Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery RPG Lets You Fulfill Your Dreams of Being a Hogwarts Student

If you ever bemoaned not receiving your Hogwarts letter via owl, Portkey Games has a treat for you: a new mobile narrative role-playing game called Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, in which players can enroll in Hogwarts and learn the first things about becoming witches and wizards. Between this and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, the Pokémon GO-esque mobile game, Portkey Games (a new game label from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment) is all about making fans of J.K. Rowling’s books feel firmly embedded in the wizarding world.

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Lumberjanes’ Noelle Stevenson is Rebooting She-Ra for Netflix

Today Noelle Stevenson, the Eisner Award-winning cartoonist behind the fantasy graphic novel Nimona and the delightful comic book series Lumberjanes, announced the raddest of news: She’ll be showrunning Netflix’s reboot of beloved ’80s animated series She-Ra. It’s one of six new animated series from Netflix and Dreamworks Television including the new season of Guillermo del Toro’s Trollhunters and 3 Below, the second installment of the Tales of Arcadia Trilogy.

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Holy Rewatch Batman! Extra: Batman vs. Two-Face

Batman vs. Two-Face
Written by Michael Jelenic & James Tucker
Directed by Rick Morales
Original release date: October 10, 2017

The Bat-signal: Batman and Robin are invited by Dr. Hugo Strange to witness the testing of a new crimefighting tool: the Evil Extractor. En route, Batman stops by the Gotham State Penitentiary to visit Catwoman, giving her a gift of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s love poetry. Their attempt to kiss through the bars is interrupted (of course) by Robin.

[Riddle me this: Why are we like Two-Face’s henchmen? Answer: because we’re all doing his bidding!]

Series: Holy Rewatch Batman!

The Top Spec-Fic Comics of 2017

It’s that time of year when everyone writes up lists of the best of the best and the worst of the worst. And Pull List is no exception. We’ve had a pretty great year for new comics, especially in the indie realm. DC’s Rebirth is still chugging along while Marvel continues to shoot itself in the foot then blame everyone else but themselves. As always, there’s lots of meh stuff cluttering up the market, but finding good quality series is pretty easy as of late.

Don’t think of this roundup as a “best of” but rather a list of “really cool titles you should be reading.” The only eligibility requirement was that it had to be released for the first time in 2017, including the release of the first issue, first time being published in print, or first time being published in English. No trades of series that premiered in previous years (which is why there’s hardly any Rebirth), and I’m not counting events either (hence no Legacy or Civil War II titles).

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A Star Wars Newbie Watches The Empire Strikes Back for the First Time

Having only seen the prequels, I didn’t really get Star Wars—so in order to increase my Star Wars I.Q., I finally watched the original trilogy. Last time, I watched Star Wars: A New Hope and found an appreciation for the older movies that I didn’t know would be there.

I went into watching The Empire Strikes Back with slightly higher expectations, tempered by the fact that this was, after all, still Star Wars. Three of Lucas’ movies had already failed me, after all, even if the fourth turned out to be quite good against my expectations.

As for The Empire Strikes Back

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7 Curiouser and Curiouser Retellings of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Snacks that make you shrink (or grow gigantic), mad tea parties, murderous croquet: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a bonkers enough story on its own that it’s impressive to see the ways in which so many authors have been able to retell it.

In these thrillers and pastiches and history lessons, Alice Liddell is a princess on the run, a mad inmate, or only a tangential part of the story; some retellings focus on other citizens of Wonderland, from the maligned White Rabbit to the misunderstood Queen of Hearts. No matter which of the many ways into Wonderland these writers choose, the stories are as enticing as a bottle that says DRINK ME.

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Sleeps With Monsters: Warding off Winter Darkness

I live in Ireland, where at this time of year it starts to get dark at four p.m., and on rainy grey days—we have a lot of rainy grey days—it can sometimes feel as though the sun hasn’t come up at all.

I put effort into managing my depression at the best of times. In the last couple of years, managing my depression has been complicated by the need to manage a growing amount of anxiety (which sometimes makes concentrating on anything other than not tearing off my own skin difficult). And with the relentless march of holiday-themed merchandise and advertising kicking my financial anxiety into higher-than-usual gear, I want to take this opportunity to look back on the narratives that 2017 gave me that have proved… sustaining, in more ways than one. Art is what keeps me going, most of the time. Art is what gives me hope. (Though most of the people who make it will sympathise with my financial anxiety: the vast majority of writers are shockingly underpaid for the amount of benefit they bring to the world.)

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Series: Sleeps With Monsters

Defining Heroism as Vulnerability: How Star Wars Created a New Kind of Action Movie

When I saw The Force Awakens and Rogue One, I tried to figure out what made them so much more compelling to me that the prequel trilogy. After all, I’d gone into The Phantom Menace incredibly excited to see another chapter in the Star Wars story, only to be disappointed by each film, but Force Awakens and  Rogue One both struck me as worthy successors to the original trilogy.

The more I’ve thought about it, the more I think both films honor a tradition from the Original Trilogy: in the midst of an often cartoonish space opera, it’s the moments of heroic vulnerability—not moments of action—that define the series. This is the emotional undercurrent that kept the trilogy so vital, and the fact that the two latest films embrace this theme is part of their success.

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“I Know My Phoebe Still Lives.” Revealing Stygian, the Next Dark-Hunter Novel by Sherrilyn Kenyon

In fall of 2018, bestselling Dark-Hunter series author Sherrilyn Kenyon will bring readers the story of Urian, the son of Styxx.

Stygian, the follow-up to 2013’s Styxx, follows the epic personal struggle of Urian:

Born before man recorded time, I lived for thousands of years believing myself to be something I’m not. Someone I’m not.

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Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Memory, Chapter 26

This week, Miles invades ImpSec HQ with a squadron of witnesses, a spray bottle, and a black light and catches Haroche in the act of trying to cover his tracks. It’s like when Lord Peter gave Norman Urquhardt arsenic-laced Turkish Delight in Strong Poison. If you haven’t read Strong Poison, you should. It’s a Christmas story, it has a fake seance in it, and, if you aren’t already, you’ll want to be familiar with Peter Wimsey by the time we get to A Civil Campaign.

Miles is very busy with the dramatic denouement, and he handles it very nicely. It’s a treat to watch. While he’s traipsing around the building with his various friends and relations, he leaves Delia Koudelka to be the last man standing next to Duv Galeni in the cells.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Ask SFF Equine: Can a Stallion Be a Good Father?

For those who are looking for “Sleipnir Rides Again (and Gets Super Mystical)”, we’re saving that for a more appropriate date. Look for it on the day between the years, January 1st. Meanwhile, as we all descend deeper into the Twilight Zone of the year, here’s a little joy for the season, and a question near and dear to my horse-breeder heart.

In the comments on the last Ask SFF Equine, gustovcarl asked: In your book “Writing Horses…” you mentioned briefly that stallions can be good fathers.  Do you have any examples or stories about this subject?

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When We Try to Sort Writers Into ‘Plotter’ or ‘Pantser’

The more I talk to other authors about craft the clearer it is that novelists use a huge range of different planning styles. People talk about “Planners” vs. “Pantsers,” i.e., people who plan books and series in advance vs. people who plunge in and write by the seat of their pants. Each category contains a spectrum, for instance people who plan just the major plot points vs. people who plan every chapter. But even then, authors who are improvisational about some parts of storymaking can be very much plotters when it comes to others.

Characters, plot, and setting—or, for genre fiction, world building—are very visible. They tend to be what we talk about most when geeking out about a favorite book: a plot twist, a favorite character’s death, the awesome magic system or interstellar travel system. Sometimes an author will develop a world or characters in detail before writing but not outline the chapters or think through a plot. I develop the world first, then develop characters within the world, and then make my chapter-by-chapter outline. But even those stages of world building and character aren’t the first stage of my process. I want to talk about some of the less-conspicuous, less-discussed elements of a novel which, I think, a lot of writers—pantsers or plotters—begin with.

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Fantasy Writers That Make Great Use of Haunted Rivers, an American Literary Tradition

On the gorgeous cover of the newest Wild Cards novel, Mississippi Roll, a ghostly man pilots a wide ship’s wheel, his form ebbing away into tendrils like mist. Previously the captain of the steamboat Natzchez, the incorporeal man now haunts the ship’s decks and halls as it plies the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. In an inspired twist, the silent and otherwise unseen Wilbur Leathers can only manifest himself through steam.

The majority of Mississippi Roll takes place on the rivers, and most of the action occurs on the steamer itself. The story begins in New Orleans as the boat makes her way slowly northward, stopping at a variety of ports along the way. In addition to the crew, the Natchez is populated by passengers, entertainers, stowaways, and the odd raven. Bearing all the human drama playing out on her decks, the Natchez makes her way up to St. Louis, cuts back around the confluence into the Ohio River, and heads for Cincinnati and the Tall Stacks steamboat festival.

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What It’s Like Watching Star Wars for the First Time

Having only seen the prequels, I didn’t really get Star Wars—so in order to increase my Star Wars I.Q., I finally watched the original trilogy, starting with Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. I was fascinated. I didn’t hate it. I… I actually liked it. I won’t say I loved it, but that’s not the fault of the movie itself.

Spoilers, y’all. If there is such a thing for a movie this popular and embedded into pop culture.

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Save the OASIS in the First Trailer for Ready Player One

“Like many of you, I came here just to escape. But I found something much bigger than just myself. Are you willing to fight? Help us save the OASIS.”

So Parzival, a.k.a. Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), rallies the other gunters, or egg hunters, in the first full trailer for Ready Player One. Whereas the SDCC teaser aimed just to pluck all the heartstrings with every nostalgic Easter egg from the DeLorean to the Iron Giant, today’s trailer actually delves into the movie’s plot, with some help from Depeche Mode and Van Halen.

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