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Women in Science Fiction & Fantasy Month, 2015

Every April for the past several years, Fantasy Cafe has published a series of guest posts for Women in Science Fiction & Fantasy Month. This year, the article that generated the most discussion was "'I am ... ?': Representation of Mature Women in Fantasy" by Mieneke from A Fantastical Librarian, who asked, "So where are the older women in fantasy? Mature women who are the hero of their own story?" The many other guest posts this year offered an interesting range of questions, observations, and reflections--often by well-known names in the field. [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on May 3, 2015 - 15 comments

"The creative process ... was slightly disastrous."

The Whole Family [(1908; Wikipedia)] is a bit of an oddity - a 'shared-world' by twelve prominent authors, each focusing on an individual member of an extended New England upper class family. William Dean Howells sets up the framework in the opening chapter ... [I]n the second story, Mary Wilkins Freeman overturns the whole table with a wonderfully feminist reinterpretation of a secondary character. The rest of the book is a scramble to put the apples back in the cart ...
In "5 Goodies from Gutenberg," Jared Shurin revisits a round-robin novel he reviewed in more detail last summer at Pornokitsch, but it's not the only classic collaborative fiction available online. [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on May 2, 2015 - 4 comments

The Tyranny of Pew-Pew: How Fun Fantasy Violence Became Inescapable

1977 changed everything in Hollywood. "I'm not here to wonder whether Star Wars: Rebels is legacy pop culture — like DC and Marvel superheroes — that parents might be forcing on their kids the way white boomer dads evangelize Steely Dan. Instead, as the Avengers kick off another summer of mighty Marvel mook-blasting, I just want to ask: Why do we (mostly) agree, today, that this material is appropriate? And is something lost when pew-pew action/adventure follows the trajectory of soft drinks and fast food — going from occasional treat to everyday staple? In short, how did the decapitations of orcs and robots become the very center of our media culture?"
posted by tunewell on Apr 24, 2015 - 109 comments

No, these oysters, they were purely oysters as a concept

A trio of Haruki Murakami's Advertorial Short Stories: In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Onward spent massive sums on advertising J. Press in the print media. The classic ad format, often seen on the back cover of lifestyle magazine Popeye, showed a Japanese or American man telling a colorful story about their favorite trad clothing item. In 1985, as Japanese pop culture went in more avant-garde directions, Onward came up with a new idea — asking up-and-coming novelist Murakami Haruki to write a very short story inside each month’s advertisement for magazines Popeye, Box, and Men’s Club. [more inside]
posted by byanyothername on Apr 22, 2015 - 2 comments

Library of Congress Launches Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature

The Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature at the Library of Congress dates back to 1943, when Allen Tate was Consultant in Poetry. It contains nearly two thousand recordings—of poets and prose writers participating in literary events at the Library’s Capitol Hill campus as well as sessions at the Library’s Recording Laboratory. Highlights from the collection include: Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Atwood, Ray Bradbury, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Mario Vargas Llosa, Rita Dove, Elizabeth Bishop, Gwendolyn Brooks, W.S. Merwin, Sandra Cisneros, Amy Clampitt, Robert Pinsky , and Miłosz, Czesław, among many others. [more inside]
posted by Toekneesan on Apr 16, 2015 - 7 comments

Dennis Cooper's Zac's Haunted House

Zac's Haunted House, the latest by Dennis Cooper, is a free HTML horror novel consisting entirely of animated GIFs. Notre Dame English professor Joyelle McSweeney discusses the book with Mr. Cooper.
posted by Rykey on Apr 14, 2015 - 9 comments

GRR Martin on writing, those books, that show and other projects

Season 5 of Game of Thrones begins Sunday night. Shouldn't you read a recent interview with creator of the books that spawned the show? Yes, you should! [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Apr 12, 2015 - 137 comments

“Is evil something you are? Or is it something you do?”

