A Bit of Derring-Do and Name Dropping: The Black Moth

Georgette Heyer wrote her first novel, The Black Moth, at the age of 17, largely to entertain a sickly young brother. It has derring do, a Robin Hood type figure who even names himself as such, an Evil Duke, kidnappings, an aristocratic marriage in severe trouble thanks to the wife’s inability to stop spending money and be annoying, and a rather dull romance. If this does not seem to be the typical adolescent male entertainment, and if it reads rather polished for a first time, teenage author, this may be partly explained by a suggestion in her semiautobiographical novel, Helen, that her father helped write it.

[The development of the Heyer hero, and the hatred of puce.]

5 Ways Not to Screw Up Jurassic Park 4

The track record of screenwriters assigned to pen new installments of beloved franchises can often let fans know which way the wind is blowing in their favorite fictional universes. In the case of the J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot, the choice of Orci, Kurtzman, and Lindeloff gave savvy moviegoers the impression that the script would favor style over substance, which, while not unsatisfying, ended up being true.

Last week, news emerged that Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver—screenwriters of the surprisingly decent and intelligent Rise of the Planet of the Apes—are writing the fourth Jurassic Park film. As a fan of Jurassic Park and the new Apes movie, this is very good news! Now, I just have five pieces of advice for them and everyone else involved on how not to screw it up.

[Must go faster]

Morning Roundup: Why is the Cast of Babylon 5 Giving Us the Finger?

We spotted this beautiful Vampire Hunter infographic over on Digg, though it looks like it originates  from the Cheezburger sites. Not only does it pit two different Van Helsing’s skills against each other, it also tells you how fast all of these folks could take down Edward Cullen. 

The rest of your offsite links can’t see their own reflection.

Today’s highlights include:

  1. Robots search for Amelia Earhart’s plane.
  2. Babylon 5 flips you off.
  3. A suspicious trailer for a D&D sequel.

[Read More]

Three Short Novels by Connie Willis

Uncharted Territory (1994), Remake (1995) and Bellwether (1996) are all short novels. The three of them together barely make up the same thickness as Doomsday Book. Remake and Bellwether won the Locus award as novellas, but they’re not novellas — they’re more than forty thousand words, but they’re certainly not the length of a full length novel. They’re about as short as books can be and be published in the nineties, and I don’t think they could be commercially published at this length now. They are slight in the metaphorical sense too. These are all fun fast reads. Bellwether, which I’ve written about before has the most bite to it. Uncharted Territory and Bellwether are comedies and Remake is another tragedy told like a comedy. Uncharted Territory was on the Tiptree longlist, Remake was nominated for a Hugo and Bellwether was nominated for a Nebula. All three of them are written in first person, like Lincoln’s Dreams but unlike all of Willis’s other novels.

[Read more: three short novels, no spoilers]

Fiction Affliction: July Releases in Fantasy

Elves and fae, vampires and… Peter Pan? Fantasy hits the fantastical in July (must be the heat). Look for new series titles from Wen Spencer, Gav Thorpe, Paula Brandon, and Yasmine Galenorn, while Alex Bledsoe’s Eddie LaCrosse hits the high seas and Artemis Fowl is back with a vengeance.

Fiction Affliction details releases in science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and “genre-benders.” Keep track of them all here.

[Read about this month]

A Young Thief and Her God: False Covenant by Ari Marmell

In the mood for some fun YA fantasy? Meet Widdershins, formerly known as Adrienne Satti: a young woman who grew up as an orphan on the streets of Davillon, escaped poverty to join the city’s powerful aristocracy in a rags-to-riches story, and then shockingly found herself cast down to the bottom rungs of society again. After clawing her way back up to the life of a successful thief in the city’s Finders Guild, she then discovered that the ghosts of her former life—or, more accurately, former lives—are coming back to haunt her…

Ari Marmell introduces the world to this character in Thief’s Covenant, the opening volume of the Widdershins Adventures series, by skipping back and forth in time, from her days as a street urchin to her brief time as a young aristocrat and finally to her current (in)famous life as a thief. The novel is an impressive feat of storytelling: it bounces back and forth between the different phases of the protagonist’s life, giving the reader just enough background about Widdershins to follow the story while at the same time introducing a plot that connects the different phases of her life.   

[Read more]

Toughen Up, Tara: True Blood, “Whatever I Am, You Made Me”

True Blood, please stop teasing me with promises of Russell Edgington and not delivering. You need to give it up to get my premium cable subscription money, hookers. If he doesn’t show up by July 15th, I’m permanently dedicating my Sunday nights to Breaking Bad alone.

