Internal Circumstances Are the Only Thing You Can Control: Mourning The Magicians

There’s so much I want to talk about with this show—not just the ending, but so many moments along the way. I want to talk about all the episodes that made me cry; about the beauty of “A Life in the Day”; about Margo’s desert journey with lizard-king Eliot; about how much I want to believe in a swearing Santa Claus who gives exactly the things you don’t know you need. I want to talk about the cruel whimsy of gods and the incredible skill with which the show’s writers balanced people doing shitty, selfish things with deep understanding of exactly why they were doing them.

I want to talk about Alice, and how so much of her anger comes from how much she doesn’t change enough, how she’s brittle and wise and always scared of losing, and how that doesn’t protect her when the loss comes. I want to talk about destroying in order to create, and that smile on Margo’s face at the end. And I want to talk about how these characters aren’t heroes.

They aren’t anti-heroes, either. The Magicians isn’t a show about redefining what it means to be a hero, but it is, in part, about asking whether that’s even a useful way to measure anything. It’s what Quentin Coldwater has to get over: the dream of being a chosen one. It turns out that it’s a lot more effective to simply do what needs to be done, even when it’s the opposite of heroic—when it’s robbing a bank or tripping magic balls or literally bottling up your emotions or just accepting the good and bad of your internal circumstances.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

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It Is Your Destiny: 5 Conversations About Becoming the “Chosen One”

I grew up on chosen one stories, and if you like science fiction and fantasy—which, duh, you’re here, aren’t you?—you probably did too. They are everywhere. I always loved them, and I still do, whether they use this trope straightforwardly or get playful with it. I love the interplay between destiny and choice, and the inherent loneliness of specialness; I love the fear of an important purpose, and the craving for it. But one of my favorite parts of every chosen one story is The Conversation. You know, the one where the character finds out they’re “chosen,” and has to decide whether to walk the path that’s been set for them.

You can find out a lot about the story you’re in by how they tackle this conversation. Here are some of the most memorable ones of my life.

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Series: Five Books About…

Will the Circle Be Unbroken?: Sword in the Stars by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

I wish I had Cori McCarthy and Amy Rose Capetta’s Once & Future and Sword in the Stars when I was a teenager. This duology would’ve changed my whole life in myriad ways if it fell into my hands in high school. I needed a book full of badass, racially diverse, queer, feminist teens taking on fascism and the patriarchy like Arthur needed Excalibur. Although I’m almost two decades away from my teen years now, I’m still so, so, so happy I get to have this series in my life.

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A Wizard of Earthsea: The Unsung Song of the Shadow

A biweekly series, The Ursula K. Le Guin Reread explores anew the transformative writing, exciting worlds, and radical stories that changed countless lives. This week we’ll be covering A Wizard of Earthsea, first published by Parnassus Press in 1968. My edition is Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Graphia Imprint, 2012, and this installment of the reread covers the entire novel.

Every generation has its wizards.

At least since Tolkien’s Gandalf made the character-type approachable, if distant; an aid, ally, and possible friend, rather than a mystery, threat, or oaf—the subject of Christian damnation and Disneyan animation. True that’s not many generations of wizard-havers, but upon rereading Le Guin’s first major fantasy novel, and her first work ostensibly for children, I cannot help but feel a bit let down that my generation grew up with the middlebrow juggernaut of the Harry Potter series and the lowbrow action of Faerûn’s Elminster, instead of with Le Guin’s excerpts of the mythic Deed of Ged. (Just a bit, mind you.)

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Series: The Ursula K. Le Guin Reread

Why Greg Egan Is Science Fiction’s Next Superstar

“Why isn’t Greg Egan a superstar?” Jon Evans tackled this question on Tor.com in 2008. More than a decade later, perhaps the relevant question is: “Why isn’t Greg Egan’s fiction getting film or TV adaptations?” Egan’s body of work is seminal and canonical; he is the author of award-winning and cutting-edge science fiction that could easily be the basis for eye-popping and thought-provoking adaptations into other media.

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“I wish for fanart.” Highlights From #TorDotRead’s Second Discussion of The Goblin Emperor!

