Unexpected Connections and Strange Experiments: Paul Tremblay’s Growing Things

Paul Tremblay’s fiction gets inside your head—sometimes literally: his novel A Head Full of Ghosts is about what may or may not be a demonic possession, and The Cabin at the End of the World centers around a home invasion by a quartet of people who may be menacing invaders, or who may be on a desperate mission to prevent the apocalypse. Tremblay’s fiction pulls off the difficult task of making the ambiguous scary: rather than show you a monster or demon, he creates the barest hint of one, offers an equally compelling mundane explanation, and allows the reader to grapple with which one is more terrifying in its implications.

His latest book is a story collection, Growing Things. In its range and assortment of techniques, it’s Tremblay’s most ambitious book; it’s also a work that abounds with references to his other novels, although prior knowledge of them is not required to make sense of these. (With perhaps one exception, which we’ll get to in a moment.) Given the range showcased here, it may not be quite as successful as some of his other books—The Cabin at the End of the World was, for me, one of the most unsettling novels I’ve read in years—but it’s still got plenty of kick.

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The Making of Alien Sweepstakes!

Want to know the complete story of how Alien was made, featuring new interviews with Ridley Scott and other production crew, and including many rarely-seen photos and illustrations from the Fox archives? The Making of Alien is a beautifully made hardcover coffee table book celebrates the upcoming 40th anniversary of Alien – and we want to send you a copy!

In 1979 a movie legend was born, as Twentieth Century-Fox and director Ridley Scott unleashed Alien – and gave audiences around the world the scare of their lives.

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Why Haven’t You Played Final Fantasy XII Yet?

Although I would very much like to barrel forward with my assertion that Final Fantasy XII is the best Final Fantasy ever made, I am obliged to begin with caveats.

I have not played any of the games in the franchise prior to Final Fantasy X, unless you count the Final Fantasy VII spin-off, Dirge of Cerberus—which you should not. This means that I cannot definitively say that XII is the ultimate iteration of the franchise.

Furthermore, I have not played any of the Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) Final Fantasies. I have three good reasons for this. The first is that my old internet connectivity situation didn’t allow for the extravagance of playing online. The second is that my bank balance didn’t allow for the extravagance of monthly subscription fees. The third is that playing MMOs involve interacting with strangers on the internet for fun. Hard pass.

My last caveat is that people are entitled to have differing opinions and criteria by which they judge the merits of a game.

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Rereading The Ruin of Kings: Chapters 48 and 49

Sooooo the intro to my previous post is now a tad ironic. In related news, getting floodwater out of your car stinks. Literally.

But fear not! No mere water-logged weekend could keep me from your eyes, my lovelies. Behold, a RROK, just for you!

This blog series will be covering The Ruin of Kings, the first novel of a five-book series by Jenn Lyons. Previous entries can be found here in the series index.

Today’s post will be covering Chapter 48, “Family Dinner”, and Chapter 49, “Critical Lessons.” Please note that from this point forward, these posts will likely contain spoilers for the entire novel, so it’s recommended that you read the whole thing first before continuing on.

Got that? Great! Click on for the rest!

[seriously y’all floodwater is dank]

Series: The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

To Encourage Reach Exceeding Grasp: This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Two far-flung future societies—called Garden and the Agency, respectively—toe through timelines seeding potential, nudging some lives forward and decimating others, with the ultimate goal of preserving their own existence as the inevitable outcome of human culture. As elite agents for their opposing sides, Red and Blue bite at each other’s heels across time and space through dying worlds, long cons, strange pasts and stranger futures. One chance outreach between them, forbidden but irresistible, forges a connection neither could’ve anticipated. Impossible letters wait through centuries for discovery as the pair of them communicate about their goals, their missions, their shared distastes and pleasures—taboo informational liaisons that lead to far more.

One the one hand, This Is How You Lose the Time War is about that titular war: the protagonists are agents undertaking missions to stabilize (or destroy) certain strands in time to benefit their own potential future. On the other, the novella isn’t about the war at all as more than an object lesson, a conceit, the unending and reason-less conflict that consumes generations, centuries, now and forever. And in place of a story about that bigger-than-big conflict, about winning or losing, El-Mohtar and Gladstone weave a romance through letters.

[A review.]

Series: Queering SFF

Culture or Madness? How Jack Vance’s Worldbuilding Redefined “Adventure”

Author Jack Vance was such a driven world-creator that I’m beginning to suspect it was less of a talent and more of a compulsion. For a timely example of Vance’s relentless societal construction, take the Planet of Adventure quartet of novels, the middle two books of which are celebrating their fiftieth anniversary this year. The books have already been summarized quite well on this site, but I’ll give you the quick version: Space explorer Adam Reith arrives on the planet Tschai, and discovers that four alien races already call it home. The reptilian Chasch arrived thousands of years ago, followed by their enemies, the pantherlike Dirdir and the hulking amphibious Wankh. There’s also a mysterious race called the Pnume who are indigenous to Tschai. And there are humans—lots of them.

