5 SFF Stories About Surviving the Dangers of Boarding School


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J.K. Rowling has done much to revive the literary genre of boarding school stories, which achieved its greatest (pre-Potter) popularity in the period between Tom Brown’s Schooldays (1857) and the mid-twentieth century. As a setting, boarding schools allow for the construction of thrilling narratives: concerned parents are replaced by teachers who may well prioritize student achievement over student welfare, e.g. maximizing points for Gryffindor over the survival of the students earning those points. Because the students cannot easily walk away from the school, they must deal with teachers and other students, some of whom may be vividly villainous (Miss Minchin, for example—the antagonist in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess).

Are there any SFF novels featuring boarding schools? Why yes! I am glad you asked—there are more than I can list in a single article. Here are just a few.

 

Joe and Jack ...

JK Rowling’s writing advice: be a Gryffindor


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


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On her website, the Harry Potter author has listed essential qualities for budding authors – including resilience, humility and courage

JK Rowling has taken time off from a recent (and inexplicable) venture into laying out wizards’ toilet habits from days of yore to give her readers a glimpse into the thinking behind the writing that has made her one of the world’s best loved and highest paid authors.

Steering clear of what she calls “lists of must do’s”, Rowling points out that she found success as an author “by stumbling off alone in a direction most people thought was a dead end, breaking all the 1990s shibboleths about children’s books in the process. Male protagonists are unfashionable. Boarding schools are anathema. No kids’ book should be longer than 45,000 words.” So instead of advising would-be writers what they have to do, she tells them instead what qualities they can’t ...

Queering Hogwarts: Fantasy Books That Succeed Where Harry Potter Fails


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Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy aren’t queer, but their counterparts in Rainbow Rowell’s novel Carry On, Simon Snow and Basilton “Baz” Grimm-Pitch, are.

In our current “post-Potter” age, a new crop of published queer magic boarding school novels has emerged that directly challenge the lack of LGBT representation in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Collectively, they reimagine a series that was quintessential for the childhood and teenaged years of many young queer people, by giving them center stage.

These published stories are expanding the limited space for queer people in the magical boarding school genre by taking core elements of Harry Potter—what it means to be a Chosen One, tropes of villainy, magical societies, living in boarding school, school romance—and making it queer.

The publication dates of these new novels all occur after the end of the Harry Potter series in 2007, and this is no coincidence. Why ...

A Realtime Breakdown On How Pottermore Made the Chamber of Secrets Weird For Me


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Leah dropped a tweet into Slack with an “ummmm” affixed beforehand:

I did some telltale nerdly throat-clearing and gamely told her that this information was not new; it had been published on Pottermore in a larger piece about the history of the Chamber of Secrets several months ago, and I kept avoiding it because of how angry it made me. Because it makes no sense, and also, it ruins one of my favorite headcanons about the Potter series.

See, the thing I always assumed was that the castle magically rearranged around the Chamber as it was reconstructed over the years. Which would be hilarious because nothing is better than the idea of Salazar Slytherin being such ...

Harry Potter and the explosion of Hogwarts’ merchandise


This post is by Amelia Tait from Books | The Guardian


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Twelve years after JK Rowling’s final book in the wizarding series, why is everything from Quidditch slippers to Hedwig lip balms still flying off the shelves?

In November 2001, Private Eye mocked the Pottermania surrounding the franchise’s first film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The magazine fabricated ridiculous-sounding merchandise, satirically advertising the “Harry Potter potato peeler”, the “Lord Voldemort wheelie bin” and “Quidditch drawing pins”.

What was once ridiculous is now reality. In 2018, you can pop into Sainsbury’s, Lakeland or WH Smith and pick up the Harry Potter egg cup and toast cutter set (£5). Multiple British brands have launched exclusive Potter ranges: Boots introduced wand-shaped makeup brushes (£20) and Hedwig lip balms (£6); the stationery shop Typo brought out oversized turquoise Quidditch slippers (£15); and Primark’s Hagrid bauble (£5) made pre-Christmas headlines.

