Midway Relics and Dying Breeds September 24, 2014 Midway Relics and Dying Breeds Seanan McGuire Between the roots and the sky. The Golden Apple of Shangri-La September 23, 2014 The Golden Apple of Shangri-La David Barnett A Gideon Smith story. Selfies September 17, 2014 Selfies Lavie Tidhar Smile for the camera. When Gods and Vampires Roamed Miami September 16, 2014 When Gods and Vampires Roamed Miami Kendare Blake A Goddess Wars story
From The Blog
September 25, 2014
After Paris: Meta, Irony, Narrative, Frames, and The Princess Bride
Jo Walton
September 23, 2014
It’s All About the Benjamins in Sleepy Hollow: “This is War”
Leah Schnelbach
September 23, 2014
The Death of Adulthood in American Culture: Nerd Culture Edition
Lindsay Ellis
September 22, 2014
Five Brilliant Things About Doctor Who “Time Heist”
Paul Cornell
September 19, 2014
“WCKD is Good,” But The Maze Runner is Bad
Natalie Zutter
Showing posts by: Karin L Kross click to see Karin L Kross's profile
Aug 5 2014 10:00am

San Diego Comic-Con: The Diversity Conversation

SDCC 2014 You could have spent your entire San Diego Comic-Con going to panels about diversity and feminism. Thursday had three panels in a row about women and genre: Female Heroes, Then and Now; Beyond Clichés: Creating Awesome Female Characters for Film, TV, Comics, Video Games, and Novels; and The Most Dangerous Women at Comic-Con: Positive Portrayals of Women in Pop Culture. Later that evening was the Transgender Trends panel, the first panel on that subject ever held at San Diego Comic-Con.

There were enough panels along these lines that it was actually physically impossible to attend them all, no matter how much you wanted to—The Black Panel was up against Gender in Comics on Friday morning, and Diversity in Genre Lit overlapped with Fantastic Females: Heroines in Paranormal Fantasy on Saturday. This is actually an excellent problem to have, even if it did mean a lot of scampering from one end of the convention center to the other (which, along with a misreading of my own schedule, led me to miss Beyond Clichés, which had reached capacity by the time I got there). It’s certainly an improvement on the days when there was just The Black Panel and maybe one or two Women in Comics panels across the entire weekend.

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Aug 4 2014 9:00am

San Diego Comic-Con is Bigger On the Inside

SDCC San Diego Comic-Con is the parable of the blind men and the elephant. It’s the Mirror of Erised. It’s the cave on Dagobah—what is in there is what you take with you. It is huge, it is sprawling, it contains multitudes, its name is Legion.

It’s been a few days and I’ve put a few more nights of actual sleep between me and the convention. I still have one more thing I want to write up—the best panel that I went to there, and why you should be reading Saga if you aren’t already—but I wanted to go ahead and get some thoughts on the whole business out there before the con hangover completely fades away and while the memories are still reasonably fresh.

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Jul 30 2014 12:00pm

Magazine Theft and Terrible Cats: Michael Cho at SDCC

Michael Cho Shoplifter Artist and illustrator Michael Cho has done covers for Marvel and DC, but this year he came to SDCC to talk about his new graphic novel Shoplifter, to be released by Pantheon in September. Shoplifter is the quiet, delicately-told story of Corinna Park, a writer in her mid-twenties who went from an English degree and dreams of writing novels to five years of writing copy at an advertising agency, a lonely apartment, and a terrible cat named Anais—with the occasional bit of (very) petty theft. Between panels, Cho took a moment to talk about the origins of Shoplifter, his comics process, and the difficulty of drawing bad-tempered cats.

[Read more]

Jul 28 2014 2:00pm

Chuck Palahniuk Talks Fight Club 2

Fight Club 2 Chuck Palahniuk San Diego Comic Con Dark Horse

The news that Chuck Palahniuk was authoring a sequel to Fight Club—in comic book form, no less—was one of the big pieces of news that blew up right before San Diego Comic-Con this year. Palahniuk's signing events at the con were hugely popular, and his Saturday night panel was jammed. I was able to attend the panel, where Rick Kieffel moderated a kind of oral history of the film, and the comic book sequel with Palahniuk, his longtime editor Gerald Howard, director David Fincher, Dark Horse Comics editor-in-chief Scott Allie, and artists Cameron Stewart and David Mack. And the next day, I sat down with Palahniuk to talk about Fight Club 2, with a brief aside to his new novel, Beautiful You.

