One of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Oxford Houses Has Gone Up for Sale

Attention all budding fantasy novelists! If that 10-volume epic you have percolating in your brain is taking a little longer than you thought, if the ravages of modern life are seriously cramping your creative output, or if you simply need that mythic “room of one’s own,” then boy, do we have the house for you.

The BBC reports that one of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s Oxford homes has gone up for sale, and it can be yours for the paltry sum of 4.575 million. That’s in pounds, by the way, not dollars. With the exchange rate, that’s exactly $5,870,200.80.

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The People of Middle-earth: Yavanna Kementári, Giver of Good Gifts

In this biweekly series, we’re exploring the evolution of both major and minor figures in Tolkien’s legendarium, tracing the transformations of these characters through drafts and early manuscripts through to the finished work. This week’s installment looks at Yavanna Kementári, one of the most powerful of the Valar, known as the Lady of the Wide Earth.

Yavanna is an artist. Among the Valar, most of whom are also artists, she stands out for her compassionate representation of the voiceless, her commitment to peaceful intercession, and her willingness to keep in mind (literally, as we will see) the bodies of even the smallest and most overlooked in Arda. She is called Kementari, Queen of the Earth, and, in earlier drafts, Palurien and Bladorwen, which signifies “the wide earth” or “Mother Earth” (The Lays of Beleriand, hereafter LB, 196). Thus in the cosmology and mythology of Arda she represents the earth goddess, a role which is intimately related to her activity and artistry. She might also be described as a fertility goddess; this role similarly draws together her identities of mother and artist—she is a (pro)creator. She brings forth life.

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“You Used to Be Optimistic”: Philip Pullman’s The Secret Commonwealth

The Secret Commonwealth begins twenty years after the events of La Belle Sauvage and eight years or so after Lyra’s grand adventures in the His Dark Materials trilogy. Lyra is a student now, dedicated to her studies and happy among her friends. Her chief source of trouble is a falling-out with her daemon, Pantalaimon, who has never entirely forgiven her for separating from him at the edge of the world of the dead. And she is no longer able to lie with impunity; “now,” she thinks to herself at one point, “she just lacked inventiveness, or energy, or chutzpah.”

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Read Editor Carmen Maria Machado’s Intro to The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2019

We’re excited to share the introduction to The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2019, written by guest editor Carmen Maria Machado!

This omnivorous selection of stories chosen by series editor John Joseph Adams and World Fantasy Award finalist Machado is a display of the most boundary-pushing, genre-blurring, stylistically singular science fiction and fantasy stories published in the last year. By sending us to alternate universes and chronicling ordinary magic, introducing us to mythical beasts and talking animals, and engaging with a wide spectrum of emotion from tenderness to fear, each of these stories challenge the way we see our place in the cosmos. The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2019 represents a wide range of the most accomplished voices working in science fiction and fantasy, in fiction, today—each story dazzles with ambition, striking prose, and the promise of the other and the unencountered.

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New Horror Imprint Nightfire Announces Come Join Us by the Fire, an Audio Horror Anthology

Nightfire, a new horror imprint that will join Tor, Forge, Tor Teen & Starscape, and Tor.com Publishing as part of Tom Doherty Associates, is thrilled to announce an exclusive audio project in conjunction with Google Play Books, set to go live on October 17.

Come Join Us by the Fire is an audio-only horror anthology of 35 short stories available to download as free individual audiobooks or to call up with a voice command on your Android phone or Google Assistant-enabled smart speakers, like Google Home, via the Google Play Books app. To try it out, just say “Hey Google, read me ‘This Guy’ by Chuck Wendig”—one of the many titles available.

The project is a way to preview the breadth of talent writing in the horror genre today, with contributions from a wide range of bestselling genre luminaries including China Miéville, Chuck Wendig, Richard Kadrey, and Victor LaValle, Shirley Jackson Award winners Paul Tremblay (The Cabin at the End of the World), Priya Sharma (All the Fabulous Beasts), and Sam J. Miller (Blackfish City) Nebula Award winners Brooke Bolander, Alyssa Wong, Kij Johnson and many, many more.

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Oathbringer Reread: Chapter One Hundred and One

Come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me… on a Reacher ship in an ocean of beads on a journey to Celebrant? (It’s a pity not to work in something about the river Styx, or that the song wasn’t done by Journey instead. Oh well.) Here we are on board, in this week’s Oathbringer reread! Adolin does some clever fashion alterations (I’m so proud of him) and begins questioning who he truly is, which can’t possibly bode well for the future… Also, Azure is enigmatic.

