Five Fascinating Magical Beings From the Original Charmed

If you’ve seen any of the Charmed reboot (which is due to return for a third season in January), you’ll know that while it has some similarities to its predecessor, the setting is different from the original Charmed, which ran from 1998-2006. One of the things I loved most about the original Charmed were the mermaids, dwarves, and fairies from the magical community that the witchy sisters—Piper, Phoebe, Prue and, later, Paige—often encountered and even helped.

Charmed’s magical community is filled with all kinds of creatures from myths and legends who live in magical realms that included the Enchanted Forest, Enchanted Kingdom, and Fairy Tales Fortress. These settings are wonderful worldbuilding details—after all, where else would they live? Certainly not in P3! But as cool as these places are, they’re not as memorable as some of the original show’s standout characters: figures drawn from folklore, Greek mythology, Old Norse legends, and so much more. Here’s a look at five such magical beings and their pre-Charmed origins!

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We’re Offering a Free Download of Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children Series This Week! Today: Come Tumbling Down

Across the Green Grass Fields, the newest novella in Seanan McGuire’s acclaimed Wayward Children series, arrives on January 12th.

But before that happens, this week Tordotcom Publishing and the Ebook Club are offering free downloads of ALL FIVE PREVIOUS NOVELLAS! One per day. Every day a doorway!

Today…the last volume before Across the Green Grass Fields hits!

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Celebrating International Speculative Fiction: Lavie Tidhar on The Best of World SF Anthology

I spent the past decade trying to pitch a simple idea to publishers: a mass market anthology of international speculative fiction for the bookstore shelf. The responses varied from, well, no response at all to an under-an-hour rejection (that one still hurts).

The idea is simple and, to me, both logical and necessary. I am of that new generation of writers who grew up in a language other than English, and who decided at some point that our way in is to write in this peculiar, second language. Somehow, we reasoned, against all odds and common sense, we’ll break through into that rarefied Anglophone world, maybe even make a go of it. After all, how hard could English be?

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6 Comforting SFF Podcasts

Your relationship to podcasts may be different now than it was a year ago. As 2020 draws to a close, you might feel stuck in place—but podcasts are still there to transport you.

If you’re struggling with what to listen to, here’s a short list to get you started: a mix of fiction and nonfiction podcasts, some unmistakably SFF and others a degree separated from the genre yet still connected by your favorite writers and poets lending their voices as well as their words. One was created for this particular moment, while others take on new meaning in our current context. Plug in, close your eyes, and let these SFF creators speak, read, and/or sing to you. We’re in this together.

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HBO Shares a First Look at the Dragons in Game of Thrones Spin-Off House of the Dragon

In a presentation blog post today, WarnerMedia’s CEO revealed two concept images from the forthcoming Game of Thrones spin-off House of the Dragon.

HBO greenlit the series back in October 2019 for a 10 episode first season, and A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin followed up, saying that some of the stories from his “nonfiction” book Fire & Blood will figure into the story somehow. (More on that below.) The series is expected to debut in 2022, and the only other concrete news that we’ve gotten is that Paddy Considine has been cast as King Viserys I. (There are also rumors that Doctor Who’s Matt Smith is being considered for a role in the series.)

So just who might we be seeing in House of the Dragon?

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Five Stories Driven by a Disregard for Basic Safety

Nothing delivers unrequested adventures quite like normalization of deviance. It works like this:

Suppose one has a safety protocol. Suppose one decides that this protocol is onerous for some reason: it consumes extra time, it requires extra effort, or worst of all, it costs money. So, one shaves a step here and a precaution there. And nothing happens! Clearly, the whole shebang was not necessary in the first place. Clearly the thing to do here is to keep skipping steps until circumstances line up wrong and you’re looking at a trip to the emergency room or a burning pile of expensive rubble.

The end results of normalization of deviance are undesirable in reality. But…the process is oh-so-irresistible for authors looking for ways to drop their characters neck-deep in a pig lagoon. Take these five examples:

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Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “The Killing Game, Part I”

“The Killing Game”
Written by Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Directed by David Livingston
Season 4, Episode 18
Production episode 186
Original air date: March 4, 1998
Stardate: unknown

Captain’s log. The Hirogen have attacked and boarded Voyager, subduing the entire crew. Rather than hunt them, as is traditional, the alpha, Karr, has imprisoned much of the crew, and used others to participate in holodeck scenarios designed to learn more about their prey.

[Would it be wrong to stay in your arms this way under the starry sky?]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Tolkien’s Dark Lords: Sauron, Dark Magic, and Middle-earth’s Enduring “Melkor-ingredient”

In this scattershot series, we’ll be delving “too greedily and too deep,” prying gems out of the glorious rough that is the extended legendarium of Tolkien’s world. This includes drawing on The Lord of the Rings itself, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, The Children of Húrin, and the History of Middle-earth (or HoMe) books.

Whenever the works of J.R.R. Tolkien come up, my immediate nerd-impulse is to ask: “Hold up! Are we talking about just The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit?” Followed by, “Are we talking about the films or the books (since they’re quite a different thing)—or somehow both?” But what I’m really getting at is, can we discuss the legendarium at large? Because that would rope in The Silmarillion and the History of Middle-earth books. And that’s even more fun.

If it’s just The Hobbit and LotR, then we’re only talking about the Third Age and the War of the Ring (with a possible glance back at the Second Age since that’s when the Rings of Power were made). In which case Sauron is the de facto face of evil on Middle-earth and that’s all that really matters. But if we can talk about the big picture—the entire world—in which Middle-earth is merely center stage, then I can go right to the top shelf for the real bad guy, Morgoth ( Melkor), and the stain he left behind. Gross.

Sauron. Morgoth. Just who are these clowns, who’s actually worse, and why?

[‘Other evils there are that may come; for Sauron is himself but a servant or emissary.’]

Pirates in Space: Henry Martyn by L. Neil Smith

In this bi-weekly series reviewing classic science fiction and fantasy books, Alan Brown looks at the front lines and frontiers of the field; books about soldiers and spacers, scientists and engineers, explorers and adventurers. Stories full of what Shakespeare used to refer to as “alarums and excursions”: battles, chases, clashes, and the stuff of excitement.

This summer, I was reading a lot of pirate stories, and I had a hankering to read even more. So I looked on my shelves, and this book immediately caught my eye. I remembered it as being full of adventure, but also a brutal tale that does not shy away from the evils that breed and inform piracy. The author, L. Neil Smith, had long been known as a writer of adventures filled with libertarian political philosophy, but in this case, it’s the adventure that’s front and center.

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