Immortality, but at what price, in what form, and how could you be you? In the near future it’s possible to build a new you, a better you, one that could carry on forever. But if you could carry on, if you could make choices about who you would be forever, how much of your past would you bring with you? Would you be tempted to maybe…edit? Adam isn’t all that he used to be, but he wants to be.
The last book that got its hooks into me struck at Chinggis Khan airport in Ulaanbaatar. A friend and I were returning from a long stay off the grid with Kazakh nomads in Mongolia’s far west. We were saddle sore from a trip across the Altai mountains in a Russian jeep, suffering from intestinal parasites, and reeking of yak dung. But we had Kindles, and something passing (in Mongolia) for Wi-Fi. “Read this,” my friend said, and stuck this opening under my nose:
“If I could tell you one thing about my life it would be this: when I was seven years old the mailman ran over my head. As formative events go, nothing else comes close.”
Thank God for books. They can take you from anywhere, to anywhere. Not all of them do it as precipitously as Brady Udall’s The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint—there are ways to be transported that don’t involve such a dozy of a first step—but as an author myself I swoon over such writing.
From 2008-2011, Marvel Studios provided an excellent blueprint for setting up what we now refer to as the Marvel Cinematic Universe: two Iron Man films, a Hulk film, a Thor film, and Captain America: The First Avenger. All standalone movies, but with various common elements and through-lines (the Stark family tree, S.H.I.E.L.D., the Infinity Stones) to come together in Avengers, which remains the gold standard. It works as the first Avengers movie as well as the next movie for each of the above characters.
In 2015, Marvel went back to that blueprint for their more ground-level Netflix television series based in New York. Two seasons of Daredevil, and one each of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, culminating in The Defenders, now live on Netflix.
Here’s a quick look at the first three episodes and whether or not they bode well for history repeating itself. (There will be a full review on Monday.)
In January, Orbit Books announced that it had acquired three new novels from N. K. Jemisin, including a contemporary fantasy “dealing with themes of race and power in New York City.” In a recent interview with Playboy, Jemisin—who just won the Hugo Award for Best Novel for The Obelisk Gate—shared more about how the novel will grapple with “basically Cthulhu” and the legacy of H.P. Lovecraft.
The Louvre Museum in Paris is an architectural marvel, a palace built upon, renovated, and expanded from its origins as a fortress. Even awe would be an understatement to describe the feeling exploring its vast wings, its incredible Pyramide du Louvre, not to mention the most epic collection of artwork on display in the world. The first time I visited, I got completely lost, in part, because it’s one of the world’s largest museums at over 652,000 square feet. In between trying to track down the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and the Egyptian antiquities, my legs gave out after a half a day of hapless wandering.
The second time I visited (which was almost ten years later), I had a much better experience, knowing exactly where I wanted to go, even getting a good grasp of its layout. This wasn’t the result of having learned my way around during my first visit, but rather because I had the official Nintendo DS Louvre Guide to lead me, complete with a GPS and 3D Imaging designed specifically for the museum—on rent for just five Euros at any of the booths.
We want to send you a copy of Pierre Christin’s Valerian: The Illustrated Treasury, available now from Titan Books!
Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets introduced audiences to a future populated by weird and wonderful aliens and laced with incredible futuristic technology. Now discover the universe of the original Valerian and Laureline comic books!
Valerian: The Illustrated Treasury gives a comprehensive overview of the Valerian and Laureline comic-book universe, featuring information on key locations (including Central Point), transport, galactic anomalies and a timeline of the major events in the series. This richly illustrated book also introduces many of the alien races and characters—friendly and hostile—and there is a special section on the ever-popular Shingouz.
Printed in English for the first time, Valerian: The Illustrated Treasury is a wonderful addition to the Valerian franchise and features full-color artwork by Valerian and Laureline artist Jean-Claude Mézières.
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Eclipses are pretty darn cool even in real life, so it’s fitting that in science fiction and fantasy they get their due as legitimately monumental events. Dragon’s blood shed, the sapping of powers, aliens invading under cover of darkness… a lot can happen when planetary bodies pass between the sun and Earth—or whatever world our heroes inhabit. The six eclipses in these SFF stories mean serious business, with the power to change laws, avoid executions, and break spells. Grab your eclipse glasses!
It’s fitting that the subtitles on the first teaser for Marvel and Netflix’s The Punisher includes a lot of “[muffled grunting]” because that about sums up what we see: Frank Castle wielding a fearsome sledgehammer while voiceover-ing about painful memories and the past being the devil you sold your soul to.
Sometimes a book comes into your life at just the right moment. There’s something in it that speaks to your specific place in space and time, like the heavens aligning for an eclipse.
