Please Don’t Send in the Clowns: Thomas Ligotti’s “The Last Feast of Harlequin”

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 Thomas Ligotti’s “The Last Feast of Harlequin,” first published in the April 1990 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction. You can find it in the Cthulhu 2000 anthology, among other places. Spoilers ahead.

[“When he swept his arm around to indicate some common term on the blackboard behind him, one felt he was presenting nothing less than an itm of fantastic qualities and secret value. When he replaced his hand in the pocket of his old jacket this fleeting magic was once again stored away in its well-worn pouch, to be retrieved at the sorcerer’s discretion. We sensed he was teaching us more than we could possibly learn, and that he himself was in possession of greater and deeper knowledge than he could possibly impart.”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

So. Let’s Talk About The Killing Joke.

DC’s animated feature based on Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s classic story has hit both theaters and digital video. When it premiered at San Diego Comic Con this past week, fan reaction was… tense to say the least, and apparently culminated with screenwriter Brian Azzarello using a decidedly gendered slur to insult a reporter who expressed his issues with the film vocally in a room full of people.

Talking about this film, this story, is rough. It’s rough because it commands a lot of questions on multiple levels of the creative process. It’s rough because it deals with sexual violence and brutality, and what it means to make money off of stories that heavily feature those themes. It’s rough because this project involved many beloved creators and talent, and it’s hard to speak ill of people whose work you love and respect.

But we have to talk about The Killing Joke. Because we have to work through the shockwaves that this film has already prompted, and question the wisdom of this particular enterprise at a point in time when its legacy has never been more highly contested.

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Midnight in Karachi Returns with an Exclusive Interview with Margaret Atwood!

It’s been a couple of months of radio silence from my end, with some major life changes and relocations included but I’m pleased to report that Midnight in Karachi will officially return on August 4th with a very special interview of a writer who has been a personal hero of mine for years. I first read her seminal novel when I was 17, and it’s been a love affair since then. I never thought I’d ever have the chance to speak with her, but when she wont a Kitschies award earlier this year, director Glen Mehn put in a request with her people for my podcast and amazingly, she agreed.

This left me wondering, how does one address Margaret Atwood? I asked her over Twitter, and she said Aunty Peggy would be just fine, but you’ll notice I avoid addressing her by name anyway. Maybe we can get to Aunty Peggy levels of familiarity a few interviews down the line. In case you’re wondering, Margaret Atwood is just as sharp, funny and charming as you’d want your literary hero to be. I may have gushed off air a bit, but that remains mercifully off the record.

Other guests who’ll be appearing on Midnight in Karachi for August are Malka Older, Laura Lam, Sami Shah and Victoria Schwab! In the meantime, please enjoy this “Where to Begin” piece from October 2015, which offers some suggestions for places to dive into the amazing worlds of Margaret Atwood. Jump right in, and then please join us Thursday August 4th on the Midnight in Karachi podcast to hear from Atwood herself!

[Here are some suggestions for where to start with Margaret Atwood…]

Testing the Waters: What to Do When You Don’t Like Anything

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 first learned about the “And Related Subjects” series, it threw me for a loop. Actually, it was less of a loop and more of a downward spiral, because that’s what happens when you realize you have no passions. In thirty-three years on this earth, I didn’t manage to develop even a hobby, unless you count games that begin with the words “Candy Crush.”

But the more I read about fantastic authors who also go mountain-climbing or fencing or compose actual music, the farther I went into panic-shame-depression mode. I’ve spent the last decade of my life writing books, building a writing career (these are two different things, by the way), and raising kids. I don’t have a lot of free time, and when I do have a night off, I dust off my film degree and take it to the movies, usually with my husband in tow.

[Then I realized that I was looking at it the wrong way…]

The Art of Space Travel

“The Art of Space Travel” by Nina Allan is a science fiction novelette. In 2047, a first manned mission to Mars ended in tragedy. Thirty years later, a second expedition is preparing to launch. As housekeeper of the hotel where two of the astronauts will give their final press statements, Emily finds the mission intruding upon her thoughts more and more. Emily’s mother, Moolie, has a message to give her, but Moolie’s memories are fading. As the astronauts’ visit draws closer, the unearthing of a more personal history is about to alter Emily’s world forever.

