Worlds Without End is Challenging Readers to Explore’s Short Fiction

Well, color us flattered: Worlds Without End, an online database committed to identifying the best science fiction, fantasy, and horror books for readers, has announced the Short Fiction Reading Challenge. This is just one of the many “Roll Your Own” reading challenges that WWEnd hosts; other specialized challenges for 2016 include reading 13 Brandon Sanderson books in a year, or reading 12 books by 12 new-to-you female authors in the same length of time. As WWEnd is adding short fiction to its database, they thought it would be the perfect timing to inspire readers to discover new short works.

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The Tale of Tales Sweepstakes!

Penguin Classics has just released a new edition of Giambattista Basile’s The Tale of Tales, and we want to send you a copy!

Before the Brothers Grimm, before Charles Perrault, before Hans Christian Andersen, there was Giambattista Basile, a seventeenth-century poet from Naples, Italy, whom the Grimms credit with recording the first national collection of fairy tales. The Tale of Tales opens with Princess Zoza, unable to laugh no matter how funny the joke. Her father, the king, attempts to make her smile; instead he leaves her cursed, whereupon the prince she is destined to marry is snatched up by another woman. To expose this impostor and win back her rightful husband, Zoza contrives a storytelling extravaganza: fifty fairy tales to be told by ten sharp-tongued women (including Zoza in disguise) over five days.

Funny and scary, romantic and gruesome—and featuring a childless queen who devours the heart of a sea monster cooked by a virgin, and who then gives birth the very next day; a lecherous king aroused by the voice of a woman, whom he courts unaware of her physical grotesqueness; and a king who raises a flea to monstrous size on his own blood, sparking a contest in which an ogre vies with men for the hand of the king’s daughter—The Tale of Tales is a fairy-tale treasure that prefigures Game of Thrones and other touchstones of worldwide fantasy literature.

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 12:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on February 9th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on February 13th. 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.

Don’t Touch That Dial: Midseason TV 2016 – Adaptations

And we’re back with the second installment of the Midseason Premieres 2016 edition of “Don’t Touch That Dial”! Up this time are book adaptations, including a show about magical young adults battling powerful forces who want them dead (The Magicians), a different show about magical young adults battling powerful forces who want them dead (Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments), and a third show about magical young adults battling powerful forces who want them dead (The Shannara Chronicles). I’m sensing a pattern here…

[“Magic doesn’t come from talent. It comes from pain.”]

Ten Great Graphic Novels to Check Out for First Second’s 10th Anniversary

This year marks First Second’s tenth anniversary! For the past ten years, we’ve been publishing graphic novels around the clock—and we’re delighted to celebrate that this February. Whether you’re a fan of science fiction, fantasy, horror, or adventure, we’ve got something to satisfy every reader! Head below for 10 of our favorite can’t-miss titles!

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Supergirl Finds Her Heart’s Desire in the Pain of Real Life

It’s funny—we were just talking in the office last week about the trope of the “it was all a dream”/”you imagined it” episode in SFF TV series. Buffy the Vampire Slayer had one of the best ones with “Normal Again,” which put the Slayer in a mental institution, but we couldn’t think of many other examples. This week, Supergirl tried its hand at a similar plot, in which an alien plant called the Black Mercy hallucinates Kara into thinking that she’s been on Krypton this whole time and Earth was just a dream. And if that sounds familiar, it’s because the series is also mimicking Alan Moore’s Superman story For the Man Who Has Everything.

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The Last Mortal Bond: Chapters 4 and 5

The ancient csestriim are back to finish their purge of humanity; armies march against the capital; leaches, solitary beings who draw power from the natural world to fuel their extraordinary abilities, maneuver on all sides to affect the outcome of the war; and capricious gods walk the earth in human guise with agendas of their own.

But the three imperial siblings at the heart of it all—Valyn, Adare, and Kaden—come to understand that even if they survive the holocaust unleashed on their world, there may be no reconciling their conflicting visions of the future.

The trilogy that began with The Emperor’s Blades and continued in The Providence of Fire reaches its epic conclusion, as war engulfs the Annurian Empire in Brian Staveley’s The Last Mortal Bond—available March 15th from Tor Books and March 24th from Tor UK. Read chapters four and five one below, or head back to the prologue.

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Will Kylo Ren Embrace Joy?

Just when we thought we’d worked through all the stages of feels associated with Kylo Ren and his role in The Force Awakens, artist Dan Hipp found a way to make us sob anew. Sure, just go ahead and explore Kylo Ren’s mental turmoil through the medium of Inside Out, Mr. Hipp. That’s totally fine. And while you’re at it, why don’t you title this piece, “I’m Being Torn Apart.” That sounds fun. Oh, you know what would be perfect? If you somehow include a pure golden memory of Han and li’l Ben together? Could you do that for us, Mr. Hipp?

…what? no we’re not crying. We’re not crying at all.

The Cavalier Fantasies of Frank Frazetta

Fantasy art existed long before his birth in 1928 and has certainly continued to flourish since his passing in 2010, but it’s safe to say that few illustrators have had such an influence and emotional impact on the field as Frank Frazetta.

Today, on what would have been his 88th birthday, I’d like to look back on Frazetta’s background and how such a unique person influenced fantasy art forever.

[Happy birthday, Frank]

Series: On This Day

This is How it Feels to Read Cixin Liu’s The Dark Forest

Cixin Liu’s epic “Three-Body Problem” science fiction trilogy is a mind-expanding read. It has to be, in order to prepare you for the first contact that occurs between humanity and the Trisolaran people.

