Seanan McGuire’s Deadlands: Boneyard is now available from Tor Books, and to celebrate, we want to send you a copy of it, along with a copy of each of her Tor.com Publishing books! (And a pack of candy corn, just for good measure.)
In Deadlands: Boneyard, Annie Pearl is the keeper of oddities, the mistress of monsters. Her unique collection of creatures is one of the circus’s star attractions, drawing wide-eyed crowds at every small frontier town they visit. But Annie is also a woman running from her past . . . and the mother of a mute young daughter, Adeline, whom she will do anything to protect. Hoping to fill its coffers before winter sets in, the circus steers its wagons to The Clearing, a remote community deep in the Oregon wilderness, surrounded by an ominous dark wood. The Clearing has it secrets, and so does Annie. And it may take everything she has to save her daughter—and the circus—from both.
Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day is a standalone urban fantasy about Jenna, who blamed herself for her sister’s death—and her own. Living or dead, every soul is promised a certain amount of time, and when Jenna passed she found a heavy debt of time in her record. Unwilling to simply steal that time from the living, Jenna earns every day she leeches with volunteer work at a suicide prevention hotline. But something has come for the ghosts of New York, something beyond reason, beyond death, beyond hope; something that can bind ghosts to mirrors and make them do its bidding. Only Jenna stands in its way.
Two books in McGuire’s Wayward Children series are now available—Every Heart a Doorway and Down Among the Sticks and Bones. The third, Beneath the Sugar Sky, follows Rini, who discovers that her mother died years before Rini was even conceived. If she can’t find a way to restore her mother, Rini will never have been born in the first place. And in a world without magic, she doesn’t have long before Reality notices her existence and washes her away. Good thing the student body is well-acquainted with quests…
One lucky winner will receive copies of Deadlands: Boneyard, Dust or Dark or Dawn or Day, Every Heart a Doorway, and Down Among the Sticks and Bones, and a galley copy of Beneath the Sugar Sky!
Comment in the post to enter!
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Last week, I included Miles’s birthday correspondence in my discussion of chapters 10 and 11. That doesn’t actually happen until the beginning of chapter 12—oops.
It’s an easy mistake to make because Memory tends to suck you in. I plan to read a couple chapters, just to make sure I’ve nailed down the boundaries of the next blog post, and the next thing I know someone is having brain surgery.
Note: This reread has an index, which you can consult if you feel like exploring previous books and chapters. Spoilers are welcome in the comments if they are relevant to the discussion at hand. Non-spoiler comments should also be relevant to the discussion at hand. Like Earth, Barrayar and other places in the galactic nexus live out sets of cultural practices range from beautiful to genocidal. Regardless of what may be commonplace as a cultural practice in any place or time, comments that question the value and dignity of individuals, or that deny anyone’s right to exist, are emphatically NOT welcome. Please take note.
Miles should be having brain surgery, but he hasn’t made the plans yet. Ivan—a thoughtful relative—calls Miles with contact info for three clinics, in case he prefers to avoid ImpMil in this circumstance. One clinic is in Vorbarr Sultana, one elsewhere on Barrayar, and one on Komarr, in case Miles wants greater proximity to galactic medicine and is willing to balance that against the risks of being named Vorkosigan on Komarr. This is how you know it’s science fiction; In real life, lots of relatives would have called, and the information they offered would focus on their own problems and fad diets, not clinics to consider contacting. People in books are usually only allowed to have one crazy relative at a time, and honestly, Miles doesn’t have that many relatives anyway. It’s because practically all of Aral’s family was slaughtered in the massacre that started Mad Yuri’s War, and Vordarian’s Pretendership killed the only other survivor.
Ivan also invites himself to dinner, because he knows about the spiced peach tart. Bujold has done an amazing job showing-not-telling us how great this tart is. I don’t even like peaches that much, and I would turn out for this tart. Martin interrupts dinner to inform Ivan and Miles that someone from ImpSec is on the com for them. That’s an important call, and I’ll get to it in a minute, but first I want to deal with the impression that Bujold is trying to leave in re Martin’s general incompetence. The kid is seventeen. Of course he doesn’t know how to butler, find serving utensils, announce calls and callers, drive an armored car, or handle an employer with unexplained seizures. He’s practically a baby. Martin suffers from comparison to Miles, who took over a mercenary company at age seventeen. I think Martin deserves to benefit from comparison to Miles—he seems unlikely to face charges for treason, at least for several more years. Also, I don’t know Barrayaran law well enough to be certain, but I think it’s possible that it’s only treason to have your own space mercenary company if you’re Vor.
The call is from Galeni, who is definitely feeling treasonous on this particular evening. He has some spleen to vent about information he has lately received about Gregor and Laisa. From Gregor and Laisa. Who are GETTING MARRIED!!! I knew it! I knew it when he flew the horse in from out-of-District and kissed her palm! I knew it because it was screamingly obvious! And because I’ve read this book at least four times! Nonetheless, I am almost as excited about this as I am about the third royal baby. I recognize that there is a broad spectrum of opinion about royal babies; I live on the excited end of it. That baby is going to have a name and it’s going to wear clothes, and if they have another baby after this one, Harry can marry Meghan Markle without his grandmother’s permission. These are basically the exact same reasons I’m excited about Gregor and Laisa. Their wedding is politically important. It’s a great day for the Barrayaran fashion industry, which I think we don’t hear enough about. There’s going to be fireworks! Assuming that Gregor and Laisa carry out a rational set of reproductive plans (which they will—Gregor isn’t working for the passive destruction of Barrayaran monarchy) Miles and Ivan will wind up further from the Imperial Campstool. Weddings are the nicest thing about Barrayar. IF ANYONE HAS DONE A BARRAYARAN WEDDING I WOULD LOVE TO SEE PICTURES.
Gregor asks Miles to be his Second, because a Barrayaran wedding has a sort of nodding relationship with a duel. Which they can lead to! Aral’s first marriage did, anyway. Just in case you’ve forgotten that relationships that go bad can have extremely serious consequences, and that those might be of galactic political importance in Gregor’s case. WHICH IS WHY IT TAKES TWO MORE WHOLE BOOKS TO PLAN THE WEDDING. Yes, ladies and gentleman, THIS IS SPACE OPERA!! Our heroic space commander space-commands no longer, and we’re about to embark on 2.5 novels’ worth of delayed romantic gratification! Are Gregor and Laisa waiting until the wedding? Miles and I both sincerely hope not.
Galeni isn’t feeling my glee. He’s a wounded man. I imagine that Ivan’s offer of retroactive romantic advice doesn’t make him feel any better. It wouldn’t make me feel better. Who in their right mind would take romantic advice from Ivan? Miles helpfully muses that Laisa is almost thirty. I’m glad he keeps this thought in his own head, because it’s insanely hypocritical for a guy who’s all about middle age as a movable feast, and who has a sibling made from a lump of his own somatic tissue using widely available reproductive technology, to be thinking that a woman approaching thirty must be feeling her age. SHE HAS A PHD, MILES!! That is not the life plan of a woman who intends to reproduce in her twenties! Galeni has chosen Miles as the target for his rage because he had to be polite on the com with Gregor and Laisa. And he was. If anyone needed further proof that Galeni is Miles’s friend after the ice bath thing, here it is. Galeni went in to Vorkosigan House himself to ensure Miles’s safety, and he reached out to Miles when he needed a shoulder to cry on. It was angry crying, but they’re both steeped in the Barrayaran culture of toxic masculinity—they don’t have a lot of other options.
Ivan and Miles are both press-ganged into wedding planning because of their relationships with the Barrayaran principals—Gregor the bridegroom, and Alys, the wedding planner. I imagine, though I cannot confirm, that Alys has put some prior planning into Gregor’s betrothal and wedding. She certainly knows which books Miles needs to read. I also imagine that it would be impossible to select vendors in advance for an event of this magnitude, although I’m sure Alys maintains a short list to facilitate her work. And while a very suitable choice, Laisa is unconventional in that she is Komarran, so the wedding and associated ceremonies need to reflect that in a way that is somehow gracefully incorporated into Barrayaran tradition. This wedding calls upon Alys to do what the Cetagandans did for the Dowager Empress’s funeral, without the Cetagandan dome that allowed them to arrange aesthetically appropriate weather. Alys is off to Komarr to conduct sensitive discussions with Laisa’s parents. Gregor is hosting a tasteful selection of events to introduce Laisa, and the idea of himself and Laisa as a couple, to important people. All of this promises to be very sweet, and very carefully managed. Tune in next week for chapter thirteen, when it also gets very complicated.
Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer teaches history and reads a lot.
Friday night I went to Renee's birthday party.
Saturday I went to a Halloween party that Amy and Bill and Kimberly were invited to, and they included me.
Sunday I went with Luisa to a Sikh temple for what I thought at the start was a Diwali celebration but upon reflection, may have been a regular Sunday service.
I could unpack and tell stories about each of those days, but this morning when I woke up I realized there were two specific things I wanted to write about.
one is: three straight days with extroverting.
two is: two straight days with going out around new people while dressing high femme. Even did makeup and hair. wow
yeaaaaaah. that was kind of a lot of effort, you know? Both those things.
I have tried to convince myself for literally YEARS that I'm an extrovert. I'm actually coming to realize that I'm almost certainly an introvert EXCEPT FOR THE FACT that my default mode when I "introvert" is to HERMIT.
and then I don't see people, I don't touch or get touched, I get depressed, and it sucks.
maybe I just suck at the introverting. Today's a kinda gross brainweasel kinda day already, I'm working on managing my pain and getting some food so I can brain better, and I still have to take my morning meds.
maybe I don't suck at the introverting, but there's something else going on there.
but I'm pretty sure I do suck at the introverting.
also, though, i seem to have hard anxiety at the extroverting. GAH
or maybe it's just that I did three days of being around People I Don't Know and that's stressful.
okay, now it's time to take a moment about the femme thing.
