Art of SFF: Charles Vess on Working with Ursula Le Guin on The Books of Earthsea

Scott Slotterbeck - I'd been meaning to write her a fan letter for some time, as I'd loved "The Other Wind" so much and I knew she wasn't getting any younger - and then it was too late. There's a lesson on procrastination there.

What is Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets?

Super happy - I love the Valerian comics, and 5th Element was the smartest SF film that ever pretended to be a stupid SF film. Mood: quietly optimistic.

Five Great Fantasy Books Most Fans Don’t Know Exist

> Perhaps unknown for a reason.

That's the spirit! New experiences must be avoided at all costs.

The Hype is Real. Mad Max: Fury Road is One of The Best Films of the Year

> Now to give you a sense of where I stand: I like Mad Max alright, I loooooove The Road Warrior, and I’m really fond of Beyond Thunderdome.


That's why I'm just a bit worried here - I thought the second Mad Max movie was the weakest because it was nothing but a big car chase. It's starting to sound like Fury Road is basically an extremely good remake of the second movie - even down to the plot being "convey to people to safety while being chased".

I guess I'm in anyway - it does look impressive.

James Cameron Delays Avatar Sequels to 2017
> unobtainium is a believable name and probably an in-universe joke My problem is that it was already being used as a joke in our universe, and had been for years, which made it pretty jarring in the movie. I liked the film well enough for all its faults though. What I *really* would have liked would be if they'd dumped the plot and characters, brought in David Attenborough, and just released it as a nature documentary. Now that would be quality.
Reimagining Homer: Christopher Logue’s War Music
War Music is wonderful. Discovering this led me down the rabbit hole to "Homer in Translation", a Penguin anthology of English language attempts at Homer uo until 1994. It's a great browse, but I think Logue takes the cake.
You Cannot Tell if Star Wars: Episode VII is Good or Bad From 90 Seconds of Footage
So not all stormtroopers are clones? Bummer. That puts paid to my theory that maoris are the most populous ethnic group in the universe: - all of the stormtroopers in Star Wars - most of the thuggish extras in Xena - many of the orcs in LOTR
Is it Time to Lose the Sonic Screwdriver Again?
The all powerful sonic screwdriver is an invitation to scriptwriters to be lazy and sloppy. Sadly they tend to accept the invitation.
12 Reasons to Read and Love Terry Pratchett’s Discworld
> But chronologically, I second the nomination of Mort of the first recognisably-Discworldy Discworld novel. I started with Mort and it worked well for me. I'd decided to try Pratchett out after reading an interview with him in Interzone - which is actually a bit of a strange way to discover someone like him.
12 Reasons to Read and Love Terry Pratchett’s Discworld
I never liked Josh Kirby's cover art for Discworld, so I'd prefer to replace 10 with: 10: Pratchett actually *likes* his female characters. This should be unremarkable, but is not.
First Mad Max: Fury Road Trailer Has Got Style
Love the "Cars that ate Paris" reference. Mad Max 4 was going to be filmed near Broken Hill in Australia, but filming was moved to Namibia because Broken Hill got enough rain to make it all greeen and beautiful!
The Return of Zita the Spacegirl Sweepstakes!
Makes me sad to see that your overseas readers (me!) are excluded from all of your contests. We still buy Tor books you know! Nice to see that Zita's back anyway.
Troll Mountain: Episode Two (Excerpt)
Matthew Reilly? Ye gods - I read _Ice Station_ back when it came out and it was so ham handed I couldn't look away - like _Atlanta Nights_ written by someone who didn't know they were writing _Atlanta Nights_. Truly awful stuff!
Aliens Don’t Eat Chocolate Cake: Under the Skin and the Science Fiction Art Film
This is one of those books I loved so much I'm afraid of seeing the film - and it does sound as if it's heading off on another tangent to the book. I'm quite happy for a film to be about "flipping the male gaze" as you said earlier, but for me the book was all about loneliness and isolation, with a side order of "why I should stop being a hypocrite and become vegetarian", so I fear they haven't made a film of the book I read. Also, another vote for no one ever saying "ScarJo" again. Ever.
Tattoos Speak Louder Than Words: SFF Characters with Ink
Surely Gully Foyle from_Tiger, Tiger_ (aka _The Stars My Destination_) should be at the top of this list? At the very least second after _The Illustrated Man_.
School isn’t the Only Thing They Suck At: Vampire Academy
Haven't read the books nor seen the movies, so no opinion to offer there - but I have heard part of the soundtrack: Chvrches doing an astonishingly inept and mediocre cover of Bahaus's _Bela Lugosi's Dead_. I think it might actually be the worst cover version ever recorded. A big claim I know, but...
They Built a Machine To Give You All the Feels