[Read “The Art of Space Travel” by Nina Allan]

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Fan Art is the Friendliest, Most Welcoming Fan Art

Twitterer and MSTie Rich Jensen has created what may be the single greatest greeting card the Great State of Minnesota will ever receive! He doesn’t just include the stately capitol building (in St. Paul), nor yet the lovely state flower (the Cypripedium acaule – known as the pink lady’s slipper or moccasin flower), but instead goes for broke and includes the entire cast of last month’s Rifftrax/MST3K/Cinematic Titanic/Mads reunion.

Anybody want to go on a roadtrip? We can stop at the Dells!

[via Twitter!]

Rereading Kage Baker’s Company Series: Sky Coyote, Chapters 31-35

Welcome back to the Kage Baker Company Series Reread! In today’s post, we’ll cover the final five chapters of Sky Coyote and the elusive “Memorandum from Dr. Zeus, Incorporated” coda found in the Avon Eos edition of the novel. I’ll also include a quick rundown of some short stories set between the end of this novel and the start of Mendoza in Hollywood.

As always, you can find a list of all previous posts in the reread on our handy-dandy index page. And also as always, beware spoilers, because this reread discusses events and plot lines from the entire series.

And with that we’re off to Humashup, sadly for the last time…

[I will come home when the stars are faded.]

Series: Rereading Kage Baker

Why Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence is So. Damn. Powerful.

It’s a typical morning, as typical as they come. You wake up and shower, listening to your favorite shock jockey blab on the air. You make a cup of coffee and read the paper, all the while keeping an eye on the clock. You hail a cab, and despite the intense traffic, you manage to make your way to work and even manage to impress your boss.

Except that in this world, your shock jockey is a rogue elemental riding the airwaves, spreading gossip. Your cab could be a riderless carriage that touts you around the bustling streets, or possibly a giant dragonfly like creature, whose legs wrap around your body and fly you to work. Your office is probably a giant glass pyramid, fitting into the city like a perfect puzzle piece. And your boss? Yeah, he’s an immortal sorcerer whose constant tampering with the forces of the universe has caused his flesh to fall away, and remain in this life as a skeleton in a business suit, a Deathless King.

Welcome to the Craft Sequence. You’re going to want to pick your jaw up off the floor if you expect to get any respect around here, kid.

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Tor.com Acquires a New Laundry Files Novel by Charles Stross!

We’re thrilled to announce the acquisition of The Delirium Brief, a new Laundry Files novel by Charles Stross! The series explores the workings of the Laundry, a secret British agency responsible for keeping dark inter-dimensional entities from destroying the cosmos and, not incidentally, the human race. The Nightmare Stacks, the latest installment in the Laundry Files (read a review here), came out this June, and Tor.com Publishing, in partnership with Tor Books, is delighted to be the new home of this beloved series!

Stross has long been a part of the Tor.com Publishing family: his free Tor.com story “Equoid” won the 2014 Hugo for Best Novella, and you can find other Laundry Files stories available as Tor.com originals hereThe Delirium Brief will be traditionally distributed to bookstores near you.

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Series: Editorially Speaking

The Temeraire Reread: League of Dragons

Hello, everyone! Welcome back to the Temeraire Reread, in which I recap and review Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, one novel a week. We conclude the reread this week with a spoiler discussion of the ninth and final volume, League of Dragons. You can catch up on past posts at the reread index (plus my non-spoiler review of this book), or check out Tor.com’s other posts about Naomi Novik’s works through her tag.

I’m so excited that I don’t have to pretend that I haven’t read League any more! (I have been so good, y’all. Not a single hint anywhere!) So gear up for spoilers for the entire series, and let’s begin!