I've been tending to dress butch for several years now. Jeff never expressed that he cared about how I dressed except to say that he didn't really like women wearing makeup and that he didn't do well with lots of perfume. So for several years I dressed practically. I didn't have any kind of expected or cultural dress code to meet, not since graduating waldorf in 2011, so I've been wearing a lot of jeans, cargo shorts, nerdy tee shirts, sandals, and or boots.
this year I decided I was going to try and reclaim some of the femme I used to *think* I knew how to do.
Briefly, dressing butch /feels/ like blending in, dressing femme /feels/ like "look at me, look at me!" and I have anxiety over being seen. I don't feel like I know how to handle it when I am /seen/.
when i was a kid i was humongous levels of anxious (I was going to say "ridiculous levels of anxious" but this shit ain't ridiculous it's fuckin' SAD because I didn't have any safe place or people growing up. I couldn't even trust my parents). I used to pretend I had some means of being invisible. Because if I couldn't be safe with people, maybe I could make them leave me alone.
I can trust and relax around small groups of people. five or six seems to be the maximum.
Eye contact is hard except when either I don't care or it's low emotional stakes, like with a waiter or a clerk in a store, or when I really trust someone.
I don't know if that makes me odd, "normal" or just me.
I feel a little better just introducing this topic here (these topics? is flavors of anxiety a single topic or a multiple topic?) and also incidentally finally getting my breakfast and caffeine an hour or more after waking.
self care yay!
body still hurts, going to see what I can do about that. I feel like a tightly wound spring, if a tightly wound spring could still have healing soft tissue damage post RSI and post broken bones. UGH
i'm fuckin ridiculous.
One of the most challenging things one can do when creating serial narrative is retroactive continuity, or retcon: filling in a gap or establishing something about a character or situation that was previously unknown.
When done properly, it can bring an entire character into focus. (To use a comic book example, when Magneto was established as a Holocaust survivor.) When done improperly, of course, it can be disastrous. (To use another comic book example, establishing that Norman Osborn raped Gwen Stacey, and she mothered children from that.)
Star Trek has, over five decades, engaged in such retcons any number of times (my three favorites are establishing that Worf accidentally killed someone as a teenager, that Bashir was genetically enhanced, and that Troi had a baby sister who died), and in “Lethe” we have one of their most successful.
Way back in 1967, we first met the characters of Sarek and Amanda in “Journey to Babel.” In that episode, it was established that Spock turned down going to the Vulcan Science Academy, instead choosing to enlist in Starfleet. Because of that decision (which was later dramatized in the 2009 Star Trek), Sarek and Spock stopped speaking to each other.
Now, many might think this makes Sarek kind of a jackass. I certainly did, as this is a crappy reason to stop talking to your own son. But then, in the same episode, Sarek made racist comments about Tellarites and it was also established that he kept the truth about a serious heart condition from his wife. So, while Mark Lenard imbued the character with tremendous gravitas, it doesn’t change the fact that he was a jackass.
Discovery has already established that Burnham was Sarek’s ward. Some have complained that it’s ridiculous that Spock would never have mentioned this foster sister, which ignores the fact that Spock never mentioned that his Dad was a famous Vulcan ambassador until that ambassador was standing right next to him on the Enterprise, or that he was engaged to be married until he was half-dead from the effects of pon farr and then only after practically being put in a headlock, or that he didn’t mention his half-brother until he was standing right next to him on the Enterprise. An open book, Spock ain’t.
In “Lethe,” we get some fascinating revelations about Burnham that do an excellent job of moving her character arc along. But we also get a new insight into the greater tapestry of the Star Trek universe—and, not coincidentally, get the first good reason why this series should take place in the TOS era as opposed to long after the 24th-century spinoffs. We find out that the VSA was only willing to accept one of Sarek’s “experiments” (the delivery of the word with maximum distaste was beautifully done by Jonathan Whittaker as the director of the academy), and Sarek chose Spock over Burnham. And then Spock went and rejected going to the VSA, choosing Starfleet instead.
And, because Sarek is a jackass, he kept that all to himself—just like he kept his heart condition to himself, and just like 100 years later, he’ll keep his Bendii Syndrome to himself—and let Burnham (and Amanda, and probably Spock) believe that Burnham washed out of the program, and then when Spock refused to sign up (something that could even have been motivated in part by the VSA keeping his foster sister out), Sarek just stopped talking to his son.
Plus, Burnham makes tremendous progress in this episode. She realizes that she’s trying a little too hard to mold Tilly in her own image, and backs off on her rigorous training of her. She also actually smiles (pretty sure this week is the first time Burnham has cracked a smile on screen), and makes a new friend in Tyler.
Tyler is also integrated into the crew, made the new chief of security to replace Landry. There’s a fan theory floating around that Tyler is actually a surgically altered Voq (the actor credited as Voq has done no publicity, has no other credits on IMDB, and his last name is Iqbal, which is Shazad Latif’s birth name—the whole theory of Voq/Tyler is spelled out in this post on Trek Movie), and we get some minor evidence of it here. In the “previously on” scenes, we see Voq conversing with L’Rell, a scene that doesn’t have much bearing on this episode, and Voq nods and then raises his head when he hears something that surprises him. Then, later in the episode, Lorca makes Tyler chief of security, and Tyler nods and raises his head in the exact same way. (Voq did it also when T’Kuvma made him torchbearer in “The Battle at the Binary Stars.”)
It’s a pity the B-plot is such a disaster. The minute Admiral Cornwell threatened Lorca’s position, you knew something horrible was going to happen to her. I honestly expected her to be killed by the Klingons, not captured, and I’m grateful that Kol sees her as a valuable hostage, as I like Jayne Brook’s performance as Cornwell a great deal. But still, this was a really hoary and predictable and lazy writer’s trick to create artificial suspense and then restore the status quo unconvincingly. I also find it impossible to credit that the only reason why Lorca hasn’t had his command taken away from him is because everyone’s blinded by his brilliance except for Cornwell, who’s a lover of his. That just doesn’t track.
Still, it’s good to see Burnham’s redemption arc continue apace. It’s also fun to see the Burnham-Tilly relationship progress, and the new hippy-dippy Stamets (he really does sound like he’s done shrooms—which he kinda has) is hilarious. Having said that, there’s no explanation for how they use the spore drive to get to the nebula, since the tardigrade’s gone. Is Stamets still plugging himself into it to make it work? And I’m extremely disappointed at the lack of Lorca’s reaction to Saru and Burnham freeing the tardigrade at the end of last week. That was a blown opportunity.
Oh, and shirts that say “DISCO”? Really? Somehow, I can’t see Sulu and Chekov jogging through the Enterprise corridors in shirts that say “ENTER.” Or Janeway and Torres jogging through Voyager corridors with shirts that say “VOYA.” Or Kira and Dax jogging through Defiant corridors in shirts that say “DEFI.” Or— Well, you get the idea…
However, this episode does wonders for the main character and does a superlative job of integrating the storyline into the greater tapestry of the Star Trek universe.
Star Trek: Discovery is doing so well on that Final Frontier, they’ve already been asked to stick around. CBS All Access has officially renewed Discovery for its second season, just six episodes into the series.
This is a relief for fans who had reason to fret over the show’s future; since it was announced that Star Trek: Discovery was only going to be available via CBS All Access, the network’s brand new streaming service, there was question of whether or not the series would pay off well enough to keep it around. But according to Marc DeBevoise, president and CEO at CBS Interactive, “In just six episodes, Star Trek: Discovery has driven subscriber growth, critical acclaim and huge global fan interest for the first premium version of this great franchise.”
Star Trek: Discovery‘s performance is strong enough that CBS has no problem renewing less than half a season in. Executive Producer Alex Kurtzman has already hinted that the creative team is prepared: “We have a…big idea that emerged mid- to late-season one for something we want to do for season two. That’s now become the spine of what we want to do for season two.”
Unfortunately, due to how time-consuming the show is create (each episode is worked on for several months), season two will likely not show up until early 2019. But it’s still coming back! So let’s focus on that.
[Via The Hollywood Reporter]
“After writing a couple seven-hundred-page novels back-to-back,” Joe Hill has it in the afterword to his electric new collection, “it felt particularly important to get lean and mean,” and Strange Weather is exactly that: it’s not long, and damn it, it’s nasty.
A striking selection of novellas ranging from the playfully apocalyptic to the wickedly political, Strange Weather starts with an actual flash in “Snapshot,” the unsettling story of a boy who crosses paths with a man in possession of a magical camera. This old Polaroid captures more than just those Kodak moments, of course: it captures the very memories of those moments, in sum leaving its subjects with holes in their souls.
Michael Figlione is just a kid when “Snapshot” begins, so when he sees his old babysitter Shelly Beukes walking around the street they share, barefoot and swearing, he assumes she’s simply senile. As a decent human being he does the decent thing and takes her home to her husband, who gives Michael ten bucks for his trouble. It’s only when he goes to the local truck stop to spend his earnings and sees a creepy guy pointing a camera like a pistol that Shelly’s seemingly insane story—about a man who’s been stealing her essential self, picture by painful picture—starts to make sense.
Gripped by this suspicion, Michael stands guard over a sleeping Shelly later that same day, determined to catch the so-called Polaroid Man in the act. And he does, ultimately. But the story doesn’t end there… though I rather wish it had. Economical in its narrative and affecting in its Stranger Things-esque setting, the first half of “Snapshot” is stunningly done; sadly, the second section struck me as superfluous: slow and unfocused except insofar as it speaks to the themes at the centre of Strange Weather.
