The Merry Spinster Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a copy of Mallory Ortberg’s The Merry Spinster, available now from Henry Holt and Company!

From Mallory Ortberg comes a collection of darkly mischievous stories based on classic fairy tales. Adapted from their beloved “Children’s Stories Made Horrific” series, The Merry Spinster takes up the trademark wit that endeared Ortberg (who recently announced their transition to Daniel) to readers of both The Toast and their best-selling debut Texts From Jane Eyre. The feature has become among the most popular on the site, with each entry bringing in tens of thousands of views, as the stories proved a perfect vehicle for Ortberg’s eye for deconstruction and destabilization. Sinister and inviting, familiar and alien all at the same time, The Merry Spinster updates traditional children’s stories and fairy tales with elements of psychological horror, emotional clarity, and a keen sense of feminist mischief.

Readers of The Toast will instantly recognize Ortberg’s boisterous good humor and uber-nerd swagger: those new to Ortberg’s oeuvre will delight in their unique spin on fiction, where something a bit mischievous and unsettling is always at work just beneath the surface.

Unfalteringly faithful to its beloved source material, The Merry Spinster also illuminates the unsuspected, and frequently, alarming emotional complexities at play in the stories we tell ourselves, and each other, as we tuck ourselves in for the night.

Bed time will never be the same.

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 3:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on March 16. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on March 20th. 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.

“How many F’s in ‘catastrophic’?” — Superman Returns

By 2006, Bryan Singer was a hot property. He put himself on the map with The Usual Suspects, a movie that had some of the best word-of-mouth of the 1990s, one that made “Keyser Söze” a household name. Then he added to his own legend by providing the first Marvel movie to be a mainstream success. It’s easy to forget now, eighteen years later when “Marvel Cinematic Universe” is synonymous with “the most popular movies on the planet,” how impossible that sounded at the turn of the century (though I think this rewatch has illuminated the wasteland that had been Marvel’s movie oeuvre of the 20th century).

Prior to X-Men, the only superheroes that were true mainstream successes starred either Superman or Batman—but it had also been two decades since there was a Superman movie. Warner Bros. wanted to change that, and they turned to the man who had done the impossible to do so.

[“Kitty, what did my father used to say to me?” “‘You’re losing your hair’.” “Before that.” “‘Get out!'”]

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

Ava DuVernay Joins DC Extended Universe to Direct New Gods Movie

A Wrinkle in Time director Ava DuVernay is finally taking on a superhero film! Variety reports that DuVernay will helm the movie adaptation of Jack Kirby’s comic New Gods, as part of an initiative to “creat[e] a new universe of properties for the studio.” New Gods will fit within the DC Extended Universe, DC Entertainment’s answer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

[Read more]

Tomb Raider (2013) is a Bloody Awesome Video Game Anchored by Female Friendship

In light of the wee kerfuffle before the release of 2013’s rebooted Tomb Raider, I initially had no plans to play the game; combine the producer’s statements with a vague memory of loathing the franchise ten years ago and a working knowledge of how gaming tends to treat female characters in general, and you understand why I might be reluctant.

Then the game came out. People whose opinions I respect began to say good things about it. I read an interview with Rhianna Pratchett, the lead writer. I found a reasonably-priced copy and said to myself, Well, maybe we should give it a shot.

The last thing I expected, when I cracked the cover, was to look around sixteen hours later and discover I’d played through the night and most of the next morning, hooked on the narrative, determined to find out what happened next.

[Read more]

“I Hope They Remember You”: Watch the New Avengers: Infinity War Trailer

Peter in his old-school Spidey suit! Shuri! Made-up names! The latest trailer for Avengers: Infinity War has the same THE END IS NEAR high-stakes of the last one, but also a bunch of great little character moments and cameos that we appreciate so much more after seeing Black Panther. Plus, finally, more Thanos.

[Read more]

Essential Viewing: The Films of Guillermo del Toro

Let’s hear it for Guillermo del Toro, ladies and gentlemen! One of the most passionate and articulate advocates for genre (in particular) and narrative (in general) as a force for good finally picked up a long overdue best Director Oscar earlier this month. His prolific body of work is filled with movies that are worth your time, so if you’re looking for where to go next in his filmography (or just in need of some excellent rewatch options), here are some suggestions…

[Read more]

Check Out the Cover to The Black God’s Drum, a New Novella from P. Djèlí Clark

In an alternate New Orleans caught in the tangle of the American Civil War, the wall-scaling girl named Creeper yearns to escape the streets for the air—by earning a spot on-board the airship Midnight Robber. Creeper plans to earn Captain Ann-Marie’s trust with information she discovers about a Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls “The Black God’s Drums.” But Creeper also has a secret: Oya, the African orisha of the wind and storms, speaks inside her head, and may have her own ulterior motivations…

Rising SFF star P. Djèlí Clark brings an alternate New Orleans of orisha, airships, and adventure to life in his immersive debut novella The Black God’s Drums—click through to see the full (gorgeous) cover by artist Chris McGrath!

