Borrowing From Pickman’s Library: Robert W. Chambers’s “The Yellow Sign”

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 Robert W. Chambers’s “The Yellow Sign,” first published in his 1895 The King in Yellow collection. Spoilers ahead.

[“Oh the sin of writing such words—words which are clear as crystal, limpid and musical as bubbling springs…”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

Joseph Fiennes Joins Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale as The Commander

Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale is getting its cast together before it commences production this fall. Deadline reports that Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in LoveCamelotAmerican Horror Story) will play Commander Fred Waterford—the Fred in Offred, the name of the eponymous handmaid played by Elisabeth Moss.

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Join Author Nisi Shawl on her Everfair Tour!

Next month, Nisi Shawl is heading out on tour with her new novel, Everfair, a Neo-Victorian alternate history that explores the question of what might have come of Belgium’s disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier. Shawl tells her story through a multiplicity of characters from Africans to Europeans to East Asians to African Americans, all in complex relationships with one another, in a compelling range of voices that have historically been silenced.

Everfair is available September 6th from Tor Books, and you can read an excerpt from the novel here on Click through for the full September tour schedule to see if she’s coming to your town!

[Click through for tour dates!]

Maria Dahvana Headley and Victor LaValle in Conversation Over Frankenstein

This summer marks the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein—and it holds a special place in our hearts as one of the forerunners of modern science fiction. While the book wasn’t published until 1818, the story was first conceived in 1816 during an iconic tale-spinning session she shared with Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, Claire Clairmont, and John Polidori while on a particularly rainy holiday in Geneva.

We wanted to take a moment to celebrate the novel, and we could think of no better way than asking authors Victor LaValle (The Ballad of Black Tom) and Maria Dahvana Headley (Magonia) to talk about Mary Shelley, Victor Frankenstein, and their various creations. Victor and Maria were kind enough to meet with me, Katharine Duckett (of Publishing), and Irene Gallo for a lunchtime chat about monsters, motherhood, and Promethean desires, and I’ve done my best to round up the highlights of our conversation below!

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Everything Was Going Great Until He Died in the Snorlax Pit

The resurgence of Poké-popularity has brought us many wonders, but maybe our favorite so far is the stunning mashup Bulba Fett. Bootleg Star Wars toys are always fun, but this is perfection. So simple, so pure.

And yet it raises a serious question: when you combine the Great Bounty Hunter Of All Time with a Pokémon, are you the one catching ’em all… or will you be the one caught?

[via Nerd Approved!]

What James Tiptree Jr. Can Teach Us About the Power of The SF Community

Ordinarily when I write an On This Day tribute, I find a theme to discuss. When you get to James Tiptree, Jr., however, finding a single theme becomes difficult.

Tiptree was born a century ago, on August 24, 1915, and then again in a grocery store in 1967. Over her life she was known as Alice Bradley, Alice Bradley Davey, Major Alice Bradley Sheldon, and Dr. Alice B. Sheldon, and she wrote as both James Tiptree, Jr. and Raccoona Sheldon. Throughout her life she performed a high wire act that combined genderfluidity with mythmaking. Some writers and fans have found the Tiptree theme to center on gender, on feminist history, on the power gained from anonymity, on queer identities in SFF. Obviously none of these themes are incorrect; what I’m focusing on, however, is the extraordinary story of Tiptree’s relationship to the SF community as a whole.

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Series: On This Day

Rereading Kage Baker’s Company Series: Mendoza in Hollywood, Chapters 4-7

Welcome back to the Kage Baker Company Series reread! In today’s installment, we’ll cover “chapters” 4 through 7, so from the end of what we covered in last week’s post up to the end of the San Pedro trip, ending on “I’d have wrung the bird’s neck after the first hour.” (Pages 54 to 97 in my Avon Eos edition.)

As always, you can find all previous posts in the reread on our index page. Also, beware spoilers: this reread will discuss plot details up to and including the very end of the series, so be careful if you haven’t read all the books yet.

And with that, we’re off! For your rereading enjoyment, today’s suggested soundtrack is Manuel de Falla’s El Amor Brujo, briefly mentioned in chapter 4 of this novel.

