Five Super Villain Schemes So Crazy They Might Just Be Crazy

In the first Austin Powers film, Doctor Evil’s demand of one million dollars comes across as hilariously absurd, not only because he doesn’t understand economic inflation, but because we’re all used to super villains acting like idiots. Despicable Me further illustrates this tendency by having the plot of the movie center on the attempt to steal the Moon.

But what about supposedly serious (or at least not intentionally spoofy) villains with awful plans? Can we chalk up complications and ridiculousness to insanity? Perhaps. But there are some super villains who actually seem at least a little bit sane, and still somehow manage to enact schemes that are flawed to the point of being silly. Here are five of the most absurd super villain schemes, complete with my advice on what these big baddies should have done instead.

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The Harry Potter Reread: The Order of the Phoenix, Chapters 21 and 22

The Harry Potter Reread would quit caffeine, but it’s no quitter. So it won’t quit caffeine. Which means that everyone should probably look out.

This week we’re going to have a super un-fun vision, and then we’re going to visit some people in the hospital. Yeah, tons of laughs. It’s chapters 21 and 22 of The Order of the Phoenix—The Eye of the Snake and St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries.

Index to the reread can be located here! Other Harry Potter and Potter-related pieces can be found under theirappropriate 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

Experiment 626 Was an Overwhelming Success

Why is Stitch waving a Pride flag, you might ask. Well, artist Dean DeBlois worked on Lilo & Stitch, and Stitch is Experiment 626, and we all know what strides happened for same-sex marriage on June 26, and ohana means family, family means nobody gets left behind, and oh, our hearts.

Afternoon Roundup brings you a hilarious Twitter case of mistaken identity, the latest groan-worthy board game movie, and the shared trope of all alien-invasion movies.

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A Read of Ice and Fire: A Dance With Dragons, Part 27

Welcome back to A Read of Ice and Fire! Please join me as I read and react, for the very first time, to George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. Today’s entry is Part 27 of A Dance With Dragons, in which we cover Chapter 46 (“A Ghost in Winterfell”) and Chapter 47 (“Tyrion”).

Previous entries are located in the Index. The only spoilers in the post itself will be for the actual chapters covered and for the chapters previous to them. As for the comments, please note that the Powers That Be have provided you a lovely spoiler thread here on Any spoileriffic discussion should go there, where I won’t see it. Non-spoiler comments go below, in the comments to the post itself.

And now, the post!

[I’m a man without conviction/ I’m a man who doesn’t know/ How to sell a contradiction]

Series: A Read of Ice and Fire

Next Stop, Central Station

“I always wanted to write a novel in short stories,” explains World Fantasy Award winner Lavie Tidhar. “Science fiction has a long tradition of doing this—from The Martian Chronicles to Lord of Light—but my inspiration was also partly V.S. Naipaul’s Miguel Street.”

If Wikipedia is to be believed, that’s a semi-autobiographical wartime novel composed of prose portraits of the colourful characters who live on the titular street in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. But move over Miguel Street: Tidhar’s patchwork narrative, announced today by way of Zeno Agency, takes place in the wake of “a worldwide diaspora” in a city spread around the foot of a space station where “life is cheap, and data is cheaper.”

[Next stop, Central Station.]

Series: British Fiction Focus

Words of Radiance Reread: Chapter 45

Welcome back to the Words of Radiance Reread on! Last week, Kaladin and some of his men began Shardblade training, and Kaladin used profoundly dodgy rationale to justify his decisions.  This week, we go back in time to a festival in Jah Keved, attended by the Davar family.

This reread will contain spoilers for The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance, and any other Cosmere book that becomes relevant to the discussion. The index for this reread can be found here, and more Stormlight Archive goodies are indexed here. Click on through to join the discussion.

[To be human is to seek beauty. Do not despair, do not end the hunt because thorns grow in your way.]

Series: Words of Radiance Reread on

Midnight in Karachi Episode 19: Daniel José Older

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, writer Daniel José Older joins Mahvesh to talk about urban fantasy, spiritual ancestry, diversity in fiction, questioning the power status quo and the deserving attention the cover for his novel Shadowshaper has received. 

