Reading The Wheel of Time: Women Make Their Own Choices in Robert Jordan’s The Fires of Heaven (Part 32)

Welcome, welcome to part 32 of Reading The Wheel of Time. We’re really getting close to the end of the book now, covering Chapters 52 and 53 of The Fires of Heaven this week and boy oh boy am I having a lot of emotions about it. I’m sure you all know why.

Before we get started I’d just like to thank you all for your patience after we didn’t go up at the usual time on Tuesday! I needed a bit longer for this week, and unlike Moiraine, I was able to take it.

I have to say, this is one of those weeks where it was really difficult to recap without using far too many quotes. This is the best, tightest writing I’ve seen from Jordan so far, and every exchange is laden with as much meaning as the spaces between the words in Moiraine’s letter. I tried to keep down the amount of quotations I included, but it was not easy! And I have so much to say about this one! But I’ll try not to get ahead of myself.

[There are always choices, Rand al’Thor. You have a choice, and I have one.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Could Be Worse… We Guess: T. Kingfisher’s The Hollow Places, Part 8

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 15-16 of T. Kingfisher’s The Hollow Places, first published in 2020. Spoilers ahead!

[“Maybe it’s the willows. Maybe they got their roots into you and they’re dragging you back.”]

Series: Reading the Weird

Body, Books, Beauty: The Membranes by Chi Ta-Wei

Momo is the most celebrated dermal care technician in the T City undersea dome, with a curated list of clients and an intimate workspace she calls Salon Canary. However, after a journalist client nudges her to do a public interview, Momo’s estranged mother contacts her again. She asks to meet for the first time in two decades—the first time since Momo left for boarding school. The possibility of reuniting with her mother provokes a cascade of complicated memories and feelings, which Momo frames through questions about the nature of her attachments, her memories, and even the flesh of her own body.

First published in Taiwan in 1995, The Membranes is a classic of queer speculative fiction in Chinese—one that is, with this agile translation from Ari Larissa Heinrich, accessible to an English-language readership for the first time. As part of Columbia University Press’s “Modern Chinese Literature from Taiwan” series, this edition of the novel also comes with an excellent afterword titled “Promiscuous Literacy: Taipei Punk and the Queer Future of The Membranes.” The short essay conversationally explores the time and place that Chi Ta-Wei was writing from, an explosion of artistic and cultural development in mid-90’s Taiwan after the end of martial law—and reflects on what it’s like to read the book now, twenty-five years later.

[A review.]

Series: Queering SFF

A Striking Debut: The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid

The Wolf and the Woodsman is Ava Reid’s debut novel. This fantasy draws its inspiration from the early medieval history of Hungary: the name of the land where the story is set, Régország, is a pair of Hungarian words that could be translated as “long-ago country.” It draws, too, from the history of Jewish people in Hungary. It would seem to fit comfortably into the recent tradition of Eastern European fantasy, a tradition that has its most popular and most iconic examples to date in Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and Spinning Silver, though other examples range from Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale to Rena Rossner’s Sisters of the Winter Wood and Ursula Vernon’s (writing as T. Kingfisher) The Raven and the Reindeer. The Wolf and the Woodsman is fiercer and more viscerally bloody than Novik’s work: an impressive debut.

Even if its climactic battle seems to arrive practically out of nowhere.

[Read more]

5 Thrilling SFF Books to Pump You Up

Our bodies are our own. We can mend, bend, and build them how we want. Personally, for me, I love a good workout and exercise session. It brings me into my body and allows me to move in ways I don’t normally get to. Plus, the endorphin boost is nice after long hours in front of a screen or at the crux of a book.

Even though I routinely exercise, the motivation isn’t so easy to come by. That’s why I tend to partner my training with someone else’s. And as a book nerd, that someone else is usually a fictional character from some page I crossed. It’s been helpful while spending time on my bike to read or listen through grander than life adventures of someone training, like me but not me. So, from me to you, here are some great books to help keep your motivation up while you hit the gym, trail, or whatever other method you use to exercise.

[Read more]

Series: Five Books About…

Let’s Show Some Love for the Ten Best Dads in Superhero TV and Movies

In real life, loving and supportive fathers run the gamut from fun-loving and goofy to serious and insightful, stay-at-home to daily commuters, biological to chosen, cis to trans, happy-go-lucky to dour and moody.

But in superhero stories, dads tend to fall into one of three categories: emotionally distant, actually evil, or dead. Thor’s father Odin and Iron Man’s father Howard Stark both hide their emotions from their children. Batgirl’s father Commissioner Gordon is too busy cleaning up Gotham to notice that his daughter is Batgirl. The respective fathers of Invincible Mark Grayson, all of the Runaways, and Gamora and Nebula either reveal their evil plans in an unwelcome surprise or taunt their kids with their twisted philosophies. The fathers of the three most iconic superheroes, Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man? They’re all dead.

So it’s pretty exciting when a superhero story not only gives us dads who are alive and not evil but are actually pretty good at being dads. Bucking the trend, some superdads are present for their kids, supportive, and emotionally available.

[Read more]

11 Modern Fantasies Based in Classic Mythology

Who doesn’t love a good myth? Retellings of ancient legends are wonderful ways to bring stories with long histories to new audiences or eras. Authors can reinterpret classic tropes or familiar heroes, bringing different aspects of their personalities to vivid, sparkling life. Below, I’ve highlighted some of the most exciting myth retellings that will be hitting shelves soon, as well as some recent favorites.

[Read more]

The Far Side of the Universe

When young Ira arrives for her appointment, she is prepared to be transported to The Gateway to Heaven, 6,070 light years away. But the technicians shepherding her through the process fear there’s more to it than what’s advertised.

“The Far Side of the Universe” was translated from Chinese by Michelle Deeter.
[Read more]

Jennifer Lopez Will Defend Humanity From an Apocalyptic AI in Netflix’s Atlas

Jennifer Lopez has lined up her next movie, just a week after signing an overall deal with Netflix: Atlas, a science fiction thriller in which an artificial intelligence has determined that the best way to eliminate war is to eliminate humanity.

According to Deadline, Lopez will produce the film, which will be helmed by San Andreas / Rampage director Brad Peyton.

[Read more]

Sleeps With Monsters: The Difference Between Survival and Cruelty

Two of the books I want to talk about this time have already been ably discussed on Tor.com by Molly Templeton, whose review of Nicole Kornher-Stace’s Firebreak prompted me to get off my arse and order my copy, and of whose review of E.K. Johnston’s Aetherbound I’d be very jealous, if I were the jealous sort. But I think I can add just a little additional enthusiastic discussion…

[Read more]

Series: Sleeps With Monsters

Okay, Do Superheroes Bone or Not?

If you’ve been avoiding the discourse over on superhero Twitter lately (which I understand and applaud you for), you may have missed the latest dust up around a cut scene in the upcoming third season of the Harley Quinn animated series, and the resultant resurfacing of the age-old question: Do heroes do that?

And before we get bogged down in colorful euphemisms: Yes, we’re talking about sex.

[Read more]

The Gaston Prequel Series Is Real and Coming to Disney+

“What’s next, a prequel about Gaston?” is no longer just a joke about Disney’s current love for creating backstories for its villains. Though the company was “in talks” with Luke Evans and Josh Gad about a Gaston-and-LeFou series over a year ago, it’s only now official: Disney+ has ordered an eight-episode musical series about the two characters from 2017’s live-action Beauty and the Beast.

[Read more]

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