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Running empires requires lots of meetings

this is what happens when you read a super-sci-fi-y story about spaceships, aliens, and AI, then switch to a classically fantasy story with goblins and elves, and find out they’re actually fascinatingly similar books with a lot to say about power, empire, and administration.
Alix E. Harrow talks about administrating imaginary empires and the similiarities between Ancillary Sword and The Goblin Emperor.
posted by MartinWisse on Dec 15, 2014 - 41 comments

An eternity with Tootie

Tor.com presents "As Good As New" a short story by Charlie Jane Anders about a girl, the apocalypse, and making sure those three wishes count.
posted by The Whelk on Dec 13, 2014 - 3 comments

The Hobbit: How the 'clomping foot of nerdism' destroyed Tolkien's dream

It's one of the great literary tragedies of our age that Lord of the Rings, not its sprightlier prequel, served as the blueprint for modern fantasy. Returning to The Hobbit is like visiting a lost world, one which 20th century fantasy left behind. It’s almost surprising in how much fun it is compared to the exhausting trudges that followed. So with the third and final Hobbit film now upon us, it’s worth asking: why was it Lord of the Rings, not this sprightlier prequel, which served as the blueprint for modern high fantasy?
posted by standardasparagus on Dec 13, 2014 - 176 comments

"because stories breathe here"

Science fiction is still very new in Nigeria, but while we could barely find 10 people to contribute to the anthology in 2010, there are now hundreds of writers who will readily try their hand at the genre. Just as I did, more writers are recognising that we have a copious amount of material for speculative fiction here in Nigeria. That means we need platforms where these stories can be anchored. To help this along, Chinelo Onwualu and I present Omenana, a bimonthly speculative fiction e-publication.
The new, Nigerian speculative fiction magazine Omenana launched this month. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Dec 7, 2014 - 7 comments

Brave New Middle Market.

The Boy Who Grew Up by Christopher Barzak is a Peter Pan story featured in the first issue of Uncanny Magazine, a kickstarter funded SF/F magazine co-edited by Hugo Award-winner Lynne M. Thomas and Hugo Award-nominee Michael Damian Thomas. Issue One contains fiction by Kat Howard and Max Gladstone (Gladstone previously) as well as non-fiction essays including "The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Films On The Web".
posted by The Whelk on Dec 6, 2014 - 2 comments

Into the indestructible realm of mystery and dream

Steven Millhauser is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction author known for his erudite, witty and surreal writing style that blends the magical and the real. Enjoy the full text of Eisenheim The Illusionist (pdf, 20 pages), the story that inspired the 2006 film The Illusionist. [more inside]
posted by quiet earth on Dec 5, 2014 - 5 comments

So many subtle ways to be human, and so many subtle ways to be wrong.

Tor.com presents Max Gladstone's A Kiss With Teeth, in which an ancient evil settles down and tries out middle-class married life.
posted by The Whelk on Nov 23, 2014 - 31 comments

For all we see as wrong, some of its appeal might be in its rightness

I've been slightly under the weather for the last week, which means, of course, soup, self-pity and comfort reads. Rather than my traditional winter-sniffles re-re-re-read of the Belgariad, I thought I'd go wandering around the historical romance category. That is: duchess porn.
At Pornokitsch, Jared Shurin expresses appreciation for "5 things in historical romance I wantonly desire to see in epic fantasy," and commenters suggest where to find them. At the Journal of Popular Romance Studies, similarly meta yet more searching questions arise. [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Nov 14, 2014 - 38 comments

For all your hovercraft lasersword neocyberpunk roleplaying needs

Tabletop Audio - a new site with sixty ambient sound and music files for science fiction, horror, fantasy, modern and historical tabletop games. Plus a nifty queue manager and the option to download the tracks for play offline.
posted by Happy Dave on Nov 14, 2014 - 11 comments

The 3-6 Chambers

Final Fantasy 3 (or is it 6?) was released 20 years ago. As it was coming out, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) was blowing up the NYC music scene. In their honour, enjoy Final Fantasy - The 3-6 Chambers! [more inside]
posted by Lemurrhea on Nov 13, 2014 - 29 comments

An Atlas Of Hyperreal Cities And Where To Find Them

On Umberto Eco's latest book of imaginary maps to legendary lands.
posted by The Whelk on Nov 12, 2014 - 11 comments

Written with nightbird quills and ink-of-dedication

I try to do two things with my style. The first is to pay attention to how the words sound together ... The other thing is to juxtapose odd images.
Sometimes ornate, sometimes economical, and always striking, Yoon Ha Lee's short fiction combines motifs from fantasy and science fiction with remarkable fruitfulness: "There are soldiers and scientists, space travel and dragons, leather-bound books, locked doors, and genocidal rampages. Each tale strains at the edges of possibility. No two of Lee's stories are alike, except for a similar pulse powering each word, each juxtaposition, each startling turn of events." Much of Lee's output is available online, including dozens of flash fiction fairy tales and two works of interactive fiction. [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Nov 9, 2014 - 13 comments

Ripping up the SFF-Scene Requires Hate

Requires Hate, aka Benjanun Sriduangkaew, is a multiple, serial & proven bully, liar & manipulator says fantasy author Juliet McKenna. She and other authors (like Ian McDonald) are taking up arms in the controversy around the machinations of one writer that are shaking up the SFF publishing world. [more inside]
posted by Omnomnom on Nov 7, 2014 - 151 comments

Moon Eggs

20 Doctor Who Stories That Are Based On Real Science
posted by Artw on Nov 5, 2014 - 16 comments

Goblins: how do they work?