[Listen to Midnight in Karachi]

Series: Midnight in Karachi Podcast

The Flicker Men

Eric Argus is a washout. His prodigious early work clouded his reputation and strained his sanity. But an old friend gives him another chance, an opportunity to step back into the light. With three months to produce new research, Eric replicates the paradoxical double-slit experiment to see for himself the mysterious dual nature of light and matter. A simple but unprecedented inference blooms into a staggering discovery about human consciousness and the structure of the universe.

His findings are celebrated and condemned in equal measure. But no one can predict where the truth will lead. And as Eric seeks to understand the unfolding revelations, he must evade shadowy pursuers who believe he knows entirely too much already.

Ted Kosmatka’s sci-fi thriller The Flicker Men is available July 21st from Henry Holt & Co.

[Read an excerpt]

The Nightmare Charade Sweepstakes!

We’ve got ten galley copies of the stunning final installment in Mindee Arnett’s Arkwell Academy series and we want to share them with you! Being a supernatural creature that feeds on human dreams isn’t easy, but being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy? That’s even worse. But with an old enemy returning to seek revenge, 16-year-old Dusty Everhart doesn’t have time to worry about being different. She’s going to need all the strength she has to defeat her enemy and save her friends. The Nightmare Charade is out from Tor Teen on August 4th, but you can get started with an excerpt from the first book in the series right now!

Check for the rules below!

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Cannibalism and Other Nightmarish Things: Sleeping Beauty

Stories of enchanted sleepers stretch well back into ancient times. In European mythology, they appear in multiple forms: stories of fabled warriors resting under mountains or on enchanted isles until it is time for them to return to serve their city or country in the time of greatest need—though if England hasn’t actually faced its greatest need yet, I shudder to think what it would take to bring King Arthur back to its shores. Stories of sleeping saints. Stories of women sleeping in caves, in mountains, and in towers.

Unchanged. Static. Beautiful. Waiting, perhaps, for a kiss from a prince.

[Let’s ruin some more childhoods!]

Oh, We Believe, Centaur Jeff Goldblum. We Believe

OK, as far as we can figure this out, tumblr-usr Snipurrs (who has since removed their page) found a picture of super sexy Jeff Goldblum, and noticed that, thanks to some lighting effects, looked a heck of a lot like a mythical man-horse. Then, because Tumblr, Snipurrs took the time to draw Jeff Golblum’s torso onto a lovely steed, thus granting us said mythical man-horse. And then the magnificent folks over at BoingBoing shared the ensuing motivational poster for the good of us all.

Morning Roundup shares some X-Files advice from Chris Carter himself, a peek into Hannibal‘s pantry, and news on The Sandman adaptation!

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Steeped in Myth: Bone Swans by C. S. E. Cooney

Bone Swans by C. S. E. Cooney is the most recent publication from Mythic Delirium Books—run by Mike and Anita Allen, of the similarly named Mythic Delirium magazine—and joins a small slate of other works under their purview, such as the well-received Clockwork Phoenix anthologies. This original collection contains five stories, one of which is published here for the first time (“The Bone Swans of Amandale,” from which the book takes its title). Plus, it has an introduction by none other than Gene Wolfe.

Though in the past I’d say I’ve been most familiar with Cooney’s poetry, we also published a story of hers at Strange Horizons while I was editor that I (obviously) quite liked. So, I was pleased to see a collection of other pieces—none of which I’d had the chance to read before, which is actually fairly rare for me when picking up a single-author short story volume. It’s also interesting to see a book of mostly longer stories; as I said, there are only five here to fill the whole thing, two of which were initially published at Giganotosaurus and one as a chapbook.

[A review.]

Sanctum Sanctorum: Under Ground by S. L. Grey

In this day and age, grave danger is everywhere. Quite aside from the exponential toll of terrorism, there’s environmental catastrophe to consider, and so many potential vectors of deadly infection that just counting them could kill you—never mind the nukes pointed at every major population centre on the planet.

That the world will end—and sooner rather than later, some say—is as good as a given. Something’s got to give, and when it does, you and your loved ones will want somewhere safe to stay. Somewhere completely sealed against sickness; somewhere with such state-of-the-art security that not even a mouse could get into your house; somewhere so darned deep underground that surviving the bombs that are sure to start dropping is guaranteed to be a breeze.

[The Sanctum is that somewhere.]