[Read more]

Jul 28 2014 12:30pm

Martin, Rothfuss, Gabaldon, Abercrombie, and Grossman. Rulers of the Realm Talk Epic Fantasy

Rulers of the Realm SDCC fantasy George R. R. Martin Patrick Rothfuss Joe Abercrombie Diana Gabaldon Lev Grossman

Sometimes panel titles aren’t really all that helpful. My eyes skipped right over the title “Rulers of the Realm” when I was putting together my San Diego Comic-Con schedule, and only later was it pointed out to me that it was a panel on epic fantasy fiction, featuring Joe Abercrombie (First Law trilogy), Lev Grossman (The Magicians), Diana Gabaldon (Outlander), Patrick Rothfuss (Kingkiller Chronicles), and George R. R. Martin (do I need to tell you?).

Well, that certainly changed up my Saturday schedule a bit. Following on the heels of a packed Skybound Entertainment panel (attended, as far as I could tell, mostly by fans of Norman Reedus), the Rulers of the Realm panel was a lively discussion of fantasy worldbuilding and writing process, moderated by Ali T. Kokmen.

[Read more]

Jul 26 2014 3:00pm

Breaking Barriers at SDCC: Transgender Trends in Popular Culture

Super Boy Claire Kent Super Sister

The first panel at San Diego Comic-Con about transgender creators and characters began with comics historian Michelle Nolan talking about the Superboy story, “Claire Kent, Alias Super Sister.” In this story, Superboy offends “a space girl in a flying saucer” and is turned into a girl. In the course of the story, she has to learn to help other women—and having atoned, becomes a boy again, with the twist that Superboy was only hypnotized into thinking he was a girl. It was, Nolan said, one of the only examples she was able to find of any kind of gender fluidity in classic comics.

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Jul 25 2014 1:00pm

No One Accuses Bruce Wayne of Being “Vulnerable”—SDCC and Strong Female Characters

“The Most Dangerous Women at Comic-Con” focused primarily on—and spent a lot of time dissecting—the idea of the “strong female character.” Moderated by Katrina Hill, the panel included stuntwoman Lesley Aletter, Legion of Leia founder Jenna Busch, model Adrienne Curry, and writers Jane Espenson, Jennifer Stuller, Allen Kistler, and Brian Q. Miller.

Hill kicked off the discussion with a question for the panel: which female character would you partner with for the zombie apocalypse? The answers—Katniss Everdeen, Ripley, Zoe from Firefly, Buffy Summers, Starbuck, Peggy Carter, and Starfire—were largely what you would expect people to cite when talking about “strong female characters.” Hill went on to ask what else makes a female character strong other than the ability to kick ass.

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Jul 25 2014 11:15am

“Longer lines at the ladies room.” SDCC and the Increased Presence of Women in Comics

female heroes marvel SDCC

The SDCC schedule this year is notable for its abundance of panels about female characters and women in comics and games—Monday alone featured “Female Heroes, Then and Now,” “Beyond Clichés: Creating Awesome Female Characters for Film, TV, Comics, Video Games, and Novels,” and “The Most Dangerous Women at Comic-Con.” All of these panels were well-attended—in fact, I couldn’t even get into “Beyond Clichés.” As the weekend progresses, themes are bound to emerge, and it will be interesting to see where it goes.

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Jul 24 2014 12:50pm

San Diego Comic-Con Day Zero: Image Expo and Preview Night

SDCC Time was, you’d arrive in San Diego on Wednesday morning before Comic-Con and have plenty of time to recover from your flight, maybe head over to the zoo for a bit—you know, relax. And my first experience of Preview Night in the mid-2000s exists in my memory as a relatively leisurely affair where you could actually get close to the goodies on display.

Not so much anymore. Everyone says it every year, but San Diego Comic-Con is so big and sprawling as to be unwieldy, and regardless of the annual “has Hollywood abandoned SDCC?” thinkpieces making the rounds now, the pace shows relatively little sign of slackening.

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Mar 14 2014 11:00am

Industrial Revolution on the Disc: Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett Discworld Raising Steam

“A tree can not find out, as it were, how to blossom, until comes blossom-time. A social growth cannot find out the use of steam engines, until comes steam-engine-time.”

