Anthony Doerr’s Cloud Cuckoo Land Is a Book of Wonders

Anthony Doerr’s new novel, Cloud Cuckoo Land, has arrived at last, preceded by every form of publicity and marketing that a Big Five publisher can bring to bear. As befits the first novel in a half a dozen years from a critically acclaimed and bestselling writer, there are full-page newspaper ads, website banners, in-store posters and displays, flyers slipped into Barnes & Noble packages, and announcements from And of course there’s a book tour. Doerr’s novel deserves all the attention and acclaim, and yet it’s somewhat strange to see the promotional campaign after reading this novel, because Cloud Cuckoo Land is a book about the transformative effect of a forgotten book.

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Harley Quinn, Eat the Rich and the Joy of Returning to Comics

I was an avid comic book reader for years… and then I wasn’t. It felt like the same handful of “diverse” characters reenacting the same handful of storylines. Comics publishers were doubling down on keeping or rehiring bad actors. The Big Two were constantly rebooting their characters and jamming in special events that spanned across numerous series, all while delaying trades by months to force people into buying issues or digital.

To put it plainly: I was bored. I figured I’d take a break from comics for a few months and then dive back in. That break turned into two and a half years. What finally pulled me back in? Eat the Rich and Harley Quinn: The Animated Series: The Eat. Bang! Kill. Tour.

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Teen Horror Time Machine: Horror and History on Fear Street

This past summer, Netflix took fans back to Fear Street with a trio of films: Fear Street 1994, Fear Street 1978, and Fear Street 1666. While there are significant differences between the two iterations of Shadyside, both R.L. Stine’s series and these films are deeply invested in the horrors of history and the Gothic tradition of a past that refuses to stay buried.

Leigh Janiak, who directed all three of the Netflix films, has made it clear that her adaptations aim to be true to the spirit of Stine’s books rather than follow any specific narrative from the author’s series, which is ideal for creating new stories for a contemporary audience and amplifying representations that were marginalized, silenced, or absent altogether in the pop culture landscape of 1990s teen horror.

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Reading The Wheel of Time: Custom as Strong as Law in Robert Jordan’s New Spring (Part 9)

Do you all ever do that thing when watching movies or television where you cheer when someone drops the title of the film or episode at a particularly dramatic moment of the plot? No? Just me and my weird friends? Well, I definitely gave a little whoop when I read the opening line of Chapter 15 of New Spring.

The air of Kandor held the sharpness of new spring when Lan returned to the lands where he had always known he would die.

There it is! Did you catch it? Everyone take a shot!

Anyway, this week we’re covering Chapter 15 and 16, in which Lan and Bukama return to the Borderlands and Lan finds out that he’s not going to be able to get back to his private war quite as quickly as he had hoped. Also we learn even more about why Lan’s life is depressing as heck. (A content note to our readers: This post contains discussion of depression, underage sex, and statutory rape.)

[Either way, he had to face Edeyn. The Blight would have been much easier.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Knowledge Is Carnage: Announcing a New Edition of Olivie Blake’s The Atlas Six

Tor Books is proud to announce the acquisition of Olivie Blake’s The Atlas Six, along with two more books in the planned trilogy, by Molly McGhee via Amelia Appel of Triada US Literary Agency. The UK and Commonwealth rights were acquired by Bella Pagan, Publishing Director of Pan Macmillan’s Tor imprint.

Blake self-published this thrilling tale of magicians vying to join a secret society in early 2020, and it went on to receive an explosive reception online, becoming a top seller at online retailers.

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Finding Empowerment in Diaspora Identity: The Last Fallen Star and Lirael

Protagonists who are outsiders are common touchstones in Children’s and Young Adult literature. I’ve always been drawn to such characters, but especially towards those who feel excluded from their communities and grapple with how they see themselves in light of external expectations.  In such stories I can see my own formative experiences, being of Chinese heritage and growing up in Australia as part of the diaspora.