Ash, it’s been far too long. Starz has released the first image from Ash vs. Evil Dead, and Bruce Campbell is still a stock boy, 20-odd years on, and looks appropriately bloody. We’ve never been happier to see a chainsaw in our lives.

Afternoon Roundup brings you the first round of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child theories, a discouraging timeline for more diversity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the best case of mistaken slash fanfic.

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Terminator: Genisys Changes History Yet Doesn’t Add Much New to the Franchise

Terminator: Genisys might as well be called Terminator: Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey. Partly because of the brief-but-important presence of Doctor Who‘s Matt Smith, but mostly because the franchise is rebooting itself with the ol’ “let’s create an alternate timeline” gambit. I’m a sucker for time travel stories that draw on and then recreate the past, so the premise seems interesting enough: In 2029, at the height of the War Against the Machines, John Connor (Jason Clarke) sends his loyal lieutenant Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to save his scared little mother Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) from the scary Terminators. Except that when buck-naked Kyle shows up in the past, badass Sarah and an older Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger, embracing his age) already know about the machines and pick Kyle up on their way to stop Judgment Day.

Some spoilers for Terminator: Genisys.

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Rereading Melanie Rawn: Sunrunner’s Fire, Chapters 29 and 30

Welcome to the weekly Wednesday reread of Sunrunner’s Fire! The trilogy comes to an end at last, and we get a strong and indeed devastating lead-in to the next trilogy.

Chapter 29—Rivenrock Canyon: 35 Spring

So This Happens: Pol reacts to Ruval’s monster, and notices Ruval’s surprise when a gust of Air redirects the poisonous goo. Someone else is in the mix. Pol deduces that it’s Mireva, and she’s free. Some of the slime strikes his face. He scrapes it off, with a pause to remember how honorable he is: he can’t just throw his knife at Ruval. It’s against the rules.

[This train of thought goes on for a bit.]

Series: Rereading Melanie Rawn

The Wheel of Time Companion: “Serafelle Tanisloe”

The story of The Wheel of Time spans fifteen books, but the fantasy world which that story resides within is more complex and detailed than even those books could relate. Readers will be privy to those details on November 3, when the The Wheel of Time Companion encyclopedia arrives in stores, but you can get a sneak peek now.

Today we’re revealing the entry for Aes Sedai Serafelle Tanisloe. Although the character played only a bit part in The Great Hunt, Serafelle nonetheless had a backstory informing her actions; one that didn’t make it into the books. Serafelle’s entry also provides a way for readers to test the power chart recently revealed in the “Strength in the One Power” entry!

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The Edge of Dawn Sweepstakes!

What do you do when the Earth is under assault from monstrous, otherworldly creatures and you’re the only person capable of destroying them? That’s the question that Richard Oort is trying to answer along with the help of his unlikely new friend, a nine-year-old Navajo girl named Mosi. Melinda Snodgrass’s The Edge of Dawn takes Richard and Mosi all the way from the American southwest to a secret society in Turkey as they try to find a way to save their world. We’ve got ten galley copies that we’re excited to share with you before the novel’s August 4th release from Tor Books!

Check for the rules below!

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Shadows of Self: Chapter Two

With The Alloy of Law, Brandon Sanderson surprised readers with a spinoff of his Mistborn books, set after the action of the trilogy, in a period corresponding to late 19th-century America. The trilogy’s heroes are now figures of myth and legend, even objects of religious veneration. They are succeeded by wonderful new characters, chief among them Waxillium Ladrian, known as Wax, hereditary Lord of House Ladrian but also, until recently, a lawman in the ungoverned frontier region known as the Roughs. There he worked with his eccentric but effective buddy, Wayne. They are “twinborn,” meaning they are able to use both Allomantic and Feruchemical magic.

Shadows of Self shows Mistborn’s society evolving as technology and magic mix, the economy grows, democracy contends with corruption, and religion becomes a growing cultural force, with four faiths competing for converts. This bustling, optimistic, but still shaky society now faces its first instance of terrorism, crimes intended to stir up labor strife and religious conflict. Wax and Wayne, assisted by the lovely, brilliant Marasi, must unravel the conspiracy before civil strife stops Scadrial’s progress in its tracks.

Shadows of Self is available October 6th in the US from Tor Books, and October 9th in the UK from Gollancz. Read chapter two below, or head back to the beginning with our excerpt of the prologue!

[Chapter Two]