I just finished reading "Changeling," the new young adult fantasy by Delia Sherman, and it reminded me of just how much I love "contemporary fantasy" stories that bring fairy-tales forward into the present day. Changeling's eponymous heroine is Neef, a human girl who is being raised in New York's Central Park by fairy folk. But this isn't Central Park as we know it -- this is the Central Park of New York Between, an over-the-rainbow parallel to New York, where the fairy folk of the world have converged, where German gnomes rub shoulders with Russian Kazni peris, Japanese Tenukis and Closet Monsters out of New York's own mythology. Also populating this world are fictional characters, like Water Rat from Wind in the Willows -- any character beloved and archetypal enough to become part of our folklore.
Changeling is a fairy tale, hewing to the ancient conventions of the fairy story even as it conducts an erudite, engrossing lesson on the world's mythologies and narrative conventions. The likable, mischievous Neef is disobedient, and ends up in the hottest of water, which she escapes through her cleverness and her exhaustive knowledge of folklore (Delia Sherman is herself an accomplished folklorist).
There's so much to love about this book -- Sherman's incorporation of the contemporary with the timeless is both seamless and endlessly amusing (Neef draws on her knowledge of such stories as "Little Red Baseball Cap" and "The Twelve Dancing Debutantes" and "Jack and the Extension Ladder"). You have to see the fairy version of the Metropolitan Museum for yourself -- and the Dragon of Wall Street!
Part of the power of fairy tales is their ability to transform our own world into a place of everyday magic. Some of that power is lost when we tell the stories of our middle-ages forebears, set in the world they inhabited. If the kids in your life are hooked on fairy tales but sticking to Bros Grimm and co, they're missing something -- the galvanizing wonder of the familiar transmuted into the fantastic.
Changeling is the book to fix all that. From Sherman's magnificent handling of Asperger's Syndrome in fairy-land to the clever puzzles and challenges that Neef overcomes, this story is fast-paced, and weird in an intensely recognizable way.
Where are our petabyte drives? Brian Hayes takes us through the reasons storage is “stuck” in the low terabytes. The tl;dr is that we got such exceptional capacity growth in the late 90s and early 00s we don’t need much more right now, so the focus since then has been on SSDs, networking, interfaces, etc, […]
Amélie Lamont, a former staffer at website-hosting startup Squarespace, writes that she often found herself disregarded and disrespected by her colleagues. One comment in particular, though, set her reeling — and came to exemplify her experiences there.
In this episode of the Flash Forward podcast we travel to a future where humans have decided to eradicate the most dangerous animal on the planet: mosquitos. How would we do it? Is it even possible? And what are the consequences? Flash Forward: RSS | iTunes | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Patreon We […]
3D printing has been one of those “next big thing” innovations among early adopters and the tech circle in-crowd for a few years now. However, the prospect of creating your own three-dimensional objects is still in its relative infancy with the general public. While the idea itself is fascinating to most, high prices and the […]
White hat hackers get paid to find holes in their own employers’ online systems, and plug those holes before they become serious security risks. It’s a job that pays handsomely…mostly because few job candidates, even experienced IT professionals, have the skills to scamper over firewalls and infiltrate the deepest recesses of a battle-tested network. But […]
Why buy one of those expensive and confusing universal remotes, clogged with enough buttons to launch a space shuttle, when you could accomplish the same electronic control right on your favorite mobile device? The Blumoo Universal Remote, now just $52.99 in the Boing Boing Store, harnesses the audio power of all your household equipment right […]