Chronicling Japanese Folklore: The Ghosts and Monsters of Shigeru Mizuki

Have you ever been walking along and felt the creepy, unsettling feeling that something was watching you? You may have met Betobeto-san, an invisible yōkai, or folklore creature, who follows along behind people on paths and roads, especially at night. To get rid of the creepy feeling, simply step aside and say, “Betobeto-san, please, go on ahead,” and he will politely go on his way.

What we know of Betobeto-san and hundreds of other fantastic creatures of Japan’s folklore tradition, we know largely thanks to the anthropological efforts of historian, biographer and folklorist, Shigeru Mizuki, one of the pillars of Japan’s post-WWII manga boom. A magnificent storyteller, Mizuki recorded, for the first time, hundreds of tales of ghosts and demons from Japan’s endangered rural folklore tradition, and with them one very special tale: his own experience of growing up in Japan in the 1920s through 1940s, when parades of water sprites and sparkling fox spirits gave way to parades of tanks and warships.

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Stephen Colbert’s Latest Tolkien-Off Target Is Lee Pace

It’s no secret that Stephen Colbert is a huge Tolkien nerd, and he’s pulled out his freakily expansive knowledge of lore on his show several times now, to the delight (and slight terror) of guests. James Franco, erstwhile HQ host Scott Rogowsky, and Donna Gosling (mother of Ryan) have all faced off against the comedian in battles of LOTR trivia, with only the last one famously coming out on top.

Now, Colbert has engaged in yet another Tolkien-off, and his latest target is none other than Lee Pace, aka Thranduil, son of Oropher, the Elvenking himself.

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“It’s our mission that doesn’t make sense” — Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Debuting in a 1967 issue of Pilote magazine in France, the “Valérian et Laureline” science fiction adventures written by Pierre Christin and drawn by Jean-Claude Mézières became an immediate hit in Europe. Chronicling the adventures of square-jawed spatio-temporal agent Valérian and his partner Laureline—a French peasant from the 11th century who travels to the future with Valérian—the stories continued until 2010.

The stories inspired an animated series in 2007, and ten years after that, Luc Besson gave us a feature film version.

[“We know how humans work.” “They’re all so predictable.”]

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

Take Flight with 6 Fantasy Creatures That Are Just as Cool as Dragons

When it comes to fantasy creatures, we feel like dragons get all the credit. And we get it, they’re flashy and scaly and there’s fire-breathing and they have unnerving laughs, but they aren’t the only awesome flying buddies around. Just being able to fly is impressive enough, right? Right??

It seemed like a good moment to pause and give a little love to our favorite non-dragon air steeds. Here they are…

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New Star Wars Barbies Are Perfect Cosplay Inspiration

Star Wars cosplay is classic and limitless, with fans adhering to original designs or creating their own variations, bunny suit, 1920s’ style, crossover, or otherwise. But who doesn’t love a high-fashion twist on a sci-fi classic?

The Star Wars Barbies release by Mattel and Disney has reimagined the aesthetics of a few iconic Star Wars characters, serving some intergalactic realness.

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Daniel Mallory Ortberg and Colette Arrand Discuss Trans Narratives and Star Trek’s Planet Risa

The “pleasure planet” Risa has popped up a few times in Star Trek, most notably that one TNG episode where Picard’s attempts to read James Joyce’s Ulysses are repeatedly thwarted by everyone everyone everyone.

However, while Risa-based episodes may seem like just an excuse to have PG-rated space sex capers (and they were), they were also one of the few environments where a Trek series could explore stories that echo the structure of certain trans narratives. (Infinite diversity in infinite combinations…as long as you can get it past the network censors!)

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Read an Excerpt from Angel Mage, a New Fantasy from Garth Nix

More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.

It’s a seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding. Four young people hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, a glory-seeking musketeer; and Dorotea, icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic.

The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet but do not suspect their importance. And none of them know just how Liliath plans to use them, as mere pawns in her plan, no matter the cost to everyone else…

Garth Nix, bestselling author of the Old Kingdom series, crafts a new fantasy with Angel Mage—available October 1st from Katherine Tegan Books.

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Space Opera, Tragedy, and Revenge: Sten by Allan Cole and Chris Bunch

In this bi-weekly series reviewing classic science fiction and fantasy books, Alan Brown looks at the front lines and frontiers of the field; books about soldiers and spacers, scientists and engineers, explorers and adventurers. Stories full of what Shakespeare used to refer to as “alarums and excursions”: battles, chases, clashes, and the stuff of excitement.

One of my favorite things is finding an enjoyable series that the author has already finished—that way, I can read the whole thing from beginning to end without ever having to wait for the next book to be written. The Sten series, which started back in the 1980s, is one of my favorites from that era, and stands as a fine example of the space opera subgenre. With lots of action and adventure, interesting characters, and a little humor thrown in here and there, it is a quick and enjoyable read. Re-reading it for this review, I found that it held up very well in the three decades or so since it was written. If you’re looking for a series that won’t run out before you get to the thrilling conclusion, The Sten Chronicles has my highest recommendation—starting from the very beginning, with the first novel, Sten

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Oathbringer Reread: Chapter Eighty-Nine

Welcome back to the Oathbringer Reread! This week, our inadvertent explorers give us our first in-depth look at Shadesmar, the Cognitive realm. Oh, wait, Adolin fell into the depths last time we saw them. This time, they just have to figure out how to get away from the dangers surrounding them without falling in. Good luck with that, kids.

[Today, Adolin Kholin was nothing.]

Series: Oathbringer Reread

That One Time Patrick Rothfuss, Chuck Tingle, John Scalzi, and Neil Gaiman Created The Wise Man’s Butt

We can all agree that a blockbuster erotic fantasy novel written Exquisite Corpse-style by a Patrick RothfussChuck TingleJohn ScalziNeil Gaiman collective would be absolutely incredible, but sadly, such a brilliant idea has yet to come to fruition.

That is…unless you count the quartet’s 2017 cult classic The Wise Man’s Butt. 

But what *is* The Wise Man’s Butt? you say. Never heard of such a thing!

Here, rest awhile, weary traveler, and allow us to get you up to speed…

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No Mask? No Mask! — Mira Grant’s In the Shadow of Spindrift House

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.

This week, we’re reading Mira Grant’s In the Shadow of Spindrift House, released just this summer as a standalone novella from Subterranean Press. Spoilers ahead, really a lot of spoilers, go read the thing first. We’ll wait.

[“Humanity has sacrificed so much on the altar of geometry…”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

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