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Lev Grossman on finding his true genre

You have demons in your subconscious? In a fantasy world those demons can get out, where you can grapple with them face to face. The story I was telling was impossible, and I believed in it more than I believed in the 10,000 entirely reasonable, plausible things I’d written before. Lev Grossman, author of the Magicians series of books, on how he found his voice as a fantasy novelist.
posted by shivohum on Aug 19, 2014 - 59 comments

Prediction: Winter is coming. Pretty sure.

I finally gave in and started reading Game of Thrones. When I got to the end of the first chapter, I texted a bunch of my nerd friends like, "Why do people think this is surprising? It is like super-obviously signposted!" From there, it turned into a project where I try to predict what will happen in Game of Thrones. Predicting Game of Thrones, a blog by Eyebrows McGee, with an accompanying predictions log. NOTE: this is full of spoilers for the first two books, and the first half of Book III (Storm of Swords) will be online soon. Plus any number of theories could come true in the later books. [via mefi projects] [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 15, 2014 - 92 comments

Magical Realism Menu

Tables For One is a collection of restaurant reviews "from another New York City" by A. Ponitus and illustrated by Evan Johnson. The restaurants include Frito-Lay themed places, salt-obsessed aliens, a gelato cult, notable NPR personalities, and a cafe for heartbreak.
posted by The Whelk on Aug 14, 2014 - 21 comments

"...because they tell us dragons can be beaten."

Digital artist Laurie Fauvel knows about the terrors that haunt children's dreams. In her "Terreurs" series of digital manipulations, children fight against the monsters menacing them in their beds
posted by happyroach on Aug 11, 2014 - 13 comments

Beyond "tea, Earl Grey, hot" and Soylent green

MIND MELD: Food in Science Fiction versus Fantasy
This week we asked about Food and Drink in SF. Food and Drink in science fiction sometimes seems limited to replicator requests for Earl Grey tea and Soylent green discs. Why doesn’t do as much food as Fantasy? Does Fantasy lend itself more to food than Science fiction? Why? This is what they had to say…
[more inside]
posted by Lexica on Aug 1, 2014 - 73 comments

"If they’re watching TV, I ask, “Where are the brown girls?”"

Black Girls Hunger for Heroes, Too: A Black Feminist Conversation on Fantasy Fiction for Teens.
What happens when two great black women fiction writers get together to talk about race in young adult literature? That's exactly what happens in the conversation below, where Zetta Elliott, a black feminist writer of poetry, plays, essays, novels, and stories for children, and award-winning Haitian-American speculative fiction writer Ibi Aanu Zoboi decided to discuss current young adult sci-fi.

posted by Lexica on Jul 26, 2014 - 29 comments

There's a lagoon, and it's blue. Surely this will work.

The Real Castaway (2001; 48:13) is a tense and awkward but sometimes beautiful documentary about a teenage boy moving to the Ulithi Atoll and seeking companionship to fulfill a romantic fantasy. [Via.]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Jul 20, 2014 - 3 comments

Audio to make the Kessel Run seem a little shorter

SF Signal today finished a top 50 countdown of short SF/fantasy podcast fiction: 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, 10-1. The Parsec Awards for SF podcasts honor many other stories annually, as well as related non-fiction, comedy, and music: 2014 nominees; 2013; 2012; 2011; 2010; 2009; 2008; 2007; and 2006. And since 2012, the Hugo Award nominees for Best Fancast have been two-time winner SF Squeecast!, plus The Coode Street Podcast, Galactic Suburbia, SF Signal, The Skiffy and Fanty Show, StarShipSofa, Tea and Jeopardy, Verity!, and The Writer and The Critic with the popular Writing Excuses podcast often appearing in another category. [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Jul 8, 2014 - 11 comments

The Fox, The Madien, The River, And The Witch

Leigh Bardugo writes haunting, Eastern-European inspired fairy tales (Previously) often highlighting the experience of women in a unfair world. Tor.com presents two new stories, the somber "The Too-Clever Fox" and the subversive "Little Knife."
posted by The Whelk on Jul 1, 2014 - 8 comments

The Thomas Kinkade of high fantasy

But, look: banging this book on its metaphorical pate with a knobstick for manifold failures of expression and general Thoggism, as I might do with another writer, is no fun. It’s like slapping a puppy. One of the pleasures of Brooks’ writing is that he is so in-the-bone unpretentious; there’s no overweening Jordan-ic or Donaldsonian self-importance here. And (not to abdicate the responsibilities of criticism or anything) there’s a level of response which boils down to: ‘either you enjoy reading sentences like Paranor has fallen! A division of Gnome hunters under the command of the Warlock King has seized the Sword of Shannara! [147] or you don’t.’
Science fiction writer and critic Adam Roberts reviews Terry Brooks' first Shannara Trilogy and ... likes it? [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Jun 30, 2014 - 150 comments

"We don't have all the red tape of the monarchy weighing us down."