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Moral Kombat: How Narnia and Harry Potter Wrestle with Death and Rewrite Christianity


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Hagrid carries Harry's body

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has been on Broadway for about six months and collected six Tonys after a successful run in London. I was lucky enough to see the play a few months ago, and while I liked it enormously, I can’t stop thinking about how odd it is. With Cursed Child, Rowling foregoes the possibility of a simple fun adventure and instead adds a coda to the series-long meditation on death, and continues her ongoing tickle fight conversation with the moral fantasy of C.S. Lewis.

Has there ever been a blockbuster/franchise/pop-culture-phenomenon more death-obsessed than Harry Potter? The Narnia books at least give us pages full of whimsy and adventure before cranking the stakes up. Death looms over The Hunger Games, obviously, but the books are also about political strife and governmental overthrow and class warfare. Star Wars tends to sanitize its deaths, with lightsabers ...

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To Kill a Mockingbird voted top ‘Great American Read’ in US poll


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Millions of American readers voted Harper Lee’s renowned story about racism as their favourite novel in six-month PBS poll

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee’s renowned coming-of-age story about racism and injustice in the American south, was voted the US’s best-loved novel by millions of readers as part of a national poll.

The Pulitzer prize-winning book, first published in 1960, topped the US public service broadcaster PBS’s Great American Read survey, the results of which were announced on Tuesday. More than 4 million votes were cast in the six-month long poll.

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If Harry Potter is Your Dad, He’ll Read Harry Potter to You


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Cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at New York Comic Con 2018

The Broadway (formerly of the original West End production) cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child chatted with fans for an hour at New York Comic Con to answer questions and talk about how they got involved with such a surprising project in a first place.

In case you hadn’t guessed it already, this is one hell of a charming cast.

Curious about the cast Hogwarts House alignments? Some of them were amusingly predictable; Jamie Parker (Harry) and Poppy Miller (Ginny) were both Gryffindors, and Alex Price (Draco) and Anthony Boyle (Scorpius Malfoy) were proud Slytherins. But we had some fun outliers in the group; Noma Dumezweni (Hermione) and Paul Thornley (Ron) both said they were Ravenclaws, and Sam Clemmett (Albus Potter) was the only Hufflepuff on stage.

While the cast was still supposed to #KeeptheSecrets of the show, they did get a chance to answer a few fan ...

Final Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Trailer Reveals Disturbing Information About Nagini


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Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Nagini Claudia Kim Maledictus J.K. Rowling

There are some fun moments in the final trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald: Jude Law enjoying being the master of understatement as Dumbledore, not to mention a soulful Mirror of Erised moment between his and Grindelwald’s younger selves; and Newt getting the upper hand, er, wand, on his brother Theseus.

Then there is the headscratching reveal about Claudia Kim’s circus attraction character, who had featured in previous trailers but never been named, until now. And she’s someone we’ve met before…

It turns out that Kim plays Nagini—yes, Voldemort’s beloved snake and most powerful of his Horcruxes. As an attraction at the Circus Arcanus, she shapeshifts into a snake for gasping Muggle audiences—but this is not an Animagus who learns to transform; instead, she is a Maledictus, described by Pottermore as “a carrier of a blood curse which will ultimately destine them to transform permanently into ...

The 10 Best Completed SF and Fantasy Series (According to Me)


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Before diving into the list itself, I’d like to establish a few things: first, these are completely subjective rankings based on my own favorite series. The list takes into consideration things like prose, dialogue, characters, worldbuilding, and plot. In some cases, weight will be given more to phenomenal prose; in others, the focus will be on setting or characters or whatever the books’ major strengths happen to be.

It also ignores incomplete series, so you won’t see any love for The Kingkiller Chronicle or The Stormlight Archive, among others. Similarly, it ignores standalone books, so no Uprooted or The Windup Girl or Roadside Picnic.

Additionally, this list in many ways represents science fiction and fantasy of the past (mostly the late 20th century). It’s likely that a few of these will still be on my list in a decade, but SFF of the past few years has taken a much-needed turn toward ...

