Allie and Rooster are heading down to Asheville for Rooster’s new gig, a cushy stint as artist-in-residence at UNC. Rooster is more of a con artist than maker of art, but Allie doesn’t mind, because he’s good-looking, charming, and values what she is: a girl with a keen eye for abandoned places and a knack for getting into them. But when they stumble upon an old backcountry church—the perfect backdrop for Rooster’s latest project—they discover that some “abandoned” places have a knack for keeping themselves occupied.
It’s been said before in a multitude of ways, but it does bear repeating: The Hero’s Journey has fucked us up as a culture.
That probably sounds harsh to some, but there’s an important core of truth in the sentiment. In a century that is currently being defined by our absorption in superhero narratives, the pop culture consuming public has been inundated with stories about larger than life figures who commit feats of great heroism. Usually those feats require untold physical strength, unique moral fiber, adamantium will. We only have room for people who commit acts that are writ large, on a mountain face or across the multitude of screens we use every day, and we aren’t stopping to consider how that might shape our beliefs about what in life is worthwhile, or how we can best offer our help to others.
Which is why Captain Pike’s arc in Strange New Worlds is honestly a thing of beauty.
[Spoilers for season one of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and season two of Star Trek: Discovery.]
Since its founding in 1980, Tor Books has published science fiction and fantasy novels that have won every major award in the genre. Under the Tom Doherty Associates name, Tor was joined by more imprints, from Forge Books to the new Nightfire horror imprint.
Today, Tom Doherty Associates becomes the Tor Publishing Group.
A chance reference in a comment on an earlier article led me to Diana Peterfreund’s Killer Unicorns, and I could not be more grateful. Which is saying something, because the comments on this series so far have been both entertaining and enlightening. Thank you all, and please keep them coming.
Meanwhile, I have had a splendid time with the two volumes of what we can hope will be at least a trilogy. Rampant and its sequel, Ascendant, have a certain air of Buffy Meets (and Slays) The Last Unicorn. But like all really good homages, they take off in directions that are entirely their own.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Yes, it’s very good. Yes, it’s faithful to the comics in all the right ways, but also isn’t afraid to use the comics as a jumping off point that not only gives new life to the story, but makes me hopeful for the future seasons this show better get. Yes, the ending sets up one such future season. Yes, if it only gets one season the ten episodes here are satisfying as hell.
Honestly, I have a few minor issues, and I’ll talk about them below, but I watched this show in one marathon, stopping only a few times for basic necessities like gin, and for most of those ten hours I was very absorbed and very, very happy.
When it comes to outlining vs. improvising, I’ve found that we all do the same steps in a different order.
Many writing conversations (whether on panels, in blog posts, etc.) discuss a plotter vs. pantser binary, plotters being outliners, authors who plan work thoroughly before beginning, while the pantser, from the expression “fly by the seat of your pants” plunges into writing the beginning without a plan. I myself am certainly the plotter archetype, producing reams of notes, spreadsheets, and outlining a whole series before beginning Chapter 1, but the more I talk with friends who fit the pantser archetype, the clearer it becomes that the two methods are not as different as they’re made to seem. The real difference is not what we do, but what order we do it in, which steps we do before, which during, and which after drafting the text.
We found out at San Diego Comic-Con this year that there will be a Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and Lower Decks crossover coming our way in 2023. When the news first broke, there was some confusion as to whether Lower Decks’ voice actors Tawny Newsome (“Marnier”) and Jack Quaid (“Boimler”) would be animated or show up in live action. It turns out that Captain Pike himself, Anson Mount, was initially confused as well.
If you’ve ever picked up an illustrated book written by J.R.R. Tolkien, or spent time clicking around on the internet in fantasy circles, or if you’d seen the posters on my dorm room wall years ago—or, heck, scrolled through any of the posts of The Silmarillion Primer—basically, if you’ve lived on Planet Earth over the last few decades, then you’ve surely chanced across the scenic, brilliant, and exceedingly prismatic illustrations of Ted Nasmith. I mean… if chance you call it.
