More Hungry Houses: Oliver Onions’ “The Beckoning Fair One”

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 Oliver Onions’ “The Beckoning Fair One,” first published in 1911 in his Widdershins collection. Spoilers ahead.

[“I don’t say I don’t love my work—when it’s done.”]

Series: Reading the Weird

Queer Romance and Political Intrigue in Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell

Prince Kiem and Count Jainan have been tasked with a vital political project by the Emperor: to marry one another. Cementing the union between the Iskat Empire and its vassal planet Thea has become more pressing by the day. Not only is the Resolution judging the worthiness of their coalition, but the former imperial representative to Thea—Taam, Jainan’s late partner—appears to have been murdered. With protests breaking out on his home planet and a spouse to mourn, the last thing Jainan needs is to become a murder suspect. He knows his role as a political pawn well. And marrying the charming and handsome Kiem is sure to fix the emerging cracks in his—and the empire’s—foundation.

Queer romance, space opera, and political intrigue combine in Everina Maxwell’s 2021 novel, Winter’s Orbit for an immersive and sparkling adventure. Whether you’re here for the Star Trek fanfic vibes or the clever worldbuilding, Maxwell is sure to deliver—but it’s the combination of the two that makes Winter’s Orbit such a delight.

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C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, and The Magician’s Nephew

Before we dive in this week, make sure to check out last week’s article by author Ferrett Steinmetz, who asks the question, “Is there such a thing as a necessary prequel?” Some great thoughts about prequels and, of course, focusing on The Magician’s Nephew as an example of a prequel that gets it right!

In 1958, C.S. Lewis recorded a series of radio interviews about love. These would go on to become the basis of his 1960 book, The Four Loves. The Narnia series were all in print by this time, so I’m not going to pretend here that The Four Loves was in any way in the back of Lewis’s mind as he wrote The Magician’s Nephew. However, what is clear is that The Magician’s Nephew is also intended as a sort of “tour” through the world of love as well. It’s not surprising that some of Lewis’s core insights and thoughts about love exist in both books (in fact, as we’ll see when we get to Perelandra and again in ‘Til We Have Faces, some of these themes are touchstones he returns to over and over again in his work).

So, I thought it would be interesting to use Lewis’s later thoughts as a framework to explore what he’s up to in this one. Being Lewis, of course he’s going to use ancient Greek concepts of love as the basis for his philosophical experiments…

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Series: The Great C.S. Lewis Reread

Five Fascinating Twists on Cosmic Horror

Forty years ago (on Halloween), American game company Chaosium released the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game, which was inspired by and based on H. P. Lovecraft et al’s tales of Cosmic Horror.

Now in its seventh edition, Call of Cthulhu is the second most popular roleplaying game on Roll20. It reportedly dominates the roleplaying market in Japan. That’s interesting, because unlike most RPGs, Call of Cthulhu (or CoC for short) is set in a universe where humans are not top dog, where there are vast, incomprehensible entities who refrain from snuffing us out mainly because they’ve never noticed us, where First Contact is often Last Contact. Characters in CoC generally spend the adventure or campaign coming to grips with how out of their depth they are—before going mad. If they are very lucky, they’re eaten first.

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Rogue A.I.s and Pharma Tycoons in S.B. Divya’s Machinehood

S.B. Divya’s Machinehood brims with equally familiar and foreign concepts—predatory mega-corporations, and public performativity, and the fear of rogue AI are widespread parts of our present and so much of our near future; at the same time, Divya offers an earnest look at one person’s path to radical change, and perhaps the biggest fiction of all: humanity’s ability to accept the need for change. So much of its narrative journey hinges on its reader’s own biases around ambient Islamophobia and American exceptionalism, almost to the point where digesting the novel’s first few acts feels like taking in a bizarro Tom Clancy storyline.

In Divya’s future, the world relies on WAIs (weak artificial intelligence), public tip jars that function like existential Patreons, smart self-configuring material called “blox,” and a massive mass-produced pill industry to stay mentally and physiologically on par with robots. Everyone has a personal agent—a WAI implant that functions as a 24/7 networked concierge; Welga’s is named Por Qué, which she got when she was just seventeen. We’re introduced to protagonist Olga “Welga” Ramirez as a private security guard (or “shield”) with a decorated military past, but she’s more interested in good coffee, slow food, and carving out a stable existence with her partner, Connor. Naturally, this doesn’t last for long—it turns out that Welga has to save the world.

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Wesley Chu’s Forthcoming War Arts Saga Series Optioned for TV

Wesley Chu’s upcoming martial arts fantasy series War Arts Saga isn’t set to come out for another year, but already, it’s drumming up interest from Hollywood.

Deadline reports that Original Film (the outfit behind The Boys), and Sony Pictures Television have optioned the novels for television, with Altered Carbon/Jessica Jones/Westworld/Stranger Things/Wheel of Time director Uta Briesewitz set to direct.

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Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Gravity”

Written by Jimmy Diggs and Nick Sagan & Bryan Fuller
Directed by Terry Windell
Season 5, Episode 13
Production episode 205
Original air date: February 3, 1999
Stardate: 52438.9

Captain’s log. We flash back to Tuvok’s adolescence on Vulcan, where we find out that he developed a crush on an alien woman at his school, and was therefore kicked out of school and sent by his parents to see a Vulcan Master to train him in how to master his emotions.

[First day in town, and I’ve already been mugged…]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Hot Young Astronauts Do What They Want in the Trailer for Voyagers

In space, nobody can hear your orgy.

Naked space hijinks and matching tank tops are only part of the plot of Voyagers, the latest film from Limitless director Neil Burger. This trailer looks like one part Another Life, one part Nightflyers, and one part that scene from X2 where the one kid is watching nature programming. We’re just animals! Get it?

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