From Lolita to Winnie-the-Pooh: Juno Dawson on the best banned books


This post is by Juno Dawson from Books | The Guardian


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From the ‘unrestrained pornography’ of Nabokov’s classic to Harry Potter’s witchcraft … the This Book Is Gay author looks at literary works that have fallen foul of censors

We are all familiar with the gut-wrenching, disturbing images of the German Student Union burning books under the Nazi regime. It’s less well known, perhaps, that the photograph we often associate with this time shows the burning of the libraries of Dr Magnus Hirschfeld, the first man – that we know of – to use the term transsexual and perform gender confirmation surgery on Lili Elbe (as seen in the film The Danish Girl).

Rarely would we see book burnings today, but routinely books are challenged or banned on grounds of impropriety. Let’s start with a personal example. My guide to gender, sexual identity and LGBTQ sex education, This Book Is Gay (2014), was challenged in Wasilla, Alaska, when a parent ...

Wizards, Moomins and pirates: the magic and mystery of literary maps


This post is by Robert Macfarlane, Frances Hardinge and Miraphora Mina from Books | The Guardian


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From Moominland to the Marauder’s Map, writers Robert Macfarlane, Frances Hardinge and Harry Potter cartographer Miraphora Mina unfold their favourite maps

In the beginning was the map. Robert Louis Stevenson drew it in the summer of 1881 to entertain his 12-year-old stepson, Lloyd Osbourne, while on a rainy family holiday in Scotland. It depicts a rough-coasted island of woods, peaks, swamps and coves. A few place names are marked, which speak of adventure and disaster: Spyeglass Hill, Graves, Skeleton Island. The penmanship is deft, confident – at the island’s southern end is an intricate compass rose, and the sketch of a galleon at full sail. Figures signal the depth in fathoms of the surrounding sea, and there are warnings to mariners: “Strong tide here”, “Foul ground”. In the heart of the island is a blood-red cross, by which is scrawled the legend “Bulk of treasure here”.

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Wizards, Moomins and pirates: the magic and mystery of literary maps


This post is by Robert Macfarlane, Frances Hardinge and Miraphora Mina from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




From Moominland to the Marauder’s Map, writers Robert Macfarlane, Frances Hardinge and Harry Potter cartographer Miraphora Mina unfold their favourite maps

In the beginning was the map. Robert Louis Stevenson drew it in the summer of 1881 to entertain his 12-year-old stepson, Lloyd Osbourne, while on a rainy family holiday in Scotland. It depicts a rough-coasted island of woods, peaks, swamps and coves. A few place names are marked, which speak of adventure and disaster: Spyeglass Hill, Graves, Skeleton Island. The penmanship is deft, confident – at the island’s southern end is an intricate compass rose, and the sketch of a galleon at full sail. Figures signal the depth in fathoms of the surrounding sea, and there are warnings to mariners: “Strong tide here”, “Foul ground”. In the heart of the island is a blood-red cross, by which is scrawled the legend “Bulk of treasure here”.

Continue reading...

Atwood? Shakespeare? Harry Potter? Top 10 false identities in fiction


This post is by Simon Lelic from Books | The Guardian


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Characters in disguise are almost as frequent in books as in real life. From the boy wizard to the bard, here are some of the best

We all wear masks. In the various parts of our lives, we present different faces to the world. Often it is a form of self-preservation. We want to be liked, valued, respected, feared. Sometimes it is because we desire something we are afraid that our real self would be unable to get: a new contract with a client, for example; a date with John/Joan from next door. Occasionally, it is because we have something we wish to hide. Something dark, perhaps. Something deadly.

In my new thriller, The Liar’s Room, identity is at the heart of the mystery. Or mysteries, I should say, because although almost all of the action takes place in a single room, involving just two main characters, nobody ...

Evil in a Teacup: Fighting the Institutional Authority of Dolores Umbridge


This post is by Sarah Gailey from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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Who is the villain?

Is the villain the leader who starts the movement? The demagogue who decides to rally the tiny cruelties that live within the hearts of people who think of themselves as good? Is it the person who blows on the embers of hatred until they finally catch and erupt into an all-consuming flame?

Or is it the person who finds themself in a position of power, and chooses not to put the fire out? Is the villain the person who chooses to sit before that fire, warming their hands?

Dolores Umbridge has surely never thought of herself as evil. Evil people never do. They think of themselves as working for the betterment of the world they live in. Dolores Umbridge lives in a world that is populated by all sorts of people—werewolves and merpeople and muggles and wizards.

