What Walks Alone: Final Thoughts on The Haunting of Hill House

Welcome back to Reading the Weird, in which we get girl cooties all over weird fiction, cosmic horror, and Lovecraftiana—from its historical roots through its most recent branches.

This week, we wrap up our discussion Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, including final thoughts from both of us and a little from Anne on the screen adaptations. Spoilers ahead.

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Series: Reading the Weird

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Reread — Original Sin

Original Sin
David R. George III
Publication Date: September 2017

Timeline: February-March 2380, approximately one year prior to the 2381 section of Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts of Empire, and March 2386, following Ascendance and The Long Mirage

Progress: The bulk of this novel consists of chapters that alternate between 2380 and 2386. Here are the essential events of these two plotlines told sequentially:

2380: A Bajoran named Radovan, who’s been dealt some tough blows, falls in with the Ohalavaru, the religious followers of the texts of Ohalu (see Unity and more recently Sacraments of Fire).

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The Looming Horror and Magic of What It Is To Be Alive: Isabel Yap’s Never Have I Ever

There are worlds within the cutthroat music of Isabel Yap’s debut short story collection Never Have I Ever, and they are wondrous and vicious and true. Yap’s work spans the speculative, weaving fantasy, horror, and sci-fi and wielding each with deft expertise. Here, Filipino folklore breathes through the cruelties and magic of the contemporary, infused with history and legend. Each story is a cleverly crafted gem, resonant and surprising and deeply profound. The collection as a whole establishes Yap firmly as one of the sharpest masters of the form.

As a Fil-Am reader, I found so much of myself in these stories. That specific cadence and tension of family, the rich folklore of my childhood that I so rarely see represented or imagined in contemporary American writing. Whether Yap’s writing about a diaspora experience or a story rooted in Manila, that sense of place and complex identity is drawn so vividly. She carves out details clever and true. 

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Not All Worldbuilding Needs to Be Meticulous to Be Effective

The goal of building a fictional world isn’t to build a world. It’s to build a metaphor. And the success of the world you build isn’t measured by how complete or coherent or well-mapped the world is. It’s measured by whether the world and the meaning map onto each other.

Arguments about worldbuilding in SFF don’t generally focus on metaphors. Instead they often focus, somewhat paradoxically, on realism. How can you best make a world that feels as detailed and rich and coherent as the world you’re living in now, complete with impeachment trials, global warming, pandemics, pit bulls, and K-pop? Should you, in the manner of Tolkien, systematically construct every detail of your fantasy realm, with maps and histories and even complete languages? Or should you leave spaces to suggest vast uncharted bits? Maybe sometimes it’s more evocative not to tell your readers what lives on every part of the map, or what the Elvish means. As China Mieville says, “A world is going to be compelling at least as much by what it doesn’t say as what it does. Nothing is more drably undermining of the awe at hugeness that living in a world should provoke than the dutiful ticking off of features on a map.”

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Tehanu: Le Guin’s Return to Earthsea — and Her Best Novel

The Ursula K. Le Guin Reread explores anew the transformative writing, exciting worlds, and radical stories that changed countless lives. In this final week, we’ll be covering Le Guin’s novel Tehanu (1990).

Last year I embarked on a quest: to reread all of Ursula Le Guin’s works, including story and essay collections, and write about them for Tor.com—a dream come true for any SFF critic. I’ve written about Le Guin for a year, covering her novels, stories, and essays from the beginning of her career (some truly just OK stories) to her first novel of the 1980s, the strange anti-Narnia novel The Beginning Place. That’s nearly two decades of powerful, inquisitive writing that racked up awards and made Le Guin into a household name, an undisputed master of the genre. 

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Series: The Ursula K. Le Guin Reread

5 Books That Will Make You Think Twice About Walking in the Woods

I absolutely love the woods. I grew up in a home surrounded by huge evergreens, and their roots burrowed into me at a young age. And while I found refuge in the trees as a child, I also developed a healthy respect for them—I always had a sense there was more to the woods than the dense branches and swaying treetops and wild ferns.

There’s something about the way the woods teeter on the edge of peaceful and eerie that I can’t get enough of. The way a lovely afternoon stroll can turn frightening with the snap of a twig or the rustle of leaves. The way the shadows seem to keep secrets and the darkness awakens things that were dormant during the day.

The woods have a way of making me believe in magic and monsters. And it’s that combination that keeps me coming back to the cover of the trees, day after day, even though I’ve read enough books to know better.

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Series: Five Books About…

Spider-Man 3 Has a Title! Just Kidding, It Has Three Titles

Yesterday, Tom Holland revealed the title of the upcoming Spider-Man 3: Spider-Man: Phone Home.

No, Zendaya revealed the title: Spider-Man: Home Slice.

No, it was Jacob Batalon who revealed the title: Spider-Man: Home Wrecker.

All of these statements are true.

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Announcing The Underland, a Modern Gothic Fairytale From Alix E. Harrow

Tor Books announced the acquisition of The Underland and an additional standalone novel from author Alix E. Harrow, acquired at auction by Vice President, Publisher Devi Pillai from Kate McKean at Vice President at the Howard Morhaim Agency. The UK and Commonwealth rights were acquired by Bella Pagan, Publishing Director of Pan Macmillan’s Tor imprint, from Caspian Dennis at Abner Stein Ltd. Foreign rights are with Baror International and RDC Litera.

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The Tyger

“The Path Through Time” is Jules’s favorite part of the museum, a marvelous exhibit that brings the past to life, from the present all the way back to the prehistoric. Tonight at his aunt’s wedding reception as Jules walks along the path, it comes alive like never before.

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Land, Sea, and Stars: Sun-Daughters, Sea-Daughters by Aimee Ogden

It’s not always easy to figure out what to say about a novella. Especially a slender one. A novel has—usually—plenty of subplots to provide meat for discussion, multiple characters and strands. A novella is much less meandering, much more focused: it has much less space in which to satisfy (or infuriate) a reader, and consequently there is often less for a critic to discuss.

Sun-Daughters, Sea-Daughters, Ogden’s first outing with Tordotcom Publishing, clocks in at a slim 106 pages in its paper version. In its science-fictional milieu, humans—modified, genetically and otherwise, to adapt to their environment—have spread across the stars. Some of the environments are quite severe. Some of the human populations are lower tech than others. Some have more or less traffic with other groups.

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Angel Manuel Soto Will Direct DC’s Blue Beetle

DC and Warner Bros. are bringing Blue Beetle to the screen in the first DC superhero film to star a Latino character. The Wrap reports that Angel Manuel Soto (Charm City Kings) is on board to direct Blue Beetle, which is written by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer (Miss Bala).

Though there have been three Blue Beetles over the years, the film will focus on the most recent incarnation of the character, Jaime Reyes, a Mexican-American teen from El Paso who gets super powerful armor from the Blue Beetle scarab.

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Five SF Works That Explore the Mysteries of Alpha Centauri

Alpha Centauri is, as you know, currently the closest star system to the Solar System. It is a triple star system, comprising Alpha Centauri A (a G2 V star slightly brighter and slightly more massive than the Sun), Alpha Centauri B (a K1 V slightly dimmer and slightly less massive than the Sun), and Alpha Centauri C (a low-mass, dim red dwarf which is also known as Proxima Centauri).

Proxima is strongly believed to be orbited by a world in the habitable zone. According to Wagner, K., Boehle, A., Pathak, P. et al  in Imaging low-mass planets within the habitable zone of α Centauri, Alpha Centauri A may also boast a world in its habitable zone.

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