This reminds me of when I was a kid and saw the (1978) Battlestar Galactica movie. The cinema had been fitted with some gadget which shook the seats when a spaceship went by. And that of course was the birth of sensory fiction cinema, and nothing has been the same since. Has any other technology since Gutenberg had such a significant effect on our culture?
The Triumph of Private Industry: Mars, Inc.: The Billionaire’s Club by Ben Bova
Alan Brown - spot on with Bova writing the era that formed him. I was particularly taken with: "And we can leapfrog the People's Republic of China! With private enterprise! Capitalism beats the communists!" which seems to hark back to the China of the Little Red Book and Maoist self criticism sessions, rather than the strange oligarchic state capitalism it now is.
Huge New Trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is Huge
I really thought they did an good job on the Lord of the Rings movies - a few quibbles, but how could it be otherwise? But while LOTR looked like it was made by people who cared about the book, the Hobbit movies are just big dumb action movies based on a plot by Tolkien. It's not that they don't follow the incidents from the book, but everything is so big and dumb and shoutey and explodey that they feel like the Anti-Hobbit. A great waste of good actors and magnificent sets and costumes.
How to Stay Safe When You Cosplay
> @Jere7my #7: If you aren't a relative or friend, it's not cool to take pictures of minors without their parents' permission. It doesn't matter where. Oh rubbish - that's a sign of a sick and paranoid society. And I say that as a parent of a 10 year old girl.
Trailer for Under the Skin Has an Alien Scar Jo Seducing Poor Humans
Under the Skin is one of those books I love so much that I dread it being made into a movie. But maybe... It's certainly a change of tone - the book was very low key and this (at least at the trailer level) seems to be pulling it closer to horror movie territory. Here's hoping.
3 Implications We Can Make Now That Peter Capaldi is the Next Doctor
Nice to see an older Doctor - I'd been afraid the Doctor would end up prebubescent the way things have been going. Though I wouldn't half mind Judy Dench instead (so there @14) I'd be happy if this was Steven Moffat's last regeneration though - the modern incarantion of Doctor Who takes itself too seriously. Nothing would make me happier than an episode where the Doctor helps someone find their lost car keys, or bake some scones.
Announcing Jo Walton’s What Makes This Book So Great
Ha! I just noticed this post, a couple of months late, while I was searching the site to find a list of Jo's book reviews! I'll definitely be buying at least two copies. And the cover *is* excellent.
Gaming Roundup: E3 2013 Edition
> Jonathan Braid's The Witness Jonathan Braid also wrote "Blow", didn't he?
Our Own Incandescent Mythology: You by Austin Grossman
@Walker > I know they are both inspired by the same 8 bit style, but that cover art looks like a serious rip off of Sword and Sworcery. Why assume a ripoff? Looking at the back cover of my copy I see the words "Cover illustration by Superbrothers".
Good Omens is the Perfect Gateway Fantasy
I'm a big fan of Pratchett and Gaiman and I just couldn't find anything much to like in Good Omens. It reads - quite reasonably - like the work of young writers who haven't hit their stride yet. I'm glad I didn't discover it till many years after I'd read their other work, as it would have been an anit-gateway book for me.
“To JK Rowling, from Cho Chang”
> She also points out that the name is atrocious, two last names of Korean origin for a character of Chinese origin. I used to work with a Cheng Chang who grew in Shandong province in China. That's about 300km across the water from Korea, so there may well have been a bit of back and forth immigration. I doubt he'd consider his last name to be "atrocious", though I must admit I never asked him.
Dear Readers, Help Us Redesign the Site
1. Do you sign in when you visit Only when I decide to comment. 2. How do you use bookmarks? I don't. 3. If you use your profile, which features do you enjoy the most? Which features could go? I don't. 4. Do you subscribe to comment threads? A couple of times, but I haven't got much out of it. My problem - and I doubt it's one that has a solution - is that I check in infrequently and comment threads have often died down by the time I get to them. 5. How do you find our site: by loading our homepage directly, via our newsletter, RSS feed, Twitter, Facebook, or other social media/other websites? I just go direct to 6. Do article tags and series indexes help you locate exactly what you're looking for? Do you find the sidebar features, like "Latest Comments," useful? If so, which ones? Series indexes are excellent. I don't pay much attention to article tags, though perhaps I should. Latest Comments occasionally catches my attention. It might be interesting if the "My Conversations" links on my personal home page could take me to my most recent post on that topic - "where I'm up to" effectively. My biggest navigation need is to be able to filter out categories of things I don't care about. For instance I never never never care about rewatches of old tv series, but I do like book reviews, interviews and articles about illustration. Final comment: I feel peeved every time I see yet another contest which is valid only for residents of the USA. Does that really need to be? I'm sure I spend as much money on Tor books while living in Australia as I would living in America...
