Graff has been keeping a big secret from his closest friends, the captain and crew of a pirate-hunting starship. He expected to die before they ever discovered what he really is. But he’s not dead, and now he has to explain.
The best fantasy books invite you to step foot into a world that feels like a real living, breathing place. Terry Pratchett’s Night Watch ranks in my top five favourite books of all time—a book with not only one of the best characters ever committed to the page (Sam Vimes, of course) but also one of the best cities: Ankh-Morpork. Twenty-five years on and I still want to go to Ankh-Morpork so badly I’d even be prepared to eat one of Cut-Me-Own-Throat-Dibbler’s pies to get there.
Although I suspect you wouldn’t be living and breathing too long if you stepped foot into Ankh-Morpork, the reason it’s such a pleasure to read about is because it’s so fully realised, so immersive, it blurs the boundaries between our perspective as a reader—standing on the outside of the story, looking in… or standing on the bustling streets, ankle-deep in muck oozing from the River Ankh. For me, perfect escapism is a fantasy setting I want to visit—even better is a setting I don’t want to leave.
“Your orders haven’t changed, Cal, but mine have.”
The kingdoms of Avantine have mostly known peace since the end of the Aphrasian Rebellion, but stirrings and rumors of the return of a powerful enemy have set the Kingdom of Renovia on defense. Most pressing is the threat of assassination against Queen Liliana’s daughter, Lilac.
“Ursula was everything you’d expect her to be: biting wit, wasn’t going to suffer fools at all,” artist Charles Vess told me over the phone from his studio in Abingdon, Virginia. Vess, a long-time Ursula K. Le Guin fan, was chosen by Saga Press to illustrate their collection of Le Guin’s famous epic fantasy, The Books of Earthsea, a massive tome comprised of five novels and various pieces of short fiction. When speaking with Vess about the project, his passion for Le Guin’s work and his intimate experience with Earthsea was obvious.
Canada is a vast and diverse nation. Different regions have different customs and habits, not to mention differences of opinion (political and otherwise) with other regions. But they share one sentiment: Canadians generally hate Toronto. It may seem odd that a country would dislike its largest, most diverse city, a city in which one in twelve Canadians resides, a community that is responsible for one-fifth of the national economy and much of our cultural wealth, and even odder that Ontarians join in, given that the Ontario economy would collapse like a rotted fruit without Toronto, but there it is: Toronto-phobia.
Before we get into the review of this week’s Picard, I just want to comment on the hilarious serendipity of “The Impossible Box” using the Sikarian spatial trajector, introduced in “Prime Factors,” a first-season episode of Voyager that I just covered a week ago in my rewatch of that show, as a plot point. I also must confess to getting a certain sadistic glee out of the fact that the Sikarians were assimilated by the Borg, as they were a generally skeevy people. (Okay, that’s not fair, we only really met three of them, and only two of those three were skeevy, but still.)
Anyhow, that was a wonderfully unexpected surprise, and one that actually worked. And it was just one of many great things about “The Impossible Box,” which is the best episode of Picard so far (and I’m happy to keep saying that each week if the quality keeps improving week to week).
Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.
This week, we’re reading Henry Kuttner’s “The Graveyard Rats,” first published in the March 1936 issue of Weird Tales. Spoilers ahead.
Series: The Lovecraft Reread
Captain Picard is back. Really, I didn’t see that coming. Patrick Stewart reprising his iconic role as captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise—that was something to be excited about. And excited I was when I saw first the trailer showing Picard and his loyal new dog companion wandering through the vineyards of Château Picard near La Barre, France. The images also brought back fond memories of the time five years ago, when I myself had the honor of letting Picard wander through these very vineyards. It was an adventure no man—well, okay, at least no German author—had experienced before…
If you were to try and name a master of modern short fiction in science fiction and fantasy, Ken Liu would have to be among those contending for the title. Winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Awards, in addition to a plethora of translation work of Chinese science fiction and fantasy, a previous short fiction collection, as well as multiple novels and other work across different media, Liu is prolific writer, and an insightful and incisive one.
Having already published The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, Liu is back with The Hidden Girl and Other Stories, a short fiction collection featuring a never before seen novelette, an excerpt from his next novel The Veiled Throne, as well as a whole host of recent stories. And while The Paper Menagerie focused more on family, history, love, and the fantastical, The Hidden Girl is more laser-focused on issues of science fiction—the future, climate change, artificial intelligence, and more.
The land knows, and remembers. It has been many years, but something dark is growing beyond, something that has been resting. You know it is calling you, and you remember, too. This month’s genre-bending releases are all about secrets that won’t remain buried. Commune with Hawaiian gods in Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn; solve a mystery with a ghost dog in This Town Sleeps by Dennis E. Staples; and get ready for the new release from Emily St. John Mandel, The Glass Hotel.
Head below for the full list of genre-bending titles heading your way in March!
Over the last couple of years, Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag has gained an enormous following with his retro-futuristic artwork, which imagined fantastical machines and robots roaming around the Swedish landscape in an alternate 1980s.
Amazon is turning his first art book, Tales from the Loop, into a streaming television series, and has just unveiled the first trailer and a release date for the show: April 3rd, 2020.
“Heroes and Demons”
Written by Naren Shankar
Directed by Les Landau
Season 1, Episode 11
Production episode 112
Original air date: April 24, 1995
Captain’s log. Voyager is investigating a protostar that has unusually intense photonic energy. Torres beams two samples on board, but one sample doesn’t materialize due to a gap in the annular confinement beam. She tries again, and this time it works. She says it’ll take six hours to analyze. Janeway suggests conscripting Kim to help out to cut that time down, but he’s off duty. She contacts him—but the computer says that Kim isn’t on board.
[The Vok’sha of Rakella Prime believe that hate is a beast which lives inside the stomach. Their greatest mythical hero is a man who ate stones for twenty-three days to kill the beast, and became a saint.]
Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch
Fantasy fiction is best known for its giant, door-stopping series that come in trilogies or longer. Of course, not everyone wants to embark on a ten-book project. And even if you love series, sometimes it’s nice to read a standalone story that provides a satisfying resolution within a single book. With that in mind, I’ve set out to provide a list of ten fantasy stories that have all the thrills of a series but stand alone as a single volume.