Where the Stars Are Strange: A First Look at Amazon’s Middle-earth

Details about Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings-based show have been few and far between since it was first announced in November of 2017, but recently they’ve picked up the pace…a little bit. That includes establishing an official Facebook page and Twitter account—even though we’ll probably still have to wait until 2020 to see production get visibly underway. And now they’ve thrown down a map for us to pore over…

Dropping information in such dribs and drabs, it’s almost like the folks at Amazon know what they’re doing. In this cyber-age of information, every little crumb they let fall can be obsessed over and talked about endlessly by rabid fans (and critics), allowing anticipation (and apprehension) to grow apace. So we might as well humor them—we’re all nerds here, right?

[“I have crossed many mountains and many rivers…”]

Russian Doll Reminds Us That We Can’t Help Others Until We Dismantle Our Own Demons

Our cultural approach to the subject of mental health has gotten somewhat healthier over the years. Where discussions of depression, anxiety, therapy, and medication used to be taboo, we are now encouraged (in some spheres, at least) to speak more openly, to connect and reassure each other that no one is alone in these struggles. Celebrities are praised for speaking about mental health in award acceptance speeches; some companies offer mental health days in addition to their sick day policies; scientists are learning that most human beings go through dips and valleys in their mental well being at some point in their lives. As this becomes more common and accepted, it only stands to reason that our stories should reflect this seismic shift—and new Netflix standout Russian Doll aspires to do just that with startling clarity.

[Spoilers for Russian Doll season one.]

[Read more]

Five Books That Deal with What Comes after World-Changing Shenanigans

I love a good adventure. I love the stories about epic destinies and quests, of those happy few standing against all odds in the face of pure evil and then going home to live in the new world that they have wrought. But sometimes I wonder: What happens next?

Perhaps it’s the fanficcer in me, but I am always curious about how our heroes live on in this world that they have fixed. It’s not like every problem would disappear, after all, and as has been said: We need to handle our financial situation. I love the idea of The After, and I love reading books that examine how these new worlds are stabilized after the foundations are laid.

[Read more]

Series: Five Books About…

Witchlands Series Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a set of the first four installments of Susan Dennard’s Witchlands series! This prize pack includes hardcovers of TruthwitchWindwitchSightwitch, and the latest adventure Bloodwitch—available now from Tor Teen!

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery,” a magical skill that sets them apart from others. In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women, a Truthwitch and a Threadwitch linked by a fiercely loyal friendship, know all too well.

[Read on for more about the book, and comment in the post to enter!]

Reading The Wheel of Time: Building Rand’s Identity through the Heron-Marked Blade

It came as quite a surprise to me when Rand’s heron-marked sword was destroyed during the climactic battle with Ba’alzamon at the end of The Great Hunt. The sword has been something of a talisman for Rand ever since he left Emond’s Field, and in a remarkably complex way. On the one hand, Rand imbued this gift from Tam with his deep desire and need to believe that Tam was his true father—for him, carrying the sword was proof and symbol of their bond as father and son. But the heron-marked blade had a very different significance to those around Rand, drawing often-unwanted attention to him and marking him as a dangerous man and a blade master. The fact that Rand is neither of these things caused a certain level of danger for him, but then again, it’s not so much that he isn’t a blade master—it’s that he isn’t a blade master yet. And as for being dangerous… well, a stranger might be deceived by the looks of a young shepherd (unless they know the Aiel, anyway) but those close to Rand certainly know better.

And then of course there is the verse in the Prophecies of the Dragon, which alludes to a completely different purpose to the mark of the heron, one that will identify Rand as the Dragon Reborn. These, of course, are the two scars burned into Rand’s hand by wielding the sword while channeling.

In this way, the heron imagery, and indeed the sword itself, at one time separate Rand from his true identity as the Dragon Reborn and at the same time irrevocably tie him to it.

[Once the heron, to set his path. Twice the heron, to name him true.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

From Science to Spirit: Equus, Story of the Horse Explores the Animal’s Connection to Humans

The first half of the PBS show Nature’s two-hour documentary on the horse focuses mostly on the science: evolution, biology, psychology, and animal behavior. It prominently features a controversial method of training. Part Two, “Chasing the Wind,” continues with some of the science, particularly genetics, as well as history and the host’s own discipline, anthropology. It also touches on an aspect of the horse that is just about inescapable: its bond with humans and its long history as a sacred animal.

[Read more]

Star Trek Has the Best Credit Sequences in All of SciFi Television

I am an easy mark for a good credits sequence. “Good” doesn’t necessarily mean long, either—Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s exuberant twenty-second sprint tells you everything you need to know, while (in the UK, at least) Law and Order’s Rob Dougan-scored doom grimly trudges toward the same end. Then there’s the dozens of different versions of the Doctor Who theme, not the least of which is the Twelfth Doctor’s epic rock guitar take on his own theme music. Much like the Nerf Herder intro to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it’s a perfect summation of the show, and (also like the Buffy theme) it’s a strong contender for best TV theme music, and credit sequence, ever.

