Gormenghast With Hooves: Learning the Art of Dark Storytelling From My Little Pony

I don’t have many memories from before I was six. I don’t think most people do. We have the idea of memories, the stories our families have told us about how cute we were when we were little, the ridiculous things we did or said or believed. It seems weird to me sometimes that I could have forgotten the things people tell me happened, like the time I brought a rattlesnake home to be my new pet, or the time I spent an entire summer taking taps on top of bookcases, but that’s the thing about human memory. It doesn’t play fair.

One of those early memories, though, one of those rare, precious, treasured memories, is walking through a department store with my grandmother. I was four. She was taking me to get a present. I’m not sure why: it may have had something to do with my mother’s impending marriage to the man who would go on to father my two sisters, or maybe she just felt like it. Whatever the reason, she took me to the toy section and told me I could have two things.

I picked Minty and Cotton Candy, two of the original six My Little Ponies, and thus was an obsession born.

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My Gift Was Memory: On Ta-Nehisi Coates’s The Water Dancer

Mythic language pervades the work of Ta-Nehisi Coates. In his leviathanic 2015 piece, “The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” he invoked The Grey Wastes, hearkening back to a childhood enthrallment with D&D. In “The Case for Reparations,” race relations are recast in the language of plunder and credit, and though he’s writing specifically about housing and redlining and Clyde Ross, he’s also writing about slavery and Jim Crow, state regimes and intergenerational oppression. In his National Book Award-winning letter to his son, Between the World and Me, the epistolary format provides a ribcage for the poetic heart beating inside.

With The Water Dancer, Coates’s first full-length novel, a story about slavery and a superpower, we pay witness to a writer unchained. In the proliferation of subjunctive clauses; the easy moving from waking to dreaming; capitalizations as we see in the Tasked, the Quality, and Low whites; in the very configuration of Lockless manor as two houses—one shown and one hidden—containing liminal spaces through which the Tasked must flit so as to appear at parties to pour a guest’s drink like they were summoned out of thin air, in all of these things lives a writer finally able to marry novelistic tendencies to the form. The faithfully dated prose and the constraints of this story’s form as recitation or testimonial allow Coates ample room to both dramatize his arguments and encapsulate them in single lines of cutting dialogue, to carry an entire longform essay’s worth of insights in the arms of a single paragraph-long interaction between two characters. The result is a powerful, if somewhat bloated, book that seeks to do so much. Sometimes, perhaps, too much. But while the moonshot may be off, the fistfuls of firmament Coates is able to bring back to us are a wonder to behold.

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Kali Wallace’s Salvation Day Is Becoming a Movie

Kali Wallace‘s near-future space thriller Salvation Day is being turned into a movie! The Hollywood Reporter has reported that Karl Gajdusek, executive producer of Stranger Things season 1 and screenwriter of Oblivion, will be writing the feature film adaptation of the novel. Ripley executive producer Ben Forkner will be producing.

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Download a Free Ebook of The Tiger’s Daughter by K Arsenault Rivera Before Oct. 19!

The Hokkaran empire has conquered every land within their bold reach—but failed to notice a lurking darkness festering within the people.

Now it is up to two young warriors, raised together across borders since their prophesied birth, to save the world from these encroaching demons.

Each month, the Tor.com eBook Club gives away one (or two, and sometimes five? You can’t pin us down!) free sci-fi/fantasy ebook to club subscribers. For October 2019, the Ebook Club pick is K Arsenault Rivera’s novel THE TIGER’S DAUGHTER.

As book reviewer Natalie Zutter put it after finishing the novel:

Shefali. O-Shizuka. We need to talk.

You’re out of control. You run through palace gardens fending off tigers, and camp out on the Silver Steppes grappling with demons around the fire. You’re so convinced that you’ve been touched by the gods because you’ve been able to escape tiger attacks without getting mauled, just some claws to the shoulder.

Go on….

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Hopefully Ryan Reynolds is Meeting With Marvel Studios for a Deadpool Phase 4 Cameo (With Spider-Man?)

Is Marvel gearing up for a Deadpool cameo in Phase 4? As reported by Collider, Ryan Reynolds recently tweeted a photo of his visit to Marvel Studios. While his caption was as airily non-committal as ever, it would actually make a lot of sense for the Merc with a Mouth to show up in the MCU.

Especially with Deadpool’s long-lost love Spider-Man also cameo-ing in Phase 4.

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History and SFF Storytelling: A New Monthly Column

Welcome to Tor.com’s new column on History and SFF!

My name is Erika Harlitz-Kern, and I will be your guide during the coming months in discussing the ways that history is used in fantasy and science fiction. But don’t worry—I won’t be dissecting your favorite story digging for historical inaccuracies and judging its entertainment value based on what I find… The purpose of this column is to take a look at how authors of SFF novels and novellas—with a focus on more recent works, published after the year 2000—use the tools of the trade of historians to tell their stories.

When any scholar does research, they use a set of discipline-specific tools to make sense of their sources and the material and the information they find. Historians are no different. In history, these tools consist of techniques on how to evaluate texts, how to critique the research of other historians, how to think critically about the past, and how to be transparent when presenting research results. This column will delve into how authors use these same tools to tell their stories and build worlds.

