QUILTBAG+ Speculative Classics: Imago by Octavia E. Butler

Imago is the third and final volume of Xenogenesis, Octavia E. Butler’s groundbreaking science fiction trilogy about alien contact and its consequences. I have already reviewed the first and second books, and now it is time to finish the series! I will also conclude this set of reviews by quoting from Butler’s own reflections on the trilogy, and taking a brief look at how it influenced her later work.

In Imago, the merging of humans with the alien Oankali, and the creation of “constructs” (Oankali-human hybrids) reaches a new stage. After the appearance of female and then male constructs—in this order—the time has come for the emergence of constructs who share the Oankali third sex, ooloi. Ooloi are neither men nor women, but have unique reproductive characteristics and a biological aptitude for healing and genetic manipulation. Oankali only develop their sex upon puberty, and this is true of constructs as well; though in the previous volume, we have seen that some Oankali and constructs both often have an idea of their future sex, and can influence it to an extent.

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George R. R. Martin Talks With The Guardian About the Next Books, Stress, and Game of Thrones

If you thought Game of Thrones finally coming to an end (not to mention the way it ended) drummed up all sorts of complicated emotions for you, just wait until you read the latest interview with George R. R. Martin. Speaking to The Guardian, the author refused to discuss whether he’d watched the show’s finale, but revealed that the series concluding has been a huge stress-reliever.

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Tolkien’s Elves: How the Eldar Half Lives (and Lives, and Lives, and Lives)

In this scattershot series, we’ll be delving “too greedily and too deep,” prying gems out of the glorious rough that is the extended legendarium of Tolkien’s world. This includes drawing on The Lord of the Rings itself, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, The Children of Húrin, and the History of Middle-earth (or HoME) books.

What is the deal with Elves in The Lord of the Rings? Are they supposed to be as severe as those we see in Peter Jackson’s film trilogies? Questions inevitably arise around these mysterious people, who’ve inspired pretty much all fair-faced, pointy-eared*, woodsy folk in the fantasy genre. J.R.R. Tolkien may not have invented the Elves as a concept—Germanic folklore did—but he sure did popularize them.

But even in his own legendarium, what does it mean, in practice, to be immortal? What’s with all the talk about fading, and the leaving? Why can’t they stick around? Are there any female Elf-warriors, and how many kids can an Elf-mom have, anyway? Are there any Elf-kids? Well, Professor Tolkien didn’t answer all of our world-building questions in his seminal work, but you’d be surprised to see how many of these points he did address. In this discussion, spread out over two parts, I’ll talk about the Elven condition as Tolkien sorted it out, and how those details might apply to the stories we do know.

[For the Elves die not till the world dies, unless they are slain or waste in grief…]

Casting The Wheel of Time: Your Auntie Leigh Has an Opinion On It

What ho, Tor.com! What news hath ye? WOT casting news, what? Whoa.

Indeed, O my Peeps, as you most likely have heard even if, like me, you’re obstinately allergic to social media and facesnapping your twitgrams or whatever the e-fants are calling it these days (yeah, you saw that, I’m hip to the lingo), the ever-more-really-happening Wheel of Time TV series has revealed some key casting choices, and the WOT section of the fandom world is het up about it.

And, as someone with, shall we say, a BIT of experience being het up about WOT things, my input was requested. And here we are. Don’t say I never did nothing nice for ya. Click on for my hot takes, y’all!

[Well, I mean, maybe I never did nothing nice for ya in particular, but you don’t have to SAY it]

Has Star Wars Abandoned Boba Fett? Or Is His Comeback Written on the Wall?

Aside from the grand finale of the Skywalker Saga with Episode IX, there is another Star Wars story that has everyone buzzing: The Mandalorian, premiering in November on Disney’s new streaming service. Starring Pedro Pascal, The Mandalorian is set post-Return of the Jedi, as the galaxy struggles to restructure itself after the death of Emperor Palpatine and the fall of the Empire. The titular character is a mercenary with a cowboy sort of swagger, adhering to a personal sense of justice, with a reputation for doing things his own way.

But… but isn’t that just Boba Fett?

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Around the World in 28 Alternative Cities!

When you spend time in science fiction and fantasy, you expect to get lost in bucolic Shires, bustling Diagon Alleys, and maybe the occasional wardrobe-based analog of Heaven. But why stop there? Join us as we tour the globe à la Phileas Fogg, taking off from a magical London and heading more-or-less east. We’re making stops in a haunted Cairo, a super-powered Delhi, a steampunk Seattle, an alt-history Montreal, and a near-future São Paulo—let us know in the comments if we missed your favorite genre-tinged city!