So wrote Charles Fort in Lo!, coining a phrase that historians and SF&F writers love. Well, steam-engine time has come for the Discworld, whether the History Monks like it or not. In Raising Steam, Terry Pratchett takes his turtle-borne world full tilt into its own industrial revolution.

[A review]

Feb 7 2014 2:00pm

The Elric Reread: Farewell to the White Wolf


As I write this, I’m listening to the Hawkwind album The Chronicle of the Black Sword, their 1985 concept album based on the Elric saga. To be honest, it’s not at all the sort of thing I usually listen to—proggy, guitar-heavy space-rock with some vaguely Jean-Michel Jarré-sounding synthesizers to liven things up. But this album—one of the more obvious examples of the many, many works that owe their existence to Elric—seemed like a suitable accompaniment to an attempt to round up my thoughts on the Elric reread.

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Feb 7 2014 2:00pm

The Elric Reread: Son of the Wolf, AKA The White Wolf’s Son

Welcome to the final post of the Elric Reread, in which I’ve been revisiting one of my all-time favorite fantasy series: Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga. You can find all the posts in the series here. Today’s post talks about the last book in the series, The White Wolf’s Son, republished last year in the UK as Son of the Wolf. Because the Gollancz editions are meant to be definitive, we’ll use that title.

With Son of the Wolf, Michael Moorcock concludes the Elric saga and what may be one of the most audacious examples of canon welding in existence. Here is the von Bek family, reluctant English time-traveler Oswald Bastable, the Chevalier St Odhran and Renyard the Fox of The City in the Autumn Stars, an alternate version of Dorian Hawkmoon and the Dark Empire of Granbretan from the Runestaff books, Prince Lobkowitz and Una Persson from the Cornelius books (amongst others), Lt. Fromental from the Pyat quartet, Erekosë, the sole Champion who remembers all his other incarnations, and of course Elric himself. Even Michael Moorcock and his wife Linda put in an appearance, chatting with Una Persson on the porch of their Texas Hill Country home.

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Feb 3 2014 11:00am

Channeling T.E. Lawrence: A Darkling Sea by James L. Cambias

A Darkling Sea James L Cambias When it comes to stories about contact between alien races, you have Star Trek's Prime Directive of non-interference on one hand, and willingness of the Culture of Iain M. Banks to apply a little force to help a civilization on the road to what it considers the right path. Somewhere in between lies the dilemma facing the three species colliding in James L. Cambias's A Darkling Sea.

Ilmatar is a moon covered in a kilometer-thick layer of ice that conceals, as some scientists have proposed for Europa, a deep ocean. Deep beneath the ice, Hitode Station hosts a team of humans who are examining the native flora and fauna while under strict orders not to interfere with the native sentients. The Ilmatarans are hard-shelled creatures that rely on sound and taste to perceive their lightless submarine world, and their civilization is both highly sophisticated and occasionally savage; scientists and intellectuals are treated with respect, but young Ilmatarans are scarcely considered sentient until they are taught to communicate—at one point, a teacher casually dispatches one that he deems too ill-formed to succeed.

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Jan 24 2014 2:00pm

The Elric Reread: Destiny’s Brother, AKA The Skrayling Tree

Welcome back to the Elric Reread, in which I revisit one of my all-time favorite fantasy series: Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga. You can find all the posts in the series here. Today’s post talks about The Skrayling Tree, published last year in the UK as Destiny’s Brother. Because the Gollancz editions are meant to be definitive, we’ll use that title.

Back when I first started reading Michael Moorcock, I was living in San Antonio, TX. I was profoundly surprised to learn that Moorcock had a home not at all far away, near the town of Bastrop in the Hill Country. (Today he divides his time between that home, London, and Paris.) At the time, it seemed strange to me that someone I thought of as a particularly British writer should have relocated to the heart of Texas. Years later, I experienced a similar surprise and dislocation when I picked up Destiny’s Brother—which, when originally published as The Skrayling Tree, was subtitled “The Albino in America.” Because if there’s one thing I never expected from Moorcock, it was that one of his books would make me regret having largely skipped American literature and never read any Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

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Jan 10 2014 2:00pm

The Elric Reread: Daughter of Dreams, AKA The Dreamthief’s Daughter

Michael Moorcock Elric Daughter of Dreams the Dreamthief's DaughterWelcome back to the Elric Reread, in which I revisit one of my all-time favorite fantasy series: Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga. You can find all the posts in the series here. Today’s post talks about The Dreamthief’s Daughter, published last year in the UK as Daughter of Dreams. Because the Gollancz editions are meant to be definitive, we’ll use that title in this piece.