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Robert Jordan’s Warrior of the Altaii: Full Spoiler Review and Wheel of Time Parallels

Hello, Tor.com! Last week, if you recall, I dazzled you, or at least mildly bounced light off the retinas of you, with my non-spoiler review of Robert Jordan’s newest and yet also oldest novel, Warrior of the Altaii, and also promised I’d be back with a much more spoilery version for your delectation this week.

And as I am a woman of my word, here we are! *throws confetti*

So, obviously, be warned that this post is full of spoilers for Warrior of the Altaii—and, honestly, somewhat spoilery for The Wheel of Time too. If you haven’t read either, proceed with caution… and also go read the Wheel of Time, sheesh.

So There. Onward!

[There’s a wind at the start too, lol]

Five Books About the Horror of Girlhood

Don’t get dirty. Smile. Be nice. Don’t do this, don’t do that, it’s not ladylike. Don’t, don’t, don’t. Boys can run, climb trees, play and get dirty, but girls aren’t given that same leeway. We’re taught we have to behave a certain way, an acceptable way, and while things are slowly improving, deviation from that norm is still viewed askance by society at large. Then we’re given the conflicting message of girl power! But what exactly do we have power over? Is it any wonder that girlhood is fraught with so much internal chaos?

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Reading the Wheel of Time: Romance and Choices in Robert Jordan’s The Shadow Rising (Part 6)

Hello friends, and welcome to the sixth week of the Read of The Shadow Rising. This week I would like to complain about how boring the title of this book is. Like, it’s to the point for sure. But it doesn’t intrigue me the way The Eye of the World or The Great Hunt did. Even The Dragon Reborn, while also a bit redundant, mentions a specific aspect of the book. But The Shadow Rises? I mean, yes, it has been and will continue to do so in later books.

Of course, the title really doesn’t matter once you’ve started reading a book, and the only reason I’m still thinking about it is because I have to type it out so frequently, but my dog is sick and my stitches itch a lot, so I’m feeling punchy.

Not as punchy as our lady protagonists are, however. Elayne’s love sick, Nynaeve’s pulling her braid out of her head to strangle Moiraine, and Moiraine is uncharacteristically ruffled.

[And now, the recap.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

SFF Equines Horse Breeds: “And I Want a Pony.”

Ponies are iconic. Ponies are a legend. They’re a catch phrase for the impossible dream. “Sure, and I want a pony.”

There’s history there. Horses have been solid working partners in many regions of the world, working on farms, in mines, in the woods, and in war. Ponies—who are not baby horses; they’re born small and mature small, sometimes very much so—have made notable contributions, for example in mines in the Britain and elsewhere, and as all-around working animals in the Shetland Isles. They’ve lived wild, too, in the Dales and on the Fells, and on the other side of the Atlantic, famously on the barrier islands of Chincoteague and Assateague. [Read more]

Catfishing on Catnet Sweepstakes!

How much does the internet know about YOU? Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer is a thought-provoking near future YA thriller that could not be more timely as it explores issues of online privacy, artificial intelligence, and the power and perils of social networks – and we want to send you a copy!

Because her mom is always on the move, Steph hasn’t lived anyplace longer than six months. Her only constant is an online community called CatNet—a social media site where users upload cat pictures—a place she knows she is welcome. What Steph doesn’t know is that the admin of the site, CheshireCat, is a sentient A.I.

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The Joker Can Fit Any Story You Prefer to Tell

As the song goes, “Everybody Loves A Clown”… Well, everybody except the Batman. And all the Robins. And the GCPD. And Gotham City. But the clown keeps coming back, regardless of who wants him hanging around. He always will. The Joker is now starring in his own origin film, so audiences can have another glimpse at the Clown Prince of Crime. His legacy is nearly as old as Batman’s cape and cowl.

Questions surrounding the character’s enduring popularity have raged for decades, but his appeal perhaps isn’t so hard to reconcile when we note what separates him from other DC villains—namely, in a universe where all the bad guys build their personas on schticks, the Joker is a cipher. The clown getup stays the same, but who he is entirely depends on what the story requires.

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Hot Girl Summer Is Over, Long Live Hot Nerd Fall

Hot Girl Summer was a blast, but now as the air cools and the leaves turn, we’re tipping our collective chapeaux to Megan Thee Stallion and looking forward to a glorious new season: HOT NERD FALL. (Or uh, thot-umn, if you will.) We’ve compiled a list of Hot Nerd characters for you. Perhaps you’re wondering about our criteria? Well, simply put, we wanted to gather up our favorite fictional adult* characters from the SFF spectrum who are hot because of their nerdiness. People whose passion, whether for magic or math or philosophy, makes them crackle with allure and who we can’t stop loving.

Like, you know, an autumn leaf or something. We’re still working on the metaphors here, but you get our point! Now join us in a celebration of the hotness that can only come when a person lets their nerdiness shine through.

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The James Tiptree, Jr. Award Will Become the Otherwise Award

The James Tiptree Jr. Literary Council has announced that the James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award will be renamed the “Otherwise Award”.

The organization explains their decision in an in-depth breakdown/FAQ within the initial announcement on their website. Quoting both supporters and opponents of the name change at length, the organization explained that ultimately, there was “too much discomfort over this history for many of us to feel joyous about this name” and that “keeping the joy is more important than keeping the name.”

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