The Madness of Crowds by Douglas Murray review – a rightwing diatribe


This post is by William Davies from Books | The Guardian


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Do racism and sexism really exist, or are they just the creation of angry lefties? The bizarre fantasies of a rightwing provocateur, blind to oppression

Being stuck in a culture war is a bit like being a driver stuck in a traffic jam. From within one’s own car, the absurdity and injustice of the situation is abundantly plain. Other drivers can be seen cutting in, changing lanes excessively, and getting worked up. Roadworks appear needlessly restrictive. Why are there so many cars on the road anyway? Horns begin to honk. There is one question that few drivers ever consider: what is my own contribution to this quagmire?

Psychoanalysts refer to the process of “splitting”, where the self is unable to cope with its good and bad qualities simultaneously, and so “splits” the bad ones off and attributes them to other people. The result is an exaggerated sense of one’s own ...

Turning the Cyclopean Up to 11: Fiona Maeve Geist’s “Red Stars / White Snow / Black Metal”


This post is by Anne M. Pillsworth, Ruthanna Emrys from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading Fiona Maeve Geist’s “Red Stars/White Snow/Black Metal,” first published in Robert S. Wilson’s Ashes and Entropy anthology in 2018. Spoilers ahead, but it’s worth reading on your own.

“So Kelsey grasps the thread and finds herself across the Atlantic, stuffing her hands into the worn-out pockets of her black denim vest—the sharp, white, goetic scrawls metled in alignment by lighter-touched dental floss announcing her arrival: a black sun strangled by the coils of skeletal snakes emblazoned across her back as she lights a cigarette from a black box.”

Journalist Kelsey wakes from troubled dreams in the bathroom of a Moscow hostel, where she pukes empty-stomach bile. If flooding memory serves, what a long ...

Canadian author Graeme Gibson dies aged 85


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


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Long-term partner of Margaret Atwood had dementia but continued to travel with her on book tour for The Testaments

The Canadian author and conservationist Graeme Gibson has died at the age of 85. Gibson was the long-term partner of Margaret Atwood, and was with the novelist while she toured to promote her new book, The Testaments.

Atwood said in a statement this afternoon that her family was “devastated by the loss of Graeme, our beloved father, grandfather, and spouse, but we are happy that he achieved the kind of swift exit he wanted and avoided the decline into further dementia that he feared”.

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Redemption, Remaking, and Revolution: Natalie C. Parker’s Steel Tide


This post is by Maya Gittelman from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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Caledonia Styx returns knife-quick and bright as ever in Steel Tide, the thrilling, propulsive second installment of the Seafire trilogy. The novel picks up right where the first left off, Caledonia’s seafaring sisterhood pitted against the drugged and manipulated Bullet army, which is led by the vicious Aric Athair. A failed plot to destroy Aric and the murderous Bullet, Lir, leaves Caledonia horribly wounded and, worse, separated from her crew. She wakes to find herself recuperating in a camp of unlikely allies: former Bullets.

They call themselves Blades, and they hate Aric and the Bullets just as much as Caledonia—they know his tyranny firsthand. It’s not easy at first for Caledonia to trust a former Bullet—the first time she did, it cost her nearly everything. The second time, though, it gave her Oren, who became invaluable to the crew of the Mors Navis, and to Caledonia herself. She can’t ...

QUILTBAG+ Speculative Classics: A, A’ [A, A Prime] by Moto Hagio, Translated by Rachel Thorn


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Sometimes I start reading an older book, and it turns out to have QUILTBAG+ themes that no one mentioned. Over a year into doing the QUILTBAG+ Speculative Classics reviews column—a lot of spreadsheeting and gathering books later—this still keeps on happening. I’m starting to wonder if it will ever be possible to run out of eligible work to review. And I don’t mean “this book has a possibly queer couple in the background” moments—I just came across a science fiction graphic novel with an intersex main character (!), originally published in 1984 and translated to English in 1997.

