Return of the Ham. Watching Return of the Jedi for the First Time

Oh, Lucas. What have you done?

What have you done?

Last time, you showed me what you (or at least, you in cooperation with others, possibly?) could do with The Empire Strikes Back. And the result was a wonderful movie that knocked my socks off and sold me on Star Wars forever.

I trusted you, or at least past you, a bit more than I should have. Fortunately, some warnings kept me from getting my hopes up too much, but goodness.

I’ll be blunt: I don’t think Return of the Jedi is as good as The Empire Strikes Back or A New Hope.

And yet… despite not being as good as its predecessors, Return of the Jedi still strikes a chord in me.

[“There is good in him.”]

Syfy’s Childhood’s End Updates a Classic to Ask Big Questions

Childhood’s End is coming to Syfy as a three-night event beginning December 14th and starring Mike Vogel, Charles Dance, and Colm Meaney. I was fortunate enough to see an early screening of the first episode, and I’ve tried to gather a few non-spoilery thoughts about it, as well as a few of the highlights from the panel that followed the screening. While I found it a little choppy at times, I thought this opening episode set up an intriguing premise that will be compelling for those who haven’t read the book, as well Arthur C. Clarke fans who have wanted to see this story brought to the screen. Check out our non-spoiler review!

[Would you trust an alien who sounded like Charles Dance?]

Happy Birthday, Madeleine L’Engle!

Today marks the birthday of an author who forever changed the way we feel about time travel, alternate dimensions, and dark and stormy nights. Madeleine L’Engle was born on November 29th in New York City and started writing almost right away. Her first story was composed at age 8, and she went on to pen a universe of novels, poems, and non-fiction throughout her amazing and inspirational career.

[Read more]

Series: On This Day

C.S. Lewis: Moral Fantasist

C.S. Lewis had three different lives professionally. He was an academic, a medievalist who taught at both Oxford and Cambridge and published extensively in his field. (His book Allegory of Love still considered a classic). He was also a Christian Apologist and lay-theologian, with works like Mere Christianity, Miracles, and The Screwtape Letters exploring faith and doubt. Finally, the career that made him famous and became his lasting legacy was that of a fantasy and science fiction author. His Chronicles of Narnia are classics of children’s literature, and have sparked devotion and serious exploration from authors like Philip Pullman, Neil Gaiman, and Lev Grossman.

[Read More]

Series: On This Day

Fiction Affliction: December Releases in Paranormal Romance

Ready for romance in December? Read slowly. There might be only eight new releases, but look from reader favorites from, among others, J.R. Ward, Thea Harrison, Kresley Cole, Ryannon Byrd, and Eve Langlais.

Fiction Affliction details releases in science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and “genre-benders.” Keep track of them all here.

Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.

[Read more]

The Ghost of Hayden Christensen: Why Anakin MUST Appear in Episode VII

The very end of the super-duper 2004 special edition of Return of the Jedi finds Luke gazing out to see Obi-Wan smiling, Yoda smiling, Anakin smiling, and the audience freaking out. Instead of Sebastian Shaw as an old Anakin, Hayden Christensen suddenly shimmered into view, smirking awkwardly, complete with his big Jedi mullet. And the haters began to hate. But, now with Episode VII so close to release, there’s paradoxically one person I don’t think they can leave out, and that person is Hayden Christensen! Here’s why the ghost of Hayden must return!

[Read more]

Pathfinder Tales: Bloodbound Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a galley of Pathfinder Tales: Bloodbound by F. Wesley Schneider, available December 1st from Tor Books!

Larsa is a dhampir: half vampire, half human. In the gritty streets and haunted moors of gothic Ustalav, she’s an agent for the royal spymaster, keeping peace between the capital’s secret vampire population and its huddled human masses. Yet when a noblewoman’s entire house is massacred by vampiric invaders, Larsa is drawn into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse that will reveal far more about her own heritage than she ever wanted to know.