How the Cover was Created For New Sci-Fi Book The Planet Thieves
It's fascinating how well tuned our - semiotic senses I guess - are. On my very first glimpse of that cover I thought "that's a book for kids". I also love features on how artwork evolves - more please!
“It Be Opening New Worlds, Mon”: John Dies at the End
Typo in 2nd paragraph - you want "wringer", not "ringer". Glad to hear it's being made into a movie.
The Great Stephen King Reread: Firestarter
Eli Bishop @6 writes: > King writes that scene comically but there's some real anger underneath > it, at the idea that we could be terrorized by people who aren't just > evil, but evil fools. That totally resonates with me. There was a murder here some years ago where - I think - a burglar was surprised by someone returning home and killed him. In his court testimony the burglar said: "He was being a smartass so I tortured him a bit." If that had been fiction I would say that is one of the best and scariest bits of character building I've ever read.
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell Confirmed for BBC Miniseries
I have no doubts that modern CGI is up to whatever they'll ask of it. I'm just worried they'll screw it up with the script, direction or acting. Even to only partially do justice to a book this good would be a great shame. _Jonathan Strange_ restored my faith in reading after a long succesion of "meh" reading experiences. It's also the book that made me realise my eyes are no longer young :(
Something Else Like… Roger Zelazny
I used to love Zelazny when younger, but over the years my loathing of the "first person smartass" style which I loved so much as a teenager has driven me away from him. Your post reminds me though that he had many other attributes. Maybe I should go back to him and see what I still like. I'll always have a soft spot for _Jack of Shadows_ and _Isle of the Dead_. > Elizabeth Willey's The Well-Favored Man has been described as "Nice Princes in Amber" and that's a very good summary. There are two sequels. What happened to her anyway? I wish I knew. I try to spread the word about these when I can. _The Well Favoured Man_ is a wonderful book.
The Great Stephen King Reread: Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining
Wow - this is the first I've ever heard that _The Shining_ wasn't universally loved (except by Stephen King - I knew that bit.) I'd just always assumed the consensus was that it was a modern classic. The documentary _Room 237_ sounds a hoot.
Holy Bat-Birthday Adam West!
Too right! I grew up on the old TV Batman and I've never had much of a kind word for the modern angsty films and comics. Three cheers for Adam West and all who worked with him on the real Batman!
Raiders! (Excerpt)
'Raiders' came to a film festival in Melbourne, along with one of its creators, who presented it. It was a very strange experience watching it and feeling the audience's mood transform over the course of the film. They ( no - be honest - "we") started out laughing at the film in all the wrong ways, being unsympathetic and dismissive, but by halfway through the film we'd been won over completely and were on the edge of our seats, desperate for the next scene to work out, and cheering triumphantly when it did. It was quite a night out - I don't think I've ever felt so close to the rest of the audience before, with all of us united in wishing the filmmakers well.
Surrealist Magic: Birds and Birthdays by Christopher Barzak
Tricky one - I have enormous respect and liking for Remedios Varo's work, and wish the whole world knew and liked her paintings, so I'd like to like the book, but that little hyphen in "re-membering" brings me out in a rash.
Have Severed Robot Head, Will Travel: 5 Ways a Prometheus Sequel Could Work
Prometheus itself could have worked but didn't. It's the limpest wet noodle of a film I've ever walked into with positive expectations, full of randomly behaving 'characters', science howlers and plot non-sequiters. I say I walked in with positive expectations, but the fear had actually started earlier than that when I read interviews with Ridley Scott and discovered that he liked Von Daniken, and that he thought he'd made a movie dealing with the big questions. So yeah, not that excited about the idea of a sequel.
Magic and Murder in London: Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch
A big thumbs up for this series - I've read the first two and enjoyed them for all the reasons given in the review. They really do feel like London and gods of the various rivers are wonderful. And the mixed race main character - sometimes when I find significant non-white characters in books I can't help feeling the author is very aware that they're making a political/social point, but not here - Peter Grant is just a guy, and he feels like a decently real character. I'm not usually a big fan of the modern vein of paranormal urban fantasy, but these worked very well for me. So if you normally avoid that kind of stuff you might like them too.
