5 SFF Road Trip Stories to Fuel Your Wanderlust

To my mind, a road trip is not an exodus or a flight from danger. It can start with one of those things but only transcends to “road trip” status when the danger is over, and the participants are looking for the next thing. Road trips are exploratory and often recreational, more ‘let’s see what’s around the next bend’ and less ‘if we don’t keep moving, we’ll have to eat grandpa.’

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The Pain, Humanity, and Ascension of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid”

Hans Christian Andersen’s earliest years were marked by extreme poverty. His parents did not live together until nine months after his birth, leading Andersen and others to wonder if his father of record—also named Hans Andersen, a shoemaker—was indeed his father. Highly dubious legends later insisted that Andersen was the illegitimate scion of noble, even royal blood, but if so, noble and royal money was distinctly absent in those early years. His maternal grandmother died in a poorhouse, as did his mother. His (probable) paternal grandfather became mentally ill later in life, and also landed in a poorhouse, leaving his wife and children in desperate financial straits. A cousin landed in jail for begging.

What saved Andersen’s soul, then and later, were fairy tales about magical things like little mermaids.

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“This is the story Anequs told”: To Shape a Dragon’s Breath by Moniquill Blackgoose

Anequs’ people, the Masquisit, have lived on their island long enough to have known the world before the Anglish arrived, survived the diseases and theft and massacres the colonizers brought with them, and the industrialization that now creeps at the edges of what’s left of their lands. Ostensibly, they are under Anglish rule, but unlike their neighbors on nearby islands, they’ve so far been left mostly to their own devices. That all ends when Anequs encounters a dragon egg left behind by a forlorn Nampeshiwe. When the egg hatches and Kasaqua is born, Anequs bonds with her and becomes Nampeshiweisit. And with that, her entire life changes in an instant.

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Barbie Is Basically Neo in the New Trailer for Barbie

“Do you guys ever think about dying?”

Listen, if I had ever made a list of things I did not expect Barbie to say, this question would probably be on it. But Barbie is a Greta Gerwig movie, and there are a lot of unexpected things in it. Including the fact that Barbie (Margot Robbie) gets Birkenstock-pilled into discovering the real world.

Yeah, I said it: Barbie is basically Neo.

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Do You Know Who Illustrated This Classic Wrinkle in Time Cover?

If you are of a certain age, you remember it well: The creepy, haunting, downright iconic—and totally weird—cover of the 1976 Dell edition of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.

But while many of us remember being scared by (and/or fascinated with) this image, there’s an unexpected mystery behind it: No one seems to know who the artist is.

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How Do I Talk About Mrs. Davis?

I’ve been trying to think about how to talk about Mrs. Davis.

Do I go super personal, here in the privacy of the internet? Do I talk about the religion puns? Do I put Father Ziegler’s arc in conversation with Hudson Hawk? Do I talk about the Sisters of the Coin, and put that arc in conversation with the oeuvre of Dan Brown?

I don’t think I want to do any of that. What is that but showing off—”Oh I’ve seen this other thing, here’s how it reminded me of this new thing.” Instead I’ll say that it’s thrilling to watch something that’s isn’t afraid of big ideas and gleeful irreverence.

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Place and Tome: On Two Kinds of Unforgettable Reading Experiences

A few months back, The New York Times asked Leigh Bardugo what books got her into fantasy as a genre. She named a handful of books, adding,”I think any time you can remember where you were when you read a book for the first time (Dune—tiny motel room on a miserable family trip, A Swiftly Tilting Planet on the white shag carpet in my grandparents’ back room) that means something.”

And it does, doesn’t it? Over the months I’ve been writing this column, I’ve mentioned more than one book about which I remember the specifics of my first reading experience: trying not to audibly cry on a Greyhound bus as I finished Where the Red Fern Grows; reading Lavinia on a train, the sound of wheels on tracks locking in with Le Guin’s prose; wading through Wanderers on a (pre-pandemic) plane, increasingly creeped out by the people too close to me. 

Would I remember these books the same way if I had read them elsewhere? What alchemy makes these memories so clear? What is it that makes some stories coalesce so clearly in our minds, like postcards you can flip back through?

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Five Books That Help Me Face Anxiety and Feel Better About the World

For me, reading is meditation—a flow-inducing escape from whatever woes the workday brings me, and a welcome reprieve from any worries that might be flitting around my mind.

More than 90 percent of the time, I find that escape in the form of a many-volume epic sci-fi or fantasy story. Once in a while, though, I need something more subtle and nuanced—a book or a story that speaks to my need for calm and comfort and allows—even encourages—my mind to take a break from my anxieties and find a new perspective.

It takes a special kind of book by a special kind of author to ease my mind in exactly the right way, and today I’m happy to share five of my favorites with you. These books and stories are all at the top of my list whenever I need to take a break, reflect, and focus on what’s important in life…

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Announcing the Shortlist for the 2023 Ignyte Awards

The finalists for the 2023 Ignyte Awards have been announced! These awards “seek to celebrate the vibrancy and diversity of the current and future landscape of science fiction, fantasy and horror by recognizing incredible feats in storytelling and outstanding efforts towards inclusivity within the genre.”

The shortlist is selected by twenty BIPOC+ voters, including FIYAHCON staff and previous winners of the awards; this year, a dozen teen readers were also involved in the middle grade and young adult categories. All are invited to vote for the winners here. Voting closes at 11:59 pm EDT on June 30th.

Winners will be announced at a ceremony in October.

Congratulations to the finalists!

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Transformative Disruption: Molly Tanzer’s “Go, Go, Go, Said the Byakee”

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 Molly Tanzer’s “Go, Go, Go, Said the Byakee,” first published in Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R Stiles’s Future Lovecraft in 2011. You may be able to find it more easily in Nick Mamatas’s Wonder and Glory Forever anthology. Spoilers ahead!

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Series: Reading the Weird

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