But even then, words fail. Filmmaker Ren Wang felt the same, and assembled “Waterdrop,” a short tribute that captures the aural, visual, scientific, and historical weight behind this moment from Cixin Liu’s The Dark Forest, depicting how everything we know, everything we can perceive, can become but a shadow cast by the light of an alien intelligence.

Watch…and listen…to Ren Wang’s “Waterdrop.” (Don’t worry. The film doesn’t spoil any of the plot from the book.)

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Return of the Reaper: Morning Star by Pierce Brown

Pierce Brown has several times cited Star Wars—specifically the original trilogy—as a influence of no small significance on the fan-favourite series Morning Star completes, and it’s fair to say the pair share a double helix here and a structural strand there.

Like A New Hope before it, Red Rising introduced an almost recognisable galaxy ruled by an evil empire; an evil empire whose merciless machinations gave the saga’s protagonist—here, the Helldiver Darrow—a very personal reason to rebel against said. It was a bloody good book, to be sure, but as nothing next to Golden Son, which scaled up the conflict and the cast of characters introduced in Red Rising marvelously, in much the same way The Empire Strikes Back improved in every conceivable sense on its predecessor. It also ended with a catastrophic cliffhanger… which we’ll get back to.

In short, it shouldn’t be such a surprise that the pattern which held true in books one and two of Brown’s breakthrough also applies to the conclusion. For better or for worse, Morning Star is this trilogy’s Return of the Jedi—though there are, thankfully, no Ewok equivalents in evidence.

[The end begins with Darrow locked in a box…]

The Hero Haven Deserves: Take A Thief

The Valdemar Reread has had a lot to say about Skif. I loved him when he was Talia’s fearless wall-climbing friend, and when he showed Elspeth how to throw a knife. I wasn’t so sure about his darker, whinier side in the Winds trilogy. Skif’s story has some mysterious gaps. Take a Thief offers the missing pieces to the Skif puzzle by laying out the parts of Skif’s childhood that had, until this point, been shrouded in mystery.

Skif had two songs in the collection that appeared at the end of Arrow’s Fall – “Philosophy” and “Laws.” The first of these explains Skif’s irreverent approach to life, and the second implies a dark contrast between life for impoverished urchins in Valdemar and Heraldic idealism. While Lackey preserves the veracity of both songs, Skif’s trajectory in Take a Thief bends toward “Laws.” The Skif we see here isn’t averse to crossing thin ice in a dance, but he’s wrestling with some pretty heavy stuff.

[Trigger warnings for sexual abuse]

Series: The Valdemar Reread

And Again Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a signed copy of Jessica Chiarella’s And Again, available now from Touchstone Books!

Would you live your life differently if you were given a second chance? Hannah, David, Connie, and Linda—four terminally ill patients—have been selected for the SUBlife pilot program, which will grant them brand-new, genetically perfect bodies that are exact copies of their former selves—without a single imperfection. Blemishes, scars, freckles, and wrinkles have all disappeared, their fingerprints are different, their vision is impeccable, and most importantly, their illnesses have been cured.

But the fresh start they’ve been given is anything but perfect. Without their old bodies, their new physical identities have been lost. Hannah, an artistic prodigy, has to relearn how to hold a brush; David, a Congressman, grapples with his old habits; Connie, an actress whose stunning looks are restored after a protracted illness, tries to navigate an industry obsessed with physical beauty; and Linda, who spent eight years paralyzed after a car accident, now struggles to reconnect with a family that seems to have built a new life without her. As each tries to re-enter their previous lives and relationships they are faced with the question: how much of your identity rests not just in your mind, but in your heart, your body?

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 1:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on February 8th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on February 12th. 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.

Don’t Touch That Dial: Midseason TV 2016 – Comic Books

Welcome back to “Don’t Touch That Dial,” a seasonal series in which I, your friendly neighborhood television addict, break down some of the shows screaming for your attention. In the first of two very special episodes, we’re looking at new midseason premieres based on comic books—specifically, one that never heard the old adage that bigger isn’t always better (DC’s Legends of Tomorrow), one that took the complaint about network television turning everything into a procedural as a dare (Lucifer), and one that almost makes up for the lack of a Wonder Woman movie (Supergirl).

[“I don’t say this often, but I am craving a good fight right now.”]

Five Books Where Dragons Are Put In Their Place

Dragons may be a trope of the epic fantasy genre, but they are a trope I suspect I will never tire of. My new book, Dragon Hunters, might just have one or two of the creatures lurking within its pages.

Whenever you encounter a dragon, it’s usually the apex predator of its world. But invincible? Certainly not. There’s a quote I recall from Neil Gaiman’s Coraline (paraphrasing G.K. Chesterton) that goes: “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

In Dragon Hunters, the sea dragons are hunted for sport by a fellowship of water-mages known as the Storm Lords. That got me thinking about other fantasy books where dragons are put in their place. Here are five for your consideration. (Warning: spoilers abound!)

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Series: Five Books About…

Rereading Katherine Kurtz: Deryni Rising, Chapters 14-16

Welcome to the weekly reread of Deryni Rising!

We’ve reached the big, and long-awaited, finale. Charissa is making her move, and Kelson has to solve his father’s riddle and activate his powers, or lose both his life and his kingdom. Complete with another sword fight, more Deryni magic—including some from unexpected sources—and a spectacular duel arcane.

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Series: Rereading Katherine Kurtz