama and to read more about the production. “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back” will be on Radio 4 on 4 November, and available at BBC iPlayer thereafter.

Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a copy of Mark Cotta Vaz and Nick Nunziata’s Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, available now from Harper Design!

Released in 2006, Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth was hailed as a dark, thrilling masterpiece and announced the filmmaker as a major creative force, garnering him a loyal fan base attracted to his technical skill and wild imagination.

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of this acclaimed fantasy, Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth provides the definitive account of the film’s creation. Written in close collaboration with the director, this volume covers everything from del Toro’s initial musings, through to the film’s haunting creature designs, the hugely challenging shoot, and the overwhelming critical and fan reaction upon the its release.

Including exquisite concept art and rare unit photography from the set, Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth gives readers an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at how this modern classic was crafted for the screen. The book also draws on interviews with every key player in the film’s creation, including stars Ivana Baquero, Sergi López, Maribel Verdu, and Doug Jones; producers Alfonso Cuarón and Bertha Navarro; and director of photography Guillermo Navarro, to present the ultimate behind-the-scenes look at this unforgettable cinematic classic.

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 12:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on October 20th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on October 24th. 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.

Warbreaker Reread: Chapter 1

Welcome back to the Warbreaker reread! Last week, we met a grumpy old man with a bizarrely cheerful sword. This week, we meet the Idrian royal family, and are introduced to the political tensions which will drive much of the plot.

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!

[Lord God of Colors]

Series: Warbreaker Reread

Gandalf Brings Street Magic to Middle-earth!

What if Gandalf, rather than being a serious wizard on a mission, decided to have a little fun with his magical talents? In College Humor’s Gandalf: Street Magic, we see a much more David Blaine-esque Gandalf, merrily blowing minds with sleight of hand…and leading to the occasional orc murder. But be warned: this magic show has a twist ending, and it’s also most likely NSFW, unless you work in a place that features lots of wizard nudity.

[In which case, congratulations on having such a rad job!]

Midnight in Karachi Episode 68: Naomi Alderman

Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad.

Zombies Run! co-creator and one of Granta’s Best of British Novelists Naomi Alderman is on the podcast this week to talk about her new novel The Power, in which women develop the ability to electrocute at will. She talks about Sultana’s Dream, whether violence is gendered, writing both games and ‘literary’ fiction, Bob Dylan and the Nobel, and that permanent question—The Patriarchy: why?

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Series: Midnight in Karachi Podcast

The New Author’s Guide to Preparing For Book Events

So now your book is being published and you’re overwhelmed in general about things, and in specific about this event, and WHEN WILL THE HELPFUL EVENT WIZARD SHOW UP AND HELP YOU?

The wizard is in, friends, and it’s time to roll for initiative.

First, as a shiny new author, you should rethink how you look at events. It’s not just a single blip on your calendar and done. It’s a continuum. Your book event is like the first date in a long and fruitful relationship with a particular bookstore. Many authors have their first book events at their local bookstore, so this is a vital relationship.

And much like dating, debut book events can be confusing and stress-inducing. So where does a new author start?

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Wolverine Channels Johnny Cash in the First Trailer for Logan

How has it taken this long for someone to use Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” to describe beleaguered mutant Logan? Even after the mutants are gone—as seems to be the case in the first trailer for Logan, Hugh Jackman’s purportedly final Wolverine film—old man Logan staggers on. Speaking of old men, however, he and Professor X are on a road trip! To find a young girl who’s “like you, very much like you.”

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It Was The Best of Times, It Was The Worst of Times: James Gleick’s Time Travel: A History

If it’s true, as Alain de Botton has written, that “Most of what makes a book ‘good’ is that we are reading it at the right moment for us,” then maybe this wasn’t the ideal moment for me to have read James Gleick’s latest book, Time Travel: A History. On the whole, though, I did have a good time.

There’s much to commend. Gleick guides us on a fascinating survey of cultural attitudes towards time and how those have changed over time. He also recaps key scientific ideas about the physics of time and its most intriguing philosophical conundrums—such as the question of whether it actually exists. And, as promised by the book’s title, Gleick covers examples of time travel as depicted in literature and film, with particular emphasis on genre classics and enduring time travel tropes.

But this isn’t really a history of time travel, in the sense of charting the idea from its inception to recent instances. Nor is it a cultural history that uses time travel to probe social anxieties and trends, though there is some of that. Instead, Gleick’s book is a potpourri. Ideas are presented in a sequence that some may call adventurous and others will deem haphazard; some of Gleick’s book and film discussions outstay their welcome; and perhaps most surprisingly for a largely expository work, the prose is deliberately stylized, with healthy doses of attitude and editorializing throughout.

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