Our Socially Distant Read Along of The Goblin Emperor continues! This week we discussed Chapters 5 – 10, which meant attending Maia’s coronation, and meeting his ridiculously complex royal family.

There was also, predictably, much general squeeing about our favorite Goblin. We’ve rounded up a few highlights below!

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QUILTBAG+ Speculative Classics: Oral Tradition: Selected Poems Old & New by Jewelle Gomez

The first book I featured in this column was The Gilda Stories, an awesome queer vampire collection by Jewelle Gomez, and now I’m returning to her work again with the first-ever poetry collection I’ve managed to locate for the  QUILTBAG+ Speculative Classics column: Oral Tradition, published in 1995.

Queer speculative poetry only started to flower in the early 2010s with venues like Goblin Fruit, Stone Telling, Mythic Delirium and more; what we can find before that is sporadic at best. There is plenty of QUILTBAG+ poetry—of course! —and also speculative poetry, but intersection of the two is very limited, given the former unfriendliness of the speculative poetry landscape toward QUILTBAG+ themes. I think the first multi-author queer-themed project within a speculative venue was Bridging, the queer issue of Stone Telling edited by R.B. Lemberg and Shweta Narayan in 2012. Everything before that—and before 2010, my cutoff for QUILTBAG+ Speculative Classics—seems to have been published in non-SFF contexts, and is thus much harder for me to find.

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The Monsters They Married Are Men: The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

Patricia Campbell has done everything right. She was a working woman, and then she got married. She got pregnant—twice!—and delivered two amazing children. The perfect housewife, she moved to a small town to support her husband’s new business… and she’s bored. Terribly so. When her book club splinters and Patricia’s friend picks The Manson Trials over Cry, the Beloved Country Patricia’s boredom abates, at least for a little while.

When Patricia is brutally attacked, leaving her scarred and a dead body twitching in her front lawn, she can’t get over the sense of wrongness. Maybe it’s the true crime novels, maybe it’s women’s intuition, maybe it’s just being unwilling to believe the easiest explanation simply because it’s convenient. But it’s this moment, when Patricia’s ear gets bitten off behind the trashcans, when we realize that this book—done up in Southern propriety and hidden behind vacuumed curtains—is a bloody horror story.

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The Syfy Channel Will Air The Entirety of Battlestar Galactica and Xena: Warrior Princess This Month

With the spread of the Coronavirus throughout the US and rest of the world, catching up on TV has become something of a national pastime, with various networks unlocking some of their content for people to watch for free.

The Syfy Channel has announced that it’ll be airing the entirety of two classic shows: Battlestar Galactica and Xena: Warrior Princess this month, which will be hosted by Tricia Helfer and Lucy Lawless. The network will air some supplemental offerings alongside the marathon, as well as a bonus episode of the Battlestar Galactica podcast, featuring cast reunion for a table read for the show’s pilot episode, “33”.

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Read an Excerpt from Veronica Roth’s Chosen Ones

Fifteen years ago, five ordinary teenagers were singled out by a prophecy to take down an impossibly powerful entity… Chosen Ones, as the teens were known, gave everything they had to defeat him.

We’re thrilled to share an excerpt from Chosen Ones, the first adult novel from Veronica Roth, author of the Divergent series. Available now from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

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Watch the Livestream Announcement for the 2020 Hugo Award Finalists, Today (4/7) at 4 PM EST

On April 7 at 4 PM EST, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention will be announcing the finalists for the 2020 Hugo Awards, as well as the finalists for the 1945 Retro Hugo finalists. And you can watch the livestream right here!

This year’s WorldCon takes place in the shadow of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and, as a result, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention (ConZealand) has gone completely virtual. For complete details on the convention’s programming and participation, check out the official announcement on the CoNZealand website.

6 Comfort-Listen Podcasts to Transport You Beyond Your Living Room

Your relationship to podcasts is probably changing right now. Maybe you’re used to commuting via subway with earbuds crammed in your ears, or with your favorite voices spilling through the car radio, and now you have nowhere to be. Perhaps podcasts were a treat for household chores that now feel paralyzing. But although right now you might feel stuck in place, podcasts are still there to transport you.

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