There is, to be sure, some seriously weird weather in this collection: between the storm that rages on as Michael confronts Shelly’s tormentor in “Snapshot,” the cyclonic blaze that looks likely to raze the town where the next tale takes place, the custardy cumulus the lovelorn protagonist of “Aloft” lands on and the razor-sharp rain that gives Strange Weather‘s final fiction its name, the pathetic fallacy is in full effect in all four stories. But in terms of connective tissue, another, markedly more meaningful motif pervades these pieces: the struggle to let go of what we’ve lost.
What Shelly has lost is obvious; what Michael loses, less so. George Kellaway, the accidental hero at the heart of “Loaded”—a straight story suggestive of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December of 2012—has lost his family. The restraining order his wife has taken out against him means he’s also had to sacrifice his right to bear arms. But he still has a gun, by gum! A gun he’s horribly happy to use when a woman who’s been abused by her boss opens fire in the middle of the mall where Kellaway works.
Bodies promptly drop, including those of a Muslim woman and the bundled-up baby Kellaway mistook for a bomb—not to mention the only other witness to the incident. That guy gets one in the head as well, because otherwise, Kellaway would be in a whole bunch of trouble. As is, he has a good story to tell the first proper responders; a tale as tall as time that leads people to believe he saved the day instead of devastating it.
Celebrated as a hero by the media-savvy mayor, Kellaway is soon sitting for interviews, and starting to hope that not only will he get away with multiple murder, perhaps he’ll even get his family back. But as the irregularities in his account start to surface, things take a terrible turn. “Kellaway felt like a bullet in a gun himself, felt charged and ready to go off, to fly towards some final, forceful impact. Loaded with the potential to blow a hole in what everyone thought they knew about him.” He does just that in a conclusion so unbearably brutal that it chills me still.
It’s a shock to the system when Strange Weather’s darkest story segues into its slightest and lightest, “Aloft,” which follows a fellow on his first skydive. He isn’t your everyday daredevil, however. “Aubrey has always been scared of heights. It was a good question, why a man with a dread of heights, a man who avoided flying whenever he could, would agree to jump from an airplane. The answer, of course, was maddeningly simple: Harriet.”
Harriet is “the girl [Aubrey] wanted as he’d never wanted anyone else,” and as the dismaying details of the pair’s relationship to date are doled out, readers will realise that “Aloft” is their story. Their story just so happens to be wrapped around a particularly peculiar premise. You see, Aubrey doesn’t make landfall with the love of his unlucky life. Instead, his dive terminates early when he loses his parachute on a semi-solid cloud that looks and feels like it’s made of “acre after acre of mashed potato.” Stranded on this desert island of sorts, he must to come to terms with his feelings for Harriet, and her feelings for him, if he’s to have any hope of touching terra firma again.
That “Aloft” is the most whimsical of Strange Weather’s four stories is fitting, considering it was written in the back of a notebook containing the finale of The Fireman basically because Hill hated “to see so much paper go to waste.” But, as the author himself explains, it was “Rain,” the collection’s closer, that “arose from a desire to spoof myself and my own sprawling end of the world novel.”
“Rain” really is rather a lot of fun, particularly as it pertains to the White House’s comments on the catastrophic change in climate that results in a hail of nails:
The operating theory—lacking any other credible explanation—was terrorism. The president had disappeared to a secure location but had responded with the full force of his Twitter account. He posted: “OUR ENEMIES DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY STARTED! PAYBACK IS A BITCH!!! #DENVER #COLORADO #AMERICA!!” The vice president had promised to pray as hard as he could for the survivors and the dead; he pledged to stay on his knees all day and all night long. It was reassuring to know that our national leaders were using all the resources at their disposal to help the desperate: social media and Jesus.
It’s a testament to Hill’s not insignificant abilities that even here, in the midst of this rather ridiculous apocalypse, there remains resonance. Its protagonist, one Honeysuckle Speck, is haunted by the loss of her sweetheart, who was one of the first to fall victim to the disastrous downpour. Unable to accept Yolanda’s death, she determines to deliver the news to her other half’s father, which means navigating a stretch of highway that showcases the slippery grip civilisation has on society. Turns out all it takes to cause a collapse is—snap!—some strange weather.
I found the conclusion of “Rain” is a touch too tidy; similarly, “Snapshot” suffers from this occasional proclivity of Hill’s, this inclination to offer answers to unasked questions. It’s telling that “Aloft” and “Loaded” are Strange Weather‘s strongest stories: their ambiguous endings allow them to live past their last pages. That one is wacky and wonderful while the other’s twisted tragedy proves all too easy to believe evidences the tremendous diversity of this collection. If NOS4A2 and The Fireman were Hill’s ’Salem’s Lot and The Stand, then this, dear readers, is his Different Seasons: a demonstration of his range and readiness to tell the hell out of any tale, be it supernatural or straight, silly or completely serious.
Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative Scotsman, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com. He lives with about a bazillion books, his better half and a certain sleekit wee beastie in the central belt of bonnie Scotland.
In an announcement over the weekend, it was revealed that the Thirteenth Doctor—played by Jodie Whittaker—will be accompanied by three series regulars in Doctor Who’s new season. There is no word on whether any of this trio will travel in the TARDIS (giving them the sacred “companion” title), but it seems safe to assume we’re headed in that direction. So who are these lovely folks and how will they fit into the tapestry of Whovian history?
The three new cast members are Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole, and Mandip Gill in the roles of Graham, Ryan, and Yasmin respectively. Walsh is a professed lifelong Whovian who has been watching the show for 50 years and remembers seeing William Hartnell in black and white. He played a villain briefly on the Sarah Jane Adventures (The Pied Piper), but fans will likely know him best from his time hosting game shows like The Chase and The Wheel of Fortune, as well as a three year run on Coronation Street. Cole has worked on E20 and Hollyoaks, and also appeared behind the wheel of an X-Wing fighter during The Force Awakens as a member of Red Squadron. Gill was also on Hollyoaks for three years, and has also appeared on Doctors, Cuckoo, Casualty, and the upcoming Lies and Records.
This would not be the first time that the series has hosted more than one companion on board the TARDIS. Duos are all over the place; in New Who we’ve seen Amy and Rory, Rose and Jack, Rose and Mickey. In the classic era’s tenure there were plenty of pairs, from Polly and Ben to Jamie and Victoria to Sarah Jane and Harry. But there were points when the TARDIS’s cadre stretched to more than two or three at a time….
In fact, the very first crew that the show ever saw was a group of four—the Doctor, his granddaughter Susan, and her schoolteachers Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton. Though the Doctor never intended to take Barbara and Ian on, his paranoia saw him essentially nabbing the two from their own time and taking them on a prolonged adventure. Having very little control over the TARDIS during that period, the Doctor kept trying to send the teachers home, but something always got in the way. He grew quite attached to them despite his protests, but Barbara and Ian eventually had enough and made the choice to use a Dalek time machine to get home. Susan was later abandoned by the Doctor, who believed that she would have a better life off the TARDIS. The Doctor’s very first set of companions on the series were deeply emotionally important to him, and it set the tone for the entire show.
Similarly, the Fifth Doctor had a whole gaggle trailing along behind (or in front) of him. Five had something of a revolving door, but he typically had at three companions about. There was Adric, Nyssa, Tegan, Turlough, and Kamelion, all coming and going. The Fifth Doctor’s tenure was a bit traumatizing, however; he became the second Doctor to ever lose a companion (the first to lose one who was around for longer than one serial) when Adric died. Nyssa left to help reconstruct the space station Terminus, Tegan ran away in terror after encountering the Daleks, Kamelion was destroyed by the Master. While the Fifth Doctor seemed to enjoy his little family, he lost them one by one due to circumstances often beyond his control, and clearly felt responsible.
The Doctor having a larger group of companions always seems to make for high drama… which is likely what the new season is aiming for. We don’t know if these new friends are already acquainted with one another, or what will draw them all into the Doctor’s orbit, but it’s safe to say that they will be an exciting addition to the universe. The new season is set to drop in Fall 2018, so we don’t have too long to wait.
It’s almost Halloween which means right now my pop culture diet consists almost entirely of horror movies and spooky stories. And lucky you, that means we get to talk about two of the best horror comics out there: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Redlands. Witches and demons and corpses, oh my!
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Fresh off the success of Afterlife with Archie, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa strikes gold once more with Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Like its predecessor, the story is wholly outside the standard Archie canon—it even references Afterlife as a vision or premonition—which gives Aguirre-Sacasa the freedom to run roughshod over everything Sabrina fans hold dear. I know what you’re thinking. “Sabrina the Teenage Witch? A horror comic? Really? Come on, Alex, be serious.” Well you can take your snooty sarcasm and stuff it because it’s not just good, it’s frakking great.
Sabrina is the result of an unholy union between wicked warlock Edward Spellman and his beleaguered human wife Diana. After her parents disappear, Edward’s witch sisters, Hilda and Zelda, take Sabrina in and raise her in the town of Greendale across the Sweetwater River from Riverdale. They’re joined by her rabble rousing English cousin Ambrose, his cobra familiars, and Salem the talking cat. Just as Sabrina falls for hometown boy Harvey Kinkle, a dead witch with a vicious grudge against the Spellmans escapes from Hell and assumes the name Evangeline Porter. Evangeline sets her sights on Sabrina, and poor Harvey gets caught in the middle. As long as Sabrina is charmed by Evangeline, she’ll never see the devil on her shoulder.
Robert Hack’s art is atmospheric and sinister. The story is set in the 1950s and 1960s, and his rough style and autumn palette give it a vintage feel, like a sepia photograph. Sometimes the artwork is a little too sketchy and the linework too dense. But he’s playing off of the style of mid-century horror comics, so it works for me. There’s a lot of text in this comic, particularly in the flashback issues, but Jack Morelli keeps everything flowing without overwhelming Hack’s art. Aguirre-Sacasa’s story isn’t the scariest thing you’ve ever read, but it’s spooky and moody with a Lovecraftian flair. He hasn’t quite got the hang of the female voice, especially not teen girls, but that’s, like, practically every male comic book writer so nothing new there. And it could stand some more diversity – POC existed even back in the suburbs in the 1960s, as surprising as that may sound. Where he really nails it is in the story itself. Whatever he’s building to, it’s going to have one helluva kick.
Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa; art: Robert Hack; letters: Jack Morelli. Archie Comics started publishing the series in 2014. Issue #8 is on shelves now, and #9 is scheduled for December 6, 2017.
Where Sabrina sticks firmly within the bounds of old-school horror comics, Redlands runs wild. Three witchy sisters, Ro, Alice, and Bridget, take over Redlands, Florida, and become its cops and caretakers. A creepy serial killer threatens to reveal their secrets, and they don’t take him seriously until it’s too late. To quote the creators, the story “is a diary of the people I hate, the people I love, the places I have and haven’t been. It’s a combination of nightmares I have while asleep and the ones that seem to happen even when we’re all awake.” It is, deep down in its blackened heart, a story about men who try to oppress women and the women who make them pay for their actions in blood and bone. If Sabrina is about love in the face of horror, Redlands is about the horror of humanity.
Look, I shouldn’t need to tell you how incredible Jordie Bellaire is. As a colorist, she’s one of the best in the biz. And as a storyteller she’s even better. Redlands is full of unspoken secrets and unexplained events, but it never feels unfinished or uninspired. She’s going to tell her story however she wants, at whatever pace she wants, and we’re just along for the ride. Vanesa R. Del Rey’s artwork is very indie and artsy. It reminds a little of Emma Ríos’ style, but with a more provocative and harsh edge. Her line work is heavy but the backgrounds are richly detailed. Simply put, it’s gorgeous. Clayton Cowles is as great as he always is. The line breaks, the padding around the text in the speech bubbles, even the font are all on point.
Rarely has a series with so few issues hit me as hard as Redlands has. From the script to the characters to the artwork to the clippings and photos filling out the addendum in the back, I just…wow. Only three issues are out so far, but I’ve re-read them a good half a dozen times each. Holy Hecate, this is one stunning series.
Story/creator: Jordie Bellaire, Vanesa R. Del Rey; art: Vanesa R. Del Rey; colors: Jordie Bellaire; letters: Clayton Cowles. Image Comics started publishing the series in 2018. Issue #3 is out now, and #4 is scheduled for November 8, 2017.
Alex Brown is a teen librarian, writer, geeknerdloserweirdo, and all-around pop culture obsessive who watches entirely too much TV. Keep up with her every move on Twitter and Instagram, or get lost in the rabbit warren of ships and fandoms on her Tumblr.
Since I moved in with my sister three months ago, I’ve been….missing things. Things that are important to me, things I wouldn’t normally lose. My boyfriend’s $700 camera. My only/favorite pair of sunglasses. An Adderall prescription.
I’ve complained about this to my sister. I’ve wondered aloud to her if our third roommate has been going in my room, or if one of the friends passing through isn’t as trustworthy as we think. I’ve talked to her about how weird it makes me feel to worry that people are in my room when I’m gone, about how much I hate to distrust anyone, about how I try to convince myself that there’s some innocent explanation I’m not seeing. It did not occur to me that she could have anything at all to do with the situation–I trusted her completely. Until the day before yesterday.
The day before yesterday, we found the camera. Well, I shouldn’t say we. She found it. We weren’t even looking for it. We were trying to find the bottle of adderall. The adderall had been missing for days, the camera had been missing for months. Within minutes of us starting the adderall search, she opened up the cabinet under the silverware drawer, moved the paper napkins, and said, “Hey, is *this* your boyfriend’s camera that’s been missing so long?” It was.
Normally that wouldn’t seem suspicious to me, just weird that it showed up in a place that neither I nor my boyfriend would ever put it, and weird that I’d been using the cabinet for months without noticing the camera. But I had just watched the episode of Mad Men where [spoiler!] Sally steals the $5 from Grandpa Gene and then “finds” the money when he makes a bigger deal of it than she had anticipated.
Pretty soon she was asking all these questions…didn’t my boyfriend already get a replacement? What was he gonna do with this one now that we found it? Did he want to sell it? It probably wasn’t worth as much as he paid for it, the case wasn’t made of great material, good but not great, could she buy it for a couple hundred dollars?
It all made me so, so uncomfortable.
And today I remembered that around the time my sunglasses went missing, my sister bought me a new pair. They were old-fashioned and had that tortoiseshell look, like the ones I lost, but they were cheap and much too narrow for my wide face. (Part of the reason I’d been so bugged by losing the first pair is that finding cute wide-framed glasses has always been difficult for me, and I’d spent a fair bit of money when I finally found a pair I liked.) Now that interaction seems tinged with weirdness to me…like, was she trying to make up for taking or breaking the sunglasses in the first place?
And the Adderall never showed up, which is such a huge hassle.
I don’t know. Obviously none of this is 100% proof that she took these things (or that anyone did! maybe I just lost them!). It would be so much easier if I knew for sure….even if I knew for sure that she did it, I wouldn’t be super mad. But I would feel justified in taking action to move out and protect myself. As it is, I’m stuck in a state of uncertainty, having to live with someone I don’t totally trust, and feeling guilty for being distrustful when she might be totally innocent. In fact, the only things that make me feel suspicious of her, are good things she did–finding the camera, buying new glasses.
Help me, Captain! Did she do it? And, given that you probably can’t answer that, how do I live with this doubt without being unfair to her or myself?
Dear Lina McLaidlaw,
You might never get the full story of where your stuff went or if it’s your sister’s fault, but here’s something you do know:
- You didn’t keep “losing” valuable stuff this way before you lived in this place with these people.
- It’s okay to take care of yourself around this by finding a new place to live even if you aren’t 100% sure what happened.
Like, maybe you don’t need beyond-a-reasonable-doubt legal case to say that something is off about the situation and to get out before it gets worse? If it is your sister, remove temptation. If she’s protecting or covering for a friend or roommate, or if she’s oblivious to what they are doing, remove yourself from that shitty situation. If your sister is totally innocent in all of this? You still get to move. Your reason can be as vague as “It’s not working out” or as specific as “My stuff keeps going missing and it’s really bothering me. I don’t want to blame anyone or accuse anyone, especially you, but I can’t live somewhere I don’t feel safe.” You’ve already talked to her about the missing stuff so it shouldn’t be a surprise.
Your boyfriend should not sell the camera to your sister or to anyone associated with her or anyone who lives in that house. Either keep it or sell it to literally anyone else. That whole situation smells.
While you live there, get a lock for your room’s door and a locked cabinet for things like meds, computers, camera equipment, jewelry. If your sister or roommates are suddenly offended by the idea of you locking things away, that is what is known as a telling detail. If you find yourself really resistant to the idea, like, I should NOT have to lock up MY THINGS inside MY OWN HOME, then…that’s one more argument for moving out.
This is so awkward, I’m sorry. Your instincts, especially re: the camera + controlled substance prescription drugs, are spot on. Trust those instincts and find a new place to live!
I’m glad I let myself be talked into reading Songsmith. It’s a nice coda for the Witch World books, and it was a good, fast read, with engaging characters and some enjoyable reunions.
Andre Norton and A.C. Crispin make a good writing team. Norton’s distinctive worldbuilding meshes well with Crispin’s skillful characterization (and horse details!) and lovely prose.
This is the story of Eydryth the bard or songsmith, who is looking for a cure for her father Jervon’s magically induced dementia (caused somewhat indirectly by the disappearance of his wife Elys), and a mysterious young man whose black stallion is half Keplian. Eydryth sails to Estcarp from Arvon, hoping to get help from the witches.
The witches, true to form, adamantly refuse to have anything to do with a mere man, but one of them, who is not yet sworn to the sisterhood, prevails on Eydryth to help her escape and marry her sweetheart, which will put her out of reach of the witches. Eydryth, who does not believe she has any powers at all—and she thinks she would know: she was raised in Kar Garudwyn by our favorite Witch World couple, Kerovan and Joisan, and has grown up with their very gifted children—manages to get the young woman out and then escape capture herself.
But the witches are convinced Eydryth has powers, and pursue her. She seeks out a horse fair to buy a mount so that she can move on to the next possibility for Jervon’s cure, the ruined scholars’ city of Lormt. At the fair she literally runs into the stallion, meets his rider, and has to depart at speed.
The rider, who eventually reveals that his name is Alon (yes, that Alon), offers to show her the way to Lormt. But there is no cure there, either. Alon knows of a place, however, that might help: the Green Valley in Escore, with its pools of magic mud.
In the meantime Eydryth is pursued by the witches, and Alon has his own problems: the death of his Falconer friend, which he believes he caused (and now the falcon, Steel Talon, follows him in search of revenge), and the reappearance of his old foster mother, Yachne, who turns out to be a very evil witch indeed.
The pair make it to the Green Valley for a brief stop, obtain some magic mud, and take off to save Kerovan from Yachne. Yachne is on a campaign to strip Adepts of their powers to feed her own. She has already destroyed Kaththea’s old flame Dinzil, who didn’t die when Kaththea and Kemoc vanquished him. Her next target is Kerovan.
This gives Eydryth a double mission: to cure her father and warn her foster father. She also, rather incidentally, hopes to find her long-lost mother, whose was abducted because of Eydryth’s mistake. It was this disappearance that eventually caused Jervon’s illness. In short, everything is Eydryth’s fault.
Alon reveals himself to be an Adept of no little power, which explains why he’s never learned to use weapons—a lack that Eydryth sets about remedying. The two of them hunt Yachne down, catch her in the act of creating a Dark Gate, and combine forces to reopen the Gate and transport themselves to Arvon.
Eydryth discovers that she does indeed have powers, and that they’re connected with her music. It’s no wonder the witches want her.