In the Introduction that appears in each volume of the Gollancz Michael Moorcock Collection, Moorcock writes of the Moonbeam Roads trilogy:

I also wrote a new Elric/Eternal Champion sequence, beginning with Daughter of Dreams, which brought the fantasy worlds of Hawkmoon, Bastable and Co. in line with my realistic and autobiographical stories, another attempt to unify all my fiction, and also offer a way in which disparate genres could be reunited, through notions developed from the multiverse and the Eternal Champion, as one giant novel.

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Dec 20 2013 2:00pm

The Elric Reread: Elric in the Comics

Elric Michael Moorcock The Making of a Sorcerer

Welcome back to the Elric Reread, in which I revisit one of my all-time favorite fantasy series: Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga. You can find all the posts in the series here. Today’s post talks about Elric in the comic book world, and about Moorcock’s own comics in particular.

Elric appeared in comic book form as far back as 1972, in a guest appearance in Conan the Barbarian, drawn by the great Barry Windsor-Smith. All of the original novels have been adapted into comics form as well, the best by far being P. Craig Russell’s gorgeous adaptation of Stormbringer. Recently, Chris Roberson has taken on Elric and the Eternal Champion mythos in his series Elric: The Balance Lost—an ambitious multi-Champion story in which Roberson’s reach somewhat exceeds his grasp, and which unfortunately isn’t very well served by the art.

Key to the Elric saga, however, are the comics that Michael Moorcock himself has penned: Michael Moorcock’s Multiverse and Elric: The Making of a Sorcerer.

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Dec 6 2013 2:00pm

The Elric Reread: “Elric at the End of Time”

Michael Moorcock Elric at the End of TimeWelcome back to the Elric Reread, in which I revisit one of my all-time favorite fantasy series: Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga. You can find all the posts in the series here. Today’s post mostly discusses the novella “Elric at the End of Time,” originally published in 1981.

Outside of what we’ve treated as the core novels of the Elric saga, Michael Moorcock has also written a number of short stories and novellas about Elric. “The Last Enchantment,” written in 1962, was originally intended as the final Elric story, but was put aside in favor of the stories that eventually made up Stormbringer and wasn’t published until 1978. “A Portrait in Ivory” was written in 2007 for the Logorrhea anthology, inspired by the word “insouciant.” 2008 saw the publication of “Black Petals” in Weird Tales, and it was followed in 2010 by a sequel, “Red Pearls,” in the Swords and Dark Magic anthology.

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Nov 26 2013 3:00pm

A Classic Who Celebration: Big Finish’s “The Light at the End”

Did you catch the Doctor Who anniversary special? The one with all the classic Doctors in? No, I don’t mean Peter Davison’s delightful “The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot”—I mean Big Finish’s “The Light at the End”, an excellent two-hour audio drama featuring all of the first eight Doctors. Yes, all eight. It turns out that William Russell, Frazier Hines, and Tim Treloar do very convincing versions of One, Two, and Three respectively—and of course Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, and Paul McGann are all there, along with some of their most beloved companions.

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Nov 8 2013 2:00pm

The Elric Reread: An Interlude with M. Zenith

Michael Moorcock the Metatemporal DetectiveAmongst Elric’s varied antecedents, you will find Fritz Leiber, Mervyn Peake, and various world mythologies. You might not expect to find in that list the stories of a famous British private detective, whose adventures have entertained many since first appearing in the late nineteenth century, and whose rogues’ gallery includes a master criminal from whom Elric borrows more than a few characteristics.

I’m talking about Sexton Blake, of course, and his enemy Zenith the Albino. Who did you think I meant?

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Nov 1 2013 5:00pm

Kidnapping, Vampires, and Boys: Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

Curtsies and Conspiracies Gail CarrigerIt’s a delight to return to the elegant steampunk world of Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series, the YA prequels to her Parasol Protectorate novels. Sophronia Temminnick, now fifteen, is excelling at her studies at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing School for Girls—indeed, at her six-month review, she receives the highest marks ever achieved at the school.

Academic accomplishment is all well and good, but afterward, Sophronia has a host of new trials. Her schoolmates shun her—including her closest friend Dimity (who still faints dead away at the sight of blood)—and her arch-rival Monique de Pelouse hates her as much as ever.

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