The Real Life Heroines of the Early Gothic

If you think of early Gothic women writers, your mind probably leaps to Mary Shelley. She does tend to get all of the attention: her own books, her own films, cameos in Doctor Who… you can’t help but be happy that a woman writer is getting the attention she deserves.

It’s clear why Mary Shelley’s become a Gothic pinup. You don’t get much more Goth than sex on your mother’s grave and keeping your husband’s heart in a drawer. And that’s not to mention the fact that she came up with one of the most famous Gothic novels of all time. It doesn’t hurt that she did it in a ghost story competition with Lord Byron and Percy Shelley where she showed them exactly where they could stick their monstrous egos.

[Read more]

5 Books Featuring Medicine and Magic

I like the small things in fantasy, by which I mean I like germs and figuring out if the characters know about them. People in the real world didn’t know about germs for a long time, either (though many people put forth theories about spores, contagions, and small bodies and how to prevent their spread). Our previous theories and treatments made sense given what we could observe, and many fantasies draw from the centuries before we put names to the things that cause and spread illness.

There’s a terrifying tinge of dramatic irony to injuries in fantasy, especially when the reader knows the limits of the world’s medicine and magic. It is easy to cast aside the scientific history of a fantasy world when the focus of the story isn’t medical in nature, but good books still hint at their world’s medical knowledge. This part of world building can be so small that it’s nearly imperceptible, but as in medicine, small things can make all the difference.

Here are a few incredible fantasies where magic and medicine combine.

[Read more]

The Longlist for the African Speculative Fiction Society’s 2021 Nommo Awards

The African Speculative Fiction Society is a collective of science fiction, fantasy, and horror authors and editors who are part of the larger African diaspora. Since 2016, the ASFS has released an annual slate of awards for works written by African authors—here is the finalist list for the 2021 Nommo Awards.

[Read more]

Arrowverse Recap May 9th-11th: New Heroes Step Into the Spotlight

The CW’s robust lineup of DC Comics-based shows—oft dubbed the Arrowverse—can be a lot to keep up with. Join us weekly as Andrew Tejada keeps you current on all that goes on in their corner of TV Land!

A new hero arrives that may help Batwoman, Supergirl and Black Lightning ramp up towards their series finales, The Flash deals with issues of parenthood and the Legends warns us about the dangers of fast food on:

This Week in the Arrowverse! (May 9th-11th)

[Spoilers Ahead] [Read more]

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “One Small Step”

“One Small Step”
Written by Mike Wollaeger & Jessica Scott and Bryan Fuller & Michael Taylor
Directed by Robert Picardo
Season 6, Episode 8
Production episode 228
Original air date: November 17, 1999
Stardate: 53292.7

Captain’s log. We open in October 2032 on Mars. Lieutenant John Kelly is in orbit in Ares IV while communicating with the two astronauts on the surface, Rose Kumagawa and Andrei Novakovich. Something appears in orbit, which winds up consuming Ares IV.

[History is irrelevant.]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Before Jigsaw, Vincent Price Was Horror’s Evil Genius

After four years, Saw returns to the big screen this week with Spiral: From the Book of Saw. Although the franchise doesn’t quite command the same excitement that it did during its 2000s heyday, when moviegoers flocked to cinemas every October to watch the new entry, it remains to be seen whether audiences are anxious to see what stars Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson can bring to the famously low-budget series.

Although fans certainly love Saw movies for their gory death traps and their soap-opera plotting, the franchise’s true greatest asset is its primary villain, John Kramer, the Jigsaw killer. Played by Tobin Bell with an intensity that belies his sleepy features, Kramer is a consummate evil genius. A brilliant engineer who learns to cherish life only after his cancer diagnosis (or a failed suicide attempt, or the death of his unborn child, or his divorce… the story changes a lot), Kramer tortures those he considers ungrateful in order to force them to appreciate their lives. Before the victims participate in his deadly traps, Kramer first subjects them to moralizing monologues, in which he explains why he has chosen the victim and how the torture will help them.

As much as the series’ detractors dismiss the Saw franchise as ushering in the era of torture porn, arguably the nadir of horror cinema, its roots go back to one of the true titans of the genre: Vincent Price.

[Read more]

Adventuring Through Myth and Story: The Compleat Enchanter by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt

In this bi-weekly series reviewing classic science fiction and fantasy books, Alan Brown looks at the front lines and frontiers of the field; books about soldiers and spacers, scientists and engineers, explorers and adventurers. Stories full of what Shakespeare used to refer to as “alarums and excursions”: battles, chases, clashes, and the stuff of excitement.

The Compleat Enchanter is a complete delight from beginning to end. The subtitle, The Magical Misadventures of Harold Shea, does a pretty good job of summarizing what occurs: Psychologist Harold Shea discovers a means of using scientific formulae to transport himself to parallel worlds based on myth and fantasy. He can’t always control where he goes, can’t use technology from our world, and has only a sketchy ability to control the magic so common in these worlds. But everyone dreams of being able to jump into the middle of their favorite stories, and Harold Shea is able to do just that. With co-author Fletcher Pratt, L. Sprague de Camp gives us a series of adventures that sparkle with energy and humor—if these two weren’t having a ball when they wrote these, I’ll eat my hat.

[Read more]

Five Fictional Planets Plagued by Extreme Climate Shifts

The Sun follows a solitary path through the Milky Way. This cannot be said of a significant fraction of the stars in the galaxy. Many stars have companions—some distant, others quite close.

In the latter case, SF authors crafting a plausible setting may need to take into account the effect of a stellar partner on habitable worlds. For example, the distance between Alpha Centauri A and B varies from 35.6 astronomical units to 11.2 AU. At their closest, A would add about 1 percent to the energy budget of a hypothetical habitable world orbiting B, while B would add 4/10th of a percent to a similar world around A. Not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but sufficient to have measurable effects on climate over the course of A and B’s eighty-year mutual orbit.

SF authors being what they are, those whose works feature climate forcing due to companion stars tend to prefer dramatic oscillations rather than low, single percent wobbles. One might expect that such works would have first shown up in these times of worry over anthropogenic climate change. Not so! This was already a well-established genre. Consider the following works from times of yore:

[Read more]

Rhythm of War Reread: Chapter Thirty-Six

Happy Thursday, Cosmere Chickens! This week’s installment of the Stormlight Archive reread deals with a whole lot of betrayal. Shallan and company arrive at Lasting Integrity, and things… well, go exactly as well as was predicted, with the additional roadblock of Shallan having to deal with a truly nasty revelation about who’s been talking to the Ghostbloods behind her back.

[They’re not going to listen to you, Brightlord. They’re going to arrest you.]

Series: Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Our Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.