The Secret Life of Abdul Al-Hazred: Reza Negarestani’s “Dust Enforcer”

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.

Today we’re looking at Reza Negarestani’s “Dust Enforcer,” a chapter from Cyclonopedia: Complicity With Anonymous Materials, a 2008 novel published through Re.Press. This week’s excerpt can be found in Ann and Jeff Vandermeer’s The Weird anthology. Spoilers ahead, but it’s not really the sort of piece where that matters.

[“Abdul Al-Hazred as an adept rammal (sand-sorcerer) probably wrote Al Azif through the dust-infested language of Pazuzu…”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

The Uncanny Melancholies of Rita Bullwinkel

What happens when tales of the paranormal and supernatural are shot through with an air of melancholy? Rita Bullwinkel’s new collection Belly Up does a fine job of answering that question. Bullwinkel covers a lot of stylistic territory here—some of these stories deal with the uncanny, while others fall in a more realistic vein—but the emotional consistency that carries through the book helps it to achieve a welcome unity. Alternately, consider these variations on a theme regarding mortality and isolation: timeless themes, rendered in an unpredictable manner.

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Pull List, Spooky Edition: Ghostbusters and Archival Quality

Spring has sprung! Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, the sun is shining… and the ghosts are ghouling. Yeah, I know people don’t generally put ghosts and spring in the same sentence. Unless you’re me, that is, and have two awesome spirit-centered comics you can’t stop squeeing about. So gather ‘round, comics fanatics, as I rant and rave about my new faves Ghostbusters: Answer the Call and Archival Quality.

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If the Deadpool Movies Don’t Want Me to Think That Deadpool is Queer, They’re Doing a Terrible Job

We’re in a weird place right now, cinema-wise. People in the film industry keep trying to mollify fandom by suggesting that any number of characters could be queer, then finding out that fans aren’t interested in this game anymore—they want action and quantifiable results. They want representation that doesn’t come after publication, or without on-screen verification, or with a promise that it will show up in a few years.

But with that said, there is no possible way that you can convince me that Wade Wilson is straight. There’s just too much evidence to the contrary—and I don’t mean the number of slash fanfics with his name attached.

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Five Unforgettable Prisons in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Countless times in fiction we’ve seen heroes pull off daring heists, avenge the deaths of loved ones, and vanquish colossal foes (whilst causing considerable collateral damage), but what might happen if they didn’t get away with it? What does it look like in science fiction and fantasy when a character finds themselves behind bars, whether literal or only figurative? Here are five books that explore that very question.

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Series: Five Books About…

An Affair To Long Remember: Beren the Mortal and Lúthien the Elfmaid

In Which the Son of Barahir Meets a Girl, Accepts An Impossible Quest To Marry Her, Gets Himself Thrown In the Slammer (of Sauron), and Witnesses the Demise of the Greatest Elf In Arda

Chapter 19, “Of Beren and Lúthien,” is the most famous love story of the First Age, even of Tolkien’s entire legendarium. It is the original adventure romance between a mortal Man and an immortal Elf-maid, the legend of which Aragorn and Arwen’s own tale is an echo in The Lord of the Rings.

I’ve written about this extraordinary yarn twice on before, first as a study of Lúthien herself (Lúthien: Tolkien’s Original Badass Elf Princess) and then again when Christopher Tolkien released the stand-alone book in 2017 (Beren and Lúthien and Their Not-So-Little Dog, Too). For a deeper walk-through of that tale, I would encourage you to check those out. But for a more contextualized primer entry that places the story within The Silmarillion, read on. As this adventure story is especially rich with exposition, oaths, callbacks, and foreshadowing, I’m going to tackle the chapter in two installments.

[For little price do Elven-kings sell their daughters.]

Series: The Silmarillion Primer

Seanan McGuire is Sending Kitty Pryde to Summer Camp!

This one-off tale of the young teen Kitty Pryde will appear in X-Men Gold Annual #2, out on August 1st. “Like so many of us, I started reading the X-Men before I was old enough to have been a student at Xavier’s Academy,” says Wayward Children series author Seanan McGuire. “Kitty Pryde was my hero for most of my childhood. She was smart, she was curious, she got to be an X-Man and go to space and have a dragon for a friend—she was basically everything I wanted to be.”

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India’s Love Affair with Archie Comics

It was recently announced that there would be a Bollywood-style live-action adaption of Archie comics produced in India. The freckled redhead and his friends Betty, Veronica, Jughead and the gang will be reimagined as Indian teenagers.

Initially, this announcement may seem like a natural progression for the Archie brand thanks in part to the overwhelming success of Riverdale both here in the U.S. and internationally. But that show alone isn’t solely responsible for Archie’s popularity in Indian, nor is it a recent phenomenon. The fact that this is the first American comic book to receive a big screen adaptation for South Asian audiences makes perfect sense: for as long as I can remember, Archie comics have always been part of Indian culture.

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HBO’s “Remixed” Watchmen TV Adaptation Will Be Set in the Present

Damon Lindelof, showrunner for HBO’s forthcoming TV adaptation of Watchmen, recently posted a five-page open letter to fans of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ 1986 graphic novel. The letter, posted on the Lost and The Leftovers creator’s Instagram, provided both an update on the series’ development and reassurance that this would not be a straight adaptation but would rather “remix” the source material. The Old and New Testament were mentioned as well, but suffice to say, this will be an entirely original story—and it will be contemporary.

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Announcing the 2018 Eugie Award Nominees

The nominees for the third annual Eugie Foster Memorial Award for Short Fiction have been announced. Established in honor of the late writer and editor Eugie Foster, the Eugie Award honors “irreplaceable” stories that “will become essential to speculative fiction readers.” Foster, who passed away in 2014, was a prolific short fiction writer; her novelette “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” won the 2009 Nebula Award.

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Meet Tor and Publishing Authors at Phoenix Comic Fest!

Phoenix Comic Fest kicks off this year on May 23 and has a lot of phenomenal programming from Tor Books and Publishing, including a multi-author SFF event at The Poisoned Pen Bookstore!

Click through for the complete schedule, your guide to signings, and SFF panels galore. Cory Doctorow and Sylvain Neuvel talk transhumanism; K. Arsenault Rivera and John Scalzi compare notes on the weirdest research tidbits; Myke Cole and Sam Sykes play D&D; and V.E. Schwab is all over the place, talking mythology, magic systems, and #FearlessWomen, depending where you catch her. And that’s just scratching the surface. Plus, special solo panels with Schwab, Scalzi, Doctorow, and L.E. Modesitt.

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Conspiracies, Heists, and Dragonshit: The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn by Tyler Whitesides

Tyler Whitesides has a background in writing for children, but The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn is his first novel for adults and his first epic-type fantasy. At 780 pages in the paperback, it’s certainly epic in length; and with a promise of a sequel to come… well, the days of the epic doorstopper have not yet, it seems, come to an end.

Ardor Benn, the titular character, is a confidence man. He styles himself a “ruse artist,” and we’re first introduced to him as he’s pulling off the final stages of a thieving scheme—a scheme that, it turns out, was unnecessarily overcomplicated. In the course of his escape, alongside his partner/accomplice/long-time friend Raek, we’re given a first glimpse at the magical technology that’s one of the elements which distinguishes Whitesides’s setting from those of comparative works: Grit. Grit comes in many kinds and has many uses: Drift Grit for floating, Blast Grit for exploding, Barrier Grit for shielding, and so on. It’s a royal monopoly, produced by feeding various substances to the (dangerous as hell) dragons that live on an island somewhere in the archipelago that is the whole of our characters’ world—and recovering the result from dragonshit.

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