Where to Start with Joe Hill

Joe Hill is the kind of author whose works burrow under your skin. Months after finishing one of his books, certain scenes will pop up in your memories at unexpected moments. Characters will haunt you, their travails or deaths stalking you during work meetings, Twitter scrolling, even through other books. Hill writes horror fiction with a style as eviscerating as it is visceral. His works critique and peel apart our sociocultural ideals by pushing his characters to the extreme, and he does it all with geeky Easter eggs and literary eloquence.

There was a time not long ago when I could bring up author Joe Hill and no one would have any idea who I was talking about. Nowadays nearly every reader I encounter has heard of him, but many haven’t yet read any of his works. The son of authors Stephen and Tabitha King, Hill has written numerous novels, short stories, and comics, as well scripts for two TV shows (even though neither made it to air). His back catalogue, while a boon to long-time fans like myself, can be overwhelming for a newbie unsure of which to read first. Some are intimidated by his larger tomes while others by the horror tag. But I maintain there’s at least one Joe Hill story for everyone. It’s just a matter of digging around until we find it. Let’s see if I can’t do something about that…

[“Fantasy was always only a reality waiting to be switched on.”]

This Morning in Publishing: October 27, 2016

Now here’s a cameo more exciting than a superhero crossover! Ariell Johnson, owner of Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse in Philadelphia, is the first black woman to own a comic book store on the East Coast—and she’s also the first to appear on the cover of a Marvel Comic! Chatting it up with new Iron Man Riri Williams, no less. That’s the kind of groundbreaking news you’ll find in today’s publishing culture roundup!

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Recluce Tales: “The Forest Girl”

For over a thousand years, Order and Chaos have molded the island of Recluce. The Saga of Recluce chronicles the history of this world through eighteen books, L. E. Modesitt, Jr.’s most expansive and bestselling fantasy series. Available January 2017 from Tor Books, Recluce Tales: Stories from the World of Recluce collects seventeen new short stories and four popular reprints spanning the thousand-year history of Recluce.

First-time readers will gain a glimpse of the fascinating world and its complex magic system, while longtime readers of the series will be treated to glimpses into the history of the world. Modesitt’s essay “Behind the ‘Magic’ of Recluce” gives insight into his thoughts on developing the magical system that rules the Island of Recluce and its surrounding lands, while “The Vice Marshal’s Trial” takes the reader back to the first colonists on Recluce. Old favorites “Black Ordermage” and “The Stranger” stand side-by-side with thrilling new stories. Below, we’re excited to share “The Forest Girl,” a  new story about a historical figure before he became a legend to be feared… and respected.

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Star Wars Propaganda Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a copy of Pablo Hidalgo’s Star Wars Propaganda: A History of Persuasive Art in the Galaxy, available now from Harper Design!

A Star Wars authority deepens and extends our appreciation of the Star Wars galaxy with this imaginative “history” featuring striking full-color artwork—created exclusively for this entertaining volume—that examines the persuasive messages used to intimidate and inspire the citizenry of the galaxy far, far away. . . .

A Star Destroyer hovering over a planet, symbolizing Imperial domination.

An X-wing delivering a message of resistance and hope on behalf of the Rebellion.

A line of armed, faceless First Order stormtroopers promoting unity.

These are all examples of propaganda used by the Empire to advocate strength and maintain fear, and by the Rebel Alliance to inspire hope and win support for the fight. Star Wars Propaganda takes fans into the beloved epic story as never before, bringing the battle between these two sides to life in a fresh and brilliant way.

Star Wars Propaganda includes fifty dazzling pieces of art representing all seven episodes—including material related to Star Wars: The Force Awakens—specially produced for this companion volume. Each page combines an original image and a short description detailing its “history:” the in-world “artist” who created it (either willingly or through coercion), where in the Star Wars galaxy it appeared, and why that particular location was targeted.

Packaged in a beautifully designed case and written by a franchise expert and insider, Star Wars Propaganda also includes ten removable art prints, and is sure to become a keepsake for every fan and graphic artist as well.