"Doraleous and Associates are open for business." [Youtube] "An animated comedy/fantasy series that follows Doraleous & his associates as they travel Nudonia righting wrongs & promoting freedom." [Complete Channel Playlist]
posted by Fizz on Jun 17, 2014 - 6 comments

These cycles of experience ... all stem from that worm-riddled book

Phenderson Djèlí Clark details H. P. Lovecraft's racism (earlier version with links to recommended reading/listening). Daniel José Older situates HPL's racism within a more general aesthetics of disgust. Silvia Moreno-Garcia engages with racism in both HPL and Robert E. Howard through work such as co-editing a multicultural issue (pdf) of Innsmouth Magazine (formerly Innsmouth Free Press) and a new Sword & Mythos anthology. Balogun Ojetade explains how confronting racism in HPL and REH spurred his participation in the sub-genre of Sword and Soul.
posted by Monsieur Caution on Jun 12, 2014 - 47 comments

It's like The Oscars, but with just the good parts

In a world On May 30th the 15th Annual Golden Trailer Awards were handed out in Beverly Hills, CA. There are a total of 75 categories; the 17 top awards were handed out live at the sold-out show and are linked below the fold. [more inside]
posted by Room 641-A on Jun 4, 2014 - 11 comments

Before Delany, before Butler

The Black Fantastic: Highlights of Pre-World War II African and African-American Speculative Fiction: pulp historian Jess Nevins attempts to shine a light on a long neglected part of science fiction and fantasy. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on May 26, 2014 - 16 comments

Dragons are totally real tho

The uncommonly well-moderated and researched Ask Historians subreddit answers the question: What common medieval fantasy tropes have little-to-no basis in real medieval European history?
posted by The Whelk on May 8, 2014 - 54 comments

Secret Merlings! Secret Merlings everywhere!

Who is Jon Snow's mother? What's up with the crazy seasons in Westeros? Why have the White Walkers returned after all this time? These questions and more have been the subject of much speculation and debate among fans of George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones / A Song of Ice and Fire / Dunk and Egg universe for more than a decade. Fans have published their theories in forums, on fansites, and even as the occasional academic journal article. (Spoiler warning: All sources -- show, books, cut scenes, DVD special features, pre-released chapters, interviews, visions you got from a tree, etc. -- are fair game in this thread!) [more inside]
posted by Jacqueline on Apr 28, 2014 - 500 comments

Dedicated "to those who have held the bag on a Snipe hunt"

Published in 1910, William T. Cox's Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods, With a Few Desert and Mountain Beasts is one of the earliest written accounts describing fabulous beasts of lumberjack lore, together called "fearsome critters." Read of tales of the peculiar wapaloosie, the spiky, hairless hodag that swallows trees whole, and the bizarrely violent splinter cat, which smashes trees with its head until it finds food. When you've been there a spell, take a gander through Paul Bunyan's Natural History, in which the goofang fish swims backwards to keep water out of its eyes and the teakettler walks backwards, nostrils steaming. For more harrowing yarns on yesterday's monsters, thumb through Henry Tryon's Fearsome Critters, which closes with a tantalizing snipet about an eternally elusive bird.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Apr 23, 2014 - 27 comments

"writers are going to get it wrong, and that’s okay"

"This is specifically challenging in science fiction and fantasy, where there are often so many ways to heal someone–from super-science to ancient sorcery. And yet there are issues with miracle cures in fiction. For one thing, they rob disability of its narrative power. For another, they play into the problematic narrative that people with a disability somehow “deserve” it." -- Elizabeth Bear talks about writing characters with disabilities in science fiction and fantasy in a guest post for Sarah Chorn's Special Needs in Strange Worlds column.
In this SF Signal column, Sarah Chorn explores how fantasy and science fiction treat disability, through reading lists, author interviews and the examination of characters with disabilities like Tyrion Lannister.
posted by MartinWisse on Apr 17, 2014 - 26 comments