Read the The Quantum Thief for $2.99!
This one left me baffled - I read it because everyone in the entire world loved it and found myself bored and irritated. It is indeed full of ideas, but in a "trying far too hard" way. Still - that's just me. It's obviously ringing bells with a lot of people. Big hurrah for Tor's new DRM free e-books. Tor, and in a slightly different direction Baen, are doing exciting things with modern publishing.
Five Possible Reasons that The Hobbit is Spilling Over into a Third Movie
Xopher wrote: > I hate Steve Jackson? How are you on Peter Jackson? > And the fact that he cut the Scouring of the Shire in favor of long, boring battle sequences Completely agreed - for me the scouring of the shire is what LOTR is actually *about* - it's one of the last thing's I'd cut. > and (for example) that long, stupid scene showing all the beacons being lit, Though I quite like the bit with the beacons.
Kangaroo Rex: Janet Kagan’s Mirabile
I would like to have liked these stories - other people did, and they seeemed to make a good case for them - but I could never get past the biology. I just couldn't swallow the idea of creatures being deliberately pre-loaded with a bunch of other genomes, not just as sensible biology, but as a thing people would choose to create. Odd really, given how many other oddball sf ideas I've happily accepted over the years.
One Small Step: The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
thomasmart (comment #5) is pimping a self published book which "is about a young Nephilim who is caught in the middle of an interplanetary battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil." Could it be spam for dinner tonight?
Little Green Men and Huge Blue Dudes: The Science of Avatar by Stephen Baxter
Poor old Avatar gets so much flack... It's all deserved, admittedly, but I still enjoyed it hugely. I'm not sure I've got room in my life for a "Science of Avatar" though, especially so long after the movie came out. I might hold out for 'The Science of James and the Giant Peach".
Picking Up After Intergalactic Daytrippers: Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
Stalker also had the unusual privilege of being made into a first person shooter video game. Take that, Solaris!
The Moon Moth (Excerpt)
Meant to say - does anyone know of any other Vance in comic form, apart from Moon Moth and Tschai?
The Moon Moth (Excerpt)
Awesome! I'm going to have to get this. Vance's 'Planet of Adventure' series (Tschai) was an 8 volume graphic novel series in France. I've managed to find six of them so far. They're accurate but a little pedestrian - though I'm glad they exist. Vance's reputation seems to live on in Europe. In Paris in saw about fifteen Vance titles in a big general bookshop. In Melbourne even the science fiction specialty shop only has about five.
The Psychic Attacks of Heidi Julavits’s The Vanishers
Nothing much to add here except that I think I have to read this. This book sounds fascinating.
The Twelfth Doctor Probably Won’t Be a Woman. But If She Was….
Aaargh! I'm torn! The thought of Tilda Swinton as Dr. Who is too perfect for words, but I've been wishing for an older Doctor for ages, so that means Helen Mirren (or Judy Dench?) Umm, both?
A Thoughtful Adaptation That Adds Greater Depth: A Review of The Hunger Games
I just saw the film - accidentally, due to them changing the screening schedule for John Carter :( - without having read the books or having paid much attention to their popularity, so I'm the perfect "non fan" audience. It was pretty decent, and where it really shone was in showing how easy it was for people to be complicit in the system around them - to give away just a little bit of themselves for approval or advantage, and then to give away just a little bit more next time. I don't know if that was evident in the books or original to the movie but either way, it was very well handled.
Chrysanthe (Excerpt)
> from the age of half past three onward I bet I do that sort of stuff all the time when I try to write in French.
Heroes Who Fail
a1ay writes: >Consider Phlebas - the hero fails to accomplish his mission, gets all his friends killed, dies (of course he does, he's an Iain M. Banks protagonist), and his side loses the war. Better yet, The Algebraist. I think pretty much anyone who tries to do anything in the whole book fails.
An extended scene from John Carter, now with more white apes.
> I have to see it. I might complain about it, but I have to see it. It cannot be said better. Here's hoping.
An extended scene from John Carter, now with more white apes.
> All these rocky dessert type places seem interchangeable. Except in older British SF where the disused quarry is the sfnal rocky place of choice.
Andre Norton and Me
The memories that stirs up... I didn't read a huge amount of Andre Norton when I was a kid, but I was totally obsessed with the Time Traders books. Totally. I'm glad the collaborations worked out for you and for her.
Their tofu scramble is a poem: The Middleman
