Successful Pulp Heroes Need to be More Genre Savvy: “In the Walls of Eryx”

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s original stories.

Today we’re looking at “In the Walls of Eryx,” a collaboration between Lovecraft and Kenneth J. Sterling written in January 1936, and first published (posthumously for Lovecraft) in the October 1939 issue of Weird Tales. You can read it here.

Spoilers ahead!

[“I lost for the time being the will power and nervous energy to continue my search for a way out.”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

UK Cover Reveal and Excerpt for Susan Dennard’s Truthwitch

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires. Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safiya’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safiya and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and privateer) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

We’re pleased to reveal the UK cover for Truthwitch, the first in a new fantasy YA trilogy from Susan Dennard—available January 2016 from Tor Teen and Tor UK. Below, Tor UK editor Bella Pagan shares the design process for the UK cover. Check out the full image below, plus read an excerpt from the novel!

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Sleeps With Monsters: Deaths, Edges, Bargains, and the End of the World

I’ve read more short fiction in the last week than I normally read in three months. That works out at three stories: I really don’t read a lot of short fiction. But these three came to me via the recommendations of friends, and they’re all deeply satisfying—albeit in very different ways.

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Series: Sleeps With Monsters

Once Upon A Time in Worldbuilding

Amongst the sweetest phrases I’ve ever heard from my mother’s lips are “I love you,” “I’ve made lemon meringue pie” (those two meaning, essentially, the same thing), and “Once upon a time.” All three still fill me with roughly the same degree of happiness, but I don’t hear that last one anymore. It’s not for lack of trying; I do keep asking.

“Tell me a story?”

“You’re forty-eight years old.”

“And you’re seventy-one, so tell me a story before you forget how!”

So far no luck. Come to think of it, the lemon meringues have been a bit thin on the ground, too. Hmmm.

[The thrill of “Once upon a time” never leaves me]

Soon I Won’t Know What the Future Looks Like

I have always known that I would live to see the year 2015.

There is no logic, no magic, to this certainty. Rather, it is a testament to the effect that Back to the Future Part II had on my young self. I was in elementary school in a sun-baked Texas suburb when the movie first came out, concerned with whatever it is that third-graders are concerned with (Transformers, I think). Then suddenly… flying cars, holographic sharks, hoverboards …I was being shown my first real unquestionable glimpse of what the future held, at precisely the age where one begins to realize that the future is full of possibility. I now knew what the present day held (again, Transformers) and I knew what the impossibly distant year of 2015 was likely to hold (also Transformers, who knew?). It was only the decades in between that had yet to cohere.

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These SuperHero Girls are Ready to Save the World!

Think for a moment about classic female superheroes and villains. Wonder Woman. Harley Quinn. Catwoman. Powergirl. What are the images in your mind? Skintight suits? Boob windows? Tiny skirts? In a burst of fresh toy design that follows on the lead of designers like Arklu and IAmElemental, Mattel teamed with a group of women toy designers to create action figures for girls. The results, seen above, are Mattel’s line of 12″ DC SuperHero Girls, and we love everything about them.

[Plus we want real-life counterparts of all of their shoes…]

Different Ellipticals: Bats of the Republic by Zachary Thomas Dodson

In a world where the Powers That Be have deemed any and all secrets illegal, Zeke Thomas must go against the flow he’s always followed when he inherits a sealed envelope containing information which could sink the system that’s kept humanity alive since the Collapse. Meanwhile, in the year 1843, Zeke’s time-removed relative, Zadock, has to leave his one true love languishing in her sickbed to deliver a highly sensitive letter to a legendary general embedded deep in the disputed territory of Texas.

An incredibly presented “illuminated novel” which, like last year’s S., blends form and function with history and mystery to realise a reading experience that amazes from the first page, Bats of the Republic comes from the co-founder of a small press specialising in “strange and beautiful fiction and nonfiction” with a sideline in detail-oriented design, so the unusual shape Zachary Thomas Dodson’s debut takes shouldn’t be such a surprise.

[And yet…]

The King’s Justice Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a copy of Stephen R. Donaldson’s The King’s Justice, available October 13th from G.P. Putnam’s Sons!

Two new, original novellas—Donaldson’s first publication since finishing the Thomas Covenant series—are a sure cause for celebration among his many fans.

In “The King’s Justice,” a stranger dressed in black arrives in the village of Settle’s Crossways, following the scent of a terrible crime. He even calls himself “Black,” though almost certainly that is not his name. The people of the village discover that they have a surprising urge to cooperate with this stranger, though the desire of inhabitants of quiet villages to cooperate with strangers is not common in their land, or most lands. But this gift will not save him as he discovers the nature of the evil concealed in Settle’s Crossways.

The “Augur’s Gambit” is a daring plan created by Mayhew Gordian, Hieronomer to the Queen of Indemnie, a plan to save his Queen and his country. Gordian is a reader of entrails. In the bodies of chickens, lambs, piglets, and one stillborn infant he sees the same message: the island nation of Indemnie is doomed. But even in the face of certain destruction a man may fight, and the Hieronomer is utterly loyal to his beautiful Queen—and to her only daughter. The “Augur’s Gambit” is his mad attempt to save a kingdom.

