The Deconstruction of Falling Action: Alexandra Rowland’s A Choir of Lies

In A Choir of Lies, Alexandra Rowland brings us back the world of Chants, but in the process completely calls into question what we learned about them in A Conspiracy of Truths

I think it is futile for me to discuss what A Choir of Lies does without discussing in depth what A Conspiracy of Truths does, and so readers who do not want to be spoiled for the first book probably should go read it first.

Ready? Good!

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Gene Wolfe’s The Shadow of the Torturer: Part 3

The previous installment of this particular rereading took us only so far as the Botanic Gardens—but Severian and Agia hadn’t entered the Gardens yet. So, after unwittingly destroying the altar of the Pelerines, they continue on their mission to collect an avern, the deadly flower which he must use in his impending duel:

The Botanic Gardens stood on as island near the bank (of the river Gyoll), enclosed in a building of glass (a thing I had not seen before and did not know could exist).

The building seems modern in comparison with the former spaceship that is the Matachin Tower, but we must take care when using words such as “modern.” More on that in a while…

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Series: Rereading Gene Wolfe

Stories Within Stories: 8 Instances of SFF Hyper-Worldbuilding

Authors build elaborate worlds through everything from carefully-chosen foods to amateur map-making to breathtakingly detailed wikis, their attention to detail a signal that these are worlds worthy of getting lost in. Often these are specific moments in the text, or a helpful hand-drawn atlas bookending the epic adventure, or a bonus feature that’s just a click away. But some storytellers go the extra mile, embedding worldbuilding details into their texts as a sort of “found footage”—fictional childhood stories, comic books, or newspaper clippings that appear as excerpts throughout the larger work, and sometimes spill out into the real world.

Crack a book, cross a bridge, hop a spaceship, and check out these eight stories that are wonderfully extra when it comes to worldbuilding, creating children’s stories that can hold up to the classics, spinning off into picture books drawn from your nightmares, or even spawning entirely new real-world book franchises. You know, like you do.

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The People of Middle-earth: One Ring to Rule Them All

In this biweekly series, we’re exploring the evolution of both major and minor figures in Tolkien’s legendarium, tracing the transformations of these characters through drafts and early manuscripts through to the finished work. This week’s installment looks at the textual history and political significance of the One Ring, Sauron’s greatest treasure.

In September 1963, Tolkien drafted yet another of a number of letters responding to questions about Frodo’s “failure” at the Cracks of Doom. It’s easy to imagine that he was rather exasperated. Few, it seemed, had really understood the impossibility of Frodo’s situation in those last, crucial moments: “the pressure of the Ring would reach its maximum,” Tolkien explained; it was “impossible, I should have said, for any one to resist, certainly after long possession, months of increasing torment, and when starved and exhausted” (Letters 326). Even had someone of unmatched power, like Gandalf, claimed the Ring, there would have been no real victory, for “the Ring and all its works would have endured. It would have been the master in the end” (332).

It would have been the master.

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Jeffrey Dean Morgan Will Play the Lead in an Adaptation of James Herbert’s Shrine

Jeffrey Dean Morgan, whom you might know as Negan from The Walking Dead, the dad of the Winchester boys on Supernatural, or the guy who is not Javier Bardem, is taking on yet another horror project ⁠— this time on the big screen. Deadline has reported that he’ll be playing the lead in an upcoming adaptation of James Herbert’s 1983 horror novel Shrine, to be written and directed by Evan Spiliotopoulos.

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Five Wheel of Time Fan Podcasts to Plug Into

It’s pretty safe to say there’s no shortage of fandom content for Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series, The Wheel of Time. Trust us, we’ve seen it all—art, fanfic, games, t-shirts, jewelry, cosplay, and everything else you could possibly think of. Like any good fandom, Wheel of Time fans put in the work to show just how much they love their favorite series. And that includes spending hours poring over the details, working through themes both large and small, finding holes in the plot to poke at, and going over every little decision their favorite character has made.