Max Gladstone ponders goblins
posted by boo_radley on Oct 30, 2014 - 47 comments

FOR I HAVE ONE OF THESE THINGS IN COMMON: AND MY NAME IS TIGTONE!

The Begun of Tigtone! Gloriously indescribable cod-epic fantasy animation. [more inside]
posted by Sebmojo on Oct 18, 2014 - 13 comments

Let Me Tell You About Homestuck

5 years.
7,000 pages.
13,000 panels.
700,000 words. [Approximately the length of the Bible.]
Over 3 hours of animation.
Over 23 hours of soundtrack.
15 separate games, in 3 unique styles.

PBS once called Homestuck the "Ulysses of the Internet". Its author, Andrew Hussie — who resembles Joyce in his impishness, stylistic maximalism, and fondness for disturbing smut — calls it "a story I've tried to make as much a pure expression of its medium as possible". It has become a cultural phenomenon, inspiring proms and dominating Amazon makeup reviews. But most importantly, it's a rollicking good read, equal parts slapstick and epic, bildungsroman and cultural commentary.

What on earth about it makes its fans so overly zealous? And how the hell does one start the daunting process of reading Homestuck? If you're even the remotest bit curious about this Internet phenomenon, the following is a teensy-weensy introduction to just what makes Homestuck so terrific. [more inside]
posted by rorgy on Oct 16, 2014 - 231 comments

Groots, Black Widows, and Every Johnny Depp

The Very Best Cosplay and Outfits from NY Comic-Con 2014
posted by The Whelk on Oct 13, 2014 - 69 comments

Afrofuturism: The New Wave

A New Wave of Black Filmmaking: Experimental and Black Speculative Indie Films "A brief survey of the contemporary Black independent film scene yields a long and ever-growing list of experimental and Black speculative (including horror, Afrofuturism, sci-fi, fantasy, fan fiction) short cinema, film trailers, music videos and other projects. (/The Atlanta Black Star) [more inside]
posted by TheGoodBlood on Oct 12, 2014 - 4 comments

sex work: fantasies as commodities, consent, and emotional labor

"In my experience, the reminder that the sexual fantasy isn’t real, that the women who perform availability aren’t ACTUALLY available, that we aren’t ACTUALLY clamouring to be sexualized by men, that we control when the fantasy starts and stops, and that our performance is just that, a performance that requires compensation… well, some men find that hard to swallow." [more inside]
posted by flex on Oct 6, 2014 - 127 comments

You may now make your first move

"When critics and journalists discuss John Darnielle’s new, first full-length novel, Wolf in White Van, which was just nominated for a National Book Award, they often point out the storytelling aspect of his songwriting. But Mountain Goats songs are as much incantation as narrativethey imply the advent of the trauma with declarations and appeals to dead gods, which deny it or try (futilely) to ward it off." Carl Wilson reviews the novel--about the inventor of a role-playing by mail game with a cult following--in depth on Slate. Listen to the first chapter read by Darnielle here. Autoplay
posted by Potomac Avenue on Oct 5, 2014 - 20 comments

Please enjoy this interactive fiction fantasy!

With Those We Love Alive by Porpentine and Brenda Neotenomie
posted by bile and syntax on Oct 3, 2014 - 14 comments

Dream detected. Dream detected.

Kichwateli (Kenya, 2011; 07:46), The Day They Came (Nigeria, 2013; 03:59), The Tale of How (South Africa, 2006; 04:28; previously), Alive in Joburg (South Africa, 2006; 06:22; previously), Umkhungo (South Africa, 2010; 30:34; trailer alt. link), Evolve (Egypt, 2014; 24:17), Mwansa the Great (Zambia, 2011; 23:11; two trailers as alt. links), and Pumzi (Kenya, 2009; 21:51): eight short works of SF/fantasy via The Skiffy and Fanty Show.
posted by Monsieur Caution on Sep 30, 2014 - 1 comment

"Conceptual fiction plays with our conception of reality"

"I loathe science fiction," Vladimir Nabokov declared to a BBC interviewer in 1968. A few months later Nabokov published an elaborate sci-fi novel.
Nabokov's Ada or Ardor is one of the works in the Science Fiction in Transition (1958-1975): New Wave & New Directions reading list put together by Ted Gioia, in his day job a jazz critic and music historian. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Sep 27, 2014 - 33 comments

