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.

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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

Fiction Affliction: Genre-Benders for December

Santa’s saving his genre-benders until January, as only eight books span space and genre this month. Look for three new anthologies: the annual Nebula Awards Showcase edited by Greg Bear; A Paula Guran-edited anthology devoted to Warrior Women; and a collection of author “Detours” edited by Brian James Freeman.

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.]]

Jessica Jones is a Primer on Gaslighting, and How to Protect Yourself Against It

Jessica Jones has left most everyone I know with a lot to talk about. And there are plenty of reasons, of course–the show is smart, sassy, well-written, beautifully-acted, and features a female lead who is allowed to be as complex as women truly are.

It is also a show the puts female experiences of abuse and trauma under a microscope, and forces us to confront them.

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Reading Melanie Rawn’s Skybowl: The Final Chapters

Welcome to the weekly Wednesday read of Skybowl! Finally we’ve reached the end. The long saga is over. The battles are done, the cast of hundreds get their various resolutions. Or hints at same, as lives go on (or not) and the world continues past the scope of the series.


Chapters 36-39 and Epilogue

Here’s What Happens: In Chapter 36, the battle has ended with collapsed Vellant’im and somewhat less flattened magic users. Maarken relays Pol’s order: the enemy are out but not dead, and are not to be killed. Sionell takes it on herself to pass this on. Chay sorts out Maarken and the rest.

Isriam and the High Warlord scuffle, and mostly knock each other out. The Warlord comes to, sees what’s happened to his army, and bellows a challenge to Pol. [Read more]

Series: Rereading Melanie Rawn

The Man in the High Castle: Worldbuilding, Reality, and You

In addition to Netflix’s Jessica Jones, I also bingewatched Amazon Studios’ The Man in the High Castle over this past weekend. This experience was interesting, as it represented the twin poles of current geek culture—two wildly different, equally complex takes on fantastical universes. Where Jessica Jones is deeply personal, dealing with intimate trauma and healing, The Man in the High Castle is an inventive, heady look at politics, that uses an alternate history to ask questions about society and humanity as a whole.

[This was quite a weekend.]

The Jessica Jones Paranoid Conspiracy Support Group

Hot off her Alias reread, Tansy Rayner Roberts reviews Netflix’s Jessica Jones. In this post: “AKA 99 Friends” and “AKA The Sandwich Saved Me.” Spoilers for season 1.

“AKA 99 Friends”

Written by Hilly Hicks Jr
Directed by David Petrarca

“Nothing plays like pictures in court.”

Jessica gets a new client, and her paranoia—already off the rails thanks to the mystery photographer who has been stalking her on Kilgrave’s behalf—hits previously untapped levels. Audrey Eastman seems on the level, an angry woman looking for pictures of her philandering husband Carlo to support her divorce, but Jessica can’t be sure that this isn’t another Kilgrave trap.

Trish, meanwhile, calls in a panic because Sergeant Will the murderous cop is back with a bemused friend, banging on her reinforced security door. Jessica realises that the poor guy is acting out because he thinks there’s a dead body in the apartment.

JESSICA: He thinks he killed you. I recognise that look.

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Was the Death Star the Atomic Bomb of the Star Wars Galaxy?

Did the original Star Wars trilogy kick off an arms race that we’ll be seeing the results of in The Force Awakens?

I am so pumped up about the new Star Wars movie that I’m having dreams about it, but even as excited as I am, I still have to admit that the villains having a “Starkiller” weapon feels absolutely silly. The name brings me back to recess on the elementary school playground, and the kind of playfully impossible escalation that occurs between children playing make believe. “I shoot my mega laser at you!” “Yeah, well, I shoot my INFINITY laser at you!”*

*This always works.

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Forgotten Bestsellers: Coma by Robin Cook

Today’s bestsellers are tomorrow’s remainders and Forgotten Bestsellers will run for the next six weeks as a reminder that we were once all in a lather over books that people barely even remember anymore. Have we forgotten great works of literature? Or were these books never more than literary mayflies in the first place? What better time of year than the holiday season for us to remember that all flesh is dust and everything must die?

Everyone thinks they’ve read a Robin Cook novel.

BrainFeverOutbreakMutationToxinShockSeizure…an endless string of terse nouns splashed across paperback covers in airports everywhere. But just when you think you’ve got Robin Cook pegged, he throws a curveball by adding an adjective to his titles: Fatal Cure, Acceptable Risk, Mortal Fear, Harmful Intent. Cook is an ophthalmologist and an author, a man who has checked eyes and written bestsellers with equal frequency, but the one book to rule them all is Coma, his first big hit, written in 1977, which spawned a hit movie directed by Michael Crichton. With 34 books under his belt he is as inescapable as your annual eye appointment, but is he any good?

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The First Trailer for Legends of Tomorrow Takes Us Back…to the 70s!

We have a trailer for the second Arrow spin-off, Legends of Tomorrow! In the future, 2166 to be precise, awesomely-named DC villain Vandal Savage holds the whole planet in his grip. Luckily, a time traveler with his own sweet moniker, Rip Hunter, has zipped around collecting heroes to try to stop him. This leads to everyone going back to the ‘70s, and it looks like a lot of fun. There are also some fantastic actors here, including Arthur “Awww, Rory!” Darvil, Brandon “Underrated Superman” Routh, and Victor “Tap-Dancing Christ” Garber. Check out the full trailer!

[Indeed, let’s do this.]

Fiction Affliction: December Releases in Science Fiction

Seventeen science fiction titles vie for your holiday dollars this month. Look for new titles from, among others, Gini Koch, Jay Allan, Jack McDevitt, and Jean Johnson, as well as a new Jonathan Strahan-edited The Infinity Project anthology.

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.

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Blood and Piss: Jessica Jones and The Loss of Control

Much has been made of the sexuality in Jessica Jones. It’s true, Jessica and Luke Cage are Marvel’s poster children for enthusiastic (repeated, loud) consent, and Trish Walker gets to be the first Marvel heroine to have a guy go down on her onscreen. But one interesting thing is that in all the talk of how raw and realistic the sex scenes are, they are also shockingly dry. There is no fluid, there isn’t even much sweat, there are no stained sheets or post-coital showers. I have an idea about this…I think it’s that Jessica Jones, for various brilliant reasons, has focused all its attention on a different liquid entirely. I’ll have to ask you all to go with me into a fairly uncomfortable area, because we’re going to have to talk about piss.

But wait, let me back up.

[Beware of: spoilers for all of Jessica Jones; the ending of Daredevil Season 1; a graphic discussion of bodily function.]

[Seriously, it gets pretty graphic.]

Five Books with Fictitious Works of Art

A novel within a novel. A comic, painting, or song within a novel. Many writers enjoy the playfulness of creating fictitious works of art that no one will ever read, see, or hear.

I, too, love to play this game. Fictitious paintings and photographs lie at the heart of my genre-crossover novel, Sleeping Embers of An Ordinary Mind. It’s been immense fun to write, and during the long drafting and editing process, I’ve re-visited several novels, and read new releases, that share this compelling theme. Here are five of my personal favorites.

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Series: Five Books About…