The Dirdir, it turns out, gathered up some neolithic humans when they visited earth tens of thousands of years ago, and have been breeding their descendants into a servant race. The Chasch and the Wankh have joined in, as have the Pnume, creating another quartet of exotic races: the Chaschmen, the Dirdirmen, the Wankhmen, and the Pnumekin. Then there are the various humans who live in the towns and wildernesses of Tsachi who have no alien affiliation, and who have created their own cultures in the shadows of the aliens’ cities.

If you’re keeping score, that’s over half a dozen distinct cultures; when you start reading the books, you soon find even more, as Reith encounters wildly varying societies of humans struggling to survive on the strange planet, some with elaborate customs and cities, others still operating at a caveman level.

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Read Joe Abercrombie’s Introduction to The Folio Society Edition of A Game of Thrones

When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die…

A publishing phenomenon; the biggest TV series in the world; a book that revolutionised a genre. A Game of Thrones is also, above and beyond all these things, a uniquely addictive piece of literature, claiming legions of fans and winning vast critical acclaim, and now The Folio Society presents the ultimate illustrated collector’s edition, with art by Jonathan Burton and a special introduction by fantasy author Joe Abercrombie.

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Download a Free Ebook of The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley Before July 20, 2019!

The emperor of Annur is dead, slain by enemies unknown. His daughter and two sons, scattered across the world, do what they must to stay alive and unmask the assassins. But each of them also has a life-path on which their father set them, destinies entangled with both ancient enemies and inscrutable gods.

Each month, the Tor.com eBook Club gives away one (or two, or five…) free sci-fi/fantasy eBook to club subscribers. For July 2019, the eBook Club pick is The Emperor’s Blades, the first volume of Brian Staveley’s fantasy trilogy “The Chronicles of Unhewn Throne”!

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Reading the Wheel of Time: Hammers, Balefire and Persuasion in Robert Jordan’s The Dragon Reborn (Part 21)

Hello dear readers and welcome back to week 21 of the read of The Dragon Reborn. This week the strands of the wheel are drawing our protagonists ever closer to the Heart of the Stone and the climax of the long-building drama of The Dragon Reborn. I’ve been noticing that, somehow, this book seems slower than the previous two, although I can’t quite put my finger on why. It feels, though, that there have been fewer side quests and stand-alone adventures for everyone—more focus has been put on learning information, conversations, and world building than on, say, getting lost in Shadar Logoth or mirror worlds. I’m not sure if it would feel as slow if I was reading straight through without stopping every few paragraphs, but doing things this way, it certainly does.

We get a nice little reprieve this week as Perrin goes back to smithing, at least for a day. It’s like the calm before the storm, as it’s followed up by Moiraine’s revelation that the forsaken Be’lal is in Tear and Liandrin and the others catch up to Nynaeve.

One note about last week’s post: I forgot a page! My recap ended with Thom and Mat returning to The White Crescent for sleep, but I had forgotten (and not indicated in my notes, apparently) that there was a bit more to the end of Chapter 49. So the first little bit of today’s recap will be finishing that up, before we head into Chapter 50 and 51.

[So much in Tear looked odd that it was a relief to walk into the smithy.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

io9 Reveals the First Look at the New Star Wars Book Thrawn: Treason

Publishing this month, Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn: Treason is the third installment in the Star Wars: Thrawn series, and takes place before the battle for Lothal’s liberation, as depicted in the series finale of Star Wars: Rebels. And io9 has a first look at the book. Some initial details ahead!

Not only does General Admiral Thrawn find his TIE Defender project on hold in favor of Director Krennic’s future Death Star plans (as depicted in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), but an unexpected run-in with his former protégé Commander Eli Vanto redirects Thrawn’s attentions back towards his people, the Chiss. Essentially, Thrawn finds his loyalties being tested and split once more.

So, what exactly has Thrawn been up to in the events leading up to Thrawn: Treason?

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Heartless: Andre Norton’s Dread Companion

It’s been a while since I remembered any elements of a Norton novel in this reread, but Dread Companion definitely rang some bells. I remembered the names of the children, Oomark and Bartare, and the weird landscape of geometrical shapes in which the protagonist finds herself. I also recognized the scary hairy beast-man when he appeared, though I didn’t recall much of who he was or how he got there.

What I had forgotten, or maybe just didn’t notice, was how dark and ultimately heartless the book is.

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Gods of Jade and Shadow Sweepstakes!

The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in a dark, one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore. Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is full of magic and myth – and we want to send you a copy!

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own. Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room.

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Read an Excerpt from The Gossamer Mage

Only in Tananen do people worship a single deity: the Deathless Goddess. Only in this small, forbidden realm are there those haunted by words of no language known to woman or man. The words are Her Gift, and they summon magic.

Mage scribes learn to write Her words as intentions: spells to make beasts or plants, designed to any purpose. If an intention is flawed, what the mage creates is a gossamer: a magical creature as wild and free as it is costly for the mage. For Her Gift comes at a steep price. Each successful intention ages a mage until they dare no more. But her magic demands to be used; the Deathless Goddess will take her fee, and mages will die.

To end this terrible toll, the greatest mage in Tananen vows to find and destroy Her. He has yet to learn She is all that protects Tananen from what waits outside. And all that keeps magic alive…

The Goassamer Mage, a new fantasy epic from Julie E. Czerneda, is available August 6th from DAW.

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