[That world didn’t even exist yet, that innocent place, and it was already lost.]

Series: Rereading Kage Baker

Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: “Wink of an Eye”

“Wink of an Eye”
Written by Lee Cronin and Arthur Heinemann
Directed by Jud Taylor
Season 3, Episode 13
Production episode 60043-68
Original air date: November 29, 1968
Stardate: 5710.5

Captain’s log. The Enterprise responds to a distress call on Scalos. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and two security guards beam down to the location from which Uhura is receiving the distress call. But while the locations match, Kirk sees nobody at the beam-down site, and Uhura still only sees the Scalosians in the broadcast of the distress call. McCoy isn’t picking up any animal life at all, though Kirk hears what sounds like an insect buzzing.

There is an abundance of art and literature and architecture, and some of the latter was obviously occupied recently, though other parts were abandoned.

Suddenly, Compton, one of the security guards, disappears, right after he took a sip from a fountain.

[I want to keep this one a long time. He’s pretty.]

Series: Star Trek: The Original Series Rewatch

Now You Can Watch All of The Ray Bradbury Theater Anthology Series Online

It’s a Ray Bradbury birthday surprise! Yesterday, on what would have been the Fahrenheit 451 author’s 95th birthday, Boing Boing stumbled across a treasure trove in the form of all 65 episodes of 1980s/90s TV series The Ray Bradbury Theater. Like The Twilight Zone, this dark science fiction anthology series put dozens of Bradbury’s clever stories on the small screen—all inspired, he said in the adorable intro for each episode, by an object in his study: “I never know where the next one will take me. And the trip? Exactly one-half exhilaration, exactly-one half terror.”

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A Family Affair: Spellbreaker by Blake Charlton

Although it was a small novel, both in size and in scope, Spellwright made a sizeable splash in the speculative fiction scene when it was released six years or so ago. First-time author Blake Charlton brought his own experiences as “a proud dyslexic” to bear brilliantly by exploring the place of a young man who misspells everything in a world in which magic is literally written.

Spellbound was bigger than Spellwright in the same several senses. It expanded the overarching narrative from the magical academy where Nicodemus Weal came of age and learned of something called the Disjunction to take in a distant city and a second central character. Again like the author, a medical school student by day and a writer by night at the time, Francesca DeVega was a physician poised to use her powers to heal the needy, but when she too became aware of the coming catastrophe, she had to put her pursuits on the back-burner to help Nico defeat the demons—demons that meant to destroy the lifeblood of the living: language.

But the demons were not defeated by our heroes… only delayed. And now, in Spellbreaker—not the longest volume of Charlton’s inventive trilogy but unequivocally the most ambitious—the Disjunction is at last at hand.

[Read more]

Jackaby Series Prize Pack Sweepstakes!

Ghostly Echoes, the third book in William Ritter’s Jackaby series, is out today from Algonquin Young Readers—and we want to send you a set of all three books in the series!

Jenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, has enlisted the investigative services of her fellow residents to solve a decade-old murder—her own. Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, R. F. Jackaby, dive into the cold case, starting with a search for Jenny’s fiancé, who went missing the night she died. But when a new, gruesome murder closely mirrors the events of ten years prior, Abigail and Jackaby realize that Jenny’s case isn’t so cold after all.

Fantasy and folklore mix with mad science as Abigail’s race to unravel the mystery leads her across the cold cobblestones of nineteenth-century New England, down to the mythical underworld, and deep into her colleagues’ grim histories to battle the most deadly foe she has ever faced.

Comment in the post to enter!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States and D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec). To enter, comment on this post beginning at 1:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on August 23rd. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on August 27th. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor:, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

The Wheel of Time Reread Redux: The Shadow Rising, Part 2

Merlin’s pants, it’s The Wheel of Time Reread Redux!

Today’s Redux post will cover Chapter 15 of The Shadow Rising, originally reread in this post, Chapter 19, originally reread in this post, and Chapter 20, 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!

[Thom probably woulda punched Geoffrey in the Monmouth, wouldn’t he]

Series: The Wheel of Time Reread