But Star Trek is the all-time champion. Across all six live action iterations of the show, the credits and theme music have done an amazing job of encapsulating the shows’ spirit and scope.

[Excitement! Adventure!]

8 Forgotten SFF Classics of the ’70s and ’80s

I’m a nerd from a family of nerds, and I grew up reading a lot of science fiction. Specifically, I grew up reading a lot of my mother’s science fiction collection, which included a lot of brilliant writers, some of whose works are not as well-known today as they once were.

Since this is a pity, I’d like to introduce you to some of the books that affected me strongly growing up, and influenced me as a reader—and probably also as a writer.

[Read more]

Reading Children of Blood and Bone: Chapters 1-8

Welcome to the first installment of our reread of Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone. This week, we’re focusing on chapters 1-8—in which Zélie gets herself into all kinds of trouble, Princess Amari commits high treason, Prince Inan learns the full scope of his father’s violence, and Tzain gets dragged into the middle of a mess he didn’t start and doesn’t want to finish.

[Read more]

There’s a Fine Line Between Theatre and Fantasy

As some readers might be aware, my other job involves the theatre. So believe me when I say that nothing provides unexpected drama quite like live theatre and its lesser cousins, galas and proms. Any event in which a collection of disparate egos come together to provide grand spectacle (in spite of participants who may be unfamiliar with the material, not to mention trifling differences over goals and ethics, as well as sporadic technical mishaps) has the potential to transform a mundane effort into something legendary…for better or worse.

[Read more]

Read “A Dead Djinn in Cairo”, A Supernatural Alternate History from P. Djeli Clark

Egypt, 1912. In an alternate Cairo infused with the otherworldly, the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities investigate disturbances between the mortal and the (possibly) divine. What starts off as an odd suicide case for Special Investigator Fatma el-Sha’arawi leads her through the city’s underbelly as she encounters rampaging ghouls, saucy assassins, clockwork angels, and a plot that could unravel time itself.

[Read more]

Announcing the 2018 BSFA Award Finalists

The British Science Fiction Association has announced the finalists for the BSFA Awards for works published in 2018. The Awards will be presented at the 70th Eastercon, in London, April 19-22. Jeannette Ng will be our host for the ceremony. Congratulations to all the finalists!

Best Novel

  • Europe at Dawn by Dave Hutchinson (Solaris)
  • Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
  • Before Mars by Emma Newman  (Ace Books)
  • Embers of War by Gareth L Powell (Titan Books)
  • Rosewater by Tade Thompson (Orbit)

[Read more]

Six Standalone Fantasy Novels that Stand Out

There’s a certain satisfaction in picking up a fantasy novel and knowing it’s a standalone. For one, you won’t have to wait a year, or two, or even five before you find out what happens next. In that time you’ve invariably forgotten much of the first, or previous book anyway, so a lot of the time you have to reread to get up to speed. Also, you won’t end up picking up an interesting looking fantasy novel from the shelves, starting it, then realizing it’s actually book two of a trilogy, or book four in a ten book series.

With Blood of the Four, we wanted to build a big, epic world full of fascinating characters, and tell a story that comes to a definite end. The reader will hopefully end up satisfied, the story threads come together. Of course, that’s not to say there aren’t other stories that could be told about that vast world of Quandis…

We were partly inspired by other great standalone fantasy novels we’ve read, but because we read so broadly in so many different genres, when we discussed making this list, we also wanted to take a broad definition of fantasy. Here are just a small selection of our favorite fantastical epics, with a few words about why we think they work so well. We came up with the list together, then split them up, three a piece.

[Read more]

Setting the Stakes in Storytelling

Everyone turns up for a car chase at the end of the world, and the cars won’t start.

Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men is a movie of exquisite direction, and I’m madly in love with the action scenes. Violence in Cuarón’s movie is sudden and unemphasized: the camera doesn’t flinch, the sound mixing doesn’t dwell, and that gives the action a terrible power. Children of Men knows a subtle secret.

[Read more]

Half-Assed in a Half-Shell — Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

While 1993’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III didn’t do well enough to warrant a fourth film, the heroes in a half-shell continued unabated in various forms throughout the rest of the 1990s and the 2000s, both in comic books and on screen. The most successful was the animated series, which ran from 1987-1996. That was followed by a live-action series called Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation in 1997, which only lasted a season; a 2007 animated sequel to the three live-action films called TMNT; and two new animated series, one from 2003-2009 and another from 2012-2017 (another would debut in 2018). Plus the Turtles continued to be published in comics from Mirage, as well as Image and more recently IDW.

And then in 2014, a new film was made.

[“Remember that thing you used to say when we were kids?” “You made me promise never to say it again.” “Forget about that! Still got one in the tank?” “I’ve been holding it in for years!”]

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

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.