’38 Special—The Rocketeer and The Phantom

The Rocketeer was created in 1982 by the late Dave Stevens as a tribute to Depression-era movie serials and comic strips and such. Stevens had an affinity for the pop culture of the first half of the 20th century, having made a career of creating art in the style of that bygone era. Besides The Rocketeer, his best-known works were his illustrations of pinup model Bettie Page (who was also a supporting character in The Rocketeer).

The Phantom was created in 1936 by the late Lee Falk (who continued to write and draw The Phantom comic strip until his death in 1999 at the age of 87), and was the very type of adventure story that Stevens was nostalgic for and trying to re-create with his Rocketeer character.

Both characters were adapted into live-action movies in the 1990s that took place in 1938 and would prove to be disappointments at the box office.

[When you borrow something, you don’t tell nobody, they call that stealing.]

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

Justice League Shows Us What Happens When You Team Up Without a Cinematic Universe

The first Justice League team-up film has been long-awaited by fans of the comics, cartoons, and movies that DC Comics has been churning out for decades. And while the DC Cinematic Universe has (rightly) received a fair share of criticism for its many fumbles, the success of Wonder Woman, followed by word of a course correction for the DC pantheon on screen gave reason to hope for the future of the series.

[No spoilers for the film.]

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Oathbringer Audiobook Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a copy of the audiobook of Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer, read by Michael Kramer and Kate Reading, and available now from Macmillan Audio! And as a bonus, each audiobook is autographed by Brandon Sanderson!

In Oathbringer, the third audiobook in the New York Times bestselling Stormlight Archive, humanity faces a new Desolation with the return of the Voidbringers, a foe with numbers as great as their thirst for vengeance.

Dalinar Kholin’s Alethi armies won a fleeting victory at a terrible cost: The enemy Parshendi summoned the violent Everstorm, which now sweeps the world with destruction, and in its passing awakens the once peaceful and subservient parshmen to the horror of their millennia-long enslavement by humans. While on a desperate flight to warn his family of the threat, Kaladin Stormblessed must come to grips with the fact that the newly kindled anger of the parshmen may be wholly justified.

Nestled in the mountains high above the storms, in the tower city of Urithiru, Shallan Davar investigates the wonders of the ancient stronghold of the Knights Radiant and unearths dark secrets lurking in its depths. And Dalinar realizes that his holy mission to unite his homeland of Alethkar was too narrow in scope. Unless all the nations of Roshar can put aside Dalinar’s blood-soaked past and stand together—and unless Dalinar himself can confront that past—even the restoration of the Knights Radiant will not prevent the end of civilization.

Comment in the post to enter!

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Elves, Balrogs, and Nazgûl: 16 Possible Plots for the Lord of the Rings TV Series

Queen Berúthiel’s cat is out of the bag! Amazon made its bewildering announcement last week that it has acquired the rights to adapt J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings novels” into a multi-season television show of some kind. Which means it’s obviously time for wild speculation and baseless, unrequited yearning.

What I won’t do right now is overthink this. We just don’t know too much. And now the news is out that Christopher Tolkien himself is no longer part of the Tolkien Estate, which does explain a little bit about what’s going on. As a Tolkien nut, I’m only a little anxious because I’m not particularly fond of where the fantasy genre is at, in relation to television (and I realize I may be alone in that), and I’d hate to see his world sullied by greedy hands in similar fashion. But there is always hope that this series could be amazing in the long run. And frankly, the books themselves will always be unsullied, no matter what they do.

So, care to set aside cynicism and join me for some totally unfounded and ill-considered (if Tookishly adventurous) guesswork?

[Let’s be hasty! Read on.]

Read Jane Yolen’s “The Jewel in the Toad Queen’s Crown”

We’re pleased to reprint Jane Yolen’s “The Jewel in the Toad Queen’s Crown,” a gaslamp fantasy focusing on the relationship between Queen Victoria and the British statesman Benjamin Disraeli. Of the pair, Yolen writes, “If that odd friendship came out of mutual admiration, mutual interests, or magic, it is not for me to say. I only speculate.”

Originally published in Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells (Tor, 2013) “The Jewel in the Toad Queen’s Crown” is also found in Yolen’s new collection, The Emerald Circus, available from Tachyon Publications.