[Read more]

Aurora Australis: An Awards Bonanza! (And a Few Novels, Too)

Welcome to Aurora Australis, a monthly round-up of publishing news and highlights from Australia and New Zealand!

Last month in Australia and New Zealand we saw a round of resignations and at least one cringe-worthy interview on the political front, but it’s not all bad because a scientist in Queensland used the bin chicken (properly known as a white ibis) and other birds to help understand the gait of the Tyrannosaurus Rex. In the literary world, though, it’s an awards bonanza!

[Read more]

Series: Aurora Australis

Robin Hood Porn: The Virgins of Sherwood Forest

Content warning: This is a review of a medieval film that is offensive to every notion of history.

Oh, also, it’s a porn.

Additional content warning: (Don’t worry, this article is safe-for-work.)

The year 2000 brought us a great many odd things. Y2K freak-outs, Sisqó’s “Thong Song,” and (drum-roll, please) the Robin Hood porn The Virgins of Sherwood Forest, which was no doubt trying to capitalize on whatever was left of the Prince of Mullets excitement by combining it with porn.

No, Mom. It’s not hard porn. It’s, um, soft porn. Skinemax porn.

That means it has a plot. A real, actual plot.

Here it is: a down-on-her-luck low-budget film-director bonks her noggin (PHRASING!) and dreams she’s living in Sherwood Forest. Adventure ensues as she learns that the men of Sherwood are hardly the virtuous heroes of old.

I’m not saying it’s a great plot, mind you, but it’s a start.

Let’s press ‘play’.

[Read more]

Series: Medieval Matters


In the apocalyptic wasteland that used to be the United States, warring factions compete for control of the land in strange and dangerous carnivals. A mad cow-like disease called “Bent Head” has killed off millions. Those who remain worship the ruins of NASA’s space shuttles, and Cape Canaveral is their Mecca. Medicine and science have been rejected in favor of magic, prophecy, and blood sacrifice.

When traveling marauders led by the bloodthirsty Mr. Capulatio invade her camp, a young girl named Aurora is taken captive as his bride and forced to join his band on their journey to Cape Canaveral. As war nears, she must decide if she is willing to become her captor’s queen. But then other queens emerge, some grotesque and others aggrieved, and not all are pleased with the girl’s ascent. Politics and survival are at the centre of this ravishing novel.

Wonderblood, Julia Whicker’s fascinating literary debut, is available April 3rd from St Martin’s Press.

[Read an Excerpt]

I Don’t Want to F*** Him, I Want to BE Him

There was a moment in Jessica Jones’s second season that floored me, despite its seeming mundanity. It was when Trish Walker, former child star and Jessica’s best friend, turned down a marriage proposal from all around-great-guy and super-reporter Griffin. As Trish tries to handle the blowback from her toxic mother (who keeps insisting that Trish is throwing away her life by refusing the engagement), she finally puts her angst into words: “I don’t want to be with Griffin—I want to be him. I want to do what he does. And that’s not love, and it’s not fair to either one of us.”

This problem, this exact one, is wrapped around me like cling film, impossible to spot and harder to eradicate. I took a moment to try and count up the number of times I had been told that my admiration or emulation of a man (even a fictional one) amounted to romantic interest or sexual desire. I could not find an end to that number.

[Read more]

Dinosaurs in the Amazon: The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle

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.

Today we’ll be going on an adventure with the best character ever created by Arthur Conan Doyle. And I’m not talking about a detective. We’re going to be following the vain, volatile, and brilliant Professor Challenger as he and his plucky companions travel up the Amazon River to a remote plateau where creatures from prehistoric times still walk among more modern beasts. A land filled with exciting discoveries, but also deadly danger. The land of The Lost World.

[Read more]

Help! I Can’t Let Firefly Go! And Other Advice for Nerd Problems

Mallory Ortberg isn’t just the cofounder of The Toast and the exceptional advice columnist behind Slate’s “Dear Prudence.” They (Ortberg recently announced their transition to Daniel) are also an author. Their new book The Merry Spinster is a collection of disconcerting updates on classic children’s stories—stories updated, fractured, re-spun, turned inside out. (We have never felt quite so bad for The Wind in the Willows’ Toad.)

Given the fairy-tale bent of Ortberg’s new book, and their knack for advice that we want to read even when we’ve got nothing in common with the asker, we thought it was time to combine the two. So we collected a few questions from characters you may or may not recognize (all querents retain full anonymity, obviously) and asked Ortberg for their fantastical—and just plain fantastic—advice.


Why hasn’t my Hogwarts letter arrived yet?

—Owlways Waiting

[Read more]

Oathbringer Reread: Chapter Seven

Hello, and welcome back to the Oathbringer Reread! In this week’s chapter, we continue on with Kaladin’s heart-wrenching homecoming before he heads off in search of Wascally Woidbringers.

Reminder: we’ll potentially be discussing spoilers for the ENTIRE NOVEL in each reread. There are no Cosmere connections in this chapter, so read on with no fear of spoilers from non-Stormlight novels. But if you haven’t read ALL of Oathbringer, best to wait to join us until you’re done.

[War flays their souls, and those are wounds I can’t heal.]

Series: Oathbringer Reread