From Pathfinder co-creator and noted game designer F. Wesley Schneider comes a dark fantasy adventure of murder, intrigue, and secrets best left buried, set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

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 12:00 PM Eastern Time (ET) on November 27th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on December 1st. 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.

Pictures With a Thousand Words: Thing Explainer by Randall Munroe

It is tempting to take a page from Randall Monroe’s Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words, and try to write this entire review in, as Monroe puts it, the ten hundred most common words in the English language. It’s an intriguing challenge, because one of the charms of this new book is that it imbues everything between its covers with a childlike and unpretentious sense of delight in humanity’s intellectual achievements.

Still, somehow it makes me want to bust out a thesaurus and get all polysyllabic on you guys.

[Thing you use to go read more about Thing Explainer]

Getting to “The End.” Standalone Fantasy Books That Came Out in 2015

Sometimes you just want to curl up with a fantasy tale that won’t let you get to the back cover without concluding the story, and judging from all of these suggestions (here) for standalone fantasy books (and here), you’re not alone!

Maybe you’re looking for something a little more recent, though? Below, we’ve rounded up a list of standalone fantasy books that have come out in 2015. It is not comprehensive (or even complete since the year itself isn’t), so if we skipped a favorite of yours, mention it in the comments!

[Read more]

Fiction Affliction: December Releases in Urban Fantasy and Horror

Tuck yourself in by the fire and relax with some urban fantasy this month, although with only nine releases, you might have to dig into your TBR pile. This month, look for new releases from, among others, Ilona Andrews, Rob Thurman, Lauren Dane, and Gail Z. Martin.

Fiction Affliction details releases in science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and “genre-benders.” Keep track of them all here. Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.

[Read about this month’s releases]

Midnight in Karachi Episode 38: Francesca Haig and The Fire Sermon

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.

This week novelist & award-winning poet Francesca Haig joins Midnight in Karachi to talk about her first novel The Fire Sermon, moving from poetry to fiction, her literary influences, and what our actual apocalypses may be.

[Read more]

The First Star Wars Novelization Reads Like an Alternate Universe Version of the Film

At this point, it’s pretty well known that the novelization of Star Wars: A New Hope was not written by George Lucas himself, but ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster. George Lucas admitted in a foreword written during the mid-90s that he hoped the book would be a modest success, just the way he hoped the film would be. The book sold just fine… and then the movie came out, and the book started flying off shelves.

[Read more]

Series: Star Wars on

Paul Cornell Reveals Who Killed Sherlock Holmes?

Who has killed the ghost of Sherlock Holmes? That’s the question that haunts the third of Paul Cornell’s dark and dangerous Shadow Police novels. And what a question! A title that striking deserves an equally striking cover–so Tor Books UK has taken the opportunity to redesign the whole series. Get a first look at the sharp new designs here, and find out more about Who Killed Sherlock Holmes?

[Read more]

Frederik Pohl Made Doing Literally Everything Look Easy

Frederik Pohl was one of those people who seem to make up the constellations of science fiction, a man who seemed to live five or six different lives in the time most of us only live one.

He was born in 1919, and his family travelled constantly in his early childhood, before his family settled in Brooklyn. He co-founded The Futurians, and belonged to that group as well as the Young Communist League during the 1930s. He left the Communists in 1939, joined the Army in 1943, and remained a sci-fi fan throughout. After World War II he worked as a writer, editor, and SF literary agent. He was married five times and had four children. He did, almost literally, everything.

[Read More]

Rereading The Elfstones of Shannara, Chapters 38-41

Welcome, readers of Shady Vale, to this week’s installment in our reread of Terry Brooks’ classic epic fantasy, The Elfstones of Shannara. If you’re unfamiliar with Elfstones, Brooks, or this reread, be sure to check out the introductory post, in which we all become acquainted.

Last week, the Elven army limped into Arborlon, the King awoke, and Amberle and Wil met an old foe and a new friend.

This week, the Elfstones are stolen and regained, the siege of Arborlon begins, and Mallenroh makes a dramatic entrance.

[Click to pry open Cephelo’s hands]

Series: Rereading Shannara