Podcasting offers the perfect way for fans to share their enthusiasm in a more engaging way—listening to a great literary podcast feels like hanging out with your friends and talking about your favorite books, exploring the stories we hold so dear. And as the television adaptation draws nearer, more and more readers are finding and rediscovering The Wheel of Time. Good news is, with these podcasts, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re new to the series, coming back to it after a long time away, or maybe re-reading it for the millionth time, there’s a podcast to connect to. Here are five great discussion-style podcasts for you to get your geek on with.

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Hou Yi and Red Riding Hood Experience a Lifetime of Adventure in Burning Roses, a New Book by S.L. Huang

Tor.com Publishing is excited to announce Burning Roses, a new novella from S.L. Huang, coming in 2020.

When Rosa (aka Red Riding Hood) and Hou Yi the Archer join forces to stop the deadly sunbirds from ravaging the countryside, their quest will take the two women, now blessed and burdened with the hindsight of middle age, into a reckoning of sacrifices made and mistakes mourned, of choices and family and the quest for immortality.

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Oathbringer Reread: Chapter Ninety-Seven

Our heroes in Shadesmar have made it to the lighthouse, seeking a means of travel across the ocean of beads. But what will they find there? Giant toads with strangely good comedic timing? Fashionable clothing? Corrupted spren? Strange visions of the future? Or all of the above? Tune in to this week’s reread and find out!

[“Wait! Wait, I have questions!”]

Series: Oathbringer Reread

Turning the Cyclopean Up to 11: Fiona Maeve Geist’s “Red Stars / White Snow / Black Metal”

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 Fiona Maeve Geist’s “Red Stars/White Snow/Black Metal,” first published in Robert S. Wilson’s Ashes and Entropy anthology in 2018. Spoilers ahead, but it’s worth reading on your own.

[“So Kelsey grasps the thread and finds herself across the Atlantic…”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

Redemption, Remaking, and Revolution: Natalie C. Parker’s Steel Tide

Caledonia Styx returns knife-quick and bright as ever in Steel Tide, the thrilling, propulsive second installment of the Seafire trilogy. The novel picks up right where the first left off, Caledonia’s seafaring sisterhood pitted against the drugged and manipulated Bullet army, which is led by the vicious Aric Athair. A failed plot to destroy Aric and the murderous Bullet, Lir, leaves Caledonia horribly wounded and, worse, separated from her crew. She wakes to find herself recuperating in a camp of unlikely allies: former Bullets.

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QUILTBAG+ Speculative Classics: A, A′ [A, A Prime] by Moto Hagio, Translated by Rachel Thorn

Sometimes I start reading an older book, and it turns out to have QUILTBAG+ themes that no one mentioned. Over a year into doing the QUILTBAG+ Speculative Classics reviews column—a lot of spreadsheeting and gathering books later—this still keeps on happening. I’m starting to wonder if it will ever be possible to run out of eligible work to review. And I don’t mean “this book has a possibly queer couple in the background” moments—I just came across a science fiction graphic novel with an intersex main character (!), originally published in 1984 and translated to English in 1997.

A, A′ [also written as A, A Prime] is a one-volume manga by Moto Hagio, one of the groundbreaking classic creators of shōjo manga, Japanese comics aimed at teenage girls. The book has three long chapters, which were originally published in serialized form both in Japanese and in English. I will discuss the loosely connected chapters separately.

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Reread — Section 31: Abyss

Section 31: Abyss
Written by David Weddle and Jeffrey Lang
Publication Date: July 2001
Timeline: April 2376, three months after “What You Leave Behind”; two weeks after Avatar, Book One and Two

Progress: As Section 31: Abyss opens, something large—very large—is headed to DS9. This turns out to be Nog’s plan from Avatar, Book Two to solve the problem of the station’s power needs since the loss of its core: with the assistance of nine other Federation ships, Nog successfully transports Empok Nor, by warp, into the orbit of DS9. What a fantastic opening set piece.

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