As an English major a Catholic liberal arts school, I was required to take a semester-long class on John Milton, in which we read the entirety of Paradise Lost as well as its less well known sequel, Paradise Regained. Everyone knows the plot of Paradise Lost: Satan rebels in Heaven! He tempts Adam and Eve and thrusts humanity into sin! Drama! Fireworks! Fallen angels! Fewer people could tell you the plot of Paradise Regained, which is about Jesus being tempted in the desert. Unlike his more bombastic Infernal counterpart, the Miltonian Jesus is a prototypical modern hero: reserved, inwardly-focused, full of doubt. There’s something to be appreciated there, of course, but when it comes to Milton, people gravitate toward Satan for a reason. Which is that he’s cool as hell (pun intended).
Fiction and Excerpts 
Series: Five Books About…
Two sisters, a pregnant aristocrat and a scholar-magician, and themselves at the center of a conflict between the immortal being Decay and the Emperor himself…
We’re thrilled to share an excerpt from Cassandra Rose Clarke’s newest fantasy novel The Beholden, out January 18, 2022 from Erewhon Books.
The Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez once said that when he read the first line of Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis,” he didn’t know people were allowed to write sentences like that, and immediately began writing short fiction. Well, I had the exact same experience—with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Specifically, with his masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude.
I was not a big genre reader growing up. I liked horror quite a bit, but I rarely ventured into the science fiction and fantasy sections of the library. That is not to say I disliked science fiction—I was a huge Star Wars fan, I watched The X-Files religiously, and I attended midnight showings of the Lord of the Rings films. I just didn’t dabble much in speculative literature. There were a few exceptions, but by the time I was in college I was largely reading literary fiction, and not much else.
In this ongoing series, we ask SF/F authors to describe a specialty in their lives that has nothing (or very little) to do with writing. Join us as we discover what draws authors to their various hobbies, how they fit into their daily lives, and how and they inform the author’s literary identity!
Around the time that The Force Awakens was released, I found myself in my local Jo-Ann craft store. This particular Jo-Ann had thoughtfully set up a display with bolts of cotton printed with images of BB-8, Finn, Rey, Kylo Ren, the Star Wars logo, and so on. Like most of us, The Force Awakens had re-awakened my love of Star Wars, and I was ready to channel that love—not into fanfiction or cosplay or an impressive action figure collection, but into a quilt.
I love quilts. I made my first one when I was in elementary school, under my mom’s guidance, and I’ve made several in the years since. It’s not a consistent hobby—I’m not working on a quilt at the moment, for example—but it is one I always return to. Making a quilt is a lengthy process, but also a weirdly soothing one.
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