Swallows and Pocket Watches: Christopher Caldwell’s “The Calcified Heart of Saint Ignace Battiste”

Welcome back to Reading the Weird, in which we get girl cooties all over weird fiction, cosmic horror, and Lovecraftiana—from its historical roots through its most recent branches.

This week, we cover Christopher Caldwell’s “The Calcified Heart of Saint Ignace Battiste,” first published in the January/February 2022 issue of Uncanny Magazine. Spoilers ahead, but go ahead and read this one yourself!

[“The Mother arrives on foot. She is small and slight, and hidden beneath her veils…”]

Series: Reading the Weird

God Unlikely to Return for Good Omens’ Second Season (UPDATE)

Neither God nor the Devil will be making a return appearance for the second season of Good Omens—at least not as we previously knew them. Frances McDormand and Benedict Cumberbatch are not among the actors set to appear in Amazon’s sequel series, though many familiar faces will be back, including Derek Jacobi (still playing Metatron), Mark Gatiss, Miranda Richardson, and Jon Hamm.

A handful of new cast members have also joined the series, though most of their roles remain a celestial mystery.

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Hitting the Slopes in Christopher Pike’s Slumber Party and Carol Ellis’ The Window

The teens of ‘90s horror get into plenty of trouble at home, but this is nothing compared to what they find when they hit the road. There are several books in which roving groups of teens are sent off on their own, entrusted with a wealthy friend’s parents’ beach house or vacation home for a long weekend, with no adult supervision at all. In both Christopher Pike’s Slumber Party (1985) and Carol Ellis’s The Window (1992), teens head out on ski trips, excited to get away from home, have some fun, and hit the slopes.

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Terry Pratchett’s Sam Vimes Is the Namesake for a New Price Index

In his novel Men at Arms, Terry Pratchett detailed the “Sam Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socio-economic unfairness,” which crisply explained how expensive it is to be poor. In short, “A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time,” Pratchett wrote, “while a poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.”

Now, the Pratchett estate has given Jack Monroe, a writer in the UK, permission to use Vimes’ name for the Vimes Boots Index, a price index that will track the “insidiously creeping prices of the most basic versions of essential items at the supermarket.”

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Not an Adventure but a Myth: C.S. Lewis’s Perelandra

Ransom realizes soon after his arrival in Perelandra that he is not on an ordinary adventure: “If a naked man and a wise dragon were indeed the sole inhabitants of this floating paradise, then this also was fitting, for at that moment he had a sensation not of following an adventure but of enacting a myth.” The echoes of Eden, of the story of Jesus, are not a mistake in Ransom’s world, not even a coincidence. He’s in a Passion Play—the medieval drama in which the players tell the story of the life and death and resurrection of the Christ.

It’s not an allegory; Lewis bristled at those who suggested this interpretation.

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Series: The Great C.S. Lewis Reread

Bad Science: Five SF Stories Involving Selective Breeding

It might be comforting to tell oneself that eugenics—the conviction that one can breed one’s way to better humans by encouraging the fitter ones to have more children and those considered to be less fit to have fewer—was a horrible fad that went out of fashion after the unpleasantness in the mid-20th century. Of course, that’s not true. State sanctioned sterilization of those deemed inferior continues to the modern day.

It’s not surprising that science fiction authors have not always resisted the lure of eugenics as a plot starter. Why not apply to humans the same techniques that transformed the humble wolf into the majestic chihuahua? Here are five stories that engage with the notion in different ways.

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The Tale of Ak and Humanity

Citizens are distraught to learn of the latest decree from their leaders: each person is to be evaluated as to whether they deserve to live. Those found “unnecessary for life” will be asked to “leave life within 24 hours.”

Panic is alleviated when citizens learn that Ak, “a luminous person,” will be in charge of the panels that are to evaluate citizens. Surely, only the “human rubbish” would be eliminated.

“The Tale of Ak and Humanity” was translated from Russian by Alex Shvartsman

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An Explosive Space Opera: Seven Mercies by Laura Lam and Elizabeth May

Seven Mercies, the second novel-length collaboration between Elizabeth May and Laura Lam, is the conclusion to the space opera duology that began with 2020’s Seven Devils. A small and ragged band of rebels stand against the might of a murderous empire and the AI that’s capable of controlling the minds of its citizens. The results are explosive.

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Peacemaker’s Choreographer for Opening Number Shares Her Creative Process, Which Includes Having Alan Tudyk Dance for Her

If you’re watching Peacemaker and/or have been on the internet lately, you might have seen the show’s opening number, where the actors—led by John Cena—do a weird, complicated-looking dance with a bald eagle named Eagly flying in at the very end.

The dance is a mesmerizing one, and choreographer Charissa-Lee Barton recently shared how she put the moves together, which include filming her husband Alan Tudyk cutting a rug to see if a non-dancing actor could pull them off.

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Percy Jackson and the Olympians Is “Really, Truly, and For Sure” Coming to Disney+

You can absolutely forget the Percy Jackson movies, now, if you so desire. Percy Jackson and the Olympians—a series adaptation of Rick Riordan’s books that was announced in 2020—officially has the green light at Disney+.

A clearly enthusiastic Riordan announced the news via Disney+’s YouTube channel, saying, “The wait is over, demigods. I am thrilled to be the first to tell you that Percy Jackson and the Olympians is really, truly, and for sure coming to your screens.”

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