What are the most disturbing novels? [The Guardian] [Books] Guardian Books discusses disturbing reads:
"Bret Easton Ellis has haunted some of our readers for days, and on the books desk we’re still getting over certain depictions of dangerous obsessions and hellish orgies. Which fiction has most unnerved you?"

posted by Fizz on Apr 10, 2015 - 220 comments

That dystopian fiction need not be confined to the developed world.

"Why the hero of my YA dystopian novel had to be an angry young Indian girl." [Guardian Books]
Laxmi Hariharan challenges the domination of dystopian western worlds in teen novels, why not a dystopian Asia or Latin America? And how it’s time for the stereotype-busting Angry Young (Indian) Girl to claim centre-stage.

posted by Fizz on Apr 6, 2015 - 25 comments

The rabbit holes have higher rents

The Ghost Of Grindr "On Wednesday Michael Musto has an item in his column that reads “We’ve all met someone online with attractive photos who then shows up at your door looking like something from Night of the Living Dead, but rumors are growing amongst app-happy gays of a real life ‘ghost trick’ who shows up at your apartment via Grindr, then vanishes into thin air (shady!). I don’t know what to think of this urban legend-y tale, but shaken witnesses are sticking by their stories, and police have been involved in a few incidents, so be careful out there, boys (and ghouls).”
posted by The Whelk on Apr 3, 2015 - 31 comments

Why should authors not embrace the networked world?

"It’s hard not to hear cultural ruin, melodramatic as that may be, in every interrupting chirp and chime of a phone receiving a text or a call or blasting a video through its speakers on a packed subway train. The citizen in me, greedy for chances at quiet reflection and, frankly, to be left in peace from unwelcome noises, shudders and laments. But the artist in me, the writer, asks a more probing question, if not necessarily more optimistic: what might I do with all this?" Novelist Steve Himmer explores how to write about our increasingly interconnected world in "Reader, I Muted Him: The Narrative Possibilities of Networked Life."
posted by ocherdraco on Mar 29, 2015 - 14 comments

"She often condescends to drive by in her little phaeton and ponies."

A handy single-page explanation of horse-drawn carriage varieties, with pithy descriptions and occasional photographs of the barouche, the brougham, the cabriolet, the calash, the char-a-banc, the char-de-cote, the curricle, the dog-cart, the gig, the governess cart, the jaunting car, the landau, the Ralli car, the sociable, the sulky, the waggonette, and others. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Mar 23, 2015 - 34 comments

The Hunter of Doves

Are-you-in-trouble?—Do-you-need-advice?—Write-to-Miss-Lonelyhearts-and-she-will-help-you
Miss Lonelyhearts, The Day of the Locust, A Cool Million, and The Dream Life of Balso Snell, all by Nathanael West [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Mar 20, 2015 - 11 comments

Oh FUI

Fictional user interfaces in film, TV and games.
Kit FUI
UI BAKA
SciFi Interfaces
VisualPunker: UI
FakeUI
Screens on screen [more inside]
posted by zamboni on Mar 20, 2015 - 15 comments

Gender novels

Rise of the Gender Novel: Too often, trans characters are written as tortured heroes. We’re more complex than that
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Mar 18, 2015 - 17 comments

On Memory: New Writing from Japan

On Memory: New Writing from Japan : a collection of newly translated fiction and non-fiction by Japanese writers, appearing in Words Without Borders magazine.
posted by Nevin on Mar 18, 2015 - 2 comments

How Finding a Fat YA Heroine Changed My Life

I’ve been reading for, it feels like, as long as I have had sentience and consciousness, and it has taken me my entire life to meet someone in a book who looked like me and felt the same way I do and has struggled with some of the things I have struggled with, and is still loved.
Kaye Toal at Buzzfeed on finally meeting a fat girl in young adult fiction, at the age of 23. Contains spoilers for Eleanor and Park and Harry Potter.
posted by Stacey on Mar 11, 2015 - 22 comments

