Please Adapt: Darcie Little Badger’s Elatsoe

So far in my “Please Adapt” column, I’ve covered a beloved bestseller and a fan-favorite epic fantasy series, both of which are some of SFF’s top contenders for film or TV adaptation. Today, I want to feature a book that might be less familiar to a potential mainstream audience: Darcie Little Badger’s debut novel, Elatsoe.

To call the novel a “lesser-known” book would likely be a misnomer; Elatsoe certainly garnered its fair share of praise. It earned a slot on TIME Magazine’s “100 Best Fantasy Books” list and a spot on Publishers Weekly’s Best of 2020. I hopped aboard the hype train too, giving Elatsoe a 9/10 in my original review.

In spite of this success, Elatsoe is still finding its way into the hands and hearts of many SFF readers, and if you haven’t read it, you should add it to your list! It’s a novel that tells a unique, compelling story brimming with legends and magic—a story that’s ready-made for the onscreen treatment.

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Congratulations to the 2021 Bram Stoker Awards Winners!

The Horror Writers Association (HWA) has announced the winners for the latest Bram Stoker Awards!

“The Horror genre continues its amazing renaissance,” HWA President John Palisano said on the HWA website. “The winners and finalists show a diverse group of amazing voices from new and veteran creators. Our HWA members and award juries have shown dedication and objectivity to the selection process for outstanding works of literature, cinema, non-fiction, and poetry.”

See below for a complete list of winners.

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Five Dark (But Not Hopeless) SF Movies

I’ve always been something of a sci-fi movie fanatic. For as long as I can remember, whenever I hear the sound of a lightsaber igniting or see those aliens waddling out of the spaceship in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, I get chills. In recent years, I’ve found myself drawn to darker sci-fi films—filled with the kind of bleak dystopias and post-apocalyptic visions of the future that force you to sit back and think about the realities of our own world, and the kind of future we’re building here in the present day. I always find that the best of these movies, no matter how dark, incorporate glimmers of hope and true resilience—as grim and devastating as this kind of dystopian science fiction can be, there’s always a hint of light.

For me, there’s nothing more wonderful, thought-provoking, and inspiring than a science fiction film that asks you to re-examine society and the world around you. Such films might seem irredeemably pessimistic at first look, but there’s so much more to them if you give them a chance. Here’s my list of five dark (but still hopeful!) science fiction movies you should see at least once in your lifetime.

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Revealing Kay Chronister’s Debut Novel, Desert Creatures

In a world that has become treacherous and desiccated, Magdala has always had to fight to survive…

We’re thrilled to share the cover and preview an excerpt from Kay Chronister’s stylish debut novel, Desert Creatures—a feminist horror set in the near-future American West. Forthcoming November 8, 2022 from Erewhon Books.

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The Messy and Complicated Fairy Tale of Horse Racing

On the first Saturday in May, in the third year of the Great Plague, a fairy tale unfolded on a racetrack in Kentucky. A horse entered the Kentucky Derby literally at the last minute, after another horse was withdrawn, or scratched as they say in the business. He was sold from his breeding farm as a youngster, came in dead last in his first race, and was disposed of in a claiming race, where anyone who pays the set price can claim the horse. It’s a trope in horse novels, the driver of many a desperate plot, trying to save the horse from this sad fate either by keeping him out of the claiming race, or scraping up the funds to pay the price.

Once this horse was claimed, he ended up in a small-time stable as such things go, with a trainer who had never won a major race, and a jockey who had never ridden a horse at this level. No one expected him to do more than show up. All the attention was on the favorites, the stars with illustrious records and famous trainers.

[Then came the race.]

Crow Gods and Sun Priestesses in Rebecca Roanhorse’s Fevered Star

We return to the world of people of the Meridian as Rebecca Roanhorse treks onward with the journey of Serapio, the Crow God made flesh who survived his own sacrifice; Naranpa, the deposed Sun Priestess left for dead; and Xiala, an outcast Teek sailor whose heart and magical Song continually set her adrift.