Speak With Monsters: The Incomplete Series

"Okay, the old man in the tavern tells you, 'Many years ago the powerful sage known as Mefi's own Lore collected much wisdom about the sundry monsters of which the elders taught of us in the Monster Manual. Lore's annotations to the work came in the form of the comic series Speak With Monsters. They were once thought lost forever with the fall of Bad Gods and following the trail the mighty JHarris blazed previously four winters past will lead only to woe. But Lore has shared them again in the distant library of Google Plus for seekers after wisdom and gold.' He then falls over with a knife in his back. What do you do?" [more inside]
posted by ricochet biscuit on Sep 21, 2014 - 18 comments

The Old Woman With No Teeth

PodCastle 328: The Old Woman With No Teeth
When The Old Woman With No Teeth decided to have children, she didn’t go about it in the usual way. Well, really, what else could you expect from The Old Woman With No Teeth? If she ever did anything the usual way, even boiling a pot of water, the world might start spinning widdershins on its axis.

"Now you just stop that. I can read perfectly well, you impudent ragger. Set down what I told you, and don’t believe all the stories you’ve heard about me."

There are many stories about The Old Woman With No Teeth, but people should not believe all of them. The most popular one is that she wore away her teeth by chewing a tunnel to the six-sided world. Nobody knows if this story is true. Many people have looked for the passageway she is supposed to have gnawed through reality, but none of the venturers have managed to pinpoint it.

"None of the ones who’ve come back, you mean. Silly bastards."
[more inside]
posted by Lexica on Sep 15, 2014 - 7 comments

“Some people feed you with love.”

We've Lost One Of The Great Fantasy Writers: R.I.P. Graham Joyce
"Graham Joyce was a monumental writer in the fantasy genre. His humane, intense writing was like a masterclass in how to put story first, and he knew how to write people, with all our blind spots and our hopeful mistakes. He died today of lymphatic cancer, and it's a huge loss to fantasy literature."
[more inside]
posted by Fizz on Sep 9, 2014 - 18 comments

Bradbury 13

In 1984, Michael McDonough of Brigham Young University produced "Bradbury 13" [YTPL], a series of 13 audio adaptations of famous Ray Bradbury stories, in conjunction with National Public Radio. The full-cast dramatizations featured adaptations of "The Ravine," "Night Call, Collect," "The Veldt", "There Was an Old Woman," "Kaleidoscope," "Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed", "The Screaming Woman," "A Sound of Thunder," "The Man," "The Wind," "The Fox and the Forest," "Here There Be Tygers" and "The Happiness Machine". Voiceover actor Paul Frees [previously] provided narration, while Bradbury himself was responsible for the opening voiceover...
posted by jim in austin on Sep 8, 2014 - 12 comments

Pratchett's Women

Pratchett's Women: nine essays (by Australian fantasy author Tansy Rayner Roberts) on the portrayal of women in the Discworld books [more inside]
posted by flex on Sep 7, 2014 - 57 comments

Kingdoms Lost

Kingdoms Lost - a fantasy comic by Boulet [previously]
posted by moonmilk on Sep 6, 2014 - 8 comments

But I have nothing to read no longer an excuse

Why read an average book when you could read a great book? With so little time to read, why waste time on a so-so book? But how do you find the best books to read? Most people read whatever they stumble across at the moment. Other folks read book reviews and get recommendations from friends. Even fewer join book clubs.
For those despairing of finding enough decent science fiction to read, James W. Harris sets out how to find the best science fiction books to read, including his own classics of science fiction list. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Sep 3, 2014 - 113 comments

Story is powerful

Someone once asked me why "alpha males" were so popular in so much romantic speculative fiction, and I hesitated to answer it. Not because I didn't know, but because I knew I was going to have to have a discussion about teasing out the difference between finding pleasure in something you genuinely find pleasurable and taking pleasure in something you think you're supposed to find pleasurable.
Kameron Hurley talks about Gender, Family, Nookie: The Speculative Frontier.
posted by MartinWisse on Aug 25, 2014 - 7 comments

I've witnessed strange things ...

Jeff VanderMeer reflects on connections between personal experience and written SF/fantasy, including those in his own work as well as that of Angela Carter, Lev Grossman, Ann Leckie, Lauren Beukes, and Nnedi Okorafor. [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Aug 22, 2014 - 7 comments

Eaton Science Fiction & Fantasy Archive in trouble?

Celebrated writer Nalo Hopkinson blogs that the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction & Fantasy, the largest publicly-accessible collection of sf/f genre books in the world, may be in danger, in the wake of changes in the library and university administration. The archive is housed by the library system of UC Riverside and currently hosts a biennial conference, a lifetime achievement award for celebrated writers in the genre and a student short story contest. The journal Science Fiction Studies (based at DePauw) sponsors a fellowship to promote research at the Eaton archive.
posted by aught on Aug 22, 2014 - 4 comments

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 - 66 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

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