The humble quest to read all things lesbian

The Lesbrary - "The humble quest to read everything lesbian: a lesbian book blog." Also see sidebar for links to other lesbian book blogs, websites, and online resources. [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Mar 3, 2015 - 27 comments

Wonders of Destruction in Arabic Fiction

Historians of war and society would like to believe that military conflicts have fixed beginnings and ends. Conventional depictions of the Lebanese civil war are no exception and typically confine that conflict within the notional temporal parameters of 1975–90. But the key aggravating features generally identified with the events of the Lebanese civil war—class resentments, echoes of the Arab-Israeli conflict on a regional scale, domestic geographical inequalities, sectarian rancor, and political infighting across the Lebanese scene—had been accumulating since 1948, and even earlier. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Mar 1, 2015 - 6 comments

The long shadow of the Super Friends

Why Are People Still Surprised That Aquaman Is A Badass?
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Feb 24, 2015 - 64 comments

"Oh, how I mourn her passing"

Traces of Mavis. David MacFarlane writes about the life and work of Mavis Gallant for Canadian magazine The Walrus.
...an aspiring novelist once pressed Gallant for advice, which she stubbornly refused to give. She could have said something—anything, almost—to satisfy the would-be writer. But she wasn’t the kind of person who did that. ... How to write? This was not, as far as Gallant was concerned, an uncomplicated question. It was also a question that, were it to be answered meaningfully, would require more soul-searching, more thought, more self-analysis than she would want to undertake in front of a stranger. It’s easy to imagine how the question could come across as rude or impossible to answer—or both. Besides, she firmly believed that writing could not be taught. But the young author persisted. “All right,” Gallant finally said. “Here’s some advice: never drink cheap wine.”

posted by jokeefe on Feb 18, 2015 - 5 comments

Cara Ellison

From Cara Ellison (Embed With, S.EXE), two short pieces: Wordless Reply and Hypercorporeal War Simulator.
posted by kmz on Feb 16, 2015 - 4 comments

Go obscure, out-of-print, feminist, progressive, female authors!!! Woot!

Drinking My Way Through the Literary 1930's : "The backbone of this blog is the amazing and unfortunately out-of-print book, So Red the Nose. To this 1935, somewhat tongue-in-cheek recipe book, thirty bestselling contemporary authors submitted original cocktails, based around their own original works ... My mission, then, is to recreate 29 of these cocktails ... and combine them with their namesakes, ... discovering which books are classics tragically forgotten and which are better left to collect dust in library basements." [via mefi projects] [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Feb 14, 2015 - 11 comments

The first science fiction anthology to focus on the immigrant experience

The first science fiction anthology to focus on the immigrant experience [via mefi projects]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Feb 12, 2015 - 8 comments

The making of "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek"

When Annie Dillard wrote Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, she didn't think anyone would want to read a memoir by a "Virginia housewife". So she left her domestic life out of the book - and turned her surroundings into a wilderness. The Thoreau of the Suburbs.
posted by paleyellowwithorange on Feb 5, 2015 - 21 comments

Some notable SF/F/H short fiction from 2014

Locus Magazine has published its 2014 Recommended Reading List. BestSF.net has given its Best SF Short Story Award for 2014. Tables of contents have been announced for The Year's Best Science Fiction, Thirty-Second Annual Collection edited by Gardner Dozois, Year's Best Weird Fiction, Volume Two edited by Kathe Koja and Michael Kelly, and The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume Nine edited by Jonathan Strahan. And several writers have called out their favorite stories of the year too, e.g. Ken Liu, Carmen Maria Machado and Sofia Samatar, Usman Malik, and Fran Wilde, Michael R. Underwood, Tina Connolly, and Beth Cato. Quite a few of these short fiction selections from 2014 have been published online in full. [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Feb 3, 2015 - 28 comments

Why do the Cylons come every thirty-three minutes?

