Interpreting Middle-earth With Artist Donato Giancola

When I visited Venice last year, I was overcome by the quality and quantity of the art filling the great halls of the famous Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace). The works of Italian Renaissance painters like Paolo Veronese and Tintoretto surround you and nearly overwhelm you in that place. Saints, kings, soldiers, philosophers, angels, and gods throng the walls, ceilings, and frescoes. But you know, if someone could sneak in an armload of paintings by artist Donato Giancola—paintings like “Gandalf at Rivendell,” “Boromir in the Court of the Fountain,” or “The Tower of Cirith Ungol”—and scatter them around the palace, I bet it would take a good long while for some snooty art historian to notice and complain.

Hell, I probably wouldn’t double-take, either, because those paintings would be perfectly at home there among the masters. I suppose if you put up enough of Donato’s masterpieces in the Louvre or the Met, maybe tourists would eventually wonder why Satan looks an awful lot like a Balrog or ask who all those stressed-out, grey-robed, pipe-smoking old men are, and hey, what’s that blonde lady doing with a sword and, whoa, is she facing off against a headless, mace-wielding black knight who’s just been unhorsed from some kind of pterosaur? What Greco-Roman myth is that even from?!

Personally, I was sold on Donato Giancola’s work the moment I first saw his illustrious and mesmerizingly expansive “Beren and Lúthien in the Court of Thingol and Melian.” I later contacted him to ask if I could include some of his art in The Silmarillion Primer. Not only was he cool with it, he turned out to be a surprisingly down-to-earth fellow, and it was only a matter of time before I roped him in for an interview. Good timing, because he’s got a great new book out, too.

[Read more]

Read an Excerpt From Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Spare Man

Tesla Crane, a brilliant inventor and an heiress, is on her honeymoon on an interplanetary space liner, cruising between the Moon and Mars.

We’re thrilled to share an excerpt from science fiction mystery The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal, publishing with Tor Books on October 11th. Read the first chapter on the Tor/Forge blog, and check out the second chapter below!

[Read more]

Five of the Best SFF Anthologies Featuring Reprinted Stories

Recently there has been some discussion as to whether reprint anthologies should have the same standing as fiction anthologies made up of entirely original stories. The argument seems to hinge on the notion that only the original acquisition requires editorial insight. However, consider this: reprint anthologies can and have served to document the rise of genres heretofore unnoticed. They can provide a historical perspective that editors in the present moment may not recognize or appreciate. Seeing worth in specific works is a valuable skill, but so is recognizing their value in a larger historical context.

Perhaps some examples are in order.

[Read more]

You Can Now Watch a Bonus Episode of The Sandman

In an unusual but entirely welcome move, Netflix just handed us more Sandman. The ten-episode series premiered in full—or so we thought!—two weeks ago, on August 5th. But today, the streamer dropped a two-part, hour-long, hybrid animation/live-action bonus episode that adapts two stories from the Dream Country arc of the comics: “A Dream of a Thousand Cats” and “Calliope.”

Also, a lot of people lent their voices to the animated adaptation of “Cats.”

[Read more]

Five Brilliant Books of Aussie Spec Fic

I grew up watching Doctor Who, Star Wars, and reading Spec Fic. Anything I could get my hands on, if it had a dragon on the cover or a spaceship, I was there. Which back in those days (the Eighties) meant books from the UK or the US. When I discovered that there were people writing Spec Fic in Australia, it blew my mind. It made me think that maybe I could have a crack at it as well.

Australian Spec Fic was extremely hard to find growing up in the Eighties, but these days it’s everywhere, and it’s weird and wild and wonderful. Here are five of my favourites, old and new.

[Read more]

Oil Says Bye-Bye To Matthew Fox (And The World) in Last Light Trailer

What if all the oil in the world suddenly stopped working? That’s the premise of Peacock’s Last Light, and unsurprisingly, the sudden collapse of oil as an energy source throws the world into chaos. In the series’ first trailer, we see how one intrepid family (which includes actor Matthew Fox of Lost fame as the father) deals with the fallout.

[Read more]

Tatiana Maslany Has “A Normal Amount of Rage” in She-Hulk’s Mostly Charming Premiere

Hello, and welcome to this meeting of the Tatiana Maslany Appreciation Society! I’ll be your host as we once again ponder a question that has troubled many a member in the wake of Orphan Black’s 2017 finale: Will this incredibly talented actor ever again get a role that’s worthy of her skills?

After the first episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, the jury is still out. Maslany is great, but can a Marvel series keep up with her?

[Read more]

Who’s Telling the Truth? Uncovering History in Nghi Vo’s When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain

When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain is the second of the cleric Chih’s adventures in the Singing Hills novellas by Nghi Vo. Though less than two hundred pages long, this novella is packed with depth when it comes to insights into culture and history of both the world of the Singing Hills and our world. In Chih’s previous adventure, The Empress of Salt and Fortune, Chih encounters an old lady named Rabbit who tells her about the recently deceased empress In-yo, who she served for many years, as Chih asks her about old objects they find around her house. As Rabbit’s story unfolds, Chih discovers a queer tale of resistance unknown to any previous official accounts of In-yo, a history that could destabilize the empire of Ahn if it were written down.

We start off When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain with Chih at the mercy of three tiger sisters who threaten to kill them and their traveling companions if their account of Scholar Dieu and and the tiger Ho Thi Thao is not captivating enough. When the tiger sisters find that Chih’s version of the story does not line up with the version they know, even though the ending of both versions is the same—that is, Scholar Dieu and Ho Thi Thao end up living happily ever after (Vo 58)—Chih tells them the story how it has been to told to them: “long after [Dieu and Ho Thi Thao] were both dead, through a traveling actor who told it to a literate friend.”

Similarly, when it comes to history, oftentimes historians are working from second or thirdhand accounts of what happened, and sometimes the first written accounts appear many years or even centuries after an event has happened. How reliable are the sources we have, and what do the differences between contradictory stories reveal about history in both the fictional world of Ahn and the real world? To tackle these questions and shine light on what constitutes historical truth, let’s examine a couple real world examples with parallels to Tiger: the question of whether the Medieval Frankish king Charles the Bald was bald in life, and the hidden stories of the Chinese survivors of the Titanic.

[Read more]

Who’s The Fairest of Them All? Diane Hoh’s The Accident and D.E. Athkins’ Mirror, Mirror 

Mirrors in the horror genre can be pretty terrifying and not just in a “yikes, bad hair day” kind of way. They can plunge us into the realm of the uncanny where what we see is simultaneously recognizable and unfamiliar. They can act as thin spots between realities, fluid and permeable when they’re supposed to be solid and reliable. They can show us things that are meant to remain invisible, reflections of people or things that shouldn’t be there, that aren’t there in “real life,” like a figure just over the shoulder of our reflection or a different face lurking just beneath our own. In Diane Hoh’s The Accident (1991) and D.E. Athkins’ Mirror, Mirror (1992), mirrors are central to the horrors encountered by their protagonists, ranging from past trauma to the price of beauty. 

[Read more]

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.