Opening the Gate and working with dark powers affects both her and Alon badly, but they’re saved by the powers of light manifesting through the Fane of Neave. In the process, they discover that they’re in love with each other.
Once they’ve reached Arvon, Eydryth rides the stallion on a long, brutal race to Kar Garydwyn, while Alon sets off with the falcon to find Yachne and stop her before she attacks Kerovan. Eydryth nearly kills the stallion, but makes it in time. She uses the mud to cure Jervon. Then the whole family, except for the younger child and Sylvya the half-human, half-bird woman, take off to help Alon.
In the end, of course, the good guys prevail. The stallion is cured, Jervon is cured. They find his beloved Elys, not a day older or more pregnant, immured in a crystal prison right in the place where they had their showdown with Yachne. Elys goes into labor and delivers a son who will become one of the Seven Guardians of the world—Kerovan and Joisan’s two offspring also being of that number, along with Alon and, apparently, Eydryth. Eydryth and Alon marry, and everything, at least for the time being, is wonderful.
As late-era Witch World novels with big family reunions go, Songsmith is a far better book than The Gate of the Cat. In some ways it feels like an antidote to that earlier, solo Norton novel. It’s better written, and the characters are much more relatable.
My biggest problem with it is that it feels as if it needs at least one more good editing pass. Parts of it are quite rushed: I can hear the plot tokens clinking on the table. Go to the witches, get dissed by the witches, rescue the not-yet-witch, off she does, witches forget her, chase after Eydryth, but wait! Alon makes magic! Witches wander off, never to be seen or worried about again!
And then! Off to the Valley! Meet Dahaun! Meet Kyllan and Ethutur! Quick, quick! Magic mud! Check it off the plot synopsis! On to Arvon! Our young couple get it together! But! There’s so much to do! Off to warn Kerovan! Gotta cure Jervon! Now rescue Alon! Blow up Yachne! Bye-bye falcon, revenge at last! Oh! And there’s Elys! Wow! Elys has baby! Yay! Wedding! Happy! Done!
And that’s just the surface read. Stepping back to breathe, I found myself wondering all sorts of things. And reliving some of my own editing passes, because I write like this, too: fast, get it down, then go back and fill in. Except much of this did not get filled in.
First I wanted to know why Eydryth would even bother to ask the witches of Estcarp to cure her father. She’s right there in Es. Why doesn’t she simply go to the citadel, ask for Jaelithe, and get her to help? She knows all about that saga; she’s singing it. Jaelithe, like Kaththea, gets effectively disappeared after Sorceress of the Witch World. We see the male Tregarths again and again, but even when Jaelithe might have played a useful role, she’s not there. She’s just…gone.
If Eydryth has been singing the Tregarth saga everywhere she goes, she must also know about Escore, the Valley, and presumably the magic mud because of Kyllan’s experiences there. Not to mention Lormt, where Kemoc studied. But she acts as if she’s never heard of either of those places.
The only reason to go to the witches, at all, is to rescue the one who’s in Kaththea’s former position, but that doesn’t do anything except provide Eydryth with the information about Lormt that she should already have known. Plus give us a bit of cuteness with the young ex-witch and her adorable young man. Then the witches’ pursuit fizzles to nothing, except insofar as it outs Alon as an Adept. That could happen in any number of other ways, considering the difficulties of the journey and the appearance of Yachne and her minions.
It feels cluttered and a little confused. Editor-brain says drop the witches, focus on the Yachne plot, make that the big pursuit that it is in two-thirds of the book. There’s no real reason to have them, or to go to Lormt, either, except for the fan-service of finally seeing what the place is like.
Sort of. We mostly just meet the nice old couple who run it. There’s no scholarship and no research, just a fast magical McGuffin in the very conveniently placed book that Alon can very conveniently read.
Eydryth is not the only one who doesn’t know things she really ought to know. Alon is completely useless as a warrior—despite having grown up male in a warrior culture. He’s not quite congruent with the character in ’Ware Hawk, in that he’s supposedly the same age as Eydryth, nineteen, but in the earlier book it’s implied that he’s older.
It’s cute that Eydryth teaches him to fight, and he uses his one effective move to help destroy Yachne, but it’s not sold as well as it might be. Nor do we ever learn who he is. There’s one throwaway about how he and Dinzil could be twins, which I thought might add up to something—another unholy alliance such as the one that produced Kerovan? But nothing comes of it.
The end is kind of a mess. Eydryth’s wild ride ends with Kerovan not even being in any real danger, just a handwave and poof, fixed. Then she takes a big chunk of time to fuss with Jervon, while Alon, we’ve been told, is on a desperate race to save everything including himself. Wouldn’t it make more sense for her to have to make another wrenching choice, decide to rescue Alon and then cure Jervon? And wouldn’t it then make sense for her headstrong foster brother to steal the box of mud and do the job, because after all it was his lack of impulse control (along with Eydryth’s failure to control him) that caused Elys to be kidnapped and led to Jervon’s current state? And then we have everybody together when we need them, all set to take down Yachne and find Elys.
As it is, everything is quick and easy: the sort of thing that happens when the synopsis says things have to turn out X way, but the layers and the shadings and the complications haven’t been worked in yet. The characters are After School Special-y, as well, which is another manifestation of not-quite-final-draft-itis. The emotions aren’t quite fully developed and the interactions don’t quite have the resonance they might have had. Too much ticking off of boxes, not enough time spent filling in the finer details.
I enjoyed the book a great deal, even if it did trigger my editor circuits. It answered some questions, though not the one I came in with, namely Alon’s true origins. It let me revisit some old favorites and get to know a few new ones. It was worth the venture. It’s a nice coda to the series, with a sense that even while we achieve closure here, life and the characters go on, and there are many more adventures ahead.
As for us, we’re headed back into space. Forerunners! I’ll start next time with Ordeal in Otherwhere. Join me?
Judith Tarr forayed into the Witch World with a novella, “Falcon Law,” in Four from the Witch World. Her first novel, The Isle of Glass, appeared in 1985. Her new short novel, Dragons in the Earth, a contemporary fantasy set in Arizona, was published last fall by Book View Cafe. In between, she’s written historicals and historical fantasies and epic fantasies and space operas, some of which have been published as ebooks from Book View Café. She has won the Crawford Award, and been a finalist for the World Fantasy Award and the Locus Award. She lives in Arizona with an assortment of cats, a blue-eyed dog, and a herd of Lipizzan horses.
In Through the Woods, Emily Carroll’s 2014 collection of comics, the narratives being told feel timeless. They echo the fairy tales of ages past; they feature dwindling families, majestic homes containing awful secrets, and ominous figures biding their time in order to carry out horrific deeds. Told one way, Carroll’s tales could be the sort of story one tells drowsy children as a kind of moral instruction or cautionary tale. Told the way they are in this book, with immersive images, distorted figures, and monstrous forms enveloped in the landscape, the effect is much closer to outright horror. It’s magnificently unnerving, meticulous in its storytelling, and a harrowing example of how hard it can be to discern the line between fairy tale and horror story.
There are certainly similarities in their roots: a fairy tale can act as an example of someone virtuous overcoming a terrifying enemy, or a tale of someone’s vices causing them to be devoured in a thematically appropriate way. Many (though not all) varieties of horror stories fall into similar categories–albeit with nastier creatures, potentially higher levels of gore, and the potential for a greater level of detail or complexity in the narrative, depending on a variety of factors. A lot can depend on the telling–and thus, the same story with the same narrative elements can play out like a harmless bedtime story in the voice of one teller, and a grotesque Gothic horror tale in the voice of another.
The three stories collected in Becky Cloonan’s graphic novel By Chance or Providence tap into a similar archetypal well as those in Carroll’s book, and Cloonan’s fantastically moody art adds depth to her characters and an ominous range to these stories’ tones, whether she’s writing about the strained bond between a woman and her husband, who mysteriously survived a tragedy at sea, or the strained life of a man sent into the woods to hunt a horrible creature who finds his own humanity draining away. Or take the Gentlemen, from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “Hush.” They’re described at one point as “fairy tale monsters,” who carry out a timeless act–the stealing of people’s voices–and can be defeated in a suitably fairy tale-esque way. But the monsters themselves are absolutely terrifying: sepulchral beings with just enough familiarity to be recognizable, and just alien enoughto be terrifying. These are beings that operate under an older set of rules, ones that are comprehensible but unnerving.
The language of fairy tales is another aspect that can suddenly turn horrific. Unica Zürn’s short novel The Trumpets of Jericho begins as a surreal, menacing monologue on the nature of childbirth. It, too, has more than a little in common with fairy tales: there’s a sense of the phantasmagoric, of bodies in an unruly state of metamorphosis and unreality. There’s something timeless about it; there’s also something that recalls body horror, that sense of one’s own form transforming against one’s will.
In Joanna Walsh’s chapbook Grow A Pair: 9 1/2 Fairytales About Sex, Walsh uses the transformation of bodies common to fairy tales and adds an abundant eroticism into the mix. In the story “Simple Hans”–the title appears to be a riff on the Brothers Grimm’s “Clever Hans”–the narrator attempts to live his life according to the conventions of a fairy tale. “It was time for me to go and seek my fortune,” he says, and sets out on a journey that sets the story in motion. It ends with the narrator beheading a woman, and then being shocked when–contrary to fairy tale logic–nothing miraculous happens; no transformations or revivals take place. “This is the moment the good things happen in stories, but this is real life,” he says–and suddenly, a story playing out according to the flawed logic of one narrative becomes something much more horrific.
Victor LaValle’s novel The Changeling is among the deftest books to chart the territory between horror fiction and fairy tales. This is in part because that boundary is not only where the book can be found–it’s also one of the novel’s subjects. It traces the lives of Apollo Kagwa and his wife Emma, who become parents to a newborn son named Brian–at which point things take a turn for the horrific. Emma becomes convinced that Brian has been replaced, in the manner of–well, you can probably tell from the title. Apollo’s search for the truth takes him to uncharted parts of the city, into unpleasant parts of the past, and, eventually, into a more mythical realm.
