The Unappreciated Genius of John Carpenter

John Carpenter is one of the greatest American filmmakers. Ever. Period. The end.

There—I’ll just come out swinging. See, I toyed with several different ways of saying what I mean to say. Initially, I started this piece by talking about the names commonly associated with American filmmaking auteurs: Scorsese, Kubrick, and Paul Thomas Anderson to name a few. The point I was trying to make was how, when the idea of great American filmmakers is discussed, John Carpenter is generally left out of the conversation—and it’s a total injustice.

So, let’s take a spin down retrospective lane and look at the movies that make Carpenter one of the greats. Because I’ll tell you what: From 1976 until 1986, Carpenter crafted a streak of films that are arguably as good as any other ten-year period from even the most celebrated and acclaimed directors.

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Pastoral Apocalypse: Leigh Brackett’s The Long Tomorrow

When the 1956 Hugo nominees were rediscovered, I realised I’d never read Leigh Brackett’s The Long Tomorrow. I’d read other Brackett and not been very impressed, and never picked this one up. But since it was a Hugo nominee, and since I trust the Hugo nominators to pick the best five books of the year, most of the time, and since it was the first fiction nominee by a woman, and easily and inexpensively available as an e-book, I grabbed it. And as soon as I started reading, it grabbed me. It’s great. I read it in one sitting this afternoon. I couldn’t put it down and it has given me plenty to think about. For a fifty-two-year-old book, what more can you ask? I still think the voters were right to give the award to Double Star, but I might have voted this ahead of The End of Eternity.

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“Ringwraith” Remains Best Halloween Costume

As we hurtle toward Halloween, or, as we like to call it, THE GREATEST DAY OF THE YEAR, we were reminded of what may be the greatest Halloween costume in recent memory. All you need is a Nazgûl outfit, a black horse, and an ability to ask after the whereabout of “Baggins” and the “Shire” in a creepy voice. The original costume was created by thespooklock (who has since deleted their Tumblr presence) and as you can see, it’s terrifying. Especially when viewed through that fabulous German Expressionist angle.

Click through for more Nazgûlery!

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Gardens at the End of the World: John Langan’s “The Shallows”

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

Today we’re looking at John Langan’s “The Shallows,” first published in 2010 in Cthulhu’s Reign. Spoilers ahead.

[“The vast rectangle that occupied the space where his neighbor’s green-sided house had stood…”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

Tor Mini Books Prize Pack Sweepstakes!

Tor Books has just released a handful of small-format paper-over-board hardcovers selected from their distant and recent backlist, plus a new-to-book-form story collection by Charlie Jane Anders and the first standalone edition of Brandon Sanderson’s Edgedancer—and we want to send you a set of all six books!

Before the success of her debut SF-and-fantasy novel All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders was a rising star in SF and fantasy short fiction. Six Months, Three Days, Five Others collects—for the first time in print—six of her quirky, wry, engaging best.

This miniature hardcover of the Orson Scott Card classic and worldwide bestselling novel Ender’s Game makes an excellent gift for anyone’s science fiction library.

Since its debut in 1990, The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan has captivated millions of readers around the globe with its scope, originality, and compelling characters. From the Two Rivers is a special edition that contains Part 1 of The Eye of the World.

There is a secret history of the world—a history in which an alien virus struck the Earth in the aftermath of World War II, endowing a handful of survivors with extraordinary powers. Some turned their talents to the service of humanity. Others used their powers for evil. Wild Cards is their story.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, a special gift edition of Edgedancer, a short novel of the Stormlight Archive (previously published in Arcanum Unbounded).

Perfect for an entry-level sci-fi reader and the ideal addition to a veteran fan’s collection, John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War takes audiences on a heart-stopping adventure into the far corners of the universe.

Comment in the post to enter!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States and D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec). To enter, comment on this post beginning at 1:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on October 18th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on October 22nd. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor:, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

Barbary Station

Adda and Iridian are newly minted engineers, but aren’t able to find any work in a solar system ruined by economic collapse after an interplanetary war. Desperate for employment, they hijack a colony ship and plan to join a famed pirate crew living in luxury at Barbary Station, an abandoned shipbreaking station in deep space.

But when they arrive there, nothing is as expected. The pirates aren’t living in luxury—they’re hiding in a makeshift base welded onto the station’s exterior hull. The artificial intelligence controlling the station’s security system has gone mad, trying to kill all station residents and shooting down any ship that attempts to leave—so there’s no way out.

Adda and Iridian have one chance to earn a place on the pirate crew: destroy the artificial intelligence. The last engineer who went up against the AI met an untimely end, and the pirates are taking bets on how the newcomers will die. But Adda and Iridian plan to beat the odds. There’s a glorious future in piracy… if only they can survive long enough.

Barbary Station, the debut novel from R.E. Stearns, is available October 31st from Saga Press.

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Come Listen To Infomocracy‘s Musical Genre of The Future, Gronkytonk!