'Battlestar Galactica': A close look at the near-perfect pilot episode, 10 years later
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Jan 14, 2015 - 159 comments

If they say I never loved you, you know they are a liar.

The Prom King (and other stories) is a twine game by Ashton Raze. [more inside]
posted by vibratory manner of working on Jan 13, 2015 - 7 comments

They're here. Oh god! They've found you!

A dreadful start.
posted by curious nu on Jan 13, 2015 - 12 comments

The Seven Deaths of the Empress

The unnerving comics of Brian Mowrey. [more inside]
posted by automatic cabinet on Jan 8, 2015 - 12 comments

My Book, The Movie

They would ask me what actors I saw in the roles. I would tell them, and they’d say “Oh that’s interesting.” And that would be the end of it. --Elmore Leonard, in 2000, on the extent of his input for Hollywood's adaptation of his novels
For authorial input on film adaptation, try My Book The Movie, by Marshall Zeringue, also of The Campaign for the American Reader, the page 69 test (previously), and the page 99 test. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Dec 29, 2014 - 6 comments

That evergreen feminist cautionary fable: The Handmaid's Tale

Does The Handmaid's Tale hold up? , Adi Robertson for The Verge:
"A few weeks ago, I mentioned to a friend that I was in the middle of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. 'It’s like 1984 for feminists, right?' he asked. Sort of, I said. But it's a lot scarier. It's about how you'll lose every right you have, and none of the men you know will care. Then I said he would probably betray me if they froze all women's bank accounts. That was the peak of my paranoia, but it held on for several more days, as I read on the subway while half-consciously figuring out how I might theoretically escape to Canada. 1984 was for lightweights."
[more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Dec 28, 2014 - 185 comments

There must be something ghostly in the air of Christmas

It was Christmas Eve. I begin this way because it is the proper, orthodox, respectable way to begin, and I have been brought up in a proper, orthodox, respectable way, and taught to always do the proper, orthodox, respectable thing; and the habit clings to me. Of course, as a mere matter of information it is quite unnecessary to mention the date at all. The experienced reader knows it was Christmas Eve ... It always is Christmas Eve, in a ghost story.
In Told After Supper (1891), Jerome K. Jerome parodied the tradition of telling Christmas ghost stories, but it's plain to see that he had fun writing them. And horror writer Ramsey Campbell, himself the author of a number of Christmas stories, recently dropped by /r/WeirdLit to list off a few places to find more. [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Dec 16, 2014 - 12 comments

César Aira

“I‘ve realized that the perfect length for what I do is 100 pages. In my brevity there may be an element of insecurity. I wouldn‘t dare give a 1,000-page novel to a reader […] My novels became shorter as I became more renowned. People now allow me to do whatever I want. At any rate, publishers prefer thick books. But with books, the thicker they are, the less literature they have.””—César Aira [more inside]
posted by misteraitch on Dec 15, 2014 - 24 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

Electric Literature's 25 Best Novels of 2014

"Year-end lists are always subjective and incomplete, but they are especially tricky for books. A dedicated film critic can watch every wide release film and a theater critic can go to most every play, but the book critic is faced with an insurmountable mountain of books each year. The sheer number of books is inspiring as a reader, but it can make 'best of' lists laughably subjective when the critic has only read a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of novels published each year. With that in mind, I decided to crowd source Electric Literature’s year-end lists. First up: novels."
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Dec 10, 2014 - 31 comments

Didn't we just do this for 2013?