I spent my 16th year as an exchange student in France, living with a French family, attending a French school, and being completely immersed in the language—which I barely spoke a word of when I arrived. Even though I was an obsessive reader, I left my books at home. The whole point, I’d reasoned, was to forsake English for a year while I learned a different language. I rapidly realized my mistake—I was forlorn without books that I could understand.
So I wrote a letter to my Great Aunt Joan. In my reading life, my Aunt Joan was the Gandalf to my Frodo, the Merlin to my Arthur. She was responsible for most of the great literary loves of my childhood: the Moomins, Oz, the Dark is Rising series—all of them came from her. I wrote to her and I told her how forsaken I felt without any books that spoke to my heart.
In fact, she is like most artists; she is all style, without any sincerity. She would not sacrifice herself for others. She thinks merely of music, and everybody knows that the arts are selfish.
Poet, dramatist and wit Oscar Wilde had a decided taste for fairy tales, even in some of his most mundane work. His play The Importance of Being Earnest, for instance, ends with a scene that could be lifted straight from any of a hundred stories of children lost at birth eventually found by parents, if with more than a touch of Wilde’s mockery: “To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.” Take that, all of you abandoned and kidnapped fairy tale princes and princesses!
But his mockery could not hide his genuine love for the genre. He indulged this love in two collections of fairy tales: The Happy Prince and Other Tales (1888) and The House of Pomegranates (1891). “The Nightingale and the Rose,” a response to Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Nightingale,” is in the first. Wilde admired the way Andersen used his fairy tales to critique society—something Wilde himself would do in his own tales—but profoundly disagreed with Andersen’s depictions of sacrifice and with Anderson’s preference for the natural over the manufactured and artificial. His own tale takes a decidedly different approach.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Obi-Wan Kenobi is the next Star Wars character to get a standalone movie. Sources say that director Stephen Daldry (The Hours, The Reader, Billy Elliot) is in talks to helm the project, which does not yet have a script. But more importantly—does it have an Ewan McGregor??
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!
“You like creepy stuff?” a woman whom we referred to as June Moon asked me. “Let me show you something.” June Moon opened a flat file drawer behind the counter and pulled out a promotional picture of a clown dressed in red and white, holding a bunch of balloons. I was 11 at the time and when I saw the photo, I knew what June Moon was showing me. “You know who that is, right?” It was impossible not to know. John Wayne Gacy had just been executed the month before and was all over the news. He’d lived in Chicago, ten minutes from my house. “An original promotional photo, signed,” June Moon said, proud. My mom smiled from across the antique shop, aware but unconcerned.
Randyll Tarly is not the nicest person on Game of Thrones. He named his son Dickon. He bullied his other son, Samwell, and gave him the choice between joining the Night’s Watch and death. In George R.R. Martin’s books, he’s horrible to Brienne of Tarth — when he’s not tormenting Dickon’s father-in-law or attacking his wife’s family.
But still, Randyll Tarly has had a, shall we say, rough time lately on the TV show. Even by the standards of Game of Thrones, which tortures everyone. And in the process, Randyll provided an answer to the most baffling Thrones question right now.
Spoilers for recent episodes below…
In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan is a stand-alone portal fantasy in which the reader follows Elliot Schafer—a redheaded bisexual boy with a fantastically bad attitude and sharp tongue—through his adolescence, primarily spent in a magical land on the other side of a mostly-invisible border wall located in rural England. Elliot, at age thirteen, is thoroughly acquainted with the tropes of portal fantasies; this is, in large part, the reason he decides to abandon his damaging home life for the unknown.
However, it turns out that “the unknown” isn’t a world that needs a magical protagonist to save it. Instead, he finds himself in a militant and conflict-ravaged country where alliances are falling apart as councilors are funneled out of war-rooms and bad treaties spring up like mushrooms after a rain. So, naturally, our young protagonist—himself a pacifist—decides to turn his considerable abilities in study and manipulation to improving the world he finds himself in. He also, at the same time, begins forging the relationships that will save his life and the political future of his new country.
The adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens is picking up steam! We already have the perfect Crowley and Aziraphale (in case you didn’t know, it’s DAVID TENNANT AND MICHAEL SHEEN), but that’s just the beginning of the casting process. We have some suggestions for the rest of the adult characters—we’re not casting the kids ’cause kids are hard. They just… grow up, and change rapidly, and then your perfect ensemble cast is destroyed. Let us know what you think of our ideas, and make more suggestions in the comments!
Welcome back to the Warbreaker reread! Last week, everyone was either rescued or died to save someone else. This week, a solution to that Lifeless army is finally identified and put into action, and Our Heroes are poised to begin the next phase of life on Nalthis.
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!
[“They are your responsibility now. Do better with them than I did.”]