Ayesha, White as Snow: H. Rider Haggard’s She and Walt Disney’s Evil Queen

There are few Disney villains more iconic than the Evil Queen from the 1937 animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. She was the first, after all, and persists as a vivid and malignant presence in the studio’s pantheon to this day. Perhaps this is unsurprising when one plumbs her little-explored lineage, traceable to another of film and literature’s most enduring villainesses: Queen Ayesha of H. Rider Haggard’s 1887 novel She: A History of Adventure, a timeless, deathless being of unsurpassed beauty—the fairest in the land—who reigns cruelly over a lost African kingdom.

The indelible image of Disney’s Evil Queen adorned in her trademark crown, prominent bejeweled necklace and, most strikingly, severe black wimple is on display in countless Disney Studios spin-offs, all the way up to last year’s Disney Channel movie Descendants. It is, however, first seen in the 1935 film adaptation of She from producer Merian C. Cooper, the creative force behind King Kong (whose personal life reads like that of the Haggard hero Allan Quatermain from King Solomon’s Mines).

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The Harry Potter Reread: The Deathly Hallows, Chapters 31 and 32

The Harry Potter Reread found some old holographic temporary tattoos from, like, 1999 and brought them into work. Someone is bound to have a desperate need for them, after all. It’s the way of the world.

This week we’re going to talk to the Grey Lady and then have a really awkward conversation with Voldemort. It’s chapters 31 and 32 of The Deathly Hallows—The Battle of Hogwarts and The Elder Wand.

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

Commemorate the War of 1996 with the New Independence Day: Resurgence Trailer

While previous trailers for Independence Day: Resurgence have crashed alien motherships into Washington, D.C., and made London Bridge fall down (and then some), we’ve been seeing mostly destruction instead of, you know. worldbuilding. After all, this sequel comes 20 years after the original’s release date and 20 years later in the world of the movie itself. And what a world it has become, since humanity wrested its autonomy back from creepy aliens with knee-knockingly-scary laser weaponry. Thankfully, the latest trailer-slash-featurette—a United World News special, naturally—fills in the gaps of the last two decades, starting with the War of 1996.

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Return of Souls Sweepstakes!

Return of Souls, the second book in the trilogy Andy Remic began with A Song for No Man’s Land, comes out June 14 from Tor.com Publishing—and we want to send you a galley copy!

If war is hell, there is no word to describe what Private Jones has been through. Forced into a conflict with an unknowable enemy, he awakes to find himself in a strange land, and is soon joined by young woman, Morana, who tends to his wounds and tells him of the battles played out in this impossible place.

She tells him of an Iron Beast that will end the Great War, and even as he vows to help her find it, enemy combatants seek them, intent on their utter annihilation.

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 3:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on May 5th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on May 9th. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Tor.com, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

A Whisper of Southern Lights

Death and destruction follow the demon wherever he treads, and Gabriel is rarely far behind, waiting for his chance to extinguish the creature known as Temple once and for all. But in Singapore during the Second World War, a lone soldier in possession of a shattering secret gets caught up in their battle. The knowledge he holds could change the course of their ancient conflict… and the fate of the world.

The follow-up to Pieces of Hate, Tim Lebbon’s A Whisper of Southern Lights is a standalone tale in the Assassins series—available May 10th from Tor.com Publishing!

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Fran Wilde Takes Over the World With Gemstones in Her Reddit AMA!

Fran Wilde is one of those writers who seems to have lived multiple lives before her current one as the author of Updraft and the forthcoming Cloudbound: as a sailing instructor, a game developer, a poet, and more. In many cases, Wilde is able to weave together different aspects of her life, as with her Cooking the Books podcast, in which she discusses genre fiction and food with other authors. With the release of The Jewel and Her Lapidary from Tor.com Publishing, Wilde is able to tap into another past life: jewelers’ assistant. In her recent Reddit AMA on r/fantasy, Wilde discussed how working with silver solder influenced some of the power mechanics, her literary influences, crossover YA and why you should read fantasy, and her thoughts on Tommy Arnold’s cover art for The Jewel and Her Lapidary (“I love how fierce and determined their faces are”).

Wilde also took a page from Myke Cole’s recent AMA and asked the Redditors a question: “What kind of gemstone would you use to take over the world, and why?” Between that and her jewelers’ stories about dropping expensive stones, you’ll look at gemstones in a whole new light. Read the highlights below!