The way that reality works in The Changeling is, ultimately, through a sort of layering process: the novel isn’t as overtly supernatural as LaValle’s earlier Big Machine, but neither is it as ambiguous as The Devil in Silver. It’s a novel that’s equally comfortable confronting the possibility of human monsters that dwell online as it does with (literally) wrestling with (literal) monsters. And it maintains a haunting balance: there is no “but who’s the real monster here?” narrative equivocating; instead, LaValle allows both human and inhuman antagonists an equally disquieting role in the narrative.
That the central characters of the novel are the parents of a small child adds yet another layer to the mingling of fairy tales and horror in this narrative. There are a host of ways in which fairy tales can be gradually turned into the stuff of horror; this knowing, almost metafictional embrace represents yet another way to approach it. Those same stories that reassured readers as a child might cause nightmares years later. In the hands of the right teller, almost anything is possible.
Oh what a day, what a lovely day!
After tackling the world of literature in Plotted: A Literary Atlas, artist Andrew DeGraff has set his sites on movies with Cinemaps—visualizing the stories of 35 films as singular landscapes, charting the progression of their characters throughout. The results are beautiful maps that enhance classic films like North by Northwest and Fargo, as well as genre favorites from King Kong to Back to the Future.
We were especially thrilled by this glorious take on Mad Max: Fury Road. Witness!
Follow the action as Furiosa leaves the Citadel in the War Rig, and her mad dash across the desert with the Wives—pursued by Immortan Joe and the War Boys, plus the armies from Gas Town and the Bullet Farm…
Cinemaps: An Atlas of 35 Great Movies is available October 24th from Quirk Books.
This beautifully illustrated atlas of beloved movies is an essential reference for cinephiles, fans of great films, and anyone who loves the art of mapmaking.
Acclaimed artist Andrew DeGraff has created beautiful hand-painted maps of all your favorite films, from King Kong and North by Northwest to The Princess Bride, Fargo, Pulp Fiction, even The Breakfast Club—with the routes of major characters charted in meticulous cartographic detail. Follow Marty McFly through the Hill Valley of 1985, 1955, and 1985 once again as he races Back to the Future. Trail Jack Torrance as he navigates the corridors of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. And join Indiana Jones on a globe-spanning journey from Nepal to Cairo to London on his quest for the famed Lost Ark. Each map is presented in an 11-by-14-inch format, with key details enlarged for closer inspection, and is accompanied by illuminating essays from film critic A. D. Jameson, who speaks to the unique geographies of each film.
Then last night my lecturer for the Monday lecture said UCU voted for a strike today.
While I have no problem supporting the strike, I'm really sad to miss a lecture for this class (Language Mind and Brain; the one I've enthused about (sometimes drunkenly...) whenever anyone's asked me how my course is going)!
And I'm sad for whatever has happened to my lovely Arabic teacher, but I'm relieved because three hours of language-learning all in a row is brutal, makes Wednesdays by far my longest day in uni, and this week I'd have had a meeting partway through so I'd have worried about what I was missing after I had to leave.
But with no Arabic and no lecture, I'm left with only one lecture and two seminars all week! And next week is Reading Week (a concept my American brain is still struggling to understand). I feel kind of grateful for this chance to catch my metaphorical breath: I've been doing okay (if not perfectly) at keeping on top of uni things, but I'm way behind on housework, spending any quality time with my partners, etc.
I do have an essay due this Friday and one next Friday, and Arabic teacher has said she might try to make up this week's lessons during Reading Week too, so it's not as if I have nothing to do. But it does feel like a very light week for me, and solemn though the reasons for that are, I'd be lying if I didn't say I'm kind of glad.
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NYR2017 is now closed. The New Year's Resolution collection for 2018 will open on January 1. Works for past Yuletide prompts may be submitted there.
Long story short: one of my coworkers has a teenage son who's in college. Said son adopted a cat back in the spring, decided over summer vacation that she was too much work, and left her with his parents when he went back to school. His mom is severely allergic to cats. They tried keeping her for a few weeks, but my coworker's wife ended up in the emergency room unable to breathe because of it, so the cat ended up with me somewhat unexpectedly.
(I'd volunteered to take her, on the condition that WWIII didn't break out in my apartment when I tried introducing a third cat to the mix, but it was something that was tentative and wasn't planned for at least several more weeks. Then I got a phone call last Saturday night asking if my coworker could come by the next morning.)
Everyone, meet Keyleth (also known as Kiki.)
Garrus and Percy have been fine with her from the beginning. They've definitely been more curious than anything else. She, on the other hand, has been a little more wary. At this point, she's just starting to get used to being in a new environment with two much-larger-than-her cats around. (Kiki's approximately two years old, but she's tiny. Even smaller than Tali was, which is saying something.)
So far, so good. I left them alone without shutting anyone up in the bedroom for the first time earlier today, while I played D&D over at the game store near my place, and the apartment was still standing when I got home. Kiki's still somewhat wary of Garrus and Percy, but the worst she's done is hiss and go pout under the bed for a little while before coming back out. And neither of them seems to be taking offense to it, so they're just leaving her be for a bit when she gets to that point.
It's also the first day I'd seen him since Friday! I do miss him when I'm away. I tend to dream about him when I'm somewhere else overnight, not so much when I'm at home. Tonight we collected him from mother_bones and as we walked home I noticed he was doing that weird thing again, sniffing not just at the ground or bins or where other dogs have peed but sniffing the air in what seems like a weird new way that doesn't have an obvious explanation.
I mentioned this to Andrew last week when I first noticed it, when I'd taken him on one of his evening walks. "Yeah," Andrew said, "he's been doing that lately."
"I hadn't noticed it in the mornings," I'd said (I usually walk him in the mornings, and Andrew in the evenings." That it's time-of-day specific made it seem even more remarkable.
"He's so earnest about everything all the time," I said. (He does. It's one of his most endearing traits.) "So he looks like he's a little CSI or something."
I thought for a second and then, thinking of it as a parallel to "checking his wee-mail" (a phrase I think I picked up from miss_s_b), I added "a WeeSI!"
And I've been thinking of it that way ever since.
Not a bad week, I guess. Right now I'm feeling pretty down and hopeless, partly because of this article about Trump plus the fact that my family's economic future depends largely on Social Security and Medicare, which Trump's government seems hell-bent on destroying; and partly... I don't know what. I don't think depression and anxiety need a reason.
I did manage to figure out approximately what I should have been withholding for taxes; I also found out that the deadline for the second quarter's estimated tax payment was last month, so I'm slightly more screwed than I thought I was. Only slightly. That adds to the anxiety, of course.
N. and the kids have been away since Wednesday morning, with N and g at OVFF. It's been a bit lonely. I have, however, been getting things done, including putting up shelves and a little artwork, and setting up my desk with what amounts to a dual-monitor setup with the external monitor above Cygnus. I'm using the traditional makeshift monitor stand: a ream of printer paper. I actually did find my other Thinkpad keyboards, but with Cygnus on the desk I don't need them.
Our second week of prepared menus has worked out pretty well, though I did end up going out shopping Tuesday for some things that I'd missed on Sunday, and a little bit on Friday. It does seem as though we're spending less. I've also determined that I have to go grocery shopping alone -- it's impossible for me to stick to a list if there's someone else along. I really have difficulty saying "no" to anybody, and it's stressful.
Yesterday Colleen and I went to the Bayview farmer's market after picking up the bike helmet we'd ordered. Bought lunch (samosas) and some jam. See above about saying "no".
I did manage to say "no" to the life insurance agent. Yes, it's great that I was able to qualify for the lowest possible rate, which means I'm a lot healthier than most septuagenarians. But my financial advisor, who I consulted last Friday, pointed out that since my social security, IRA, and pension between them are enough to keep us going; unlike the situation in Seattle, we're not relying on my salary to pay the mortgage. (Colleen's SS payment is half of mine and will go away after I die; it does make a difference but the family would still get by without it.)
The thing that still scares the hell out of me is what would happen if I don't die, but simply get incapacitated, or if either Colleen or I end up needing more expensive care. Then we're hosed.
OR: I am Not Enough.
i realized this morning that there's some kinds of beauty that I think of as Not Allowed.
or Not For Me.
some kinds of Happiness that I think of as Not Allowed, or Not For Me.
part of me said, "why do i... it doesn't matter WHY just that I somehow figure out how to Allow myself"
then I backtracked and said, "no, the WHY *DOES MATTER* because I want to untangle this and then not allow it to happen again."
I want to ALLOW MYSELF ALL THE KINDS OF HAPPINESS and not think that I must prevent myself from x y or z because I am ME and something about ME-NESS means than I don't Get To Have Nice Things.
watching the koi as I fed them I realized I think of them as Jeff's joy, his calm, his happiness. And I caught myself saying, I must be businesslike, I'm not allowed to enjoy this, to enjoy watching them move, the peace of their deep swim and their curved bodies, I should be done with the task of feeding them and then move on...
like, that's so fucked up??? brain, WTF???
i often talk about abundance mentality but i don't know how to talk about DESERVING. And I apparently am either convinced I don't deserve nice things, or I'm afraid of getting nice things.
last night might have meant more hugs and cuddles, but I was afraid of getting in the way of my friends having hugs and cuddles with each other. they'd already been including me in their hugs and cuddles, and their sex jokes.
maybe I didn't need to rush home. I have shame about sex, and not knowing ... I can't even wrap words around what the shame is. It's deep and sorrowful and angry and resentful and *ugly cry*
maybe i could have had more hugs and cuddles. maybe it would have even moved into enough of a sensual place that I could hope for partnered satisfaction. (IT'S BEEN SO LONG.)