A, A’ [also written as A, A Prime] is a one-volume manga by Moto Hagio, one of the groundbreaking classic creators of shōjo manga, Japanese comics aimed at teenage girls. The book has three long chapters, which were originally published in serialized form both in Japanese and in English. I ...

Nearly half of all book reviews in Australia in 2018 were of works by female authors


This post is by Stephanie Convery from Books | The Guardian


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Stella Count researchers say gender parity reached by most publications

Researchers have praised most Australian publications for reaching gender parity in their book review sections last year.

Of published book reviews in Australia in 2018 49% were for books written by women, according to research published on Thursday by the Stella Count.

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Reread — Section 31: Abyss


This post is by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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Section 31: Abyss
Written by David Weddle and Jeffrey Lang
Publication Date: July 2001
Timeline: April 2376, three months after “What You Leave Behind”; two weeks after Avatar, Book One and Two

Progress: As Section 31: Abyss opens, something large—very large—is headed to DS9. This turns out to be Nog’s plan from Avatar, Book Two to solve the problem of the station’s power needs since the loss of its core: with the assistance of nine other Federation ships, Nog successfully transports Empok Nor, by warp, into the orbit of DS9. What a fantastic opening set piece.

Kira wants most non-tech personnel off the station during the delicate core transfer, and that includes Bashir and Ezri. On the cusp of this vacation, Bashir is approached by a Section 31 agent calling himself Cole, who tells Bashir about another genetically enhanced human, named Dr. Ethan Locken. Locken has betrayed S31 and ...

A Single Mom Raises a Superhero In the First Trailer for Raising Dion


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It’s hard enough being a single mom, but when the child you’re raising is a burgeoning superhero with tons of reality-bending abilities, this comes with an entirely different set of challenges. That’s the premise of Netflix’s new sci-fi drama series, Raising Dion, which just dropped its new trailer.

Based on Dennis Liu and Jason Piperberg’s comic book, the series follows Nicole (Alisha Wainwright) as she takes on the upbringing of her preternaturally gifted son Dion (Ja’Siah Young) after her scientist husband Mark (Michael B. Jordan) dies in a mysterious accident, implied to be related to Dion’s as-yet-uncontrolled superpowers. As Dion explores his newfound abilities in some very visually striking ways (Floating milk and Froot Loops! Suspending fish in bubbles! Giving his mom a mini-fireworks show indoors!), Nicole has to juggle regular mom stuff with protecting her son from a conspiracy involving scientists who are tracking down people with ...

Damon Lindelof Reveals Lots of Worldbuilding Details in New Watchmen Show


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Watchmen HBO show logo

We, along with everyone else who has an HBO subscription, will be watching the Watchmen come October 20, and ahead of the series premiere, Damen Lindelof sat down with Entertainment Weekly for a deep-dive into the world of the show.

Previously, the showrunner revealed that the series would not be an adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel, but instead a sequel, set in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2019, that treats the original 12 issues as canon. In this alternate reality, Robert Redford has been president since 1992, and his reign has led to the complete ban of smartphones and Internet. Meanwhile, a Rorschach-mask-wearing white supremacist group called the Seventh Cavalry has been terrorizing Tulsa’s majority-black police force.

In his interview with EW, Lindelof revealed a lot more details about the world-building, as well as plenty of behind-the-scenes decisions that led to the making of the show. Here’s ...

A Quiet Hero’s Journey: Processing Trauma in Fantasy


This post is by Leah Schnelbach from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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In The Goblin Emperor an airship explodes, killing the emperor and his three eldest sons. We later learn that this was not an accident, but the work of assassins. Later still, we learn that those assassins have been apprehended. Why am I telling you all of this? Doesn’t this ruin the book?