The second installment of Roanhorse’s unique epic fantasy Between Earth and Sky series, Fevered Star, picks up directly after Black Sun. Serapio, originally a young man from Obregi, is now known as the Odo Sedoh and leader of the Odohaa cult. His mother groomed and blinded him in preparation to become the vessel for Sky Made clan Carrion Crow’s outcast god, who was to be reborn and cast vengeance upon the priesthood class (the Watchers) — a slaughter dubbed the Night of the Knives. After battling and decimating the Watchers upon their sacred ceremonial ground, Sun Rock, Serapio was supposed to die—but he didn’t. Wounded by the Watchers’ high priest, he awakens to see the sun over Tova suspended in an a forever twilight, and now in the care of Carrion Crow Captain of the Shield Okoa, who is unsure about his own position in the war he cannot see, but feels, is coming.

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Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Shockwave”

“Shockwave”
Written by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
Directed by Allan Kroeker
Season 1, Episode 26
Production episode 026
Original air date: May 22, 2002
Date: unknown

Captain’s star log. Enterprise is en route to a Paraagan mining colony. They’re a matriarchal society, which prompts some tiresome, “wow, women in charge, that’s crazy” commentary from Archer and especially Tucker. The mines spit out tetrazine, so the landing protocols for the shuttlepod are very specific to avoid the plasma exhaust igniting the atmosphere.

[This has gotta be the first time a Vulcan has ever attempted to cheer up a human.]

Series: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch

Empathy for the Devil: Villains, Antiheroes, and Origin Stories

“There are two equally valid sides to every story. Every warped viewpoint must be weighed seriously for any grain of truth it might contain. If you shout loudly enough, down is actually up.”

—“From Cruella to Maleficent to the Joker: Is It Time to Retire the Villain Origin Story?” by Stephanie Zacharek, TIME Magazine, May 26, 2021

I enjoy Horror as a genre. Stephen King’s novel Carrie captivated me early on as a reader. It still does. It’s a brilliant novel about mundane evil—one of King’s best. It’s also a villain origin story. A young, abused girl with powerful psychic abilities she can’t control, Carrie White destroys everything she wanted and everyone she loved. Stephen King takes a complex, nuanced approach, skillfully treading that fine line between humanizing Carrie too much—and therefore blaming teen bullies for their own horrific murders—and making a teen girl’s indignation into a horror monster. In the final scene of his adaptation, Brian De Palma highlighted the dilemma. When Sue Snell lays flowers on Carrie’s vandalized grave, Carrie’s gore-soaked hand reaches through the earth to attack her. De Palma and King seem to say, “Be careful who you empathize with, lest you too be dragged to hell.”

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The Time Traveler’s Wife Is Steven Moffat at His Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Best

Back when I first heard that Sherlock creator and former Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat had finally gotten the rights to adapt The Time Traveler’s Wife, I was worried that his take would veer too close to the multiple Doctor Who episodes and season arcs that had in fact been inspired by Audrey Niffenegger’s 2003 novel. How could I not, when this writer had made clear how he imprinted on her work, not unlike child Clare imprinting on her imaginary friend slash future husband Henry?

The pilot doesn’t make the best first impression, starting out overwrought thanks to dual voiceover, a cringey home-video frame story (with unfortunate aging makeup), and the dare-we-say-twee note of recreating the book cover in its opening credits. But eventually we get to 28-year-old time traveler Henry and 20-year-old artist Clare’s first date, during which she almost immediately blurts out that she’s his future wife… and the tone shifts just enough from heavy drama about soulmates and waiting to the absolute farce of these two kids confronting the fact of their entire future together. The snappy banter is reminiscent of Coupling, with the Möbius strip of their argument less about the mechanics of time travel and more the romance premise of you mean to say I fall in love with you? It’s exactly what I wanted from this adaptation.

…OK, there is one timey wimey mystery-box element, because Moffat.

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5 Books That Get Demon Summoning Right

When it comes to night dwellers of the supernatural variety, there’s something singularly unnerving about demons. They’ve always been the creature that scared me the most; Paranormal Activity had me sleeping with the lights on for weeks, and my genuine fear of demons is so well-documented (and mocked) in our family that my brother specifically advised me to never watch Hereditary, in case it utterly broke my psyche.

Maybe it’s because demons are invisible, yet make themselves so eerily known; an insistent scratching or rapping or knocking designed to drive you mad. Maybe it’s that they’re multifarious by nature, capable of taking on gorgeous, familiar, or grotesque forms at will. Or maybe it’s the notion that sometimes, summoning a demon is much easier and more tempting than arcane lore would have you believe. No pentagrams, candles, or rituals necessary; very little active participation required, in fact, besides the willingness to let one in.

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Series: Five Books About…

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