Short Fiction Spotlight: Spring Smorgasbord

Welcome back to the Short Fiction Spotlight, a space for conversation about recent and not-so-recent short stories. We’ve covered some magazine issues and some collections recently, but that’s left out a lot of new publications—so, for the end of May, I thought a spring smorgasbord would be advisable. Round up various stories from a handful of different places and check ‘em out, the usual.


Series: Short Fiction Spotlight

The Bloody Chamber Sweepstakes!

Out now from Penguin Classics, the deluxe edition of The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories celebrates the 75th anniversary of Angela Carter’s birth and includes a new introduction from Kelly Link!

Angela Carter was a storytelling sorceress, the literary godmother of Neil Gaiman, David Mitchell, Audrey Niffenegger, J. K. Rowling, and other contemporary masters of supernatural fiction. In her masterpiece, The Bloody Chamber—which includes the story that is the basis of Neil Jordan’s 1984 movie The Company of Wolves—she spins subversively dark and sensual versions of familiar fairy tales and legends like “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Bluebeard,” “Puss in Boots,” and “Beauty and the Beast,” giving them exhilarating new life in a style steeped in the romantic trappings of the gothic tradition.

Comment in the post to enter!

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Five Books About Kickass Moms

Last year, I became a parent. The birth of my child was a transformative experience, and, since then, I’ve been drawn to stories about parents — their relationships with their children, the way parenthood affects their decisions, the endless possibilities for familial relationships. The day your first child is born, you wake up as Bilbo Baggins — naive, selfish — but then, suddenly, you are thrust into the role of Gandalf — teacher, protector.

Science Fiction and Fantasy is full of parents — loving parents (Lily Potter) and awful parents (King Robert Baratheon), incredible parents (Cordelia Vorkosigan) and mysterious parents (Tam al’Thor), and all around kickass parents (Zamira Drakasha). Parenthood affects them all differently, challenges their motivations, and changes the way they interact with the world around them. Without children, they would all be dramatically different people (even King Robert).

[Today, I’m going to look at books that feature kickass/brilliant/funny/interesting moms.]

Series: Five Books About…

By the Sword: The Ride

Mercedes Lackey doesn’t exactly play her cards close to her chest. Sure, sometimes you get an unexpected descendant of Vanyel or a series of events that seems like it must be Orthallen’s fault but which is never actually confirmed to be his doing, but major events are usually foreshadowed well in advance. If foreshadowed is the right word for “discussed in detail by multiple characters before the trilogy in which this event is the climax is even dreamt of by readers.”

And so it is with The Ride, which was featured in one of the songs that was included in the liner notes at the end of Arrow’s Fall.

[The action in the book goes down pretty much exactly as the song said it would, but with less meter and more context.]

Series: Heralds of Valdemar Reread

Here’s Margaret Atwood’s Book We’ll Never Get to Read

Margaret Atwood’s next book is sure to be a classic for our great-great-grandchildren, seeing as it won’t be readable until 2114. As the inaugural participant in the Future Library project, Atwood presented the manuscript for her book over the weekend and announced the title: Scribbler Moon. British publisher Hamish Hamilton documented the whole thing on Twitter, including this adorable photo of Atwood parting ways with her manuscript. Ninety-nine years from now, 10 of the 1,000 trees planted by this public arts project will be cut down to print Atwood’s book. Read more about the ceremony here.

Afternoon Roundup brings you human-sized dragons, Matt Damon on Mars, and a Doctor Who shooting locations tour!

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What Is The Frequency of Hope? Tomorrowland Never Quite Tells Us

Mad Max: Fury Road will remain firmly atop its pedestal as my favorite film of summer so far. Tomorrowland, despite all the hope and fairy dust, did not unseat it. And for anyone complaining that Fury Road had a “thin” plot… well, Tomorrowland’s plot is essentially: Hope is great! We should all have it! This is not to say it’s a bad film, but it is a simple one, and I am not its target audience. This is the kind of optimistic, gee whiz kids movie that the ’80s were particularly good at, and if you have a human under 14 in your home, you might want to drop it off at the theater and pick it up after.


The Wheel of Time Reread Redux: The Great Hunt, Part 2

Wherever there’s trouble, The Wheel of Time Reread Redux is there! And not even always because I caused it! Today’s Redux post will cover the Chapters 1 and 2 of The Great Hunt, originally reread in this post.

All original posts are listed in The Wheel of Time Reread Index here, and all Redux posts will also be archived there as well. (The Wheel of Time Master Index, as always, is here, which has links to news, reviews, interviews, and all manner of information about the Wheel of Time in general on The Wheel of Time Reread is also available as an e-book series! Yay! All Reread Redux posts will contain spoilers for the entire Wheel of Time series, so if you haven’t read, read at your own risk.

And now, the post!

[They never say what the other half is, though. COINCIDENCE? I THINK NOT]

Series: The Wheel of Time Reread

Lovecraftian Dream Logic: “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath,” Part 1

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s original stories.

Today we’re looking at the first half of “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath,” written in 1926 and 1927, and published posthumously in 1943 by Arkham House. You can read it here—there’s no great stopping point, but we’re pausing for today at “One starlight evening when the Pharos shone splendid over the harbour the longed-for ship put in.” Spoilers ahead.

[“It was dark when the galley passed betwixt the Basalt Pillars of the West”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

Sleeps With Monsters: Mad Max: Fury Road

What a day. Oh what a lovely day.