In lieu of Russell, we got to see Tara come out to her coworkers, the vampire mainstream movement getting a new figurehead, and Jason’s not-so-hot for teacher. You know it’s a wheel-spinning kind of episode when Sookie provides the most highlights. There were also some laughs, like Sam literally thinking that Sookie’s boobs provided a safer thought than hiding Tara in the freezer Also: Mac! From Veronica Mars, not Predator. Just to be clear.

[Do I smell fairies on the horizon?]

Sci-Fi/Fantasy Has Made Charlize Theron Sad and She Needs Our Help

We thought it was odd how no one was commenting on how Charlize Theron ruled June’s headlining movies with her star turns in fantasy film Snow White and the Huntsman and the science fiction flick Prometheus.

Thankfully, Amanda LaPergola has come to the same conclusion and put together a hilarious cartoon review/analysis of Charlize Theron over at The Mary Sue called “I’m worried about Charlize Theron.” Read the whole thing there (spoilers for both movies, by the way) and wonder… seriously, Charlize, are you okay? We just want to make sure you’re okay because it’s starting to affect performance.

Stubby the Rocket is the mascot of Tor.com and also recently watched Young Adult, where Charlize Theron continues to be completely unhappy. Get well soon, Theron!

The Great Alan Moore Reread: WildC.A.T.s

Tor.com comics blogger Tim Callahan has dedicated the next twelve months to a reread of all of the major Alan Moore comics (and plenty of minor ones as well). Each week he will provide commentary on what he’s been reading. Welcome to the 35th installment.

In the comic book industry, whenever anyone starts cranking out lists of “The Greatest Writers of All Time,” you’re likely to see a whole bunch of guys who have written a whole bunch of ongoing series for either Marvel or DC or both. Sure, there are some exceptions – Frank Miller is probably slightly better known now for his work on Batman or Sin City than he is for his seminal Daredevil run, and writers like Warren Ellis and Mark Millar tend to be known more for particular bursts of intentionally short-lived projects than for any extended ongoing work they’ve done in the past – but, overall, the deal with American genre comics is that they’re serialized, and the majority of the “big names” have become big names by writing those serialized, ongoing comic books. One glance at the Comics Should Be Good “Top 125 Writers Master List” and you’ll see what I mean.

[Read more]

Series: The Great Alan Moore Reread

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rewatch: Attack of the Sugar Plum Fairy Tale

Things in the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer build to the events of “The Wish” and then fall off, just a bit, giving us a breather before we drop into Buffy’s latest horrific birthday, the arrival of Wesley, and Faith’s big downward spiral.

So in one sense, “Amends” and “Gingerbread” are the eye of the hurricane, the slack weeks on the Slayerwatch. Which is saying something: it’s downtime where all Buffy has to deal with is a little brush with the First Evil and, oh yeah, almost getting burned alive by her mother.

[Read more]

Series: Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Tor.com

Sci-Fi Actors Wearing Steampunk Clothes Designed By Prada

High end fashion line Prada has just unveiled photos and video of actors Willem “Green Goblin” Dafoe, Gary “Commissioner Sirius Black” Oldman, Garrett “Sam Flynn” Hedlund, and Jamie “TinTin Billy Elliot” Bell wearing their heavily steampunk-influenced fall/winter menswear line. This is a real sentence we just typed describing a real thing.

Prada describes the photo campaign by David Sims as “a subtle parody of power and role-play” and goes on to describe the steampunk-clothed actors as players in a game where every precise movement and mannerism is studied.

Click below for more photos of the actors modeling the line, along with a behind the scenes video of the photo shoot. Willem Dafoe is serving up some high-powered glower, so anyone with a heart condition should probably step back.

[See more]

Blade Runner Debuted 30 Years Ago Today. What Would PKD Have Thought?

Today, June 25th, marks 30 years since Blade Runner debuted in theaters. This film adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is now considered a staple of science fiction film, so for the anniversary comic artist John Bonner visualizes what PKD might have thought about Blade Runner had he gotten the chance to see it.

Every so often, comic artist John Bonner reviews books, audio, and more, then turns his reactions into a comic strip. You can check out many more of them at Bonner’s site and more of them here on Tor.com.

[Read the comic below]

A Read of The Dark Tower: Constant Reader Tackles Wizard and Glass, Susan, Chapter 8: “Beneath the Peddler’s Moon”

“Cast your nets, wanderers! Try me with your questions, and let the contest begin.”

