content by

Theresa DeLucci

Fiction and Excerpts [1]

Fiction and Excerpts [1]

Six-Guns and Strange Shooters: A Weird West Primer

What is it about the American West that continues to inspire? There’s the romanticized notion of expansion, the simplistic morality of white hats and black hats, of cowboys vs. Indians. And there’s the post-modern Western that does not gloss over the era’s exploitation and violence; all the birth pains of a new nation. Then there is the Weird West, a genre-hopping category that uses a lot of the Western window-dressing—gunslingers, railroads, Pinkertons—and mashes them up with cosmic horror, alternate histories of American icons, and a vast landscape of cruel promise and harsh awe. To celebrate the release of a new batch of novels set in the Weird West world of the RPG Deadlands, beginning with Jonathan Maberry’s Deadlands: Ghostwalkers, it’s time to saddle up for a ride into a booming frontier of creepy thrill.

Not all of it is written, not all of it is American, but it’s all definitely rich in the weird.

[“Zombies, tentacles, gunslingers and an awful lot of Australians…”]

Exploring New Worlds: Three Moments of an Explosion by China Miéville

Short story collections can be divisive for an author’s fans. For some people, I imagine the feeling is comparable to waiting for your favorite band to put out a new full-length album and instead getting a live EP; the big hits are represented, but you’re missing the depth, the had-to-be-there energy, and the newness to pour over and speculate about.

But most authors aren’t as skilled at writing short stories as they are at writing novels. Three Moments of an Explosion, the latest short story collection from China Miéville showcases not only what is so impressive about Miéville’s talent but what can be so enjoyable about the short form itself.

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The Essential Clive Barker

No one gives voice to monsters and misfits quite as well as author Clive Barker. Since his short fiction first bled across the genre landscape thirty years ago, he has become synonymous with a particularly beautiful and horrific brand of dark fantasy. He’s enjoying a bit of a cultural revival this year thanks to the releases of the long-awaited final novel in the Hellraiser universe and the equally anticipated director’s cut edition of his cult film, Nightbreed.

Nightbreed and the novella it was adapted from, Cabal, are so enduring, editors Joe Nassise and Del Howison have just released Midian Unmade, an anthology of short fiction told from the perspective of—and in the empathetic spirit of—Clive Barker’s misunderstood creations. While entertaining on its own merits, as any anthology containing original stories from Seanan McGuire, Nancy Holder and David J. Schow would naturally be, Midian Unmade is best appreciated by Barker fans.

So where can one begin an education in all things Barker? By going back to the beginning, of course.

[“Everybody is a book of blood. Wherever we’re opened, we’re red.”]

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 8 “Hardhome”

After last week’s dramatic meetings and departures (and boobs, always boobs) Game of Thrones brings its all-new plot developments Beyond the Wall, where Jon goes on a diplomatic mission even stupider than Jaime’s in Dorne, but at least contains exciting things like White Walkers and jerky Thenns and my pretend soul mate Dolorous Edd. So I’m not even mad.

Major episode spoilers ahead.

[“The White Walking Dead…”]

Series: HBO’s Game of Thrones

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

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 6 “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”

You know Game of Thrones had a terrible ending when the Mad Men series finale seems uplifting by comparison. Far be it from me to question the wisdom of George R. R. Martin—and I won’t because the books are his story—but I would really love to know why the showrunners changed so much of Martin’s novels in interesting ways only to negate all their work by not changing events enough.

Someone get me a refreshing Coca-Cola to soothe my stomachache.

Major episode spoilers ahead.

[Jaime Lannister throws Don Draper out a window in Mad Men finale shocker!]

Series: HBO’s Game of Thrones

The Return of Pinhead: The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker

It’s been a tumultuous twenty years for fans of Clive Barker. Ever since the visionary horror author and acclaimed cult film director teased a new adventure for his most famous character in 1993, devotees of the lead Cenobite Pinhead have been waiting on, well, pins and needles to see if The Scarlet Gospels would ever come to fruition.

Take that, impatient George R. R. Martin fans! It could get worse!

The last two decades have seen Barker tackle dark fantasy novels including Abarat and Coldheart Canyon, launch an action figure line, write comics, direct his third movie, Lord of Illusions, and become a prolific visual artist. He’s also struggled with some very serious health problems, including a near-fatal case of toxic shock syndrome last year.