Ted is a luminary, an artist and illustrator of… well, many things, but he’s best known for depicting Tolkien’s world more or less how we’re all imagining it. Or maybe you’re imagining it, in part, due to Ted’s work. From official Tolkien calendars to illustrated editions of the professor’s books to The Tolkien Society’s journal covers, he’s dipped his toe and his brushes into Tolkien’s mythology so many times there’s just no keeping track of it all. You know, I’m going to come right out and say it: Ted Nasmith is basically the Bob Ross of Middle-earth.
Boots with mud mousse for everyone! Er…
Series: Terry Pratchett Book Club
July was spent at home reading and working on the new essay collection, and at the very end flying to Albuquerque for Mythcon, where very excitingly my novel Or What You Will won the Mythopoeic Award! (I never expect to win awards, I’m so thrilled to be nominated for them and on the ballot next to such great books, so it’s always an exciting surprise on the occasions when I do win.) I had a great time at Mythcon, seeing people, through masks, but seeing people, and having conversations. Before that, I read 21 books, and some of them were great and some of them were not. The good ones make up for all the others, and I’m glad I get to burble to you about the excellent ones and warn you off the terrible ones!
There’s a point midway through Alex Jennings’ novel The Ballad of Perilous Graves in which Casey, an illustrator who is one of the novel’s central characters, looks at a sketch of a comic book character. In this case, it’s the magnificently-named supervillain Doctor Bong (so named because he wore a helmet in the shape of a bell), who was created by Steve Gerber and Marie Severin and debuted in the 1970s run of the Marvel comic Howard the Duck.
Casey observes that his take on the character is “more monstrous,” and goes on to describe it in greater detail: “More like something Richard Case would have designed for Grant Morrison’s run on Doom Patrol, but with the suggestion of Mignola’s deep shadows.” In one passage, Jennings has invoked a trio of iconic runs on various comics—encompassing the satirical verve of Howard the Duck, the surreal heroics of Doom Patrol, and the wide-ranging riffs on mythology and folklore found in Mike Mingola’s comics, especially Hellboy. And it may not come as much of a surprise to learn that many of those same descriptions apply to Jennings’s own novel.
Marvel is notoriously tight-lipped about revealing its slate of movies and Disney+ shows. Two MCU actors, however — Oscar Isaac and Patton Oswalt — have let it slip that there will be a Season Two of Moon Knight and that there’s an Eternals 2 in the works with Chloe Zhao back again as director.
Valerie Valdes’ Fault Tolerance, third in her stories of Captain Eva Innocente and her friends and family, brings the scrappy trader Captain her greatest challenge yet, with stakes are truly interstellar in scope.
Captain Eva Innocente and her crew’s prior adventures, Chilling Effect and Prime Deceptions, have always somewhat belied their covers: you’d think these novels were completely frothy and light space opera novels, fun but not particularly deep. The cute and cuddly cats on the cover just emphasize that. Cats in space, that has to be all sweetness and light. Right?
Authors wishing to highlight noteworthy details of their cunningly crafted settings may encounter one vexing issue: for people raised in those milieus, there is nothing remarkable about them. The characters won’t comment on or explain things that puzzle us readers. Or at least they should not.
Introducing an outsider, especially one from an earlier point in history, provides useful perspective on the ways in which this new world differs from the past. It is not surprising, therefore, that SF authors have embraced a variety of ways to drop olden-time observers into futuristic worlds.
Here are five tried-and-true olden-time-observer insertion methods…
It’s not unusual for the creative team behind a cancelled series to have some idea of where they wanted to go next. But for better or worse, we don’t always get to hear about those plans. (Sometimes it’s painful to know what we missed out on!)
When Stargate Atlantis ended in 2009, it was on a note full of potential. And, as writer and executive producer Joseph Mallozzi explained on a recent podcast, they knew where they were heading: Back to Pegasus, with a time travel twist.