What does the term “gronkytonk” make you think of? Perhaps rowdy country western music, say, the Blues Brothers trying their best to fit in at Bob’s Country Bunker? You’re only slightly off—gronkytonk is the preferred music in Malka Older’s Infomocracy, and while Older was inspired by a video of Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski expressing himself through the medium of dance during a Superbowl Parade, a group of musicians has now taken the phrase and run with it, creating a dazzling musical genre of the future, today!

[Click through for fantastic songs!]

The Great Stephen King Reread Final Analysis

A lot of people make a lot of assumptions about Stephen King: he writes about writers too much; he sets all his stories in Maine; he writes horror. Now I’m giving you the tools you need to argue with anyone about any of these propositions. I read every single book published by Stephen King under his own name, so I leave out three of the Bachman books, books that are collaborations (no Talisman, no Sleeping Beauties, no Black House, no Gwendy’s Button Box), and I leave out the Dark Tower books (all eight of them). Also, I didn’t read Eyes of the Dragon because I forgot. So that means I didn’t read sixteen of his books.

Nevertheless, all told, I read 38 novels, 15 novellas, 111 short stories, and 5 poems by Stephen King. And here’s how they break down by the numbers.

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Series: The Great Stephen King Reread

5 Things That Obi-Wan Kenobi Should Have Told Luke Skywalker (Instead of LIES)

Calling yourself “Old Ben” is fine. Saying mean things about someone’s uncle is rude yet necessary. Pretending that you don’t remember your BBF’s old copilot droid is crappy, but saves time. Does that excuse all the outright lies that Obi-Wan Kenobi tells to Luke Skywalker? Maybe if those lies were truly essential to getting the kid to bring down the Empire. But they’re not, so most of those lies (and omissions) are pretty egregious.

Here are a few things that Obi-Wan could have said to avoid the most ridiculous ones. Because let’s face it, most of Ben’s lies are just kind of… ill-conceived.

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Download a Free eBook of Lovecraftian Saga Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys

From now to the end of October 20th, Publishing is offering a free ebook download of Ruthanna Emrys’ Winter Tide when you sign up for their monthly newsletter.

Winter Tide is the first book in Emrys’ Lovecraftian saga about the last survivors of Innsmouth, which continues with Deep Roots in summer 2018.

This offer is available worldwide from 12 PM EST on October 17th to 12 PM EST on October 20th.

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Meet the Valar! (And the Foundations of Middle-earth)

In Which We Take A Roll Call of the Valar and Their Maiar Compatriots, and In Which Melkor Rearranges the Furniture

The Valaquenta—the “Account of the Valar”—is a sort of cast list for the earliest days of the Valar in the newly minted universe of Eä, and also an introduction to another group: the Maiar. Although there’s no real action there, there is some delectable stage-setting and real estate talk. Then we’ll start right into the Quenta Silmarillion, the “Tale of the Silmarils.” Its first chapter, “Of the Beginning of Days,” describes the earliest conflicts with Melkor, which involve some impressively large (if glaring) floor lamps, followed by some cool arboreal nightlights, and how the face of the world is changed forever.

[Scatter cloud and darkness, and read on.]

Series: The Silmarillion Primer

Listen to Steal the Stars Episode 12: “All That Sky”

Steal the Stars is the story of Dakota Prentiss and Matt Salem, two government employees guarding the biggest secret in the world: a crashed UFO. Despite being forbidden to fraternize, Dak and Matt fall in love and decide to escape to a better life on the wings of an incredibly dangerous plan: they’re going to steal the alien body they’ve been guarding and sell the secret of its existence.

And we’re down to the final three episodes!

If you haven’t yet listened to Tor Labs’ sci-fi noir audio drama written by Mac Rogers and produced by Gideon Media, you can read our non-spoiler review and catch up on the first eleven episodes: “Warm Bodies,” “Three Dogs,” “Turndown Service,” “Power Through,” “Lifers,” “900 Microns,” “Altered Voices,” “The Walls of the Maze,” “The Real Stuff,” “Protocol,” and “Checkpoints.” Then click through for this week’s installment, in which Dak and Matt’s escape turns desperate.

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Season of the Witch: 5 Horror Reads for Fall

Fall comes at you pretty fast. If you don’t stop and smell the pumpkin spice, you could miss it…

Summer’s end is always a bit of a downer, but for some of us, falling leaves and harvest moons herald the most wonderful time of the year. Autumn is usually seen as the perfect time for new horror releases. Whether that’s actually true or just an outdated marketing ploy is arguable; I read excellent horror year-round. Still, I’d rather be inundated with good books than gourd-infused lattes, or, Cthulhu forgive, Christmas sales.

This fall sees a grab-bag of debut fiction, anxiety-inducing anthologies, and a love letter to horror that, actually, were you an enterprising and early bookworm, would make a pretty perfect gift for the horror fan on your list, be it for Halloween or some other, less fun holiday.

[Doubles, dolls, and lots of Satanic Panic…]