Clockwork Canada: Exploring the Ticking Heart of the North

I first discovered steampunk as an aesthetic, a creative outlet for artists and cosplayers to go and redraw the lines of history: open the skies to adventure on steamships and blimps. Make the world over in polished copper, gold, and bronze. Fill the silence with ticking mechanisms and turning cogs. Since then I’ve been immersing myself in steampunk’s fiction extension and having recently read Nora Jemisin’s “The Effluent Engine”, Shveta Thakrar’s “Not the Moon, but the Stars”, and Aliette de Bodard’s “Prayers of Forges and Furnaces”, what strikes me is that all the tales go for the societal jugular. They’re far more concerned with the bones and flesh of society in relation to steam technology than the technology in itself.

Steam technology doesn’t only lead to upstanding, impeccably-dressed gentlemen and ladies, switching one romantic set for another and undertaking good-spirited hijinks. It weaves itself into the fabric of daily lives, changes the tides of history, and serves as fuel for great acts of defiance. This is not news for those intimately acquainted with the scene—but for me, steampunk remains a great process of discovery and I’m happy to say Clockwork Canada, a new anthology edited by Dominik Parisien, continues my education in the great potential steampunk has to address and educate.

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The Chimes Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a copy of Anna Smaill’s The Chimes, available May 3rd from Quercus!

After the end of a brutal civil war, London is divided, with slums standing next to a walled city of elites. Monk-like masters are selected for special schooling and shut away for decades, learning to write beautiful compositions for the chimes, played citywide morning and night, to mute memory and keep the citizens trapped in ignorance.

A young orphan named Simon arrives in London with nothing but the vague sense of a half-forgotten promise, to locate someone. What he finds is a new family—a gang of scavengers that patrols the underbelly of the city looking for valuable metal to sell. Drawn in by an enigmatic and charismatic leader, a blind young man named Lucien with a gift for song, Simon forgets entirely what originally brought him to the place he has now made his home.

In this alternate London, the past is a mystery, each new day feels the same as the last, and before is considered “blasphony.” But Simon has a unique gift—the gift of retaining memories—that will lead him to discover a great injustice and take him far beyond the meager life as a member of Lucien’s gang. Before long he will be engaged in an epic struggle for justice, love, and freedom.

Comment in the post to enter!

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Creating a More Perfect Human Being: Orphan Black, “The Stigmata of Progress”

I haven’t been able to figure out where this week’s Orphan Black got its title, but it’s a gripping visual nonetheless: forward momentum, but the kind that leaves a scar. The Clone Club has already lost so much blood, several embryos, and one eye, and had about as many things implanted. This week centers around two especially interesting implants: Sarah’s Neolutionist bug and Rachel’s eye.

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Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: Second Season Overview

Star Trek Second Season
Original air dates: September 1967 – March 1968
Executive Producer: Gene Roddenberry
Producer (to “Journey to Babel”): Gene L. Coon
Producer (from “Bread and Circuses”): John Meredyth Lucas

Captain’s log. Where the first season had the show finding its way and figuring out what worked and what didn’t—one moment an ensemble, the next a showcase for the guest star of the week (a common mode of dramas of the time), the next a three-lead show—by season two, it had pretty much settled into a three-lead show.

We still got hints of the ensemble (moments in “Obsession” and “The Trouble with Tribbles” in particular), and occasionally the guest star became the focus of the episode (again “Obsession,” as well as “Metamorphosis,” “The Ultimate Computer,” and naturally “Assignment: Earth“), but mostly they were pretty well settled in the formula of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beam down to a planet and have adventures. In fact, that formula was so well-liked by the end of the previous season that DeForest Kelley was elevated to the opening credits to reflect his equal role as part of the triad atop the series, and proving his mettle particularly in “Friday’s Child,” “Amok Time,” “Bread and Circuses,” “Journey to Babel,” “A Private Little War,” “The Immunity Syndrome,” “The Ultimate Computer,” and especially “Return to Tomorrow.”

[I shall do neither. I have killed my captain and my friend.]

Series: Star Trek: The Original Series Rewatch

The Punisher Gets His Own Netflix Spinoff

Today in inevitable news, Netflix has ordered a spinoff for The Punisher, starring everyone’s favorite brutal vigilante from Daredevil season 2, Frank Castle! Hannibal‘s Steve Lightfoot will serve as executive producer and showrunner of the newest Marvel series, penning the first two episodes of the full first season order. Jon Bernthal will reprise his role of bringing “justice” to Hell’s Kitchen alongside Marvel’s other Netflix series Jessica JonesLuke CageIron FistDaredevil, and the upcoming ensemble miniseries The Defenders. Whether Frank will join his fellow crimefighters in The Defenders has yet to be confirmed, but now that he has his own series, it seems likely he’ll at least get a cameo.

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How Guy Gavriel Kay Mashes Up Real Events and People Into Alternate History Fantasy

Guy Gavriel Kay’s work has been described as “history with a quarter-turn to the fantastic”: It’s almost what you remember learning about in school, but overlaid with a new intrigue, or perspective, that doesn’t exist in our recorded history. Take his new book, Children of Earth and Sky: Set in alternate-history 16th-century Europe—in a city whose canals bring to mind Venice—it tracks the individual ambitions of an artist, an undercover spy, and a band of pirates as well as the looming threat of invasion from an eastern threat that resembles the Ottoman Empire. Bits and pieces that you may have read in books, woven together in a tapestry (to borrow the metaphor of one recent review) or, as I like to think of it, mashed up into a delightful historical remix. Kay has likely read all of the books, as well as some primary sources and other unusual texts—he recently talked to io9 about his involved research process.