Comment in the post to enter!

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The Coode Street Podcast: SF Lectures, The Martian, and More

Welcome to The Coode Street Podcast, an informal weekly discussion about science fiction and fantasy featuring award-winning critics and editors Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe. The Coode Street Podcast debuted in 2010 and has been nominated for the Hugo, British Science Fiction, and Aurealis awards.

This week Gary returns from the wilds of Virginia or Washington DC or somewhere or other on the US Eastern seaboard. We discuss his experience writing and performing a series of lectures on science fiction; the strengths and weaknesses of Ridley Scott’s The Martian; compiling Gary’s Library of America volumes, and whether or not we kid ourselves on whether a work really is canonical.

[Listen to Coode Street]

Series: The Coode Street Podcast

Help Fund Strange Horizons Through 2016!

Strange Horizons needs your help to keep publishing speculative fiction, poetry, and commentary through 2016! Since the magazine’s launch in 2000, this non-profit organization has relied on donations to keep publishing new and established authors’ work, and to pay writers at a professional rate.

This year, Strange Horizons is looking to raise $18,000; they’ve currently surpassed $12,000, with a little over 7 days left for donations.

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Rereading The Elfstones of Shannara, Chapters 15–18

Welcome, readers of Shady Vale, to this week’s instalment 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 King of the Silver River appeared to pull our heroes out of a fire, Wil and Amberle had a heart-to-heart, Artaq disappeared, and a love triangle found its third point.

This week, Wil outwits the Rovers thanks to a Demon attack, the Demon-wolves return (but so does Allanon), and Amberle faces the Elvish High Council.

[Click to summon Elfstone magic]

Series: Rereading Shannara

Jared Leto Went to NYCC 2015 as a Joker, But Not the Joker

For the past few years, it’s been typical convention behavior for at least one celebrity to don a disguise and go incognito among congoers. At NYCC, it was Jared Leto and Mark Ruffalo. Leto, in a wonderfully ironic twist, posed with a Leto-Joker cosplayer and then gleefully tweeted about it. Ruffalo’s costume was arguably even more unguessable.

Afternoon Roundup brings you gender-swapped SFF novels, a surprising visual motif in the last 15 years of movies, and a tour inside Guillermo del Toro’s imagination!

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Of Sorrow and Such Audio Excerpt

If you liked listening to Marisa Calin on the audio edition of Paul Cornell’s Witches of Lychford, then you’ll love her take on Angela Slatter’s Of Sorrow and Such! Calin’s lilting narration lends itself nicely to Mistress Gideon and the other witches and shapeshifters of Edda’s Meadow—with just the right amount of edge when the trouble with the locals places supernatural beings in grave danger.

[Listen to an excerpt from Of Sorrow and Such]

Five Fantasy Books with Awe-Inspiring Settings

In the best fantasy novels, settings are characters too. These created worlds are as rich and alive as the characters that inhabit their colorful landscapes. Of course characters — strong and fascinating ones — are integral to a compelling plot. But a great setting adds layers of dynamism and complexity to characters’ struggles. It’s Middle-earth and Westeros, Oz and Earthsea, Pern and Amber, and all the other fantastic worlds we love to inhabit which mold and shape the characters moving inside them into something greater.

The most memorable fantasy worlds feel as if they are real places that we’ve visited. In fact, we have visited them, in our minds. This is why we build interactive maps of Kings Landing, why we feel the hot ashen winds of Mordor on our cheeks, and why we can still taste the Mad Hatter’s tea on our lips.

[Five awe-inspiring settings that have stuck with me]

Series: Five Books About…

Watch the First Full Trailer for The Shannara Chronicles!

We’ve seen several cool trailers taking us on a dizzying tour through the world of MTV’s adaptation of The Chronicles of Shannara. But with the series premiering on January 5, 2016, it’s about time that viewers actually discover what it’s about. To wit, the network released the first full-length trailer for New York Comic-Con 2015, introducing us to the dynamic trio of Amberle, Wil, and Eretria.

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The Walking Dead Season 6 Premiere: “First Time Again”

I wasn’t too thrilled with the Alexandria storyline last season, but after the mess of dangling plotlines and cipher personalities rife in Fear The Walking Dead, The Walking Dead shines quite a bit brighter. “First Time Again” opens not long after the deaths of Pete (the abusive surgeon) and Reg (the beloved First Husband who designed the wall). Rather than take its usual pace of arduous place setting, TWD launches straight into one of the biggest episodes it’s ever done. Surprisingly enough, they more or less pulled it off. And once again the show proves it’s aces at premieres and finales.

[“Do you have any idea who you’re talking to?”]

Design a Game For This Bored Octopus!

Anyone want to design a puzzle for an octopus? Ursula, a 2-year-old octopus resident of Living Coasts Aquarium in Torquay, England, has already gone through all of her puzzles and toys and is getting bored with them. So her keepers have put out a call for any cephalopod-loving game designers to come up with puzzles for her. Click below to see a video of Ursula in action!

[This bored unfortunate soul needs some new games!]