I discovered a particularly powerful example of this narrative when I read children’s fantasy novel The Last Fallen Star by Korean New Zealand author Graci Kim, and saw so much of my own life mirrored in it. The book also reminded me of another speculative novel, one which I’d read as a teenager—Lirael by Garth Nix. Reflecting on the similarities between that book and The Last Fallen Star made me realise that Lirael had resonated with me in a strikingly similar way at the time I’d read it, though I’d originally been unable to articulate precisely why it was so powerful.

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Laura Jean McKay Wins the 2021 Arthur C. Clarke Award

The Arthur C. Clarke Award has announced this year’s winner of the award: debut novelist Laura Jean McKay, for her book The Animals in that Country. This year marks the thirty-fifth year of the award, and according to the award’s director Tom Hunter, her win “repositions the boundaries of science fiction once again, and we’re delighted to welcome her to the genre.”

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Tripping the Light Fantastic in Andre Norton and Sherwood Smith’s Derelict for Trade

After the earnestness of Atlantis Endgame, this entry in the Solar Queen series is quite a lot of fun. Norton’s own solo works in the series feature a somewhat raffish, somewhat beat-up spaceship with a crew of Free Traders and a tendency to fall into the worst kinds of bad luck. “What’s the worst that can happen?” isn’t a rhetorical question for the Queen. Not only does it happen, the crew has to go through complicated contortions to get back out of the mess—and just about every time, they fall right back into a new mess.

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Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Human Error”

“Human Error”
Written by André Bormanis & Kenneth Biller & Brannon Braga
Directed by Allan Kroeker
Season 7, Episode 18
Production episode 264
Original air date: March 7, 2001
Stardate: unknown

Captain’s log. We open with Seven playing the piano. Her hair is down, and her Borg implants are gone. She then goes to a baby shower for Torres, makes a toast and also has a conversation with Janeway about her future. She wants to be issued a uniform and also quarters since she no longer needs to regenerate.

[You’re beautiful when you’re chopping.]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Midnight Mass Offers Up Raw, Unsettling Horror

Mike Flanagan’s latest horror series is just as traumatizing as his adaptations of Haunting of Hill House and Haunting of Bly Manor. Midnight Mass gives us an isolated, inherently spooky setting, a whole town of troubled folks with secrets, some beautiful, twisting monologues, and more ACTING than I’ve seen all year. This series is a raw, sometimes gory, deeply unsettling take on religious horror.

In some ways it’s better than Flanagan’s previous Netflix outings, but even more than Hill House and Bly Manor, it’s a character study being told through horror. Let me begin by saying that Midnight Mass is beautiful and unique, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.  Or, to quote myself from a group text on Friday night: “i’m 40 minutes in on midnight mass and its everything I could ever want.”

Here is some lightly-spoilery blathering about Midnight Mass!

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New Stranger Things Season 4 Trailer Introduces Viewers to the Creel House

Of all the shows that Netflix brought to last weekend’s Tumdum event, none are probably quite as anticipated as the upcoming fourth season of its supernatural series Stranger Things.

It’s been three years since we last saw the kids from Hawkins, Indiana, and in this upcoming season, it looks like we’ll get to see them checking out a new supernatural mystery at an abandoned mansion known as the Creel House.

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Makes Some Puzzling Detours in Its Quest For More Box Office Gold

Before we begin looking at The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and its two sequels, let us pour one out for the Hobbit film series that could have been. After the phenomenal success of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, it was inevitable that a live-action Hobbit movie (or movies) would follow. The studios had to delicately untangle the various film rights for Tolkien’s children’s book, but they must have known it would be worth the effort: a Hobbit movie would almost certainly rake in hundreds of millions, if not billions, at the box office.

When the Hobbit movie was finally announced, it was to be a duology, with Guillermo del Toro as director and Peter Jackson in a producing role. I was excited. I’m not a huge del Toro fan, but he seemed like a good choice for the material, and would allow for the Hobbit movies to both fit the world of Jackson’s Rings movies, and be their own thing. That latter point is key: The Hobbit is a very different book than The Lord of the Rings, in genre, tone, and style, and a director like del Toro would help ensure the movie versions kept that distinction.

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