Forcing a Theme: Disney’s Fun and Fancy Free

What diabolical plot is being hatched in the brain of this poor demented duck?

As the United States emerged from World War II, Walt Disney felt increasingly desperate—and removed from the animation that had previously been his heart and soul. The majority of his films had been box office bombs, and even the cartoon shorts that had helped build the company before Snow White were facing increasing competition, especially from a director/animator called Chuck Jones over at rival Warner Bros. The money earned from producing training films for the Defense Department was gone, and distributor RKO Films refused to let Disney release Snow White and Dumbo on a yearly basis. Walt faced a crisis: his studio still didn’t have enough money to put together a full length animated picture, but the collections of cartoon shorts weren’t doing all that well either, strongly suggesting that the studio needed to return to longer features in order to survive.

What Walt Disney did have was a cartoon loosely based on the fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk, featuring Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy.

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Trollhunter: Fun with Found Footage!

One of the great things about being a professor of matters medieval is being able to enjoy how the Middle Ages pops into our popular culture in a variety of interesting ways. It’s an extra level of entertainment, and helps to explain the happy feeling I got when I watched the 2010 film Trollhunter, which I’ll be introducing to you today.

You may not have heard of this film, and honestly that’s a real shame. In my considered opinion, Trollhunter is, simply put, the finest “found footage” mockumentary about hunting trolls in modern Norway that has ever been made. Period.

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Series: Medieval Matters

This Week in Publishing: Pottermore Presents and Unbound Worlds

This week in science fiction/fantasy (and related subjects) publishing news… Beloved book universes, from J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world to M.R. Carey’s post-outbreak future from The Girl with All the Gifts, are expanding thanks to recently-announced sequels and prequels. New Neil Gaiman and John Scalzi covers abound, a young adult anthology will reimagine Asian mythology and folklore, and we look at what’s next for the Hugo Award fiction winners.

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Midnight in Karachi Episode 60: Malka Older

Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad.

Malka Older joins the podcast this week to talk about her novel Infomacracy, experiencing new cultures, and the state of politics. Infomocracy is available now from Tor.com Publishing—get started with the first five chapters here on Tor.com.

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Series: Midnight in Karachi Podcast

Twitter Gives Us All the Feels Over Fictional Deaths

The conversation pops back up now and again on Twitter, and the results are always devastating–if you ever need a good cry, just type in the hashtag #fictionaldeathsillnevergetover.

It’s fair to say that your average fan has a lengthy list, but here are a few that seem to crop up over and over… along with a few personal asides. (Some spoilers below, obviously, but nothing recent! There will be no spoiling of season finales!)

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Creatures of the Deep: Why I’m Addicted to My Biggest Fear

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!

When I was small, my first reaction to seeing the sea was to run straight into it, until my feet lost the bottom and my head went under.

The only way my parents could stop me was to tell me the ocean swarmed with monsters: blue sharks and makos, cruising in wait just yards from shore.

I became terrified of the sea, but obsessed with its leavings. The crab shells, the shrimps, the jellyfish. The dead cod that washed up one long August, and which I dragged aimlessly for a mile or so up the beach before burying in disgust.

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Television’s Greatest Hacker has been Hacked!

Rami Malek and his Mr. Robot character, Elliot Alderson, have one thing in common: they shy away from social media. During a conversation with Stephen Colbert, the actor confessed that while he had an Instagram account, he’d never actually posted anything. At this point, Colbert startled the actor by telling him he had about 100,000 followers, and then, eager to please a hungry audience, whipped out a selfie stick and hijacked Malek’s account.

Malek seems to be OK with it, though. You can become one of the thousands here! But maybe don’t expect too much activity.

[via Mary Sue!]

Abandon the Newspeak and Drink the Soma: Aldous Huxley’s Snarky Letter to George Orwell

When George Orwell finished his classic dystopia, Nineteen Eighty-Four, he eagerly had a copy sent off to his high school French teacher.

His high school French teacher, Aldous Huxley.

When the author of A Brave New World wrote back, he praised his former student’s book as “fine” and “profoundly important”—but he also seemingly couldn’t resist writing (at some length!) about how his own vision of the future was better (or at least more accurate in its predictions)…

[Read the full letter]

Pull List: The Vision

I absolutely adore this trend in comics of showing superheroes off duty and dealing with day-to-day issues, where it’s less about physical prowess and more about the ramifications of using their abilities. It’s more interesting to me to see the powerful confront their powers and the effect their powers have on the powerless. Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye is hard to beat, but Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s The Vision comes close. This isn’t a story about Vision kicking ass and taking names but a smaller scale tale of ethics versus morality, family versus friends, interlopers versus denizens.

[“Vision thought he could make a family. A happy, normal family.”]

The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years Sweepstakes!

The second volume of Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman’s oral history of Star Trek, The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years: From The Next Generation to J. J. Abrams: The Complete, Uncensored, and Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek, is available August 30th from Thomas Dunne Books—and we want to send you a copy!

This is the true story behind the making of a television legend. There have been many books written about Star Trek, but never with the unprecedented access, insight and candor of authors Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross. Having covered the franchise for over three decades, they’ve assembled the ultimate guide to a television classic.

The Fifty-Year Mission: Volume Two is an incisive, no-holds-barred oral history telling the story of post-Original Series Star Trek, told exclusively by the people who were there, in their own words—sharing the inside scoop they’ve never told before—unveiling the oftentimes shocking true story of the history of Star Trek and chronicling the trials, tribulations—and tribbles—that have remained deeply buried secrets… until now.

The Fifty-Year Mission: Volume Two includes the voices of hundreds television and film executives, programmers, writers, creators, and cast, who span from the beloved The Next Generation and subsequent films through its spin-offs: Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise, as well J.J. Abrams’ reimagined film series.

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 24th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on August 28th. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Tor.com, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

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 Tor.com. Click through for the full September tour schedule to see if she’s coming to your town!

[Click through for tour dates!]