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When Time Stops: James Thurber’s The 13 Clocks

In 1949, James Thurber was nearly completely blind, and behind schedule on a book. He headed to Bermuda, in hopes that the change of scenery would encourage him to get some work done. Instead, by his own account, he found himself thinking of an evil Duke, a lovely princess, and thirteen clocks. Calling it “an example of escapism and self-indulgence,” Thurber grew obsessed with the book, tinkering and tinkering and tinkering again, until—again in his own words:

In the end they took the book away from me, on the ground that it was finished and that I was just having fun tinkering with clocks and running up and down secret stairs. They had me there.

The result, The 13 Clocks, would be one of his most striking works: something between a fairy tale and a fable, a story and a poem, but always, always, magical.

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A Risk Averse Space Opera: Beyond the Empire by K.B. Wagers

Beyond the Empire in the third and final novel in K.B. Wagers’ Indranan War space opera trilogy, following After the Crown and Behind the Throne. It has high bar to clear, and a lot of explosive plot to wrap up. Will gunrunner empress Hail Bristol reclaim her throne, keep her protectors safe, and revenge herself on the enemy responsible for the assassinations of her father, sisters, and mother?

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Hey, Prospective Authors: You Have Plenty of Time. Just Keep Writing.

Forbes published its annual “30 under 30” list, mere days after the 2017 National Book Awards hosted its annual “5 Under 35” celebration. So it’s safe to say that this week has generated a perfect storm of ANXIETY from prospective writers and artists who feel like they’re already aging out of relevance.

You’re not, though—none of us are. Here’s the proof:

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Getting Medieval on Medieval Times

What do you get a medievalist for his (mumble)-second birthday?

A trip to the Middle Ages!

…Ish.

That’s right. My awesome wife—ahem, sorry, my lady—took me to Medieval Times, a dinner and entertainment show with “knights” and “swords” and … well, every noun in this article will probably need to be in quotation marks if I keep this up.

[Booze, rotisserie dragon, and a fight to the death!]

Series: Medieval Matters

Five Books that Rewrite Magic, Myths, and Ballads

In some ways, we authors all write fan fiction, mirroring (or windowing) our favorite books. We may borrow quotes, characters, settings, even whole plots. We create a lending library of fairy tale novels, Border Ballad reprises, Arthurian rip-offs, Biblical exegesis disguised as short stories, etc. I have done it myself in my latest collection of stories: The Emerald Circus (Tachyon) where I cheerfully plunder Poe, Baum, O’Henry, Arthuriana, all of Wonderland, Neverland, and more.

Publishers lists are full of mash-ups, Jane Austen and Abraham Lincoln battling monsters or solving mysteries. And of course Sherlock and other dicks—private and public—solve loads and loads of fantasy mysteries. And many of us cannot get enough of such books.

My favorites, though, I return to again and again.

[Read more]

Series: Five Books About…

The Birth of Spielbergian: Close Encounters of the Third Kind at 40

If I say “Spielbergian” to you, what do you see? A human face, agape with awe, staring at an alien, a dinosaur, or the Ark of the Covenant? Beams of multicolored light? Children gleefully embracing the unknown, while their adult guardians cower in fear? “Spielbergian” is a feeling. It’s the nebulous, free-floating awe behind 89% of J.J. Abrams’ lens flares. It’s been name-checked on everything from Tiny Toon Adventures to Angels in America. And it was born in an optimistic alien movie in 1977.

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The Orville’s First Season Might Surprise You

I love the first 6-8 episodes of a TV show in its first season, because it always seems like the process is at its most transparent there. The first script order is when a show is figuring out what it is and how it’s going to work, actors and writers alike throwing things at the wall and gradually learning their way through the rhythms of their work. Some shows skip this step—Leverage in particular arrived fully formed and smiling as it quietly lifted the wallets of very bad men—but for most there’s a learning curve,

The Orville has followed that curve. What started out looking a lot like a weirdly elaborate and staggeringly unnecessary Star Trek: The Next Generation parody is rapidly becoming something interesting and new. That’s because The Orville hasn’t just spent this first run of episodes learning what it is, it’s spent it trying to balance two equally demanding requirements at the same: it has to be funny while also providing convincing drama.

[It doesn’t always succeed. But it’s getting better!]