It's turned December, we can no longer pretend 2014 isn't almost over and of course that means it's time for NPR's best books of 2014, which you can filter according to taste. Into science fiction & fantasy or rather realistic fiction? Wanting a long or a book or perhaps just a short, seriously great book about sex? NPR has got you covered.
posted by MartinWisse on Dec 10, 2014 - 31 comments

anxieties about lurid voyeurism, unwholesome interest: In Cold Blood

"Much has been said about the storytelling techniques of 'Serial,' which comes out in weekly installments even as the show’s host, Sarah Koenig, reinvestigates the conviction of a Baltimore-area teenager for the murder of his ex-girlfriend. The serialized approach teases its audience with cliffhangers, prompts its listeners to construct their own theories and invites outsiders to glimpse the tricky winnowing process of reporting. But 'Serial' also testifies to how much the criminal justice system itself is founded on storytelling." (Laura Miller, Salon: The new "In Cold Blood" revisionism: Why it doesn't matter if Capote’s classic wasn't fully true) [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Dec 8, 2014 - 31 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 - 3 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

How To Write A Shitty Young Adult Novel

"Books are dead. It's sad, but it's basically true. Sure, you can eke out a decent living if you dedicate yourself to your craft, spend years researching niche topics, and fleshing out the true human characteristics of your characters–that is, if you're extremely lucky and enormously talented. Or you could write a young adult novel."

posted by Jacqueline on Nov 20, 2014 - 126 comments

Greil Marcus and Don DeLillo discuss Bob Dylan and Bucky Wunderlick

The following conversation took place in 2005 in front of an audience at the Telluride film festival in Colorado, after a screening of Martin Scorsese’s documentary, Bob Dylan: No Direction Home.
posted by Lorin on Nov 19, 2014 - 6 comments

"Tomorrow's news today"

Why We Terraformed a New Home for Future Fiction: "Science fiction is an extremely powerful tool. Not for predicting the future, but for clarifying our present. We want to see that happening not just in monthly magazines, but on Reddit, Digg, and Facebook. We want fiction to be part of your feed." Vice has launched its new site for short-form science fiction, Terraform, with new stories by Bruce Sterling, Cory Doctorow, and "exciting newcomers."
posted by jbickers on Nov 18, 2014 - 20 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

They keep asking me more specific questions.

"And what they’re really asking me: is your first memory different from my own? Tell me, they are asking, under their breaths, tell me a story that shows how you and I are different."- a fictional story exploring conformity in sexual relations in a future society, by Debbie Urbanski.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Nov 14, 2014 - 7 comments

Looking at Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" series.

Isaac Asimov's Foundation: The little idea that became science fiction's biggest series [SPOILERS] (io9)
On the planet Terminus, a group of academics struggles to survive as the Galactic Empire crumbles. With no weapons, all they can rely on are the predictions of a dead genius named Hari Seldon. That's right — it's time to discuss Isaac Asimov's Foundation!

Welcome to Foundation Week, a Blogging the Hugos special event. In 1983, Isaac Asimov won the Hugo Award for Best Novel for Foundation's Edge, in which he revisited his groundbreaking Foundation mythos for the first time in over thirty years. Because the Foundation series is such classic, quintessential, and beloved science fiction — the original stories won their own unique Hugo for Best All-Time Series in 1966, and influenced artists from Douglas Adams to George Lucas — Josh Wimmer and Alasdair Wilkins will be discussing each of the seven books between today and Sunday. We begin with Foundation, published in 1951.
[more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Nov 13, 2014 - 87 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

"Ecstatic burning harmedness"

The nominess for the Bad Sex in Fiction award have been announced.
posted by anothermug on Nov 12, 2014 - 59 comments

Here's a box of chocolates; it is your duty to eat them.

People like order in their lives. This does not go down well with those who feel that social restraints of any sort are a bad thing, but these people are a distinct, if very noisy, minority. Most of us want social rules of some sort – not oppressive ones, of course – but rules that govern the way we conduct ourselves towards others. We want people to queue correctly.

We like it when people don’t chew with their mouth open. We love it – although we may be cowed into not saying this – when an able-bodied person gives up a seat to somebody who is clearly frailer. Personally, I like it when anybody gives up a seat on a train to anybody else, frail or not. (Novelist Alexander McCall Smith discusses Jane Austen's Emma in The Daily Mail.)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Nov 11, 2014 - 35 comments

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