Everything’s Fine

Eric’s day is off to a rough start: his regional managers are in town, he’s running late to work, the moon seems to be falling apart, and he just can’t seem to get his tie right. At least he has his priorities straight: it’s the little things that matter. The world may be plunging into chaos, the neighborhood children might be mutating into abominations, but that doesn’t mean he can let his standards slip. If he and his co-workers can survive their nightmare walk to the office, then Eric has a plan for success…

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Sleeps With Monsters: Revisiting Comforting Favourites

This year is being A Lot, isn’t it? I’m not sure how to handle it.

One of the ways I’m trying to, though, is by revisiting some books that are… I won’t call them “old” favourites, because very few of them are more than ten years old. Past favourites, perhaps. It’s interesting to see which hold up after some time and reflection, and which still mean just as much to me, albeit in different ways—and where my feelings have changed. Over the next couple of columns, I mean to share some of those visits.

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Series: Sleeps With Monsters

Lunar Self-Sabotage: The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal

Mary Robinette Kowal’s Lady Astronaut series launched with a single novelette (“The Lady Astronaut of Mars“), and the eponymous Lady Astronaut Elma York has in turn inspired other women to go to space in this punch-card-punk alternate history.

While The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky both traced Elma’s paths from Earth to the Moon and then to Mars, Kowal has expanded the scope of her series by focusing on a new “astronette” for the third installment: ambitious, brilliant senator’s wife and WASP pilot Nicole Wargin, whose adventure on the lunar colony in The Relentless Moon runs parallel to the events of The Fated Sky. In doing so, Kowal reminds readers that humanity has a long way to go to settle the Moon, and that no two Lady Astronauts are alike.

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Love and Justice in T.J. Klune’s The Extraordinaries

So many queer readers cleave to superhero stories because we know what it’s like to live a secret identity. We live within the dissonance between what the world wants from us and who we wish we could be. We know what it is to be caught between what is expected and what is inextricable from our deepest selves, and to have our most unique powers be the most isolating force in our lives–with the potential to cost us everything and everyone we love most. 

In T.J. Klune’s The Extraordinaries, queer superpowers don’t have to be a metaphor anymore. Klune gives us an entirely queer central cast, with no homophobia save for a few awkward comments from a generally well-meaning father. Here, queer love and desire gets to breathe on the page. Klune not only explores teen queerness in its most awkward, nerdy, fanfic-inspired throes, but interrogates the queer celebrity infatuation, the crush on the hot popular kid—the dissonance between idolization and authentic, genuine attraction. And from it comes a queer romance that’s as tender as it is magic.

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Never Say You Can’t Survive: A Good Plot Is Made Out of Two Things

Charlie Jane Anders is writing a nonfiction book—and Tor.com is publishing it as she does so. Never Say You Can’t Survive is a how-to book about the storytelling craft, but it’s also full of memoir, personal anecdote, and insight about how to flourish in the present emergency.

Below is the eighth chapter, “A Good Plot Is Made Out of Two Things.” You can find all previous chapters here. New chapters will appear every Tuesday. Enjoy!

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Series: Never Say You Can’t Survive

Patrick Rothfuss and Worldbuilders Launch Annual Geeks Doing Good Campaign

While he’s best known for his novels Name of the Wind and Wise Man’s Fear, Patrick Rothfuss is also known for his charitable work with Worldbuilders, a charity dedicated to raising money for various organizations that do good works, such as Project HOPE, First Book, BYP100, Mercy Corps, and Heifer International.

This week, he and Worldbuilders launched this year’s Geeks Doing Good Showcase campaign on IndieGogo with the goal of raising $30,000 in the next week.

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The Gideon the Ninth Reread: Chapters 33 and 34

Hello again, readers! It’s time for me to jump up and down and wave my arms about Gideon the Ninth by Tamysn Muir. I’m your host, Ice Bear, and today we are diving deep into chapters thirty-three and thirty-four of this kick-ass Locus Award-winning novel. Because 1) It’s the bee’s knees, the snake’s hips, and the cat’s particulars and 2) It’s getting close to the release of Harrow the Ninth. There are only six more chapters of Gideon left for us to discuss, so let’s get right to it! These are teeny chapters but oh-so-important to the story. But remember, here be spoilers.

