A Stunning and Complex Queer Romance: A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows

It’s a classic romantic trope: a marriage is arranged for political reasons, and despite initial feelings or inclinations, the two strangers begin a slow spiral into each other’s hearts. In A Strange and Stubborn Endurance, author Foz Meadows imbues this familiar story with enough twists and turns and thoughtful examinations to render it almost entirely new—a queer romance for the ages. A secondary world fantasy of intricate politics, hierarchies of power and culture and magic, plus two exquisite leads that brim with life, this slow-burn novel may have the flame low, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t burn hot.

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“The Screwfly Solution” Captures the Violence of Our Current Moment

In the final paragraphs of the 1977 short story “The Screwfly Solution” by Raccoona Sheldon (aka James Tiptree Jr, aka Alice Bradley Sheldon), the world has succumbed to an apparent plague of violent misogyny, leaving the story’s protagonist, Anne, the last woman alive. Scuttled away into hiding by one of the few men immune to the “femicidal” wave sweeping humanity, Anne cuts her hair, dirties her face, and disguises herself as a boy. She only ventures into society when she absolutely must, often gambling on whether she passes well enough to slink by the detection of a store clerk when she purchases supplies. The threat of discovery hangs heavy—Anne’s safety, her life, balancing on the gendered expectations of a man she doesn’t know.

As a trans woman, I know this threat. It’s a feeling I’ve felt in gas stations in rural Oregon on the mornings when I forgot to shave. It’s a feeling I’ve felt whenever I enter the women’s room in a rest stop off I-94. It’s a feeling I’ve felt when my girlfriend reminds me to let her do the talking when we check into a hotel in Wyoming.

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Loki Writer Michael Waldron Will Get His Hands on Avengers: Secret Wars

Marvel just keeps bringing Michael Waldron back. The writer came into the MCU with Loki, stuck around for the turgid Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and now will continue his turn in the multiverse with Avengers: Secret Wars, which will close out Marvel’s Phase Six.

Yes, sure, it’s very tidy that the man who brought Kang (Jonathan Majors, above) into the Marvel world will presumably see him out again. But this is not, shall we say, an inspired choice.

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Reading The Wheel of Time: Answers and Questions in Robert Jordan’s Lord of Chaos (Part 33)

Welcome back to Reading The Wheel of Time and the last week of Lord of Chaos! It’s just the epilogue this week, which is remarkably short by Robert Jordan standards. Still, we get some tasty little teasers of what’s to come in the next book. I must confess, I did not expect Moghedien’s escape!​​

[Order burns to clear his path.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Announcing the Nominees for the 2021 Shirley Jackson Awards

The nominees for the 2021 Shirley Jackson Awards have been announced! The awards recognize “outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic.”

This year, the winners will be announced October 29th at an in-person ceremony at the Boston Book Festival that is presented in partnership with Readercon. Elizabeth Hand and Paul Tremblay will host the ceremony.

Congratulations to all the nominees!

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Five Scary Novels That Use Setting To Embody Horror

I recently reached a long-awaited milestone: my child became old enough to watch ‘90s witch classic The Craft with me. Remember that scene where unstable-goth-icon Nancy explains the nature of their deity, Manon? If God and the Devil played football, she explains, eyes alight with teenage mania, Manon would be the field they played on.

And because I’m always teaching and thinking about narrative—and because even if I show my tween “edgy” movies, I’m a nerd—I thought: that’s exactly how place functions in stories. Character and plot are here tossing the ball (or whatever football players do), but they don’t exist without place.

I don’t mean that in a literal sense—that a story needs a stage on which to unfold. I mean that place infuses and animates everything; I mean that place is an embodiment of character and conflict.

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Series: Five Books About…

Electric and Enticing: Last of the Talons by Sophie Kim

Lina lost everything. She had been the best assassin in Sunpo, despatching baddies and anyone who got in the way at the behest of her crimelord-turned-father figure. But when Konrarnd Kalmin, the leader of an enemy gang, has all the Talons except for Lina executed, she’s forced to kill for the man she despises. If she doesn’t, he’ll kill Lina’s little sister, who is off in the mountains going to school away from all the bloodshed.

Now, Kalmin forces her to steal and destroy a sacred tapestry that, as they both are surprised to learn, belonged to Haneul Rui, aka the Pied Piper, a Dokkaebi who steals humans into his realm, Gyeulcheon. Rui also happens to be the emperor of said realm. He does his pied piper flute magic on Kalmin, but while Lina is more than happy to let her nemesis rot on the end of Rui’s sword, Kalmin’s second in command threatens to kill her sister if she doesn’t get him back. Rui offers her a deal of his own: she has 14 days to kill him or he kills her as punishment.

With her back against the wall, Lina is desperate for options, any options. A secret group of revolutionaries looking to get rid of the emperor is either her key to victory or the road to disaster. But when she and Rui find themselves going from sniping at each other to flirting, Lina’s choices are reduced even more. Can she kill the man she also wants to kiss?

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The Knives Are Out and Grim Alliances Forged in House of the Dragon Ep. 7

Episode 7 is a masterful, edge-of-your-seat bottle episode where all the major characters wrestle with grief, dread, and the generational trauma that has spread from Alicent and Rhaenyra to their children. Nearly the entire episode is spent in a pair of lengthy scenes that have the entire cast on screen, roiling with tension, hatred, and frustration. As we move towards the end of the season, we’ll talk about more changes from the source material, most of them for the better, and the ways in which House of the Dragon continues to cleverly introduce intriguing details from Martin’s extensive world.

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Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Future Tense”

“Future Tense”
Written by Mike Sussman & Phyllis Strong
Directed by James Whitmore Jr.
Season 2, Episode 16
Production episode 042
Original air date: February 19, 2003
Date: unknown

Captain’s star log. Enterprise comes across a pod floating in space. They take it on board and get it open (which requires a phaser, as the hatch is welded shut) only to find what appears to be a human corpse inside.

[“I always wanted to meet a stegosaurus.” “He’d probably make a quick meal out of you.” “The stegosaurus was an herbivore…”]

Series: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch

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