The children's fantasy series currently dominating my family is...

Pretty much everyone of reading age, from grandparents to 11-year-olds, are reading Shannon Messenger's Keeper of the Lost Cities series.

I think a 13-year-old niece discovered these books and suggested them to my sister. My sister knew I needed a book to co-read with my kid this summer because if I do not discuss books with her chapter-by-chapter she forgets everything she just read. When I told my mother about it she already had it on hold at the library. I am certain my 15-year-old niece read the entire series in about 1 day (eight books) just so she may tell us all the problems with the plot, characters and covers.

IT IS JUST HARRY POTTER WITH ELVES, UNCLE JASON!

Another branch of the family is likely to start on this once my awesome 8-year-old nephew finishes reading the most recent Star Wars: Thrawn books.

Shannon Messenger's universe is absorbing. My daughter and I were immediately drawn into this reality where elves, goblins, and all sorts of fantasy creature are real. Evidently, ages ago, humans acted like real turds and all the magical folks decided to retreat to their own 'impossible' to find cities. Either waiting for a day when humans could be trusted or just sitting around waiting because humans never will be trustworthy, elves seem to spend all their time convincing themselves their dystopian society is a utopia. Unwilling to engage outside their slowly rotting culture, packed with class issues and bitterness, the elves fail to notice BIG TROUBLE is brewing with the humans. Read the rest

Crowdfunding season four of JourneyQuest: a CC-licensed fantasy-comedy show that treats its fans with respect

Ben writes, "First featured on Boing Boing in 2010, the fan-supported TV series JourneyQuest has continued for nine years(!) and is now Kickstarting a fourth season. It's an open world with a copyleft license, proving that encouraging sharing, remixing, allowing commercial derivatives, and not treating fans like criminals can still lead to success." Read the rest

Congratulations to the winners of the 2019 Locus Awards!

Locus Magazine announced the winners of its annual reader-voted awards last night, with top honors for Mary Robinette Kowal, who won Best SF Novel for The Calculating Stars (which also won a Nebula Award this year), as well as Brooke Bolander, who won Best Novelette for The Only Harmless Great Thing (also a Nebula winner); and Phenderson Djèlí Clark whose Nebula-winning short story The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington also won a Locus. Read the rest

Good Omens is amazing

I was already a Terry Pratchett fan and a Neil Gaiman fan in 1990, when their comedic novel Good Omens showed up in the bookstore I worked at, and I dibsed it, took it home over the weekend, read it in huge gulps, and wrote an enthusiastic review on a 3x5 card that I tacked to the bookshelf next to it on the new release rack at the front of the store; I hand-sold hundreds of copies, and have read it dozens of times since. Read the rest

Magic for Liars: Sarah Gailey's debut is a brilliant whodunnit in the vein of The Magicians

In a very short time, Sarah Gailey has distinguished themself as one of science fiction's best new writers, combining an inimitable voice with a bag of fresh and original narrative tricks. Now, in their first full-length novel, Magic for Liars, Gailey goes all-out in a magical murder mystery that's both a first-rate whodunnit and an unmistakably Gaileyish, chewy tale of high emotional stakes. Read the rest

Neal Stephenson's next book is a science fiction novel with a fantasy novel stuck inside of it

Neal Stephenson's next novel is Fall; or, Dodge in Hell, an 880-page Stephsonian brick of a novel that has ample room for two novels, and that's because Stephenson actually stuck a second novel inside the first one. Read the rest

2019 Hugo Award finalists announced

The 2019 Hugo Award nominees have been announced; the Hugos will be presented this summer at the 2019 World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin, Ireland. Read the rest

Frazetta sweatta

The $100 Frank Frazetta Death Dealer Xmas sweater is licensed, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Frazetta museum in East Stroudsburg, PA. Read the rest

This new clip from American Gods Season 2 is worrisome

The first season of American Gods was great. Ian McShane! Ricky Whittle! Gillian Anderson! Orlando Jones as Mr. Nancy? Perfection.

And then, after the season wrapped up, shit went down. Show runners left. So did Gillian Anderson. Chaos ensued. The production finally managed to get their act together and BOOM, the trailer for Season 2 was released, promising us more dark whimsy than we deserve.

This new scene released by Amazon, however... isn't great. Maybe it's the fact that we're seeing it out of context. It's a wee bit of story in the middle of a much greater epic. But it feels a little bit off: there's no tension here. The level of creepy that Crispin Glover usually delivers isn't there. It's a quick clip, but damn, does it drag. If Amazon and Starz were looking to whip up excitement in the show's fan base, this seems like a really strange clip to release into the wild.

