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.

[Read more]

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?

[Read more]

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.

[Read more]

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

Eight Works That Blend Mystery and Detective Fiction With Fantasy and Horror

I recently happened across a Twitter conversation in which an author asserted, with the unwavering confidence of a person about to denounce the heliocentric model of the Solar System, that mystery/detective/police or legal procedurals are antithetical to horror/fantasy. This is a claim for which I am grateful. My quest for inspiration is endless and nothing serves me quite as well as a bar so low it requires a trench.

The assertion is unsurprisingly related to a debate back in the 1950s about whether science fiction mysteries were possible, given that detectives could easily solve the mystery with futuristic technology in a manner the reader could not duplicate. As one might expect from writers, a number of them took this as a challenge. Thus, a small flurry of science fiction mysteries appeared in the 1950s. Perhaps most remarkable was Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man, which chose as its setting one in which getting away with murder should be impossible, before depicting how one might go about doing just that in a society filled with telepaths.

In this case, the easiest disproof seems to be to provide at least one example of the eight combinations of mystery, detective, police, and legal procedurals with fantasy and horror.

[Read more]

Tor Publishing Group to Publish a New Entry in Christopher Paolini’s Fractalverse

In September of 2020, publishing phenomenon Christopher Paolini made his adult science fiction debut with the instant New York Times and USA Today bestseller To Sleep in a Sea of Stars. Now, Tor Publishing Group is proud to announce that they will be publishing Fractal Noise, the next standalone entry in Paolini’s Fractalverse series. Fractal Noise will be edited by Editorial Director William Hinton.

[Read more]

Dragon Lion Bee People: Martha Wells’ Raksura

Martha Wells’ Three Worlds are a bravura achievement. They’re a single planet populated by literally hundreds of different species, many of them sentient, and most more or less able to coexist—with a few notable exceptions. The “worlds” themselves are the three realms which people and animals inhabit: sea, land, air. Various species move back and forth by various means, but it’s generally clear which of the realms they primarily belong to.

The central species, the one around which Wells’ novels and stories revolve, is the Raksura. Originally they were two species, a winged predator and an arboreal omnivore; by magic and genetic engineering, they combined into one. By the time of the books, they’re thoroughly amalgamated into colonies or courts, ruled by queens.

[Read more]

Atlantis and Wakanda Clash in the Trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

There are many ways to start a week off right, and one of them is with this trailer. Building on July’s emotional teaser, the latest look at director Ryan Coogler’s next movie is full of glimpses of a new conflict—this one between the people of Wakanda, who are still mourning the loss of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), and the people of Atlantis and their leader, half-Atlantean Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner (Tenoch Huerta).

[Read more]

Guillermo del Toro Guides Us Through Eight Horrifying Tales in the Trailer for Cabinet of Curiosities

We’ve finally got a full blown trailer for Netflix’s Cabinet of Curiosities, an anthology series created and curated by Guillermo del Toro that looks suitably scary—no surprise given that other scary talent such as Babadook director Jennifer Kent and Hannibal director Vincenzo Natali are involved in creating eight terrifying tales.

[Read more]

Dark Plans Are Revealed in The Rings of Power’s “New Life”

This week in episode six of The Rings of Power, Arondir and Bronwyn fight back against the orcs, and we learn the truth about Adar and what the evil blade is for. Also, the Númenóreans spend a lot of time in transit. Which is fine, Mordor wasn’t built in a day…

[Humility has saved entire kingdoms that the proud have all but led to ruin.]

Our Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.