I Don’t Think We’re in Narnia Any More: T. Kingfisher’s The Hollow Places, Part 4

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 Chapters 7-8 of T. Kingfisher’s The Hollow Places, first published in 2020. Spoilers ahead—but we strongly recommend reading along!

[“We’re in the woods between the worlds and we’ve lost track of which one is ours…”]

Series: Reading the Weird

There Once Was a Ship That Was Put to Sea: In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens

Prince Taliesin of Harth has just turned sixteen and is leaving the palace for the first time in years. As a child he and his siblings ran wild through the seaside capital, but once his magic revealed itself, he was shuttered away. Years before, their ancestor used his magic to lay waste to his enemies and competitors. Now, the Kingdom of Harth is in the perilous position of needing to seem penitent for his crimes yet powerful enough to defend their borders. The prince’s magic threatens the stability of peace, so the people were told he was sickly and he was forced to keep the biggest part of himself locked away in shame and self-loathing.

Setting sail on his coming-of-age tour—under the watchful eyes of his naval commander elder brother and a diligent bodyguard—is equal parts thrilling and overwhelming. Those feelings intensify when they come across a derelict ship with a cute yet strange boy chained up inside.

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Read the First Two Chapters From P. Djèlí Clark’s A Master of Djinn

Though Fatma el-Sha’arawi is the youngest woman working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities, she’s certainly not a rookie…

P. Djèlí Clark returns to his popular alternate Cairo universe for his fantasy novel debut, A Master of Djinnavailable May 11th from Tordotcom Publishing. We’re thrilled to share an excerpt below!

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Monsters Don’t Make Good Neighbors in the Trailer for Werewolves Within

There are distinct and delightful Hot Fuzz vibes coming off the trailer for Werewolves Within, director Josh Ruben’s follow-up to last year’s Scare Me. This one is based on the Ubisoft virtual reality game Werewolves Within, though if you’ve played any number of find-the-werewolf-among-the-villagers games, you’ll quickly get the gist: Somebody in a small town is lycanthropically touched, and it’s up to our heroes to figure out who.

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The Power of Adolescent Anger: L’Engle’s Meg Murry and Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching

I’m delighted whenever I come across angry adolescent girls acting as protagonists in science fiction and fantasy, because I’ve found it’s not a long list. There are, of course, angry female villains, angry male heroes, and angry male villains of all ages, but I’ve discovered only a relatively few examples of angry young female heroines.

That’s why the similarities between Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time and Terry Pratchett’s The Wee Free Men are so striking. L’Engle’s Meg Murry and Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching both have younger brothers kidnapped by a malignant force, which hinder the boys from being fully human; they both encounter a trio of older women who guide them into a new worldview; they both shoulder the final burden of defeating their story’s villain; and they both are primarily and positively described as angry.

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The Witcher Will Return This Fall

There’s no exact date, but at least there’s a four-month span: Netflix announced today that The Witcher will return in the fourth quarter, which is financial speak for “fall.”

The second season of the epic fantasy series has been delayed, like so many things, by the pandemic. Last year, it was “the first major TV drama made in the UK” to shut down production due to the coronavirus. In August, the show began filming again, only to have to pause once more when crew members tested positive for the virus. Earlier this month, the show cheerily celebrated the end of filming—and now we have a faint idea when we’ll get to see the product of their efforts.

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Five Upbeat SF Classics Featuring Barely Any Doom!

[Warning: May contain sarcasm.]

Not to take a side in the struggle between Merril et al.’s New Wave and more traditional science fiction and fantasy, but…

One may admire the artistry of the stories in anthologies like England Swings SF, even if one eventually tires of the pessimistic tone taken by such young scamps as Ellison, Spinrad, and Ballard. Why can’t these authors be more like their venerable predecessors? Here are five instances of the sunnily optimistic science fiction that exemplified the genre in the days before the younger set decided to indulge in such gloomy literary prose.

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Sleeps With Monsters: Water Horse by Melissa Scott

Melissa Scott’s career spans, at this point, four decades. Perhaps best known for her Astreiant fantasy novels (initially written with her late partner Lisa A. Barnett, and later alone), she’s also written innovative science fiction, space opera, and tie-in novels for Stargate and gen:Lock. Her most recent original novel, the space opera Finders, came out from small press Candlemark and Gleam: a vivid and lively novel full of character and intrigue.

Now with Water Horse (Candlemark and Gleam, June 2021) Scott returns to fantasy with a self-contained volume of war, weirdness, and people strained to their breaking point by a generations-long war.

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Series: Sleeps With Monsters

The Huntington Awards Debut Octavia E. Butler Fellowship to Alyssa Collins

Last year, the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, which houses the archives of the late Octavia E. Butler, announced that it would be awarding a fellowship to scholars working with her “ideas and issues,” to the tune of $50,000.

Now, the organization has revealed its first recipient of the fellowship: Alyssa Collins, an assistant professor of English Language and Literature and African American Studies at the University of South Carolina.

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“Blood Follows Vein”: Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart

In alternating points of view, Witches Steeped in Gold centers on two antagonistic young women, Alumbrar witch Jazmyne Cariot and Obeah witch Iraya “Ira” Adair. As the only daughter and heir to Aiyca’s matriarchal throne, Jazmyne has been preparing to become doyenne her entire life. Her mother, a cold woman so obsessed with political strategy that she has no room left for relationships, sees Jazmyne not as her child but as a tool to continue her power even after she’s gone. Locked away in a dungeon for the last decade, Ira is the last living heir of the former Obeah rulers of Aiyca, the ones deposed and murdered by Doyenne Cariot. Sent to train as a guard, Ira is constantly foiled in her attempts at resistance.

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Changing While Standing Still: The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers

Contemporary life is a busy thing, full of demands and schedules and deadlines and destinations. The same holds true in Becky Chambers’ Wayfarer universe, where a cadre of sapient species are part of an intergalactic civilization called the Galactic Commons (GC, for short) with its own rules, expectations, and inequities.

It’s natural for those in the GC—just like it’s natural for us humans on Earth—to get lost in the day-to-day of one’s own life and the immediate stressors and concerns that go with it. And it’s equally jarring—as the year that was 2020 has shown all of us—when the routine and freedoms we took for granted get upended.

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