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Announcing the 2019 Hugo Award Winners

The winners of the 2019 Hugo Awards have been announced! You can read the full list below.

The Awards were presented on the evening of Sunday August 18th, 2019 at a ceremony at the 77th World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin, Ireland, hosted by Afua Richardson and Michael Scott.

Winners for the 2019 Hugo Awards and the 1944 Retrospective Hugo Awards appear in bold. The awards were presented at Dublin 2019 – An Irish Worldcon, the 77th World Science Fiction Convention. Members of the convention cast a total of 3097 votes, all online except for eight paper ballots.

Congrats to the finalists and winners!

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Chronicling Japanese Folklore: The Ghosts and Monsters of Shigeru Mizuki

Have you ever been walking along and felt the creepy, unsettling feeling that something was watching you? You may have met Betobeto-san, an invisible yōkai, or folklore creature, who follows along behind people on paths and roads, especially at night. To get rid of the creepy feeling, simply step aside and say, “Betobeto-san, please, go on ahead,” and he will politely go on his way.

What we know of Betobeto-san and hundreds of other fantastic creatures of Japan’s folklore tradition, we know largely thanks to the anthropological efforts of historian, biographer and folklorist, Shigeru Mizuki, one of the pillars of Japan’s post-WWII manga boom. A magnificent storyteller, Mizuki recorded, for the first time, hundreds of tales of ghosts and demons from Japan’s endangered rural folklore tradition, and with them one very special tale: his own experience of growing up in Japan in the 1920s through 1940s, when parades of water sprites and sparkling fox spirits gave way to parades of tanks and warships.

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Stephen Colbert’s Latest Tolkien-Off Target Is Lee Pace

It’s no secret that Stephen Colbert is a huge Tolkien nerd, and he’s pulled out his freakily expansive knowledge of lore on his show several times now, to the delight (and slight terror) of guests. James Franco, erstwhile HQ host Scott Rogowsky, and Donna Gosling (mother of Ryan) have all faced off against the comedian in battles of LOTR trivia, with only the last one famously coming out on top.

Now, Colbert has engaged in yet another Tolkien-off, and his latest target is none other than Lee Pace, aka Thranduil, son of Oropher, the Elvenking himself.

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“It’s our mission that doesn’t make sense” — Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Debuting in a 1967 issue of Pilote magazine in France, the “Valérian et Laureline” science fiction adventures written by Pierre Christin and drawn by Jean-Claude Mézières became an immediate hit in Europe. Chronicling the adventures of square-jawed spatio-temporal agent Valérian and his partner Laureline—a French peasant from the 11th century who travels to the future with Valérian—the stories continued until 2010.

The stories inspired an animated series in 2007, and ten years after that, Luc Besson gave us a feature film version.

[“We know how humans work.” “They’re all so predictable.”]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

Take Flight with 6 Fantasy Creatures That Are Just as Cool as Dragons

When it comes to fantasy creatures, we feel like dragons get all the credit. And we get it, they’re flashy and scaly and there’s fire-breathing and they have unnerving laughs, but they aren’t the only awesome flying buddies around. Just being able to fly is impressive enough, right? Right??

It seemed like a good moment to pause and give a little love to our favorite non-dragon air steeds. Here they are…

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New Star Wars Barbies Are Perfect Cosplay Inspiration

Star Wars cosplay is classic and limitless, with fans adhering to original designs or creating their own variations, bunny suit, 1920s’ style, crossover, or otherwise. But who doesn’t love a high-fashion twist on a sci-fi classic?

The Star Wars Barbies release by Mattel and Disney has reimagined the aesthetics of a few iconic Star Wars characters, serving some intergalactic realness.

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Daniel Mallory Ortberg and Colette Arrand Discuss Trans Narratives and Star Trek’s Planet Risa

The “pleasure planet” Risa has popped up a few times in Star Trek, most notably that one TNG episode where Picard’s attempts to read James Joyce’s Ulysses are repeatedly thwarted by everyone everyone everyone.

However, while Risa-based episodes may seem like just an excuse to have PG-rated space sex capers (and they were), they were also one of the few environments where a Trek series could explore stories that echo the structure of certain trans narratives. (Infinite diversity in infinite combinations…as long as you can get it past the network censors!)

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Read an Excerpt from Angel Mage, a New Fantasy from Garth Nix

More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.

It’s a seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding. Four young people hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, a glory-seeking musketeer; and Dorotea, icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic.

The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet but do not suspect their importance. And none of them know just how Liliath plans to use them, as mere pawns in her plan, no matter the cost to everyone else…

Garth Nix, bestselling author of the Old Kingdom series, crafts a new fantasy with Angel Mage—available October 1st from Katherine Tegan Books.

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