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The Sky Is Falling! Maybe! “Henny Penny” or “Chicken Little”

The story of Henny Penny, also called Chicken Little, or sometimes Chicken-licken (not to be confused with “Finger-licken” from Kentucky Fried Chicken), the terrified little chicken convinced that the sky is falling and that life as we, or at least as chickens know it, is over, is common throughout European folklore—so common that “the sky is falling!” and “Chicken Little” and related names have become bywords for fearmongering, and the often tragic results that occur.

[The different endings of Chicken Little, with a bonus brief discussion of Disney’s first, deadly serious, take on the story.]

The Flash’s Joe West is TV’s Best/Worst Dad

If the DC Universe has a benevolent version of Lex Luthor, it’s Greg Berlanti. The producer, responsible for Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow and the animated Vixen series has spearheaded a massive resurgence for the company on the small screen. Better still, the work he and his teams have produced is coherent, shares a continuity and, most importantly, a sense of joy. That last, with the DC movies seemingly tripling down on the idea of murder as character development, is the most important. The Berlanti-produced shows, Oliver Queen’s almost universally awful life and life choices aside, are defined by joy. The scrappy mutts of Legends of Tomorrow refusing to be forgotten by history. Kara Danvers discovering not only who she is but that strength, bravery and kindness are inextricably linked. And, of course, Barry Allen, the fastest science puppy alive.

A big part of the success of all these shows is the supporting casts and that’s especially true of Supergirl and The Flash. The dynamic between the female characters, in particular Cat and Kara, on Supergirl is fascinating and I’m hoping to write about that in detail at a later date. Here though, I’ll be talking about The Flash and in particular, Joe West.

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Is It Time to Update Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger?

In early April, Marvel Entertainment announced that their television universe would be expanding to include a live-action adaptation of teen heroes Cloak and Dagger, to be broadcast on Freeform, ABC’s family-oriented cable network. And that’s great! Marvel has a big roster of entertaining “young adult” characters, and a TV show could give oft-neglected characters like Cloak and Dagger the space to grow into their potential.

There’s just one big problem.

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Words of Radiance Reread: Chapter 79

Welcome back to the Words of Radiance Reread on Tor.com! Last week, Dalinar received a surprise or two that he badly needed. This week, he has his first actual conversation with a Listener since his brother was killed, and learns more surprising new notions.

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!

[Dalinar felt as if he were trying to stop a dam from breaking, all the while not knowing where the leaks were actually coming from.]

Series: Words of Radiance Reread on Tor.com

Consider the Many Buttons of Star Wars!

Over at Motherboard, Alex Pasternack wants everyone to think about the wonderfully blinky, perfectly analog buttons of Star Wars. In a series that exemplifies the tension between CGI and practical effects, the lived-in aesthetic of the first Star Wars trilogy is most obviously seen in the Millennium Falcon and its constant need for repairs and hyperdrive failures. But just as important are the lights, dials, and manual levers that all add to the films’ reality.

[Buttons!]

Midnight in Karachi Episode 54: Kat Howard

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.

Writer Kat Howard is on the podcast this week to talk about cutting her teeth on short fiction, Kate Bush, story telling, and the sacrifices writers make. Her novel Roses and Rot is available May 17th from Saga Press—you can read an excerpt here on Tor.com!

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Series: Midnight in Karachi Podcast

Revealing the Cover of Skullsworn, Set in the World of The Emperor’s Blades

I’m struck, sometimes, by all the ways in which writing a book is nothing like playing hockey. I was never very good at hockey, but I liked it, and played through the start of high school. Hockey, of course, is a team sport. This means that individual players can leave the ice and the game will keep going. Not only that, but your team can score goals without you doing a damn thing. This isn’t to say you don’t bust your ass every time you’re on the ice, but that when your line is taking a breather on the bench, things are still progressing.

Not so much with the writing of books. If a writer takes a breather to make a cup of coffee, no one subs in to keep pushing the chapter forward. I never come back to my computer to discover I’ve scored another few paragraphs without noticing. Which can be demoralizing.

As a result, I get disproportionately excited for those rare times in the process when someone else is actually pushing the story forward without me: when my wife, or agent, or editor goes to work on the text. Or in this case, when Richard Anderson and Irene Gallo, the artist and artistic director, get their hands on it. The feeling is like flopping over the boards and onto the bench totally exhausted, muttering to them, “I don’t know if we’re winning or losing, but go do something awesome…” And then they do.

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