In the great movie tradition of Tom Hanks' Mazes and Monsters

Debbie and Marcie arrive at college unaware of the dangers of RPGing. They are soon indoctrinated into this dangerous lifestyle where they face the threat of learning real life magical powers, being invited to join a witches’ coven, and resisting the lure of Ms. Frost, a vile temptress of a GM. But what peril must the two friends face when they stumble across the Necronomicon and their fantasy game becomes a reality game? Find out in Dark Dungeons! [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Mar 19, 2014 - 58 comments

Roll for initiative.

The Only Fantasy World Map You'll Ever Need.
posted by fings on Mar 19, 2014 - 100 comments

It's Madness, I Tell Yah! Madness!

Bored with basketball but want some Tournament action in your March-to-Early April? MentalFloss.com has collected* a list of (More Than) 11 OTHER March Madness Tournaments, covering books, music, TV, webcomics, various flavors of sci-fi and fantasy, plus bunny slippers, hot dog toppings, the (previously here) WORST Company in America and MORE! [more inside]
posted by oneswellfoop on Mar 19, 2014 - 35 comments

A HUNDRED SEASONS AND A MOVIE, WW FOREVER RICK AND MORTY DOT COM

Are you a fan of inventive, black-humored sci-fi/fantasy animation? Desperate to fill the Futurama-shaped hole in your heart? Look no further than Rick and Morty, the superb new Adult Swim series from animator Justin "Lemongrab" Roiland and Community darling Dan Harmon. Inspired by a (terrible and very NSFW) Back To The Future knock-off, the show pairs a naïve young teen (Morty) with his cynical, alcoholic, mad scientist grandfather (Rick), each episode exploring a trope -- dreams, aliens, innerspace, parallel universes, virtual reality -- and turning it inside-out with intricate plotting, eye-catching art, and dark, whipsmart humor (with plenty of improvisation along the way). A ratings hit already secured for a second season, the show returns from an Olympics-induced hiatus tomorrow -- in the meantime, why not sample the six episodes aired so far: Pilot - Lawnmower Dog - Anatomy Park - M. Night Shaym-Aliens! - Meeseeks and Destroy - Rick Potion #9. Want more? Promo/highlight reel - AV Club reviews - TVTropes - Reddit - Rick & Morty ComicCon panel - Storyboard Test - Soundtrack samples - Play the "Rushed Licensed Adventure" point-and-click game
posted by Rhaomi on Mar 9, 2014 - 84 comments

I'd Rather Be Burned As A Witch Than Never Be Burned At All

A montage of famous witches set to Eartha Kitt
posted by The Whelk on Mar 7, 2014 - 9 comments

A Vampire is a Flexible Metaphor

Meghan McCarron interviews Kelly Link for Gigantic magazine. They talk about The Vampire Diaries, fanfic, patterns in stories and the craving for distortion, among other topics. Great news for Link fans: she has a new short story collection, Get in Trouble, coming out in 2015 and is working on a novel!
posted by daisyk on Mar 2, 2014 - 23 comments

Need something to read?

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (not to be confused with the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel) has been running since 1974 and featured some amazing writers over the years. Want to sample some of it? You're in luck, as a massive anthology featuring 111 Campbell winners and nominees is now available for free, drm free download. It's a limited time offer only, so act now while supplies last.
posted by MartinWisse on Feb 2, 2014 - 21 comments

Girls Fighting (or Helping) Evil

Laura is super passionate about girls fighting evil, creating collages with short stories about various groups of girls fighting off demons - from radio DJs and the interns at Night Vale, to Dorothy Gale, travelers, and of course Beyonce. Sometimes the girls are helping the demons: evil counterparts to Cinderella, Belle, and Snow White, the underwater orchestra, even the underlord's admin assistant. Sometimes they fight each other; sometimes they fight themselves. Some of these fighters are real. Sometimes they'll let you borrow their style.
posted by divabat on Jan 31, 2014 - 8 comments

Suffer A Witch To Live!