I read about Middleman on a previous Tor thread, got very excited indeed and went and tracked down a few episodes. Unfortunately I just couldn't engage with it - it seemed to be all setup and no follow through. What do I even mean by that? It's hard to say, but I felt the show's comic background (and I love comics - not a criticism) was showing through and it manifested itself as lots of quick little sound bitey incidents, cool, but disconnected and ill thought out. Perhaps what I mean is that more attention was being paid to the concept of the show than to making each episode hang together as a dramatic/comic piece. Even now, reading the episode descriptions above, I get excited and think they sound delightful - I wish I'd felt that way in practice.
Chrysanthe Sweepstakes!
> THE RULES: The first ten people to email their name and address to [email protected] will receive the copies. Really? Does that mean Tor contests are ditching the fine print about only Americans being able to enter? If so, bravo.
Genre in the Mainstream: Michael Chabon’s “Citizen Conn”
Thanks for that - Chabon is always worth watching. I'll have to get that issue.
Out Today! Some of the Best of, a Free Mini Ebook Anthology
I'd love to read it, but I'm not seeing it on This isn't limited to the American market for some crazy reason is it?
Are the Images We Take of Outer Space Being Photobombed?
That's very sweet - but it could have been so much better if they'd played it entirely straight and avoided things like the tapppy-tappy fake typing.
Art History Through Sci Fi-Colored Glasses
Lovely collection - thank you so much for gathering them together. Here's another - a Norman Rockwell done for a sf themed contest on I don't know my Norman Rockwell enough to know if this is a copy of a specific painting, but the style is indisputable:
Why Every Writer Should Join the US Military – Part II
The article's a good reminder that results are better than excuses and a fun read - but there's certainly more than one way to skin a cat (*). My friend who's a working single mother told me that running a job and a child by herself had taught her everything she knows about time management. She's the one who wrote her novel a bit at a time on the train on the way to work each morning. *Disclaimer: I own an eleven week old kitten and do not intend to skin him.
Invention is the Mother of Ruin: The Man Who Fell to Earth
It's a wonderful book - I've somehow never got around to checking out the movie. Your mention of the changes made in the movie made me want to wail in despair though - when are aliens going to realise they don't need to make desperate interstellar trips just to borrow a litre of water? I remember an old interstellar trading board game where the unique item that one went to earth to collect was music videos. That seems much more plausible.
Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Yesterday’s Enterprise
> she survived the battle at Narendra III long enough to sire a daughter. Was gender reassignment surgery involved? Perhaps they do things differently in Starfleet... *Very* good point upthread that the decision to go back could have been made by the 'old' Enterprise crew based on the world they see around them, rather than Guinan's mysterious plot sense. That would have made an already good episode much better - first by getting rid of Guinan's New Age twaddle, and secondly by showing us the irony of the modern Enterprise trying to prevent the old Enterprise going back in time, trying to do what they thought was the right thing.
The Great Pastiche Game: Notable Non-Doyle Holmes Books
Holmes makes a small but notable appearance in _The Unicorn Girl_ (*) one of a trilogy of lighthearted and silly hippy SF novels. The protagonists, who come from our world, and who have come unstuck in time and space, meet him and Watson at an inn on the way to Dracula's castle, and after only a few minutes of conversation he deduces not only that they come from another world, but that it is a world in which he is a fictional character. He is, of course, unflappable, and doesn't hesitate to believe that which is left once he has eliminated the impossible. It's minor, but it's very Holmes. (*) or it could have been in one of the other two books in the series - _The Butterfly Kid_ or _The Probability Pad_ - I'm not sure at this distance.
Actual Prometheus Trailer Is Really Here!
Definitely promising. I was pretty unenthusiastic when I heard there was a new Aliens related movie in the works, but this looks decent - respectful of the first two (good) Aliens movies. Hopes are up, with pessimism held at the ready, just in case.
One Lego to Rule Them All
They sound sweet, but now I want Lensmen Lego. And Known Space Lego - Pupeteers and Grog and Kzinti. Fafhrd and Grey Mouser Lego. And then further afield - Joanna Russ's Whileaway Lego. Borges' Garden of Forking Paths Lego... Excuse me, I haven't had my first cup of tea of the day yet.
Reading Joanna Russ: The Zanzibar Cat (1983)
I blinked when I noticed that my copy of The Zanzibar cat was from Baen. And the cover art was by james Gurney what's more. The world is not always as I expect it to be.

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