My fellow contributor Leah Schnelbach has already had a lot to say about the sheer amazingness that is Mad Max: Fury Road. I am come, friends, to add my two cents in a paean of praise. Because I liked it. I really, really liked it. I cannot ever remember liking a film this much, to the extent where I went back to the cinema to see it twice more in the space of a week, and I still want to see it again. I have never fallen this hard, this fast for any film—any televisual work at all.

[Pick up what you can and run.]

Series: Sleeps With Monsters

Tanith Lee, 1947-2015

We are saddened to report the passing of science fiction, fantasy, and horror writer Tanith Lee. Lee had a long and prolific writing career, publishing over 90 books and 300 short stories, as well as several poems, four BBC Radio plays, and two episodes of the BBC’s sci-fi television series Blake’s 7.

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The Traitor Baru Cormorant, Chapter 1

Baru Cormorant believes any price is worth paying to liberate her people-even her soul. When the Empire of Masks conquers her island home, overwrites her culture, criminalizes her customs, and murders one of her fathers, Baru vows to swallow her hate, join the Empire’s civil service, and claw her way high enough to set her people free.

Sent as an Imperial agent to distant Aurdwynn, another conquered country, Baru discovers it’s on the brink of rebellion. Drawn by the intriguing duchess Tain Hu into a circle of seditious dukes, Baru may be able to use her position to help. As she pursues a precarious balance between the rebels and a shadowy cabal within the Empire, she orchestrates a do-or-die gambit with freedom as the prize. But the cost of winning the long game of saving her people may be far greater than Baru imagines.

Seth Dickinson’s highly anticipated debut novel, The Traitor Baru Cormorant, is available September 15th from Tor Books and Tor UK. Get a closer look at the cover art for both the US and UK editions here!

[Read an excerpt]

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 7: “The Gift”

After last week’s traumatic episode, one couldn’t be blamed for no longer wanting to stick with HBO’s Game of Thrones. From U.S. senators to popular feminist geek websites to individual fans of television that doesn’t make you (a) really pissed off and disgusted, or (b) curl into the fetal position while weeping, everyone’s feeling that events in the North are getting more dire than direwolves. Who are actually pretty scarce until the perfect dramatic moment calls for one.

We’re still in the quiet before the storm of swords that is set of rain down upon Winterfell. There’s no solace there, not for us, not for Sansa. But there were two gifts of great importance given that could go a long way towards improving fans’ moods.

Major episode spoilers ahead.

[“Egg, I dreamed that I was old…”]

Series: HBO’s Game of Thrones

Message Fiction: Power Rivalries and Interstellar Cold Wars

Welcome to the second installment of “Message Fiction: Politics in Sci-Fi and Fantasy Literature!” In the introductory post I outlined a framework for analyzing the political messages encoded into SF/F, talked a bit about what I personally like and dislike when it comes to political messaging, and explored the politics of Glen Cook’s trailblazing military fantasy novel The Black Company (1984).

This month we pivot from fantasy to science fiction, but retain the thematic focus on war and the regular folks who fight them—with an in-depth discussion of Dan Abnett’s 2011 novel Embedded.

(Warning: some spoilers.)

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So Glad She Stopped Playing Tennis! Why Sally Ride Still Amazes Us

After responding to a newspaper ad looking for astronauts, Sally Ride found herself a bonafide member of NASA in 1978. Back then, we didn’t have a space shuttle and there had only been two women in space, both of them Russian. Throughout her amazing career as an astronaut, Sally Ride put up with a lot of nonsense, helped develop indispensable technology, and amazed the hell out of the whole world.

Today, on what would have been her 63rd birthday, we’re celebrating an awesome pioneer who was taken from us too soon.

[Read more]

Series: On This Day

Rereading the Empire Trilogy: Mistress of the Empire, Part 11

Welcome back to the reread of Mistress of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts! This week: Arakasi is very good at seducing ladies but very bad at dealing with the Feelings that come afterwards. If only he had some sort of outlet for his emo. Sure, they don’t have Livejournal in Tsuranuanni but surely he could paint a few tragic poems on silk panels or something. Right? Right? Or maybe a therapy group for emotionally compromised superspies.

Someone write that webcomic, stat!

[Read more]

Series: Rereading The Empire Trilogy

Announcing the Spectrum 22: The Best In Contemporary Fantastic Art Award Recipients

The Spectrum 22 awards were presented May 23 at a gala celebration at the Folly Theater in Kansas City, MO as part of Spectrum Fantastic Art Live.

This year’s jury consisted of Justin Gerard, Virginie Ropars, Greg Ruth, Annie Stegg Gerard, and Dice Tsutsumi, and determined Silver and Gold recipients in eight categories. The Spectrum Advisory Board also selected the 2015 Grand Master Honoree.

Please join us in congratulating all of the finalists and recipients!

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Star Trek Redshirt Garden Gnome Reveals the Dangers of Your Garden

Will ThinkGeek never stop dreaming up odd but perfect nerdy toy combos? Citing the little-known subculture of Star Trek horticulturists, they’ve created this set of garden gnomes for Kirk, Spock, Gorn, and (of course) an ill-fated Redshirt. We appreciate this little guy’s noble sacrifice, so that Gnome-Kirk and Gnome-Spock could explore this treacherous land. (A tip of our gnome hats to Epic Stream for finding these!)

Afternoon Roundup wants to know why Hogwarts hasn’t been invented yet, dances to “Axel F,” and guesses the title of the first Future Library book.

[Read more]