And she knows in her heart that it would ...

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The Real Reason The Sorting Hat Placed Albus Potter in Slytherin House


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In the epilogue to the Potter series, Harry sees his middle child Albus onto the Hogwarts Express for his first year at the wizarding school. Albus, it turns out, is beset by fears that he will be Sorted into Slytherin House, though Harry can’t understand why. He tells Albus that it is perfectly fine to be a Slytherin, but that the Sorting Hat will take his decision into account if it matters that much to him.

Albus Potter goes to Hogwarts. He is Sorted into Slytherin House. And no one can seem to figure out the reason, Albus included.

But I think that answer is actually pretty simple.

[This piece contains spoilers for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child]

Albus’s time at Hogwarts is fraught to be sure, though this is less down to his being a Slytherin and more due to his lack of interest in and aptitude ...

This Harry Potter Crossover Fic Will Destroy You (In A Good Way)


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Author Burgandi Rakoska snared our hearts today when we discovered this Tumblr post about post-school Harry Potter figuring out adult life after being a Chosen One. The unlikely friendship that he forms with a familiar older woman will undoubtedly bring a tear (or two) to the eye.

Prepare to have feelings:

Harry Potter/Narnia xover fic Burgandi Rakoska

Harry Potter/Narnia xover fic Burgandi Rakoska

Obviously fantasy enthusiasts and authors have long circled back on the raw deal bestowed upon Susan Pevensie at the end of the Narnia series, but there’s something particularly moving about Susan and a young Harry getting to bond over how they’re treated in their respective realms. The level of scrutiny that both of them faced as children is deeply painful to witness as readers. The thought that they could offer each other some measure of comfort in that connection is a little like balm on a wound.

Check out the rest of Rakoska’s Tumblr and take a peek at ...

“In Search of Doors”: Read V.E. Schwab’s 2018 J.R.R. Tolkien Lecture on Fantasy Literature


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Earlier this year, author V.E. Schwab delivered the sixth annual J.R.R. Tolkien Lecture on Fantasy Literature at Pembroke College, Oxford. With her permission, we are proud to present the text of that lecture; you can also find a complete video of the lecture and the excellent Q&A session that followed here, and also embedded below.

I have a confession to make:

I haven’t read The Lord of the Rings, or The Hobbit. I do not consider myself a well-versed fan of Tolkien, let alone an expert. I have nothing against the titular author of this lecture series, of course—in fact, when I was awarded the immense opportunity of delivering this talk, I considered dropping everything to read those books. Not because I wanted to, but because how could I step up to this podium otherwise? Fluency, if not fandom, felt expected of me.

Which is exactly why, in the end, ...

Five Reasons Harry Potter Should Have Been a Slytherin


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This year, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the U.S. publication and even now, two decades later, there are certain debates that continue to rage like fiendfyre throughout the fandom: Who is worse, Umbridge or Voldemort? Is Snape really good or evil? Which Deathly Hallows would you choose? The fact that we still continue to feel so passionately about these topics speaks to the breadth and complexity of the wonderful world that J.K. Rowling created. For me, there is one particular question that I can’t stop asking, and it is, admittedly, a rather controversial one: did the Sorting Hat put Harry in the wrong house?

Like any fan, I have a certain personal stake in this question. From the first moment I opened a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 2001, I knew I was a Slytherin. It was ...

The Book That Taught Me Magic is Real, But Not Without Consequences


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You know the story: boy discovers there’s a world of witches and wizards, where friends come in the forms of a courageous girls and aging professors, where sinister forces stir in ancient tombs and only he, riddled with self-doubt from behind his glasses, can stop them.

You do realize I’m not talking about Harry Potter.

It’s Lewis Barnavelt, obviously. You know, by John Bellairs? Wait, YOU DON’T KNOW JOHN BELLAIRS?

My inner eleven-year-old gets a little defensive about Bellairs, because he’s my J.K. Rowling.

Bellairs’ The House with a Clock in Its Walls is my Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone. The book where I, as an awkward, inhaler-puffing, glasses-wearing kid, found a hero who sounded a whole lot like me, struggling to find his place in a ever-frightening world.

I am not suggesting that Rowling at all ripped off any ideas from my boy John. ...