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Series: The Temeraire Reread

Alex Garland on How His Annihilation Adaptation is a Response to Jeff VanderMeer’s Novel

While 2015’s Ex Machina may be what pushed writer-director Alex Garland into the mainstream, about half of his body of work is in adaptations: He wrote the screenplays for both Never Let Me Go and Dredd, and is writing and directing the adaptation of Annihilation, the first book in Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy. Lightspeed Magazine recently posted the full text of Wired‘s Geek Guide to the Galaxy interview with Alex Garland, which runs from irreverent (he likes to be contrarian) to serious (reflective commentary on the difference between telling a story through a novel and a movie). The whole thing is worth a read, but Garland’s thoughts on adapting Annihilation—especially doing so without having read the subsequent installments.

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Spellbreaker

Leandra Weal has a bad habit of getting herself in dangerous situations. While hunting neodemons in her role as Warden of Ixos, Leandra obtains a prophetic spell that provides a glimpse one day into her future. She discovers that she is doomed to murder someone she loves, soon, but not who. That’s a pretty big problem for a woman who has a shark god for a lover, a hostile empress for an aunt, a rogue misspelling wizard for a father, and a mother who—especially when arguing with her daughter—can be a real dragon.

Leandra’s quest to unravel the mystery of the murder-she-will-commit becomes more urgent when her chronic disease flares up and the Ixonian Archipelago is plagued by natural disasters, demon worshiping cults, and fierce political infighting. Everywhere she turns, Leandra finds herself amid intrigue and conflict. It seems her bad habit for getting into dangerous situations is turning into a full blown addiction. As chaos spreads across Ixos, Leandra and her troubled family must race to uncover the shocking truth about a prophesied demonic invasion, human language, and their own identities—if they don’t kill each other first.

Blake Charlton’s Spellbreaker—the third novel in the Spellwright trilogy—is available August 23rd from Tor Books!

[Read an Excerpt]

The Sweet, Sweet Songs of San Diego Comic-Con

While many of the trailers that debuted over this weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con favored the perennial BRRRAAAAHHHHMMMMs made popular by Hans Zimmer (Wonder Woman), or familiar soundtrack music (John William’s lilting Harry Potter theme popped up in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) a surprising number of filmmakers used really well-curated rock and pop songs, plus a hip hop classic. As a public service to you, the trailer viewer, I have compiled the greatest hits into one easy place, so if you’ve been frantically searching for that American Gods song, we’ve got it! (And thank you Commenter Elroy, for pointing us to it!) I’m going chronologically through the weekend—let me know if I missed any songs you loved!

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Four Roads Cross by Max Gladstone: A Farmer’s Market Can Change the Course of History

I suspect at this point Max Gladstone might be outgrowing the label wunderkind. This year is the fifth since the publication of his debut novel, Three Parts Dead, to which Four Roads Cross is very nearly a direct sequel. In the intervening time, he’s written several more standalone novels in his “Craft” sequence (Two Serpents Rise, Full Fathom Five, Last First Snow), a couple of text-based games, and created or jointly created two serial projects for subscription outfit Serial Box. Throughout this time, his skill and craft have only improved.

But they were pretty damn hot stuff to begin with.

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Tor Books Announces New Associate Publishers

Patrick Nielsen Hayden has been named Associate Publisher of Tor Books, effective immediately. This award-winning 28-year veteran of Tor has brought numerous prestigious and bestselling authors to the list, including John Scalzi, Cory Doctorow and Charlie Jane Anders, to name a few. His vision has been instrumental in the development of Tor.

Devi Pillai, who led the US division of Orbit to its position as Tor’s fastest-growing competitor, will be joining Tor, also as Associate Publisher. “I’ve watched Devi’s work with admiration for a long time now; her qualifications are outstanding, and she’ll be a great addition to our team,” said Tor Books publisher Tom Doherty. “As we continue our 35-year commitment to adult SF and fantasy, Devi and Patrick will work alongside each other to oversee our numerous editors who work primarily in these twin genres,” he continued.

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