It goes without saying that expectations for this long-awaited novel are extremely high. Only, I wasn’t one of the people waiting for this novel. Not exactly.

[Read more…]

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 5: “Kill the Boy”

There was a lot of talk of fathers on last night’s Mothers’ Day episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones.

But first, we must talk about what we lost this hour—two characters who are still alive in the books, neither of which will see any screentime going forward. Season 5 has been a bit slow out of the gate, but here at the halfway mark, things are, like Tyrion Lannister, looking up and becoming very unpredictable.

Which is good or bad depending on how much of a book purist you are.

Major episode spoilers ahead.

[“Long sullen silences and an occasional punch in the face. The Mormont way. …”]

Series: HBO’s Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 3: “The High Sparrow”

This week’s divisive episode departs significantly from the books, meaning readers have a choice to make about Game of Thrones: keep playing or take yourself off the board to wait for more novels.

Personally, I enjoy both incarnations of Martin’s materials and recognize that each medium has its own strengths and weaknesses. Tonight’s big changes from A Dance with Dragons put a significant number of new players together and into harm’s way in the coming weeks, while in another region of the world, we seem to get confirmation that a big character from the fifth novel will not be making an appearance. There are a lot of interesting implications to chew on.

Also in this hour: All hail Queen Margaery. Again. First of Her Name and Ruler of Disgruntled Daughter-in-Laws everywhere.

Spoiler alert: Major episode spoilers for the currently aired season. Spoilers for the currently published George R. R. Martin novels are discussed in the review and fair game in the comments. We highly suggest not discussing spoilers for leaked episodes or early preview chapters, but if you must, white it out. Have courtesy for the patient among us who are waiting for next week’s airing or waiting and waiting (and waiting) for The Winds of Winter. Play nice. Thanks.

[“The North remembers.”…]

Series: HBO’s Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 2 “The House of Black and White”

After last week’s pity party premiere, Game of Thrones is back for a second episode filled with people ready to take some action—especially with the pointy end of a sword.

Now that we’ve watched Arya say something extremely dark and awesome for a young child, Game of Thrones is officially back. And with some welcome surprises.

Spoilers for the episode ahead. Spoilers from George R. R. Martin’s published novels are also discussed in the review and fair game in the comments. Please don’t post open spoilers from any leaked episodes or preview chapters of The Winds of Winter. Tread carefully and play nice.


Series: HBO’s Game of Thrones

An Open Letter to HBO from House Greyjoy

Spoiler warning: Swim into these spoiler-infested waters at your peril. This post discusses events on Game of Thrones through season 4 and in A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons.

Dear Lords Benioff and Weiss of House HBO, Kings of the Five Premium Cable Channel Realms:

It has come to our attention that there have been no ravens announcing the casting of a certain kingsmoot for the fifth season of your charming little program, Game of Thrones. And while people may bemoan the absence of the rapidly-aging Bran Stark—will he grow a full beard by the time season six production starts?—and his method of transport, Hodor, no one sings songs for squids.

[“What worth is an Iron Throne without an ironborn trying to claim it?”]

Series: HBO’s Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 1: “The Wars to Come”

The nights have been dark and full of terror these long, cold months without Game of Thrones. Today was the first truly sunny day of spring here in the Northeastern kingdoms and millions of people were still eager to run home to their TVs or brand new HBO Now subscriptions. Or they had already downloaded the first four episodes in this weekend’s big screener leak and were out enjoying some well-earned fresh air. Either way, we are back in the world of hungry dragons, old prophecies, drunken Imps and Stannis being Stannis (i.e. colder than a wight’s arse.)

Spoilers for the episode ahead. Spoilers for George R. R. Martin’s published novels are fair game in the article and the comments, so read at your own peril. Please avoid or white out references to advance chapters from The Winds of Winter, however, for those who aren’t reading ahead!

[“Can I drink myself to death on the road to Meereen?” Yes, but you maybe shouldn’t, Tyrion.]