Not remotely, because the book isn’t about any of that. All of those action scenes, the scenes that would be in the trailer for Goblin Emperor: The Movie, happen off-page. Rather than showing us action sequences we’ve seen a thousand times, the book spends its time dealing honestly with aftermaths. As I read it I was reminded of another book that, on the surface, is quite different: Jo Walton’s Hugo-winning Among Others.

When the twins Morwenna and Morganna engage in magical battle with their mother, a witch who wants to destroy the world. It works, but at ...

Revealing the Cover for Alina Boyden’s Stealing Thunder — Plus Read Chapter One!


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We’re thrilled to reveal the cover for Alina Boyden’s Stealing Thunder, an immersive epic fantasy inspired by the Mughal Empire. Stealing Thunder publishes with Ace in May 2020—check out the full cover and preview an excerpt below!

In a different life, under a different name, Razia Khan was raised to be the Crown Prince of Nizam, the most powerful kingdom in Daryastan. Born with the soul of a woman, she ran away at a young age to escape her father’s hatred and live life true to herself.

Amongst the hijras of Bikampur, Razia finds sisterhood and discovers a new purpose in life. By day she’s one of her dera’s finest dancers, and by night its most profitable thief. But when her latest target leads her to cross paths with Arjun Agnivansha, Prince of Bikampur, it is she who has something stolen.

An immediate connection with the prince changes Razia’s ...

It’s the Night Monkey’s Turn to Shine in the Spider-Man: Far From Home Digital Release Trailer


This post is by Stubby the Rocket from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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It’s the Night Monkey’s world, and we’re all just living in it. Peter Parker’s hastily improvised Spider-Man-but-in-a-black-suit alter-ego is getting his own movie at last.

Psych! It’s just the trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home‘s digital release, made up entirely of Night Monkey-centric scenes from the movie. Still, we’ll admit to being quite taken by the editing and weirdly compelling tagline (“When night falls…a new hero rises. The night belongs…to the monkey.”). Plus, you get to see what the Night Monkey’s logo would look like, and let’s just say it’s very…Graphic Design Is My Passion.

Spider-Man: Far From Home will be released on digital today and Blu-Ray on October 1. You can check out a list of features on the digital release over at io9.

Five Fantasy Books Steeped in History


This post is by Jennifer Giesbrecht from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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“If the purpose of science fiction is to ask questions about where humanity is going, what is the potential speculative purpose of fantasy?” is a hyper-specific question asked by perhaps no one but me, and yet I am preoccupied by it endlessly. Tolkien had some answers to this, ones that were good enough to codify an entire genre. Among them was what he terms as eucatastrophe, that is: the joy a reader feels when the hero snatches victory from the jaws of defeat. In other words, it’s fine to write a story that exists for the sake of evoking powerful emotions in the intended audience.

This pulp view of Fantasy—exhilaration without subtext—has been the popular perception of the genre for decades, however Tolkien also believed that “fairy stories” were capable of imparting deeper meaning beyond mere escapism through, let’s call it empathetic verisimilitude. Careful world-building makes a fairy ...

The Vetting


This post is by Michael Cassutt from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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A suspenseful near-future story about what happens during the vetting process of a researcher from the Middle East, who is trying to enter the US to continue his studies, and the immigration lawyer assigned to his case, who is dying of cancer.

 

 

“Have you been here before?” The TSA officer, a tall African American woman in a baggy blue blazer, turns to punch numbers into the security pad.

He might simply say no, or not for a long time. Instead: “Tania,” he says, “it’s Jeff Bruno.” He smiles and holds up his badge with a photo that does not, in fact, really look like him.

TSA officer Tania Wilson finally makes eye contact, and is embarrassed. Bruno has been meeting clients at Los Angeles International’s Bradley Terminal for well over a year. Wilson has been his escort half a dozen times. Though, to be fair, not ...

Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith review – memories of the magic and the mundane


This post is by Fiona Sturges from Books | The Guardian


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From looming political crisis to a leaky flat – a troubled year in the life of a great American punk poet

At the start of 2016, Patti Smith’s friend the producer, manager and rock critic Sandy Pearlman was hospitalised after suffering a brain haemorrhage. She first met him in 1971 when he attended one of her performances during which she read poetry against a backdrop of feedback, courtesy of guitarist Lenny Kaye. Pearlman approached Smith after the show and suggested she front a rock band, but, as she recalls in her new memoir: “I just laughed and told him I had a good job working in a bookstore.” Later she took his advice and went on to make the landmark punk album Horses. Their friendship endured, leading her and Kaye to his bedside nearly 50 years later as he lay in a coma. “We stood on either side of ...

Top 10 novels about burning issues for young adults


This post is by Sif Sigmarsdóttir from Books | The Guardian


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From Black Lives Matter to the south London modelling circuit, the tangled mess of real life provides plenty of raw material for YA fiction

Newspapers and novels – fact and fiction – are often seen as polar opposites. But as a writer of both, I have come to find that fiction and non-fiction are simply two sides of the same coin.

My YA Nordic thriller, The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake, was inspired by two of the biggest news stories of last year and the fearless women behind them. In 2018, the journalist Carole Cadwalladr revealed that a British company called Cambridge Analytica had harvested the personal data of millions of Facebook users without their consent and used it to influence elections. Around the same time the #MeToo movement was gaining momentum. In 2018, the actor and activist Rose McGowan released her captivating book, Brave, in which she ...

Will and Testament by Vigdis Hjorth review – the repercussions of childhood suffering


This post is by Lara Feigel from Books | The Guardian


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Dark humour, drunken rants and dreams of escape in a bestselling autobiographical novel from Norway

“It is terrible that someone who has been destroyed spreads destruction, and how hard that is to avoid.” There are three generations of destructive parents and children in Vigdis Hjorth’s Will and Testament. The protagonist, Bergljot, was sexually abused as a child by her rich and powerful father, who once half excused himself by alluding to the terrible experiences of his own childhood. Now in her 50s, Bergljot fears that she too has been a destructive parent, and her daughter writes a moving letter to her grandmother and aunts telling them that her mother’s childhood has impacted on her own: “I’ve seen Mum as broken and distraught as a human being is capable of without dying.”

The book was a bestseller when it was published in Norway in 2016, partly because readers recognised ...

‘We see with the brain’: creating a comic book for blind people


This post is by David Barnett from Books | The Guardian


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Chad Allen explains how losing access to comics after becoming blind inspired Unseen, the first audio comic aimed at readers who see with their mind

Comic books were not at the top of the list of the things that Chad Allen would desperately miss when he went blind, but they were certainly on there. Growing up in Rhode Island, a friend’s older brother had a huge collection of Marvel and DC comics, which the two younger boys would carefully remove from their protective sleeves to immerse themselves in the four-colour world of superheroes – especially Allen’s favourites, the Hulk and the Punisher.

From a young age, Allen was dealing with some of the effects of what would develop into full-blown sight-loss: “It started off as night blindness, and if I came out of a movie theatre into the sunlight I wouldn’t be able to see for a while.”

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She Said by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey review – the inside story of Weinstein and #MeToo


This post is by Helen Lewis from Books | The Guardian


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All about power ... the reporters who broke the Weinstein story give the full account of who talked, and how #MeToo began

Three events define the #MeToo era. The first was the release, in October 2016, of the #Pussygate tape, on which presidential candidate Donald Trump was recorded boasting about his seduction technique: “When you’re a star, they let you do it.” A year later, the New York Times published a story about the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s decades of sexual aggression against both A-list actors and junior employees. (He lost his job, but still denies many of the allegations.) In the autumn of 2018, an academic called Christine Blasey Ford testified to a Congressional committee – and the world’s media – that the Republican supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had assaulted her at a drunken college party, in front of a male friend. “Indelible in the hippocampus ...