'Beneath those houses,' the butler said, 'you should see what goes on. No one suspects the half of it. The whole earth is dug out. Spaciousness beneath. The panic room is seven times the size of this one. The whole of London can fall down around them and yet their freezer is fully stocked. All showers are multi-jet steam cabinets, plus the kitchen has coffee machine built in, ice machine, temperature-controlled cabinet for wine storage, sous vide machine with vacuum sealer, and an air filtration system that is suitable for allergy sufferers.' [TW: rape]
"Unconventional Advice for the Discerning Reader" by Sophie Wereley and "The Practical Witch's Guide to Acquiring Real Estate" by A. C. Wise are recent fantasy short stories that offer handy tips from similar perspectives. "Pockets" by Amal El-Mohtar and "The Apartment Dweller's Bestiary" by Kij Johnson (who adds one beast in a comment) are recent stories that blend strangeness into everyday life with poignant results. All via @SpiralGalaxy and @SFFMicroReviews. [more inside]
Ruth Rendell, crime writer, dies aged 85. [The Guardian]
Ruth Rendell, one of Britain’s best-loved authors, who delighted fans for decades with her dark, intricately plotted crime novels, has died at the age of 85, her publisher has announced.[more inside]
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]
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]
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?"
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]
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]
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.
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]
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?"
"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.
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).”
"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."
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]
Miss Lonelyhearts, The Day of the Locust, A Cool Million, and The Dream Life of Balso Snell, all by Nathanael West [more inside]
Fictional user interfaces in film, TV and games. Kit FUI UI BAKA SciFi Interfaces VisualPunker: UI FakeUI Screens on screen [more inside]
Rise of the Gender Novel: Too often, trans characters are written as tortured heroes. We’re more complex than that
On Memory: New Writing from Japan : a collection of newly translated fiction and non-fiction by Japanese writers, appearing in Words Without Borders magazine.
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.
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]
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]
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.”
From Cara Ellison (Embed With, S.EXE), two short pieces: Wordless Reply and Hypercorporeal War Simulator.
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]
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.
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]
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]
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]
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]
“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]
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.
"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."
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.
"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]
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".
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]
Tor.com presents Max Gladstone's A Kiss With Teeth, in which an ancient evil settles down and tries out middle-class married life.
"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."
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.
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."
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]
"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.
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![more inside]
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.