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Will the Watership Down Remake Be as Traumatizing as the Original?

On the one hand, maybe not, since members of the generation who had nightmares about bloody rabbit-on-rabbit slaughter thanks to the 1978 adaptation of Richard Adams’ novel will know what to expect. On the other hand, the BBC/Netflix collaboration will be animated in CG, which may make for some uncomfortable uncanny valley viewing. At least John Boyega and James McAvoy will be there to help make this remake (hopefully) a little less disturbing!

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Bloodrush: Baroque Murders and a Complicated Conversation about Race

You’ve survived another week! Have a Freaky Friday and relax knowing that whatever book I’m talking about was probably published a couple of decades ago and can’t hurt you anymore.

Hugh Zachary has referred to himself as “the most published, underpaid, and unknown writer in the U.S.” He’s written 50 books under the names Zach Hughes, Peter Kanto, and Pablo Zane, ranging from science fiction and horror to romance and The Beachcomber’s Handbook of Seafood Cookery. And in 1981 he wrote Bloodrush, which is one of those books that’s ostensibly a procedural mystery but that’s dripping with so much blood and gore and weirdness that it crosses the line into straight-up horror. It’s a cheap novel, printed on cheap paper, with a cover that looks like it’s been assigned by random lottery. I mean, what animal is that with its bright red fangs? A weasel? A lion? A badger? Whatever it is, I guarantee that it doesn’t appear in this book.

What does appear in this book is a lot of blunt, racially-charged language, because this book is about black people. And black supremacy. And black people going crazy because of racism. And killer cults of black nationalists. And it’s papered in wall-to-wall use of the n-word. And it’s written by a white guy. So here’s my question: is Bloodrush totally racist?

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Roll All the Critical Hits with this 120-Sided Die!

Over one hundred and fifty years ago, a French-Belgian mathematician named Eugène Catalan worked out the design for the disdyakis triacontahedron – a 120-sided die. Theoretically it was the most mathematically fair die that could exist. Now, we are pleased to report that we live in a world in which the disdyakis triacontahedron can thunder across gaming boards, thrilling all who watch with its many sides. The New Yorker profiled the creators of the D120, Robert Fathauer, Henry Segerman, and Robert Bosch, and you can read more about them, and check out the die in action, below!

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5 Reasons to Watch Penny Dreadful

Showtime’s Brit-horror series Penny Dreadful returns on May 1st to the joy of faithful viewers not-nearly-everywhere. For such a smart and well-acted show, the horror soap opera featuring fictional heavy-hitters Victor Frankenstein, his monster, Dorian Gray, and the Wolfman doesn’t get quite the expected amount of buzz it deserves. It probably doesn’t help that the show airs the same night as HBO’s powerhouse Game of Thrones. Watch Thrones live if you hate getting spoiled on Twitter, but save some room on your DVR for a show that’s bloodier, spookier, and steeped in much more literal—and literary—sexual politics.

Here’s a taste of what you’re missing. (With a few unavoidable spoilers ahead.)

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TV Rights to The Wheel of Time Optioned by New Studio, With Jordan Estate’s Approval

Harriet McDougal, wife of the late Robert Jordan, dropped some exciting news late Thursday: the TV rights to Jordan’s Wheel of Time fantasy epic have been acquired by a major studio.

In the wake of the success of Game of Thrones, and considering the staggering amount of fantasy and sci-fi book properties that have been optioned for TV and film, the absence of The Wheel of Time has been eyebrow-raising. (Or in the parlance of the series itself, perhaps the better term is “sniff producing”?) Fans of the series were given a glimpse into the legal tangle preventing WOT’s emergence onto the small screen on February 9, 2015, when a sudden pilot episode dubbed “Winter Dragon” aired in the early A.M. hours on the FXX Network. McDougal released a statement clarifying that the pilot was made without her knowledge, prompting Red Eagle Entertainment, the production company behind the pilot, to issue a lawsuit. (Which they later withdrew.) A more detailed account of the behind-the-scenes machinations can be found at io9, but regardless of the details, overall it seemed as if fans would have to wait a very long time to see Jordan’s work on screen in a large-scale production.

Now, the wait is seemingly over.

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The Harry Potter Reread: The Deathly Hallows, Chapters 29 and 30

The Harry Potter Reread wishes that all work areas were equipped with blankets and sofas and things. The Harry Potter Reread would like to do all of its work from a pillow fort blanket hut.

This week we’re going to hug Neville and break into school. It’s chapters 29 and 30 of The Deathly Hallows—The Lost Diadem and The Sacking of Severus Snape.

Index to the reread can be located here! Other Harry Potter and Potter-related pieces can be found under their appropriate tag. And of course, since we know this is a reread, all posts might contain spoilers for the entire series. If you haven’t read all the Potter books, be warned.

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Series: The Harry Potter Reread

Is This Our First Look at a New Cinematic Team of X-Men?

io9, Comic Book Resources, and other online nerd news sources are picking up on a new image from X-Men: Apocalypse that was recently posted to Reddit Comic Books. The image appears to show a new team of X-Men emerging from the chaos of the forthcoming movie, a team that looks more like their comic book counterparts than ever before.

This is potentially spoilery, so if you want to check out the line-up, take a peek below the cut.

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