Witchsona Week is a week for artists, doodlers, webcomicers, and more to draw themselves as witches.
posted by The Whelk on Jan 30, 2014 - 20 comments

Arrange to introduce a great fire

The 100 Greatest Painters in Western History (according to the editors of This Recording). [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Jan 30, 2014 - 63 comments

"Gandalf as Ring-Lord would have been far worse than Sauron."

Would the One Ring even work for anyone but Sauron? But does the One Ring actually convey power to anyone but Sauron? It actually seems to diminish its bearers: Bilbo feels "thin" and "stretched", Smeagol becomes the wretched Gollum, Frodo is never quite the same even after it is destroyed. None of them seem more "powerful," even in the abstract way that magic-users in Tolkien operate. No mention is made, that I can recall, of a Ringbearer having greater stature or authority, or of people naturally following them or obeying their commands, while they possess the Ring. [more inside]
posted by ignignokt on Jan 16, 2014 - 357 comments

We've planned too many wonders for one little star

"In 'Somebody Will' I wanted to get across why I see sci-fi and fantasy fandom as a more positive, productive world than many of the hobbies and communities common in our culture. [...] The hardest part of the piece is singing it to the end without crying."
[more inside]
posted by Sokka shot first on Jan 6, 2014 - 5 comments

One Weird Old Trick to Undermine the Patriarchy

"Bilbo, it turns out, makes a terrific heroine. She’s tough, resourceful, humble, funny, and uses her wits to make off with a spectacular piece of jewelry. Perhaps most importantly, she never makes an issue of her gender—and neither does anyone else."
posted by Jacqueline on Dec 29, 2013 - 90 comments

Smaug Alert

Smithsonian Magazine examines the extent to which Peter Jackson's vision of The Hobbit shows fidelity to Tolkien's text. [more inside]
posted by MoonOrb on Dec 24, 2013 - 104 comments

P.L Travers, Walt Disney and the "Brand Deposit"

Is Saving Mr. Banks, Disney's retelling of the events surrounding the adaptation of Mary Poppins a corporate, borderline-sexist spoonful of lies which throws author P. L. Travers under the bus?
posted by Artw on Dec 18, 2013 - 69 comments

Hobbits would only drink ales since lagers are not found on Middle-earth

So, you want to eat like a hobbit do you? The big old dragon of Middle-Earth recipes is the charmingly retro 'Middle-Earth Recipes' (now with a more modern and photo-friendly blog version ) from which NPR's Beth Accomando has complied an all-day feasting menu suitable for marathon watching (or reading) assorted Lord Of The Rings media while Recipewise sticks to foods served by Bilbo in The Hobbit itself and explains the Victorian convention of high vs. low tea. (Author Diane Duane's own Hobbit-inspired recipe, Took Family Seed Cake can be made with poppy rather than caraway seed if that's your thing) Need something to do while digesting? Why not read about the history and meaning of the rural comfort food in Tolkien at Strange Horizons " Well Stocked Larders: Food And Diet Of Hobbits" by Stephanie Green.
posted by The Whelk on Dec 15, 2013 - 45 comments

There and Back Again

To define the world of The Hobbit is, of course, impossible, because it is new. - C.S. Lewis reviews The Hobbit. Why Smaug Sill Matters. Tolkien, Alignment, Non-Violence, and Why Hobbits are Required for Middle-earth to Survive. "‘Smaug’ is about almost absolutely nothing". Scientist maps climate of Lord of the Rings.
posted by Artw on Dec 8, 2013 - 157 comments

Westeros and beyond

Jonathan Roberts is a fantasy mapmaker, who produced the maps for the official Game of Thrones atlas. He talks about mapmaking to Wired here. He also has a website with lots of nifty maps, as well as tips on making your own.
posted by Chrysostom on Dec 3, 2013 - 22 comments

And A Gun Named Rose Red

"I did not see the appeal of a wife. We had never had one before. She would not be half as interesting as our buffalo." Read a lengthy excerpt from Catherynne Valente's Six-Gun Snow White, an adaptation of the Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 709 fairy tale as a campfire story set in the American west.
posted by The Whelk on Nov 20, 2013 - 19 comments

Calamari a la Mode

On the Lovecraftian Mode - Gord Sellar on why he writes lovecraftian fiction. Elizabeth Bear on the same question. I. N. J. Culbard on adapting Lovecraft.
posted by Artw on Nov 12, 2013 - 22 comments

Come along and ride on a fantastic voyage

Travel posters for imaginary destinations, from Ryhope Wood to the Dream Archipelo, with side jaunts to e.g. the end of the earth and the wreckage of the Nomad.
posted by MartinWisse on Nov 9, 2013 - 23 comments

Inspirational and Educational Reading

"In Advanced Readings in D&D, Tor.com writers Tim Callahan and Mordicai Knode take a look at Gary Gygax’s favorite authors and reread one per week, in an effort to explore the origins of Dungeons & Dragons and see which of these sometimes-famous, sometimes-obscure authors are worth rereading today." [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Nov 8, 2013 - 42 comments

"Full speed ahead, Mr. Cohen!"