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 4:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on October 26th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on October 30th. 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.

Captain Kirk Has a Man-Cave: Brad Ferguson’s Crisis on Centaurus

Crisis on Centaurus opens in a busy spaceport. This is not the sanitized, utopian Federation we are used to; it is crammed with brand names, and with frustrated travelers. One of them, an angry Tellarite businessman, attacks an ATM that has swallowed his American Express card, and we are suddenly immersed in the ugly underside of our imagined future. Not because someone has taken a sword to a machine that even the local cops admit deserved it, although that’s a grittier underbelly than Star Trek imagines most of the time, but because of Holtzman, the terrorist, sitting just a few feet away. This is not only a highly commercial Federation, it is, Ferguson subtly reminds us, a place where a genocidal dictator once hid for years by traveling the galaxy. And suddenly, it’s a Federation where we see the forces of evil do much worse than performing in a touring production of Hamlet.

Ferguson’s humor is a stealth move that makes the moment of destruction shocking. A simple antimatter bomb transforms the New Athens spaceport into a fourth sun rising over the Centauran horizon. James T. Kirk is going to have to save this brand new day.

[It’s a Man’s Job]

Comics Artist Continues the Avatar Cycle With Fan Art For “The Legend of Abioye”

If you’ve never seen the work of Marcus Williams, get ready for a real treat. As a comics artist and fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Williams took it upon himself to imagine the next Avatar after Korra–a young Earthbender named Abioye. The cast of characters and background he has built for the story is wonderful, a crew of friends and allies that are right at home in the Avatar universe.

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NOT THE BEES! Black Mirror, “Hated in the Nation”

Even though Black Mirror is an anthology and you could conceivably watch season 3 in any order, “Hated in the Nation” still feels like a season finale. Not just because of its supersized runtime (90 minutes), but also because it collects many of the ideas and motifs explored in the previous five episodes: raising each other up with retweets and tearing each other down with hashtags (instead of stars); online vigilantes goading us to display our worst selves and then striking; drones used for nefarious purposes. While it’s not as flashily dystopian as other Black Mirror installments, it resembles last year’s holiday special “White Christmas” in that its technology—and the human application of it—feels uncomfortably close to our present.
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My Not-So-Excellent Lucid Dreaming Adventure

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!

I started writing fiction because of a dream. I was in my mid-30s, and the last fiction I’d written was in English Comp class in college, but when I had this cool dream of a guy parachuting off a chip of Manhattan hanging in an otherwise empty sky, and landing days later on another small piece of the world, I couldn’t resist trying to write it as a short story. Just recently, I turned that first story into a novel, titled Faller.

Meanwhile, until four years ago I made my living as a psychology professor, and one of my favorite lecture topics in Intro Psych was sleep and dreams. My students were especially fascinated by the idea of lucid dreaming—being consciously aware that you’re dreaming while you’re still in the dream. The thinking is, if you learn to become aware in your dreams, you can take control of them, and when you face your unconscious fears while dreaming, you can more easily face them in the waking world. I decided to give lucid dreaming a try. I figured if I had more control over them, I might be able to boost my creative firepower. Plus I was just curious to see what would happen.

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The Warren Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a copy of Brian Evenson’s The Warren, available now from Tor.com Publishing!

X doesn’t have a name. He thought he had one—or many—but that might be the result of the failing memories of the personalities imprinted within him. Or maybe he really is called X.

He’s also not as human as he believes himself to be.

But when he discovers the existence of another—above ground, outside the protection of the Warren—X must learn what it means to be human, or face the destruction of their two species.

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 October 26th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on October 30th. 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.

A Shaggy Frog Story: Neil Gaiman’s “Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar”

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 Neil Gaiman’s “Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar,” first published in Mike Ashley’s 1998 anthology, The Mammoth Book of Comic Fantasy. Spoilers ahead.

[“Well, it’s not exactly a common name, is it? Nyarlathotep.”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread