Run Your Fingers Down My Spine: Inoue Masahiko’s “Night Voices, Night Journeys”

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading Inoue Masahiko’s “Night Voices, Night Journeys,” translated by Edward Lipsett. This version is first published in Asamatsu Ken’s 2002 Night Voices, Night Journeys anthology; the publication date of the original Japanese version is surprisingly difficult to track down—or at least we haven’t managed it. Spoilers ahead.

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Series: The Lovecraft Reread

Read the First Chapter from Into the Crooked Place

The streets of Creije are for the deadly and the dreamers, and four crooks in particular know just how much magic they need up their sleeve to survive…

We’re excited to share the cover and preview the first chapter from Into the Crooked Place, the start of a two-book YA fantasy series from Alexandra Christo, the author of To Kill a Kingdom. Look for it this October from Feiwel & Friends!

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“And the waters prevailed”: Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse

Only four weeks have passed since Black Mesa, and Maggie is deep in recovery mode. The first man she loved is buried in the desert and the second is avoiding her. To be fair, Maggie did try to kill him. Needing something to do, she joins Hastiin, her one-time nemesis, and his teenage cousin Ben on a monster hunt. Things go terribly awry and soon she and Ben find themselves caught in the crosshairs of the White Locust, a cult leader with mysterious powers. Whatever his plans are, they involve Kai Arviso and Caleb, the youngest Goodacre boy.

To save Dinétah, Maggie must enter the Malpais, but the Malpais may not ever let her leave. The moment she, Ben, and Rissa Goodacre step beyond the wall, they’re beset by vile and violent me who have turned the southwest into a free market hellhole. Maggie has to rescue Caleb and Kai and preventing the White Locust from killing thousands while stopping Ben from going to the dark side and keeping the peace with Rissa. And she has to do all that with petty gods, sadistic slavers, and killer bugs interfering at every turn.

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The Hidden Layers of Every Novel (and Why They Should Stay Hidden)

Charlie Jane Anders has a secret notebook full of background information, histories, linguistics, and might-have-beens about her book, The City in the Middle of the Night. And you will never see it.

You shouldn’t ever see it. Even if you are her biggest fan, even if she is one day enticed by ample money or sweet-talked into publishing it as bonus content, even if her heirs are tempted and desperate enough to do the same, these notes should never become part of your reading experience.

[Allow me to explain…]

Queer Relationships in Pern: Dragonquest

The first Pern book, Dragonflight, had ended on a hopeful but somewhat tense note, what with the return of the hungry, desperate-to-eat-anything alien Thread; lingering political questions of land ownership; massively dysfunctional relationships in the dragon Weyrs; and, oh, yes, the sudden arrival of a rather large group of time travelers, who claimed they were going to be helpful, but, we all know how well that can go. Like, yay, one massive problem solved—hello, about twenty others.

In Dragonquest, Anne McCaffrey started exploring all of those toxicities and issues.

She also started—kinda—exploring some queer relationships.

Well. “Exploring” might not be the correct word.

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Series: Dragonriders of Pern Reread

Middle-earth’s Weirdest Movie: Rankin-Bass’ Animated The Return of the King

Watched all in a row, the animated movies The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Return of the King form their own peculiar Tolkien trilogy. Granted, they’re movies made by two different studios with two different styles, and they don’t really align storywise, and one was a feature film while the other two were TV movies. But all together, they form a vaguely coherent story of the One Ring, from its finding by Bilbo to its destruction by Frodo and Gollum. It’s almost fitting, really, given the wildly divergent versions of the Germanic myths and legends that inspired Tolkien in the first place. If The Lord of the Rings really were an ancient tale handed down over centuries, as this movie proposes in its gobsmackingly weird final moments (we’ll get to that), it would likely resemble the animated trilogy more than any other version.

That’s not to say all those versions are equally good. Rankin-Bass’s 1977 The Hobbit (previously discussed here) and Ralph Bakshi’s 1978 The Lord of the Rings (covered in Part I and Part II here) are both masterpieces. The Rankin-Bass 1980 TV movie follow-up to those movies is… not. In fairness, Rankin-Bass had a task almost as impossible as Frodo’s: How do you make a stand-alone Return of the King movie that is both a direct sequel to your own The Hobbit and an unofficial, quasi-sequel to Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings? The answer is: awkwardly.

[“Where There’s a Whip, There’s a Way!”]

Read the First Chapter of Elizabeth Bear’s The Red-Stained Wings

The Gage and the Dead Man brought a message from the greatest wizard of Messaline to the ruling queen of Sarathai, one of the Lotus Kingdoms. But the message was a riddle, and the Lotus Kingdoms are at war.

Hugo Award–winning author Elizabeth Bear returns to the epic fantasy world of the Lotus Kingdoms with The Red-Stained Wings, the sequel to The Stone in the Skull, taking the Gage into desert lands under a deadly sky to answer the riddle of the Stone in the Skull. Available May 28th from Tor Books. Read chapter one below, and continue with chapter two on the Tor/Forge blog.

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Place Your Titan-Sized Bets on the Final Trailer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters

“My God…”
“ZILLA!”

It’s difficult to pin an exact tone on Godzilla: King of the Monsters. There’s that delightful exchange between Bradley Whitford (we are here for all of his commentary) and Kyle Chandler. But there’s also a soulful instrumental rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to announce the return of 17 (and counting!) titans amid the final showdown between King Ghidorah and Godzilla himself. And we’re not sure if the “ONE KING TO RULE THEM ALL” tagline is a joke for Lord of the Rings fans, but we were tickled regardless.

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Compelling Contemporary Fantasy: Ragged Alice by Gareth L. Powell

I’m much more familiar with Gareth L. Powell’s science fiction than with any work he’s previously done in the fantasy vein. Embers of War and Fleet of Knives are his most recent work, part of an interesting space opera trilogy, and although I haven’t read his Ack-Ack Macaque, its BSFA-Award-winning status offers some endorsement as to its quality.

Ragged Alice is a low-key contemporary fantasy. DCI Holly Craig has had a successful career with the London Metropolitan Police, albeit one marked by her isolation from colleagues, her lack of meaningful relationships, and her alcoholism-as-coping-method. Orphaned young, she was raised by her grandfather in the small Welsh coastal village of Pontyrhudd, a place she left as soon as she could—a place where a brush with death-by-drowning on the eve of her departure for university gave her the ability to see the shadows on people’s souls. (An ability she never wanted and finds really difficult to cope with.)

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Everything Happens Too Late To Matter in Game of Thrones Season 8

The well-worn trope of characters facing their possible last night alive borders on cliché—so much so that a character saying anything to the effect of “this could be our last night on earth” is barely even subtext for suggesting a sexual liaison. This trope is nearly always used to bring simmering plot points to a boil and challenge long-established elements of the status quo. The last night on earth is a last chance, a culmination, a high point. Not so on this week’s episode of Game of Thrones, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.” Here, the episode works to show viewers that it is far, far too late for the climaxes and resolutions offered to hold any lasting meaning.

This is accomplished in numerous ways—perhaps most notably through the use of the haunting “Jenny’s Song” to suffuse melancholy and woe into all of its proceedings. Jenny of Oldstones, the subject of Podrick’s (and Florence + The Machine’s) song, is a complicated and tragic figure from George R.R. Martin’s novels. She is best known as Westeros’ answer to Wallis Simpson, the commoner for whom a Targaryen prince abdicated the throne. She is long dead by the time of the books, but her song is used to mark moments of somber reflection in the text. The song is less interested in her love story than it is in her status as a (possible) survivor of the tragedy of Summerhall. In brief, the tragedy of Summerhall was a conflagration that destroyed the Targaryen Winter Palace and killed not only Jenny’s husband (Duncan Targaryen), but a whole host of other Targaryens and their retainers, ending the golden age of the dynasty and paving the way for the Mad King to ascend to the throne. In “danc[ing] with her ghosts” “high in the hall of the kings who are gone,” Jenny of Oldstones is an object lesson in what happens when you outlive your own story. She is mired in the past, clinging to undoubtedly worthy things that are, unfortunately, too long gone to make a difference.

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Series: HBO’s Game of Thrones

The Conversation Tony Stark and Thanos Should Have Had

EXT. TITAN—DAY

THANOS strides out of a wormhole onto the ruined surface of the planet TITAN. Crashed spaceships and broken towers rise from a desolate waste.

Thanos looks tired.

STARK (O.S.)

Now, see, you are much more of a “Thanos.”

Thanos turns in mild surprise to TONY STARK, taking the place of Doctor Strange in this fic because the author is an Iron Man fan. Iron Fan? Anyway.

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Rereading The Ruin of Kings: Chapters 30 and 31

Greetings and salutations, Tor.com! In tribute to your awesomeness, I give you: blackmail! Torture! Really bad parenting! Huzzah!

This blog series will be covering The Ruin of Kings, the first novel of a five-book series by Jenn Lyons. Previous entries can be found here in the series index.

Today’s post will be covering Chapter 30, “Family Reunion”, and Chapter 31, “Tyentso at the Beach.” Please note that from this point forward, these posts will likely contain spoilers for the entire novel, so it’s recommended that you read the whole thing first before continuing on.

Got that? Great! Click on for the rest!

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Series: The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

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