Terry Gilliam fans are patiently waiting for the release of "The Zero Theorem", his first film in four years. In the meantime, let's go back thirty years ago to the moment that Gilliam really found his footing as a director in between the filming of "Time Bandits" and "Brazil". It all concerns a bunch of elderly accountants... [more inside]
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI on Oct 26, 2013 - 36 comments

Wonderbook

Infographic shows you how award-winning science fiction is born - From Jeff Vandermeer (and collaborators) Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction. Trailer, website, interview.
posted by Artw on Oct 25, 2013 - 3 comments

"like a panicked 14-year-old who has yet to sprout pubic hair"

"When I read Spell as a kid, I related to Bink. It never struck me as weird that he was a dozen years older than me, but wasn’t any more mature. Now the prospect of relating to Bink, at any age, seems insane. It doesn’t have anything to do with his whining. It has to do with the way he views Spells’ female characters: as obstacles, props, and objects of lust and condescension."

Revisiting the sad, misogynistic fantasy of Xanth
posted by Atom Eyes on Oct 18, 2013 - 325 comments

The tornado did nothing to the sharks, sorry.

Twitter: @HardSciFiMovies imagines the plots of SF/F movies moving more in line with reality.... [via mefi projects]
posted by The Whelk on Oct 13, 2013 - 201 comments

A Redtail's Tale or What Does the Fox Dream?

A REDTAIL'S DREAM Two years ago, Minna Sundberg was an art student who aspired to write and draw graphic novels so she decided to create a 'practice comic' while still in school. It was a fantasy adventure based upon Finnish mythology - not like Norse Gods, the omnipotent entities here were spirit animals, including an irresponsible young fox spirit who messed up the Northern Lights (also known as 'Fox Fire') and pulled the population of a rural village into a Limbo-like 'dream bubble' between Life and the Afterlife. [more inside]
posted by oneswellfoop on Sep 30, 2013 - 12 comments

I would have started with lasers, eight o'clock, Day One!

How, against all odds, Time Bandits got made. Somehow in the face of a universe that seems dead set against it Terry Gilliam continues making movies today, the latest being Zero Theorem.
posted by Artw on Sep 17, 2013 - 75 comments

Your Annual Fantasy Football Post

Fantasy football is back, and this year brings with it the rise of Fantasy Football Insurance. Marketplace explains. [more inside]
posted by DynamiteToast on Sep 5, 2013 - 25 comments

"I was ... working on something else but last night I dreamt of R'lyeh"

The title of Allen Williams' website, "I Just Draw," undersells his works. These are no idle doodles, but rather, as Guillermo del Toro wrote: "Entire worlds flow from Allen Williams' pencil and brush. Creatures and characters more twisted and full of humanity than our imagination dares to conjure. He is an incredible draughtsman and a true original mind." You can see more of Williams' works on his blog. Click on the images to enlarge them. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Sep 3, 2013 - 10 comments

The original golden age of fantasy role playing games.

Old School FRP is a tumblr blog with a ton of illustrations and art from the golden age of Dungeons and Dragons and games that were totally not Dungeons and Dragons.
posted by Pope Guilty on Aug 31, 2013 - 33 comments

The Weight of a Blessing by Aliette de Bodard

There’s a moment which comes every time Minh Ha enters the Hall of the Dead: a single, agonizing moment of hope when she sees the streets before the bombs extinguished the lanterns hanging in the trees—when she sees Mother and the aunts exactly as she remembers them, their faces creased like crumpled paper—when she hears them say, “Come to us, child,” in Rong, just as they once did, when handing her the red envelopes of the New Year celebration.

It never lasts.

posted by deathpanels on Aug 30, 2013 - 7 comments

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