The Great Stephen King Reread: Cell

As surely as the sun rises in the east, every few years Stephen King will mention retiring, the press will jump on it with both feet, the world will spread far and wide that “The King is Dead”, and minutes later King will have another book on the market that his publishers call “his return to true horror.” In 2002, King told the LA Times he was retiring while promoting From a Buick 8. After about 15 minutes, Stephen King was back, and this time it was with a zombie novel dedicated to George Romero and Richard Matheson, and Scribner was thrilled that their multi-million investment in King was paying off with a new horror novel.

They printed 1.1 million copies and, to promote it, they got Nextones to send texts asking people to join the Stephen King VIP Club where they could buy $1.99 Cell wallpapers for their mobile phones and two ringtones of King himself intoning, “It’s okay, it’s a normie calling.” and “Beware. The next call you take may be your last.” King wanted it to say, “Don’t answer it. Don’t answer it,” but Marketing nixed that idea. The result? Parent company Simon & Schuster got sued for unsolicited telephone advertising in Satterfield v. Simon & Schuster to the tune of $175/plaintiff, or $10 million total. With a price tag like that, good thing Cell is one hell of a 9/11 novel.

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Series: The Great Stephen King Reread

Revealing a New Fantasy Series From R.A. Salvatore

As the Blood Moon rises high upon the mountain of the Usgar a demon hunts.

But this is not the demon’s story.

Child of a Mad God is the story of a young woman, the daughter of a witch, born under the Blood Moon, how she finds herself alone in a tribe of vicious barbarians, and how she came to know the world. The novel, out from Tor Books on February 6, 2018, kicks off a new fantasy series from R.A. Salvatore, the same author beloved for his Legend of Drizzt series.

Check out Larry Rostant’s full cover below.

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Jon Hamm is a Hologram Ghost in the Marjorie Prime Trailer

In some ways, the upcoming sci-fi indie Marjorie Prime brings to mind Spike Jonze’s Her: Jon Hamm is a computer program whose personality and engagement is fine-tuned for one particular recipient, the titular Marjorie (Lois Smith). But the drama, adapted from Jordan Harrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, also invokes Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, specifically the episode “Be Right Back”: Hamm’s character is not just any artificial intelligence, but Walter, Marjorie’s late husband, helping her recover memories from their past together.

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From Herring to Marmalade: The Perfect Structure of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

You know those polished wooden egg puzzles that people buy for you, the kind that are beautiful when they’re an egg but that fall apart into shards that seem impossible for mortals to reassemble? Then maybe after a lot of trying suddenly all these impossible three dimensional jigsaw pieces suddenly slot together and you have a lovely fragile egg again?

Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency always reminds me of one of those.

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Driving Without Wonder: Pixar’s Cars

Disney executives watched the success of the Pixar films with mingled joy and alarm. On the one hand, the Pixar films—particularly Finding Nemo and the two Toy Story films—were bringing quite a bit of money into their coffers, both in box office receipts and ancillary merchandise revenue. On the other hand—well, after the late 1990s, most of the Disney produced animated films were losing money, and only Lilo & Stitch was bringing in anything close to the ancillary revenue generated through sales of little Woodys, Buzz Lightyears, Monsters and Nemos.

Pixar arguably was overtaking Disney on what had been their exclusive, lucrative domain. (Arguably, since other studios had also produced financially successful full length animated movies, and the Disney issues had more to do with the quality of their films than with their rivals.) And, far more alarmingly, relationships between the two companies were slowly but surely disintegrating, even as Pixar animators showed Disney executives concept art of talking cars.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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