Tor.com content by

Stephen H. Segal

“Happy Parents’ Day” — A Transformative Way to Greet the Future

In his essay “Beyond 1984: The People Machines,” Ray Bradbury writes: “People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it. Better yet, build it. Predicting the future is much too easy, anyway. You look at the people around you, the street you stand on, the visible air you breathe, and predict more of the same. To hell with more. I want better.”

Better.

Bradbury knew well that envisioning a different future means figuring out how to raise the kids who’ll live in it. Some of his best work, from “The Veldt” to “All Summer In a Day,” tackles precisely that question. This week, as we head toward Father’s Day 2016 amid ongoing election-year furor about how to shape our society’s immediate future, we’d like to offer one simple idea for a holiday that might help shift our collective vision of parenting a little farther into tomorrowland.

Allow us to explain.

[Read more]

Five Books With Families We’d Like to Live Alongside as Neighbors

From 1968 until 2001, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood aired on local PBS stations across the country. Each episode, Fred Rogers, the minister turned puppeteer turned songwriter turned activist turned television personality, welcomed us into his home with the warm invitation: “Won’t you be my neighbor?” With his gentle demeanor, he taught us how to face our fears, how to build worlds with our imagination, how to be our authentic selves, how to treat other people with kindness, and how to respect different members of the community.

Fred Rogers understood that each of us is shaped by the people in our lives, in our neighborhoods. He even used his opportunity when receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1997 Daytime Emmys to encourage the audience to be mindful of those people: “All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are?”

Both of us grew up watching Mister Rogers, and as adults, our appreciation of his lessons and legacy has grown, too. We realize that, while many of those people he mentioned who matter most to us are flesh and blood, some of them are characters in books. That’s why we wrote Geek Parenting: to celebrate the fictional relationships that have shaped who we are and how we act toward the people we love. Today, then, we share five fictional families whom we’d love to invite, as Mister Rogers would, to please be our neighbors—to step out of their books and live in our own local “Land of Make-Believe.”

[Read more]

Series: Five Books About…

Ann VanderMeer’s Fried Cthulhu

As a nominally Jewish, science-fiction-influenced pantheist, I am, of course, looking tremendously forward to my Weird Tales compadre Ann VanderMeer’s forthcoming 2010 book, The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals. By popular request, she has taken a bit of time out of her holiday season to tempt us with a special New Year’s recipe for cooking an Old One. “Keep in mind that this meal will not be to everyone’s taste,” Ann tells us, “so know your guests before serving this up. Also, you’ll need to wear your special Protection from Evil glasses before even attempting this meal… What? What do you mean, don’t have any? Go get some or skip this recipe altogether. They can be found in any Wal-Mart in the Protection from Evil aisle, alongside the BB guns and silver bullets.”

* Note: No, Cthulhu is not kosher.

Ann VanderMeer’s Fried Cthulhu

(With help from Duff Goldman)

One Cthulhu: actually, you’ll have to get close enough to chop off a piece, as an entire Cthulhu is too large to work with — and try to get some of that Cthulhu ink while you are at it.
Garlic: lots of garlic, I’d say about 36 cloves, pressed.
½ cup of Olive Oil: must be Extra Virgin (naturally).
A pinch of Paprika: the redder the better.
Sea Salt to taste: because it will remind the eater of the origins.
Pasta: can use spaghetti or flat linguini noodles, per your preference in tentacles — the longer the better.
1 tablespoon of Cthulhu ink: for pasta.

Cook pasta according to directions. Take the piece of Cthulhu meat and dice it up into small manageable chunks (work quickly as time is of the essence). Throw the chunks into a frying pan seasoned with half the olive oil and sea salt. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly (you may have to slap down the moving parts — chopping and cooking do not necessarily stop the moving). Then add the garlic and paprika, continue stirring.

While you are stirring the Cthulhu with one arm, prepare the pasta (drain and mix with the remaining olive oil and the ink) with your other two arms. Use your fourth arm to grab a nice platter. Place the pasta on the platter and then scoop up the Cthulhu onto the pasta. Serve with a nice leafy green salad and crisp white wine.

[Image by Flickr user jasonlam, licensed under Creative Commons.]


Stephen H. Segal is the editorial and creative director of Weird Tales and a book designer who has worked with Tor Books, Juno Books, Prime Books, the Interstitial Arts Foundation, and others. He has previously served as a magazine editor at WQED Pittsburgh, a publication consultant for Carnegie Mellon, and a writer for the Philadelphia Weekly newspaper chain.

Series: December Belongs To Cthulhu

Introducing H.P. Lovecraft, from a 21st-Century Vantage

When the good folks at Tor.com decided it would be awesome to follow up Steampunk October with a Cthulhu December, they were kind enough to invite me to kick things off. So: welcome, one and all, to Theme Month No. 2, our grand Countdown to Cthulhumas! For the next thirty-one days, we’ll poke our as-yet-unspecified protuberances into those perilous shadows of the uncaring cosmos first envisioned by H.P. Lovecraft most of a century ago. We can only imagine―if we dare!―what unspeakable terrors beyond human understanding they may find.

* * *

Let’s back up a moment. This is my first time blogging here, though I’ve been lurking since day one, so I should say a proper hello. I’m Stephen Segal, an earthling from the Jersey shore currently living in the Maryland outskirts of Washington, D.C., where I engage in a hodgepodge of professional geekery. Most notably, I’m the editorial and creative director at Weird Tales, the modern-day descendant of the magazine where H.P. Lovecraft published so much of his work.

[Read more: Why Lovecraft, why now?]

Series: December Belongs To Cthulhu