OKAY. I'm gonna call that enough wallowing for right now. If there's a chance, there's probably still a chance. I'm going to trust that I will someday be able to have what I want and need.
I mean, there's definitely hope. my friend S is a cute cuddly person and at the party friday night they were snuggling up to me and when I started making noises about leaving they cuddled back up to me and said,
"I wanna ask you something, but I'm nervous"
which is kind of funny to me because they're pretty brash and loud
so i said, of course, you can ask me anything!
and they said, "May I kiss you?"
and it was such a joyful thing to me, to be asked, in a comfortable affectionate respectful way, and I trust them so I was open to the idea,
and I said, with a giant grin, yes, you can (or yes, please, I forget how I phrased it)
And it was a nice kiss. No fireworks, but you could kind of see how maybe it would build to fireworks?
maybe I don't suck as bad as I think I do. I think my brain is an asshole, and my brain has a longstanding training of not believing people want me, in a going to bed kind of way.
I recognize that the training exists. I also understand that retraining is possible.
this is gonna be scary but I want to do this.
i'm fuckin' tired of not believing I'm ENOUGH enough to be wanted.
there's two possible places right there just this weekend, which might work out to be rewarding in that kind of way. I can start there, and pull on other threads for cuddle friends, and network it in together enough.
ok. I'm just gonna put it here:
I want a big, messy, passionate, laughing, juicy love life, and I want it to be enough that my heart stops hurting, and I want it to feel normal.
ok. Stuff I gotta do. more later. <3 peace!
Dear Captain Awkward,
I’ve been dating this guy for 3 months now. He has this pattern of disappearing for a couple of days and then come back. At the beginning he was all super flirty on text and showered me with compliments and sent each other snaps and nudes and said all the sweet things like he wants to treat me like a princess and make me his. Lowkey I knew he was a fuckboy* because most of the time he wanted to sext and talk about fucking me. He said he wasn’t looking for a relationship but if we become more than something then sure but if we don’t then we continue being friends. I came out of a 4 year relationship couple of months ago so I have been out of the dating game for too long and I moved in here to California from a different country so the concept of dating is way here is new to me. He was showing all signs of “fuckboy*” but my mind ignored it and I got led on and I started to get feelings for him. I know, you must be thinking if I knew he was a fuckboy* the how the hell did I started to like him?
Well, first of all he is really charming and good looking. He is really smart and does all the gentleman things like open the door for me and pays for the food. He actually seems like a genuine good person when I’m with him. I forget every annoying stuff and red flags when I spend time with him.
I realized our relationship will not go anywhere and he will continue to play with me. Once I told him that I had feelings for him and this is getting too much for
me so I’m gonna end the “friends with benefits” thing and remain friends and he gave a simple response “okay your choice.” After 2 weeks he hit me up on snapchat after he saw a selfie of mine and said he wants to come over to my house in the weekend. I couldn’t say no. We had an amazing time and after that he ghosted on me again. He is emotionally unavailable and does not share much about his life. I want to end it with him but I’m too weak to do it. Every time I pull back, he then wants to chase me. recently I texted him ” are you ghosting on me or something going on with u?” then he replied with ” i’m just damn busy :/” .
I’m really confused what he actually wants. If he doesn’t like me anymore then why doesn’t he just tell me or stop texting me? The relationship is hurting me. I don’t blast him with lots of texts nor do I nag. I always try to stay civil and calm even when i’m hurt by him. I’m having a hard time opening up to him of what exactly I feel. I wanted to take the relationship to another level and spend more time with him getting to know him. I wanted him to be my boyfriend. But I didn’t demand it. I did not expect anything in return when I told him I liked him. Because I can’t force him to like me back.
What should I do Captain Awkward? Even though I make myself busy with things. But I can’t seem to not cut him out of my life for good.
*Fuckboy = the letter writer is using it as a term to describe a man who is unreliable and untrustworthy around sex or “Someone who’s distant but still craves attention.” It also has a history as a descriptor of prison rape victims and attaching men who aren’t traditionally masculine and is therefore a word we’re not going to use anymore at CaptainAwkward.com enterprises. I’m not telling anyone they can’t ever use it, but I’m going to personally stop. Not least because I am a big ol’ white lady and “well it’s more complex than that in AAVE” isn’t really the hill I want to die on in my comments section. Not every word that exists is an ok word for me. Cool? Cool.
Dear Sincerely Confused:
You say you’ve been dating for about 3 months and that you’re “confused about what he actually wants.”
He said he wasn’t looking for a relationship. Ergo, what he wants is what is happening right now. He wants to flirt and have your attention and have sex with you sometimes. And then he wants to drop out of sight sometimes. He wants you to want him but he doesn’t want to be your boyfriend or have any obligation or deeper emotional connection. He wants you when he feels like it and he wants to be able to go away and ignore you when he doesn’t feel like it. He wants this. This thing that you say is hurting and confusing to you is the best this is likely to get.
You will never have a loving monogamous relationship with him where he is your boyfriend. If he wanted that, he would have said “Yes!” when you asked him about it. He would have made it happen. If you stay friends, or, um, “friends,” he will sometimes want to have sex with you, but it won’t mean anything has changed. Paying for dates and opening doors for you isn’t deeply meaningful. You’ve known/suspected this from the start, and he’s done every possible thing to confirm it.
It’s one of life’s great tragedies and comedies that we can have amazing chemistry and fun sexy feelings with people who aren’t actually good partners for us. That “omg this is the BEST” way he makes you feel should be illegal, right? Charisma isn’t the same as character.
The good news here is also the bad news: All the power to end or clarify this situation lies with you. You can stop this any time you want to.
You could decide “You know what, it’s worth it to me to have a fun diverting time with him when he pops up a couple of times a year, and I can safely ignore him the rest of the time, because I know 100% that it’s not going to turn into anything else.” To be clear, I don’t think this is where you are right now because you say that this is all hurting you. But I also know that there have been times in my life when a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency-need-
You could also decide “Hey, I really want a devoted, reliable boyfriend who loves me and I’m gonna hold out for that and not waste time on charming, unreliable dudes” and then deploy your new best friend, the block button. You’ll be sad and miss the thrill of the little roller coaster you’ve been riding for a while, but then you’ll feel better after a while of not being jerked around and there will be room in your life to meet someone else.
Back when she dated men, the lovely Samantha Irby (rocking it today in the New York Times btw) made a policy to protect her heart and reclaim her time. If she didn’t hear from a dude within a couple days of a date/sexy stuff/or simply her texting him, she deleted his number from her phone. That way she could resist the urge to keep pinging him or checking to see if he’d reached out, and if he did get in touch eventually she could legitimately be like “Wait, who is this?”
If this sounds cynical, think of it as Sam deciding what she needed: Someone who, at minimum, texts back. Someone who pays attention. Someone who treated her like she was important and not some big interruption to the more important things he had going on. You can’t control your feelings but you can control how many times you leave a door open for someone who isn’t walking through it.
Letter Writer, you want love that shows up for you. You want love that is playing on your level. That’s not silly or “nagging” or annoying or needy, and the person who deserves you won’t see it that way. He also won’t act like it’s some chore to keep in touch except when he’s bored or wants something.
Sometimes the answer when someone ghosts on you, is “ghost harder!”
- In her cover essay on silencing women in the October 2014 issue of Harper’s, Rebecca Solnit once again proves that she is one of our era’s greatest essayist – further evidence here and here. (via dostevsky) http://ift.tt/eA8V8J
from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2gz3n3i
Reblog if you are a fanfiction author and would like your readers to put one of your fic titles in ySunday, 22 October 2017 15:39
1: What inspired you to write the fic this way?
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4: What's your favorite line of dialogue?
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In which Tony has a Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad week - Skull_Bearer - Multifandom [Archive of Our OwSaturday, 21 October 2017 16:34
Fandom: Iron Man (Movies), The Avengers (Marvel Movies), Captain America (Movies), The Avengers (Marvel) - All Media Types
Warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence
Relationships: Bruce Banner/Clint Barton/Tony Stark, (background), Pepper Potts/Natasha Romanov
Characters: Tony Stark, Pepper Potts, Bruce Banner, Clint Barton, Aldrich Killian, Jarvis (Iron Man movies), Dummy (Iron Man movies), You (Iron Man movies), Butterfingers (Iron Man movies), James “Rhodey” Rhodes, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanov (Marvel)
Additional Tags: Alpha/Beta/Omega Dynamics, Omegaverse, Gore, Violence, but nothing happens, Basically Killian being a major creep, fuck that guy, Extremis, Comic Extremis, Transhumanism, Omega Tony, Alpha Killian, Beta Pepper, Alpha Rhodey, Alpha Steve, Beta Natasha, Omega Clint, Omega Bruce, Reference to sexual assault
Series: Part 8 of Sex, Love and Robotics
Tony’s about to go into Heat, but now there’s Killian, and Extremis, and SHIELD isn’t what it seems.
Ex-KGB guy lecturing about subversion in 1983.
The beginning is ... amusing. He claims that the Soviet Union is immune to subversion because it's closed off from outside influences. It might also be amusing that he claims religion is the only thing which holds a society together, but fails to notice that the USSR tried to weaken religion.
However, his claims that it's possible to take a society down by amplifying its internal disruptive influences might be true.
The part that catches my attention is that cultivating no-compromise attitudes among people is very destructive. And that if you're looking to punish the other guy rather than get a good solution for the both of you, you're heading for trouble.
Unfortunately, it takes two to cooperate.
I'm wondering whether the world is worse than it needs to be, not so much because people are personally rotten as because there are organizations encouraging bad behavior for reasons which have nothing to do with the self-interest of the obvious culprits.
I suggest that malice is not adorable. Even if it's from people you agree with against people you don't trust. And that tear-it-all-downism might actually be bad for you.
There's a challenge here because hunting for negative foreign influence can also be a destructive force.
