5 SFF Homes from Hell

Thanks to soaring house prices, many now living will be spared the burden of home ownership. Thanks to soaring rents, many may have the opportunity to enjoy lives in the great outdoors… But just in case you want to take on the burdens of home ownership or rental, note that not all accommodations are expensive, particularly those that require a little maintenance to bring up to code. Many are the books recounting (in hilarious or depressing detail) how the authors have fixed their homes.

Unsurprisingly, speculative fiction authors have been swift to see the narrative potential in home renovation, whether for those who wish to own their own homes or who merely wish to find an affordable rental. Consider these five examples:

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The Precious Art of Yoon Ha Lee’s The Fox’s Tower and Other Tales

The work of Yoon Ha Lee has always felt incredibly singular. Between his stunning prose, methodical exploration of intricate worlds he’s handing to us bit by bit, concepts that can range from the mind-blowing to the heart-rending, and beautifully sketched, complex characters—any new work I read by Lee always makes me feel incredibly lucky. From novels to short stories, Yoon Ha Lee’s work is a gift. In this latest collection, Lee shapes a beautiful pocket-sized collection of flash fiction fables and folktales, and in artful strokes of prose, conjures worlds of wonder.

The Fox’s Tower and Other Tales is slim, only around 100 pages all told, and some of those pages are dedicated to gorgeous illustrations. Black and white, these pieces of art break up the twenty-five stories within, almost like natural pauses for breath and contemplation, a necessity in a volume one could theoretically finish in an afternoon’s span. Because trust me, you don’t want to rush through this collection. Every story within is to be treasured, and if you rush through it, believe me, it won’t be long until you find yourself going back to savor them once more.

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Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Endgame”

Written by Rick Berman & Kenneth Biller & Brannon Braga and Robert Doherty
Directed by Allan Kroeker
Season 7, Episode 25/26
Production episode 271
Original air date: May 23, 2001
Stardate: 54973.4

Captain’s log. In 2404, Voyager is celebrating the tenth anniversary of her return home after twenty-three years in the Delta Quadrant. Admiral Janeway attends a party that also includes Captain Kim (CO of the U.S.S. Rhode Island), Commander Barclay (a teacher at the Academy), Torres (a Federation-Klingon Empire liaison), Paris (a holonovelist), the EMH (now married and having chosen the name Joe), and Naomi and her daughter, at the very least.

[Admiral Janeway visits on Sunday. Today is Thursday. Logic dictates that you are not who you claim to be.]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Hometown Horrors: The Blair Witch Project and the Power of Local Legends

When The Blair Witch Project hit theaters in 1999, I’d just graduated from high school, and I went to see it to celebrate my newfound freedom from Hell.

Having grown up on television like Unsolved Mysteries and Sightings, I loved it, and for a time, I was fooled. Everywhere you went, you saw the clip of murdered student filmmaker Heather Donahue sobbing to her camcorder in extreme close-up. I scoured the internet for every scrap of knowledge about Elly Kedward, the witch of Blair, and the fate of the three hikers. Who were these people, and what killed them? What was the significance of the stick-figures?

Then I saw Heather in a Steak ‘n Shake commercial, and it was like stumbling into the living room on Christmas and finding my mother putting presents under the tree.

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Lee Pace Reads Science Fiction, So Obviously His Characters Do Too

Last month, the internet became aware that Lee Pace—Thranduil, Ronan the Accuser, Brother Day, any number of other SFF-adjacent and beloved characters—likes science fiction. In fact he loves science fiction. He talked about it a lot. And then he tweeted the picks for his (imaginary?) science fiction book club, which was slightly baffling given that he paired the books with the images from an Esquire photo shoot in which he was (handsomely) dressed in very expensive outfits. But this is certainly not a complaint. Just an observation.

Lee Pace likes science fiction, and the internet likes Lee Pace, and I like all of these things. I also like recommending books. So in the spirit of everything good online being mashed together, I present to you: science fiction book club picks for some of Lee Pace’s SFF (and SFF-adjacent) characters.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Awesome — Star Trek: Lower Decks Second Season Overview

After a first season that was horribly hit-and-miss, Lower Decks came back with a second season that fixed several of the first season’s problems, the primary one being that it mostly just sat back and allowed itself to be a Star Trek show, albeit one that was filled with humor and ridiculousness.

Even the reversals of the status quo changes shoehorned into the first-season finale were funny and actually worked in the context of the show. While it’s still not perfect, and suffers from some of the same inconsistent tone as season one, this sophomore outing is a far stronger show than the one that debuted in 2020. And so, we have, in contrast to the first-season roundup, the Good, the Bad, and the Awesome of season two…

[Cerritos strong!]