[A deal fulfilled, and a bond kept.]

Series: Oathbringer Reread

Dissonance and Myth: Stefan Spjut’s Trolls

The idea of unearthly or folkloric creatures living alongside humanity is one that plenty of writers have embraced over the years. Using that as a starting point, countless authors have told stories that range from the mythic to the comic, from the horror-laden to the sublime. Trolls, the new novel from Stefan Spjut, also makes use of this conceit, but the author takes it to a very different place than most of his peers—somewhere decidedly bleak and disquieting. It doesn’t always click, but when it does it’s bone-chillingly effective.

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Lovecraft’s Faintest Fingerprints: C.M. Eddy Jr.’s and H.P. Lovecraft’s “Ashes”

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading C. M. Eddy, Jr.’s and Lovecraft’s “Ashes,” first published in the March 1924 issue of Weird Tales. Spoilers ahead.

[“It has been your privilege to witness the first successful trial of a preparation that will revolutionize the world.”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

In the Shadow of Our Kin: Ormeshadow by Priya Sharma

A legend in the village of Ormeshadow tells of an orme (Norse for dragon) that fought in a battle against her own kind and fell fast asleep to heal herself. Over centuries, grass grew and homes were built, her body was hidden and her story all but forgotten. Gideon Belman arrives in Ormeshadow at seven years old, carried to his father’s childhood home for reasons he doesn’t yet understand. Slowly, his father reveals to him the story of the orme, and Gideon’s own ancestral ties to her. Faced with the banal cruelty of his new life on the farm, Gideon relies on the orme and confides in her, waiting for the day she’ll finally awake.

Priya Sharma’s new novella Ormeshadow is brooding and subtle, its stark realism set against the lure and power of legend. What might be too heavy in a longer novel is the perfect length here, a window into a life and a sketch of a possibility. It is the perfect autumnal read—moody, atmospheric, and readily paired with a cup of tea and a warm sweater.

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QUILTBAG+ Speculative Classics: The Kin of Ata Are Waiting for You by Dorothy Bryant

In this ongoing survey of QUILTBAG+ Speculative Classics, I want to try to go back to the very firsts—even risking the possibility that those works have not aged well. The Kin of Ata are Waiting for You was, to my knowledge, the first English-language speculative book that featured neopronouns: gender pronouns that are distinct from he, she, or singular they. It is a book that is unique in another respect as well: it was a massive self-publishing success, which was almost entirely unheard of in the 1970s when it first appeared.

The book was originally published under the title The Comforter: A Mystical Fantasy by Evan Press in Berkeley in 1971, then republished by Dorothy Bryant’s own Ata Press, until it was picked up by Random House in 1976. (I could not find out much about Evan Press; this might have been an earlier name for Ata Press as well. Interestingly, Edvige Giunta’s monograph on Italian American women writers points out that Italian American women like Bryant turned to self-publishing early on due to a preexistent cultural tradition.) The book is still in print and seems to have a following; for this review, I read a copy of the 1988 printing.

The novel begins with a detailed murder scene of a naked woman; the murder is committed by the protagonist, an up-and-coming Anglo-American male writer. (From here on, I’ll call him “Protagonist” with a capital P.) The Protagonist attempts to flee from justice, but after a mysterious event, finds himself on an island inhabited by “the kin of Ata”—a calm, quiet people of various races. Here, he experiences an entirely different way of life, and eventually achieves a spiritual awakening. But can he stay there forever?

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The Goddesses Are the Future: The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco

“A demoness is what men call a goddess they cannot control.” So opens The Never Tilting World and the legendary song of the ancestral goddess Inanna, with a call to powerful women and the systems that seek to manipulate that power.

Aeon was once a steadily spinning world, ruled by generations of twin goddesses beholden to a secret, terrible ritual. Until seventeen years ago, when one of the goddesses refused the ritual and caused the Breaking. The planet stopped turning, a Great Abyss splitting the earth into two unsustainable halves: Aranth, a storm-tossed freezing never-night, and a brutal, desert wasteland that houses the Golden City. Now, unbeknownst to each other, two young goddesses and their respective unlikely allies find themselves fighting their way to the Abyss from either side of the planet in an attempt to restore the wreckage of their world.

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