I'm not sure what the answer is. Look for people of good will. Don't make things worse.
Readers of Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive epic got a lush visual treat for the hardcover release of Words of Radiance: vibrant endpapers depicting more characters from Sanderson’s fantasy series! For those who are wondering if that practice will continue for Oathbringer, the forthcoming third Stormlight volume, the answer is: yes!
On Friday, October 20th, the B&N book blog Twitter gave fans a sneak peek at the endpapers for Oathbringer:
— B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy (@BNSciFi) October 19, 2017
Now that they’re out there, check out the full Dan Dos Santos illustrations hiding behind the front cover of Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer!
Who are these striking individuals? Are they individuals?
And… who might be the two characters depicted in the endpapers behind Oathbringer‘s BACK cover?
We’ll find out come November 14, 2017!
Note: The comments on this article may contain spoilers from the chapters of Oathbringer currently available to read on Tor.com. Tread as thou wilt.
“[L]et’s be honest: we never had Star Wars,” Amberlough author Lara Elena Donnelly writes on Unbound Worlds. “We had all the ephemera that unfurled from the ineffable magic of those first three films. Star Wars was—and remains—critically important in nerdy millennial circles. It’s a touchstone by which we immediately recognize our people. It’s a way of connecting with older generations, including our parents, and newbie nerds like our younger siblings, our students, and our children. But it was never ours.”
Until, that is, she saw The Force Awakens in theaters two years ago.
Despite fond memories of watching the rereleased original trilogy as a young’un, it wasn’t until she was sitting in the theater watching a Star Wars movie no one else had ever seen that she felt real ownership of the universe: “When I saw The Force Awakens, in a packed theatre at midnight, crammed into the front row with my neck craned skyward, I felt what I’m pretty sure all those nerds must have felt in 1977 when Star Wars first hit the big screen. I felt surges of joy and terror, excitement to seek out worlds beyond this one, a renewed drive to challenge evil with empathy.”
Donnelly’s essay is one of 20, part of Unbound Worlds’ A Long Time Ago series. Every weekday in October, a different author shares what Star Wars means to them, from how it affected them as a writer (at least one has gone on to write a Star Wars book!) to more personal affirmations.
Before she wrote the Murderbot Diaries, Martha Wells got to play in a galaxy far, far away with Star Wars: Razor’s Edge, a Legends tale that pits Princess Leia against Alderaanian pirates. But first, her 13-year-old self needed to realize that there were other SFF fans out there:
I was an isolated kid in a lot of ways, and didn’t know anybody else who really liked SF as much as I did. And I’d been told over and over again that liking SF/F, or liking anything involving books and media so intensely, was weird and strange and probably bad, or if not bad, something that made me a figure of ridicule. It was especially bad for a girl to like those things, but I was sure to get over it when I grew up and stopping being silly. I knew I wasn’t the only one, I knew there were other people like me out there; all these books and comics had been written by people, for people. But before Star Wars, it was hard to believe those people really existed.
Mapping the Interior author Stephen Graham Jones talks about “capturing” narratives and characters that speak to him, and thanks Star Wars for giving him “Indian role models” and “Indian heroes” while growing up:
And Leia, with her Hopi hairdo, her homeland isn’t just taken from her, it’s turned to (space)rubble. But that just makes her fight harder. Luke, he’s been adopted out of his tribe, has been forced into (space)farming, but is always looking up to the sky for home. Is there a more Indian name than Skywalker? Maybe: Han Solo, that living embodiment of an Indian who is not going to wait to get his request to cross the reservation line approved. He just hits that hyperspace button and goes. And, like all Indians, he believes in Bigfoot. He has to: Bigfoot’s his copilot. And don’t forget Luke and Leia being twins. So many of the tribes have stories about twins either messing up or saving the world—sometimes both. It’s what they do.
Now that I’m older, I can appreciate more. Like inclusivity. Here we have this vast array of characters with wildly diverse backgrounds, and yet they treat each other like … people. Just simple people, divorced from their species, their races, their religions, their sexes, and so on. Yes, some biases crept into the story (it’s impossible to be completely divorced from such things), but I always felt as though the story was rooted less in inherited bias than it was on other stuff. Like personalities: Luke’s callow impatience vs. Yoda’s initial feigned curiosity, for example. Or ideology, as in the case of the Empire as it fought to root out and defeat the Rebels. Or base commerce, as in the case of Han and Greedo, or Han and Jabba, or Han and Lando, or… well, again, you get the idea.
Unbound Worlds will continue to release new essays through the end of October, with pieces from Max Gladstone, Fran Wilde, and more coming up!
Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author and io9 co-founder Charlie Jane Anders mashed up technology and witchcraft in her debut novel All the Birds in the Sky. Now, in her latest project, she’ll be journeying into space and delving into the teenage psyche, in a new young adult science fiction trilogy recently acquired by Tor Teen.
“Now it can be told: I’m a YA author at last!” Anders tweeted. “I’ve always loved YA and I have been toiling in secret on this for ages.”
Tor Associate Publisher Patrick Nielsen Hayden described the series:
Charlie Jane Anders’ currently-untitled YA will be a trilogy of novels about a disaffected present-day teenager who discovers that everything she believes about herself is wrong—that she is not, in fact, human, or from Earth. That, in fact, she has a critical role to play in an interstellar drama involving many contending alien species and a long and complex history of politics, diplomacy and warfare among them. That she carries within herself the memories and abilities of a now-deceased warrior leader of her true species, deliberately implanted in her for safekeeping. It is a tale of the heart of adolescence: vast power and knowledge yoked to a vulnerable young consciousness that’s just now learning, in fits and starts and with repeated failures and setbacks, how to be a person.
“I’m still in awe of how much everyone at Tor embraced All the Birds in the Sky, my novel about terribly flawed misfits groping their way towards adulthood,” Anders said in the announcement. “Tor gave that book the kind of love that makes books soar, and I remain intensely grateful. So I couldn’t possibly imagine a better home for my new story about coming of age in outer space.”
The first volume is expected to be published in late 2019 or early 2020.
Six Months, Three Days, Five Others, a Tor mini hardcover collecting some of Anders’ short fiction, is available now. Tor will also publish The City in the Middle of the Night, the sequel to All the Birds in the Sky, in January 2019.
During Brandon Sanderson’s book tour for Words of Radiance, super-fan Val Alston traveled from Mexico to attend a signing event at The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, Arizona in order to meet the author and present him with this amazing homemade Shardblade!
We reached out to Val to get the full scoop on the design and creation of the Shardblade, and he was nice enough to share his story. Check out Val’s process below, including some in-progress photos!
Sanderson’s books attracted my interest first, and as I saw and read interviews with him, I was amazed by his enthusiasm for teaching, charity work, and his fans. Brandon gives us all the magic and kindness of his heart for a fulfilling experience. Thus I wanted to honor him, as I admire his person more than just his amazing characters and beautiful stories.
Of course he doesn’t do it alone, and I wish to thank all who support him, too. His aura seems to attract passionate, talented, and professional individuals into his life who contribute to the whole majesty of all his literature.
I decided to bring Oathbringer to life, but as a hybrid of a few descriptions based on the distinct Shardblades—not perfectly, but as close as I can without magic. I hoped my ideas would capture the magic of the blade (like its smoky transparency when it cuts) and not just the shape.
An early sketch:
The idea to build the sword as a gift was conceived approximately at the end of September 2013. I can’t honestly remember why it popped into my head, or what I may have been reading of Sanderson’s literatureat the time, as I had already finished The Way of Kings during the summer.
I began by speaking to a friend, Karl Schneider. As a fan of Star Trek he has had various props made in the past. I told him what I wanted to achieve and the adventure began!
He gave me some ideas on materials I could use, and found smoke-colored acrylic glass to be an awesome way to represent the misty/smoky nature of a Shardblade when it passes through matter. So I looked up specialty shops that worked with acrylic type materials, and amazingly, the best one in Guadalajara, Mexico happened to be 10 minutes away from my apartment. It is called Acrymaquetas.
I researched descriptions of Shardblades and their characteristics while in use, much of the information I found at The Stormlight Archive wiki. I also looked at hundreds of pictures of real swords for reference.
I originally planned on taking more time to slowly work on the creation of my Oathbringer hybrid. Initially my idea was to merge an intricate hilt (custom-made by someone else in metal) with my own blade made of acrylic glass by placing the blade over the hilt with a center steel shaft to represent the transition between the “magical” smoky glass and the real steel.
Yet after considerable thought, I decided instead to design my own blade fully constructed from acrylic glass in order to shave some expense and time with the hope of having it ready as a surprise gift for Sanderson’s Words of Radiance tour.
Acrymaquetas, the acrylic design and laser shop, made it very clear that if I wanted anything decently realistic that I’d have to hand them a 3D STL (STereoLithography) model. Well, I did it and it was tough. I had no previous 3D modeling experience at all. Kudos to all who work in the CGI animation business!
One of my early 3D failures:
I decided to use Google SketchUp software since it is free, and I used models from the warehouse as foundation at first. But after many hours, I began to manage 3D modeling sufficiently to create more of my exact ideas from scratch.
All in all, it took about 102 hours from start to finish. It has been a grueling but satisfying journey, and I savored the process of bringing something magical to life. Sanderson has evoked my first fandom experience; I’ve never been one to be so enthusiastic about any particular artist or celebrity.
Photos from the crafting process, December 2013-March 2014:
I want to express a very special thanks to the team at Acrymaquetas, including Miriam Flores (front desk), LilianaPalacios (designer), and the Magical Acrylic Technician, Jose. They had never had a project be so challenging, although they really enjoyed the process as well.
Very special thanks to my friend Samuel Barnes, whose construction expertise gave me structural advice and much needed help in creating the wooden shipping box.
Have fun lugging it around for 5 days while you bond with it!
This post was originally published in April 2014, and appeared again in December 2014.