—Blaine the Mono, to Roland and the Ka-Tet, at the end of The Waste Lands

Welcome to A Read of the Dark Tower series. Join me each week as I, Constant Reader, tackle the magnum opus of Stephen King’s career for the first time. If you want to discuss in general terms or talk about these first sections, join me by commenting here.

When we last left our young ka-tet, they’d (at Roland’s insistence) returned a letter via carrier pigeon to Gilead saying everything was fine in Mejis. And Cuthbert and Alain had discovered Roland’s new “friendship” with Susan.

[Read this week’s post.]

Series: A Read of The Dark Tower

Tell Us How George Orwell Changed the Way You Read

Today is the 109th birthday of the late author George Orwell. Hailing from London, Orwell permanently insinuated himself into modern and post-modern literary discussions by bonking the culture on the collective head with his brilliant works of fantastical satire. Best known for his novels, 1984 and Animal Farm, Orwell often used science fiction and fantasy to delineate his anti-fascist and humanitarian views.

He also wrote non-science fiction like Keep the Aspidistra Flying and numerous non-fiction essays criticizing fascism and other power structures oppressive to free thought and human individuality. Orwell was an unequaled champion among authors who sought to make a difference with their writing. At the very least, he altered the way we read dystopian science fiction forever.

In honor of him on his birthday, chime in below by telling us how Orwell changed the way you read!

Queering SFF – Pride Month Extravaganza: Here, We Cross Edited by Rose Lemberg

Here We Cross, edited by Rose LembergReleased at WisCon 36, Rose Lemberg’s short collection of speculative poetry Here, We Cross gathers poems that deal with issues of gender, sexuality, and identity from the seven current issues of Stone Telling Magazine. Readers familiar with “Queering SFF” will note that I have previously reviewed the queer-themed seventh issue—”Bridging”—for Poetry Month, and this recently-released collection contains those stellar poems as well as several more from across the history of the magazine. As Lemberg’s introduction notes, here you “will find poems with speakers or protagonists who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, asexual, and neutrois; speakers who struggle with the body and the society’s imposed readings of that body” (iv). This collection is concerned not only with sexuality but also with gender, and with the intersections and divergences of those two axes of identity.

[A review]

Series: Queering SFF

Life After Cancellation: 6 Shows That Deserve Netflix Resurrection

Everyone’s experienced the crushing sorrow of seeing a favorite new TV series cancelled just when things were getting interesting. Networks pick up a handful of new shows each season and just when you’re getting enthused, the show goes the way of the dodo. But wait, there’s light on the horizon! Netflix has recently announced that it is ordering new episodes of favorite shows that were canceled in their prime. Specifically, they’ve already ordered more episodes of the hit show Arrested Development and have approached CBS Television Studios to resurrect the post apocalyptic fan favorite Jericho, cancelled back in 2008. 

In light of the power of Netflix and the fans at home voting with their online accounts, it begs the question: what other shows should receive consideration for new seasons? Let’s look at a few sci-fi, fantasy or fandom shows cancelled far before their prime that should be considered for internet resurrection.

[Read more]

Morning Roundup: “Goo” is Just “Good” Without the D

The great thing about the Internet is how it almost feels faster-than-light. Prometheus has only been out for a few weeks and already there is this totally convincing spoof-video about the “science” training the crew of the ship must have received. (We spotted this over the weekend on Blastr)

You should touch your other offsite links without gloves. They’re safe!

Today’s highlights include:

  1. Neil Gaiman and more top the list of people reading in the Hitchhiker’s Live! Radio Tour
  2. Fictional Sci-Fi author action.
  3. More Alan Turing love

[Read More]

Saturday Morning Cartoons: “Pencil Test” and “Day & Night”

Pencil Test: Long before Galyn Susman starred in The Movie Vanishes, she worked on this short using a Mac computer ad (I imagine) lots of patience and hard work. (3:03 minutes)

Day & Night: One of the reasons for Pixar’s success is that they know they are following a century old tradition of animated cinema. This film probably demonstrates it better than any others, while going somewhere not seen before. (5:51 minutes)

[Watch the films after the jump]

For Alan Turing’s Birthday: A LEGO Turing Machine

Today is the 100th birthday of the late Alan Turing, famed mathematician and computer scientist responsible for most concepts relating to algorithms and computations. Turing invented the “Turing Machine” an experiment in intelligent machinery which helped to define and enhance computer evolution.

In honor of him and his achievements, the CWI (Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica) in the Netherlands, built this Turing Machine out of LEGOs. Watch the video below for more.