The Trailer for Uncharted Covers Familiar Ground

Tom Holland will be in the Spider-suit again in December, but after Spider-Man: No Way Home, he’s swinging over to a new potential franchise with Uncharted. Based on the popular video game series created by Naughty Dog, Uncharted is, well… its trailer is a little bit Indiana Jones, a little bit National Treasure, a little bit Mission: Impossible, and I’m sorry, but there’s a little tiny Cocktail scene there at the start, too.

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Five Experimental SFF Works by Writers From London

There’s a definite crossover between SFF themes and experimental literary practice in the UK of late, particularly in London. As the dominance of white, upper-middle class, male writers writing realist fiction about their lives continues to falter, new perspectives, new voices and new ways of thinking about the worlds we live in are emerging. Small presses are picking up on these exciting explorations of the boundaries of experience and literature, so I’m going to use this opportunity to direct the reader’s attention to the work of five writers who engage with science fiction and fantasy tropes, push the boundaries of literary genre and form, and are challenging the cultural status quo.

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Series: Five Books About…

Wheel of Time’s Rosamund Pike Narrates a New Audiobook of The Eye of the World

Next month, a new audiobook of The Eye of the World is being published—and this one will be narrated by none other than Moiraine Damodred herself! Actress Rosamund Pike will narrate the novel, the first in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. This new audiobook will be published just before Amazon’s Wheel of Time adaptation, arriving on November 16th—three days before the series premieres.

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Rhythm of War Reread: Chapter Fifty-Five

Hey, my Cosmere Chickens, it’s Thursday again—time for another Rhythm of War reread chapter. Welcome back, as we rejoin Kaladin for some sober conversation with Syl, and some very sneaky sneaking around the Tower. Also an Observation, and a realization that leads to a very tense mission… which we’ll get to in another three weeks. Come on in and join the discussion!
[He felt as if he were standing on the edge of eternity.]

Series: Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Gossip Man Was Not Meant to Know: Fritz Leiber’s “To Arkham and the Stars”

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 cover Fritz Leiber’s “To Arkham and the Stars,” first published in 1966 in Arkham House’s The Dark Brotherhood. Spoilers ahead.

[“…after you’ve spent an adult lifetime at Miskatonic, you discover you’ve developed a rather different understanding from the herd’s of the distinction between the imaginary and the real.”]

Series: Reading the Weird

A Jittery, Near-future Thriller: Femlandia by Christina Dalcher

Near future America is easily a frightening place in any imagination, and in Christina Dalcher’s third novel Femlandia, America in 2022 is a completely broken, lawless society. After a massive economic breakdown, things rapidly fall apart, supply chains run dry, violence is the only thing that works, there is little food to be found, and everyone is left scavenging as best they can, both for food and safety. 40-something Miranda and her 16 year old daughter Emma have been trying to eke out a survival in their home, but Miranda knows that they won’t be able to stay there much longer. There aren’t many options for them, other than to go to the one place Miranda had sworn off from years ago—Femlandia, the women only commune her mother Win had established before the world broke, a community that is ‘Women Oriented. Self sufficient. Cooperative. Safe. Accepting. Natural. Free’.

Or is it.

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You Should Really Be Reading Victoria Goddard’s Nine Worlds Series

Most of the time, books come into your life in the usual ways—a friend recommends one to you, or you browse through the shelves at your local bookstore deliberately looking for something that will catch your eye, or you see a new release advertised somewhere and decide to give it a shot.

But every once in a while, that small moment of serendipity slams into you like a lightning strike and a clap of thunder—you overhear a title, or you catch a glimpse of a cover, and you are gripped instantly with the knowledge that this is going to be one of those books, one of the ones that change you, that leave you better than you were before you read it: A better writer, or a better reader, or a better person, or… just nebulously, undefinably better—more healed, more loved, more whole.

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The Desolation of Smaug Soars to New Highs and Plummets to New Lows

A long, long time ago, in a quiet little room somewhere in the medieval quadrangle of an Oxford college, a professor named J.R.R. Tolkien found a blank page in a pile of examination papers and idly scribbled the words, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” Tolkien likely did not know that the sentence he wrote would become one of the most famous opening lines in English literature, and one of the most influential. This story began very modestly and quietly, after all, but it has continued with us ever since, for nearly a century now, reshaping children’s and fantasy literature, then role-playing games, movies, and global pop culture. The Hobbit wasn’t the first Middle-earth story Tolkien wrote, but it was the first one published, and the one that made everything else possible.

Rereading The Hobbit, it’s easy to see why it was such a success. It’s told with a wry voice, great charm and wit, and is wonderfully imaginative. Bilbo Baggins is one of children’s literature’s great heroes, despite being a fussy, wealthy, middle-aged man. What he lacks in childlike years he makes up for in childlike size, and the book aptly portrays the childlike wonder and fear of finding oneself thrust out into a bigger world, whether one likes it or not.

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