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Series: Gideon the Ninth Reread

Reading The Wheel of Time: Perrin Hunts Slayer and Faces Death in Robert Jordan’s The Shadow Rising (Part 36)

Perrin Aybara, y’all. Perrin. Aybara.

I’m not ashamed to admit I actually cried a little this week, while making my way through the climax of (this part of) Perrin’s story. In order to cover the action and themes more completely, I’ve decided to do something a bit unconventional this week of our read of The Shadow Rising: I’m going to cover Chapter 53 and then skip ahead to Chapter 56, so I can address Perrin’s two chapters together. Then next week I’ll go back and cover Nynaeve and Elayne’s adventures in the Panarch’s Palace. What happens to the girls is just as exciting as what happens to Perrin, maybe even more so, and then, the following week, we’ll get to see Rand reveal himself to the Aiel and have a very intense adventure reminiscent of both the ending of The Eye of the World and The Dragon Reborn.

And then The Shadow Rising will be finished! It’s hard to believe we’re there already.

But we’re not out of the Westwoods quite yet. So let’s go catch up with Perrin and Faile, and see what fate awaits Goldeneyes and his Falcon.

[You are a hero whether you want to be or not.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Representation Without Transformation: Can Hollywood Stop Changing Cartoon Characters of Color?

When I first saw the trailer for Pixar’s Soul in theaters, I leaned forward in my seat, ready to give it a standing ovation. My 20-something Black and Puerto Rican self was thrilled that one of the top animation studios in the world was committing to a movie where an African-American man would be the lead character. But when the protagonist was transformed into a fuzzy blue…soul creature during the trailer, my excitement changed to disappointment. As I awkwardly slumped back into my seat, I realized that Soul had already taken something away from its audience. 

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Read the First Chapter of Jim Butcher’s Peace Talks

When the Supernatural nations of the world meet up to negotiate an end to ongoing hostilities, Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, joins the White Council’s security team to make sure the talks stay civil. But can he succeed, when dark political manipulations threaten the very existence of Chicago—and all he holds dear?

Harry Dresden is back and ready for action in Peace Talks, the new entry in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series—available now from Ace Books!

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Writing Horses: Caring for Horses in Summer

Summer horsekeeping in a temperate climate is pretty much the ideal, though a strong argument can be made for the crisp clear days of autumn. Heat and flies can be definite issues, and summer storms present sometimes powerful challenges. But the warmer weather, the freedom from ice and snow, the much reduced probability of Mud, and above all, the chance to save significantly on the hay and feed bill by turning horses out on pasture, make the season most horse people’s favorite.

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Read an Excerpt From Kathleen Jennings’ Flyaway

In a small Western Queensland town, a reserved young woman receives a note from one of her vanished brothers—a note that makes her question memories of their disappearance and her father’s departure…

We’re excited to share an excerpt from Kathleen Jennings’ debut novella Flyaway, a beguiling story that proves that gothic delights and uncanny family horror can live—and even thrive—under a burning sun. Available July 28th from Tordotcom Publishing.

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Fantastic North American Geographies: Emily B Martin’s Sunshield

In discussing Emily B Martin’s Sunshield, I think the best way for me to draw you into what the book is and what is doing is not to discuss the plot or characters, but instead to talk about worldbuilding in the novel, and the worldbuilding of a lot of fantasy worlds in general.

I’ve written about secondary world fantasy that is beyond the “Great Wall of Europe” before, specifically about “Silk Road Fantasy”, mainly focused on Africa and Asia. Instead of being just places for “The Other”, on the margins of a Europhilic fantasy, we’re getting more novels and stories where African and Asian cultures, peoples, and geographies are front and center.

[Sunshield takes us instead to a fantasy version of North America]

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