Series: HBO’s Game of Thrones

Five Things to Watch for in Game of Thrones‘ Fifth Season

Much like the fugitive Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones viewers are heading into new territory when the fifth season of HBO’s hit show returns this April. We’re still reeling from the dramatic events of last year (I still can’t look at crushed tomatoes without thinking of Oberyn Martell), based largely on the last half of George R. R. Martin’s arguably greatest novel, A Storm of Swords.

Written as two distinct novels, A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons take place almost simultaneously for all of the former and a big chunk of the latter. It’s George’s great “Meerenese knot” untangling the various plots and loose ends and theories that still have yet to play out. While not considered the strongest installments of A Song of Ice and Fire, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have been given some editorial spoilers for Thrones’ not-yet-written endgame. While this isn’t good news to book fans—some of whom have even decided to stop watching the show for fear of outpacing what’s known in the novels—fans of the show might just get another really great year of television as Benioff & Weiss trim some fat from George’s manuscripts and quicken the pace in ways the published novels have not.

And that’s to say nothing of the liberties the show is taking, creating rampant speculation and huge anticipation. So what themes might the show cover in its fifth year?

[A distinct animal motif, powerful women, and adult language…]

Series: HBO’s Game of Thrones

The Perfect Vessel: Kushiel’s Avatar, Part 2

Our reread of Kushiel’s Legacy comes to a close! Whereas last week we were really beaten down by Phèdre and Joscelin’s willing entry into the hell of Daršanga, here we end on a joyous note. Not unlike Phèdre, filled with the Name of God, we’re brimming with new knowledge and insight into the trilogy—plus at least one disagreement about how things settle after the epic end of Kushiel’s Avatar.

We’re going to get spoilery—because it turns out there is a ton of foreshadowing for later books and trilogies—so feel free to do the same in the comments. As Shemhazai said, all knowledge is worth having. And as he might have said… Reread as thou wilt!

[Read more]

Series: Kushiel’s Reread

Gaming Roundup: We Plays The Bright Lord DLC, Precious

PAX East rolled through Boston this past weekend, and it’s safe to say that gaming as we know it is in a transitional phase. A largely low-key exhibition was highlighted by teases of potentially industry-shifting devices over the year (and next year) to come, but nothing yet imminent on the horizon. We don’t mean to imply that PAX East 2015 was entirely uneventful, though. Between rapid improvements in virtual reality tech, a new Blizzard IP, and live gameplay demos of Final Fantasy XV, there was plenty to talk about.

[The VR arms race escalates, and the Gaming Roundup bids you all a final farewell.]

The Perfect Victim: Kushiel’s Avatar, Part 1

“Serve true, and remember what others have named you; ten years’ respite shall be yours if you do.”

Kushiel’s Chosen closed with this warning, and Kushiel’s Avatar opens on the other side of ten years, with a prophetic dream calling anguissette/lypiphera Phèdre nó Delaunay to serve the gods of Terre d’Ange once more. Only this time, they’re turning her into a veritable Job, with their overlapping demands.

You thought that the island prison of La Dolorosa was bleak? Get ready to willingly lead yourselves into the kingdom that died and lives. Kushiel’s Reread is getting dark. We’re also going to get spoilery—because it turns out there is a ton of foreshadowing for later books and trilogies—so feel free to do the same in the comments. As Shemhazai said, all knowledge is worth having. And as he might have said… Reread as thou wilt!

[Read more]

Series: Kushiel’s Reread

Blood is Thicker Than Water: Kushiel’s Chosen, Part 2

Just as the first half of Kushiel’s Dart saw Delaunay and Alcuin murdered, and Phèdre and Joscelin sold into slavery, Kushiel’s Chosen Part 1 ends on a similar cliffhanger: Melisande Shahrizai, upon revealing herself in La Serenissima, has Phèdre’s chevaliers slain and imprisons the meddling anguissette on the island fortress of La Dolorosa. Clearly this murder plus slavery/imprisonment/exile combination is Melisande’s favorite move, though you’d think she would have learned from the events of Dart that she should not try to make her pet-turned-peer yield.

We’re going to get spoilery—because it turns out there is a ton of foreshadowing for later books and trilogies—so feel free to do the same in the comments. As Shemhazai said, all knowledge is worth having. And as he might have said… Reread as thou wilt!

[Read more]

Series: Kushiel’s Reread