| Science fiction. Fantasy. The universe. And related subjects.

Finding the Cozy Spaces and Fantastical Architecture of SFF

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”

How many of us can recite this line from memory? I admit, I get tripped up in the details, but the first sentence is gold, and the image it conjures up is even better. For me, it’s one part Peter Jackson, one part Rankin/Bass, one part the way I imagined a hobbit-hole before I’d seen any movies. Tidy. Cozy. Warm. Wood-lined. Part of a tree, part of the earth, close to all the things I cared so fiercely about when I was a small kid hearing The Hobbit read aloud for the first time.

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Wrath Becomes Her by Aden Polydoros: Golems vs. Nazis in War-Torn Lithuania

I feel the last few years have seen a flourishing in fantasy novels that explicitly centre the Jewish experience in European history. Or perhaps it’s just that I’m encountering them more in the scattershot sampling of fantasy that I read. Either way, Wrath Becomes Her by Aden Polydoros (The City Beautiful, Bone Weaver) is a book concerned with Jewishness and survival in the face of hostility. It’s also a book that speaks strikingly to queer themes.

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Enough Story to Pull You Under: Curious Tides by Pascale Lacelle

The magic system in Pascale Lacelle’s debut YA novel, Curious Tides, is so perfect, so logical (in a certain kind of magical way), that I’m a little bit shocked I haven’t encountered it before. In Lacelle’s world, people have magical powers that are determined by the phase the moon is in when they’re born. Each phase has a quartet of possible abilities that are shaped by the tides.

The rarest—and wildest—powers of all belong to those born during an eclipse. Many people fear and hate the Eclipse-born, but that’s nothing Emory Ainsleif has to worry about, being a Healer born under the new moon. She’s totally magically unremarkable… apart from the fact that at the end of her freshman year at magic college, she inexplicably survived a secret ritual that killed eight of her classmates.

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Wheels Within Wheels: Max Gladstone’s Last Exit (Part 10)

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 continue Max Gladstone’s Last Exit with Chapters 19-20. The novel was first published in 2022. Spoilers ahead!

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Series: Reading the Weird

The Emissary Speaks: The Autobiography of Benjamin Sisko, Edited by Derek Tyler Attico

I’ve never been bashful about my love of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I’ve used it to talk about the “alien-ness” of various Trek series, looked back at the DS9 young adult novels, and wrote forty-one entries on the DS9 relaunch stories that continued the crew’s adventures well past the series finale. In turn, this led to a discussion of the grand climax of the unified Trek “Litverse” with the Coda trilogy, which featured several key DS9 characters.

While we’ve seen the publication of one DS9 standalone novel—Alex White’s Revenant (2021)—and it’s not impossible that more might surface eventually, the post-Litverse focus has understandably been on supporting recent live-action and animated series, with a number of new novels and audio dramas tying in to Discovery, Picard, Strange New Worlds, and Prodigy. Despite some thoroughly pleasurable outings in these television series, none of them have so far managed to displace DS9 as my personal favorite Trek of all time. 2023 saw the launch of Star Trek: Defiant, a new comic book series issued by IDW featuring DS9 characters, but I wasn’t really expecting new DS9 prose fiction any time soon.

All of which makes The Autobiography of Benjamin Sisko not only somewhat of a surprise but a particular treat. Following the format established in works covering the lives of James T. Kirk, Jean-Luc Picard, Kathryn Janeway, and Mr. Spock, this volume offers Sisko’s reminiscences about pivotal moments in his life—some loud, some quiet—and his general reflections on topics like morality, responsibility, leadership, betrayal, grief, and love.

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A 25-Year-Old X-Files Mystery Was Solved on Twitter in Less Than 24 Hours

Since 1998, many people have had questions about various moments in The X-Files. One of those moments happens in the two-part episode “Dreamland,” from the show’s sixth season. A song plays in a bar scene. Seems straightforward enough to find out what song it is, right?

But no one could identify it. Not by using Shazam, not by asking Reddit, not anywhere. Until, 25 years after the episode aired, Twitter solved the mystery in less than a day.

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Seven SFF Stories Featuring Rebellions Big and Small

I love stories of people taking a stand and fighting back. Growing up in the era of the climate crisis has often made me feel helpless about my capacity to make a difference in the world, so stories of rebellions are reminders that change is possible—and that it doesn’t always have to be on a massive, global scale. Here are some recent SFF short stories featuring rebellions that have inspired me lately, and which I know I’ll be coming back to in moments of hopelessness…

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“I have holes!” — Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania

From August 2017 – January 2020, Keith R.A. DeCandido took a weekly look at every live-action movie based on a superhero comic that had been made to date in the Superhero Movie Rewatch. He’s periodically revisited the feature to look back at new releases, as well as a few he missed the first time through.

Having already broken his trend of never doing sequels, director Peyton Reed was brought back a second time to do a third film starring Paul Rudd as Scott Lang. Like the second film, it was billed as an Ant-Man & The Wasp film, with Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne, fighting alongside Lang’s Ant-Man as the Wasp. But unlike the last two films, this one wouldn’t be a caper film…

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Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

Victoria Schwab Celebrates the Tenth Anniversary of Vicious

By the time I turned 25, I felt thoroughly done with publishing. Not writing—I can’t imagine a life where I don’t scribble down stories for myself—but the business, as far as I was concerned, could go kick rocks. In the four short years since I’d sold my first book, I’d seen that book rapidly go out of print, had a trilogy cancelled two books in, and told I must be the reason my books weren’t selling well enough. It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the lack of in-house support, or the fact that publishing is, even on its best days, an educated guess, and on its worst, a gamble where authors’ careers are the currency, rashly bet, and easily forfeit.

Frustrated and demoralized by my seeming inability to guess what publishers and readers wanted (attempting to write to trend will almost always lead to disappointment, since no one knows what will be selling when the book eventually hits shelves), I was ready to quit.

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