I'm hoping I'm wrong. I hope that, knowing all the behind-the-scenes drama, I'm reading into trouble that isn't there. But man, I'm kinda worried about the quality of Season 2 now. Read the rest

Flash fiction: Monologue by an unnamed mage

Cassandra Khaw's shockingly good 3-page short story Monologue by an unnamed mage, recorded at the brink of the end takes a genre and an archetype and distills from them a perfect moment that embodies and exceeds both.

Uncanny Magazine:

That they dragged us back, bound in brambles and bronze, that they made us choose between being separated or being part of the vanguard against the apocalypse, all that is of no importance. That we laughed at their ultimatum, that we said yes, that we held hands as they told us we probably wouldn’t come back, that is what matters.

What matters is that I love you and that I will always love you, and I won’t let them have you, even if I have to husk myself of all that I am and splinter the universe again. You’re mine and I am yours, and what are gods to people who have seen the continents fold up like paper planes?

Read the rest

The artist behind these spellbinding witch hats almost stopped making them after her first one

These stunning felted-wool witch hats are the handiwork of a Kentucky-based fiber artist named Kate.

The world of fantasy felted creations is her full-time job now. On top of creating them, which she sells in her shop Felt Wicked Art, she also teaches felting workshops all over the United States and offers downloadable tutorials to would-be hat makers. But she writes that she nearly gave up after making (and selling) her first hat at a craft fair:

I made a few "normal" hats before making my very first witch hat. It would be unrecognizable today as my style, with just a few wrinkles and some embellishments. At that point it was really more of an experiment and I was actually a little self-conscious of it. I took it to a craft fair though and it to my surprise it sold that day. It was a relief that someone else thought it was interesting too, as some part of me still just wasn't sure. And I almost didn't make any more. I didn't want to go through that vulnerable process of making something unique and then asking people to give me money for it. In the end though I just couldn't stop myself from making another one, and then another one, not necessarily because I even wanted to sell them but just because I loved the hats so much! I'm glad I stuck with it."

We're glad you did too!

Kate's bewitching hats are available through her Etsy shop and her website. Read the rest

On the role of truth and philosophy in fantastic fiction

Fantasy and science fiction author and political activist Steven Brust (previously) was this year's Guest of Honor at Philcon, an excellent Philadelphia-area science fiction (I have also had the privilege to be Philcon's GoH, and it's a great con); his guest of honor speech is entitled Truth as a Vehicle for Enhancing Fiction, Fiction as a Vehicle for Discovering Truth, and he's posted a transcript to his blog. Read the rest

Every fantasy map

EotBeholder on Deviantart nails decades of derivative genre fiction and gameplay with "the only fantasy world map you'll ever need."

Wow, almost four years later and this thing just exploded. ... To anyone asking for permission to use this for their own campaigns... I mean it hardly qualifies as "original", so as long as you're comfortable stealing from someone who steals from the people who only steal from the best, knock yourselves out :)

If I could make some additions (which I suppose I could, but, nah) I'd call out the Boring/Doomed Pastoral Village somewhere in the Tiny Bickering Fiefdoms or the Land of Poncy Knights, and also add a Giant Wall to Keep the Monsters Out. Giant walls are so hot right now.

I love the comments and tweets from fans of specific franchises (such as Forgotten Realms or Riftwar) who think it is specifically a parody of their favorite fantasy world. See TVTropes' entry for the fantasy world map and, specifically, the left-justified fantasy maps.

The map of Allansia from the Fighting Fantasy gamebook series is a nice professionally-drawn example.

Previously. Read the rest

UPDATED: The US Patent and Trademark Office is ready to hand over an exclusive trademark for "Dragon Slayer" for fantasy novels

Update: The USPTO has withdrawn this from publication for "further review."

Michael-Scott Earle, a self-publisher of "pulp harem fantasies" is seeking a trademark on the use of "Dragon Slayer" in connection with fantasy novels. Read the rest

Free ebook! Charlie Jane Anders' award winning debut novel "All the Birds in the Sky"

Charlie Jane Anders' Nebula-award-winning 2016 debut novel All the Birds in the Sky is the next Tor.com Ebook Club selection: that means you can get a free ebook, and then participate in a group discussion with Tor.com's most excellent and perspicacious readers. Read the rest

Former Archbishop of Canterbury on Tolkien as a warning against fascism

Here's former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on J.R.R. Tolkien, often seen as a reactionary but also the creator of a myth of Englishness completely opposed to fascism and other rotten boughs of capitalism.

So, how do we now respond to Tolkien’s imagined world, a world that is hierarchical, notoriously short on female agents, and which was accused by the poet Edwin Muir of being populated exclusively by different-sized schoolboys? As with Lewis, the complaint about implied misogyny is regularly coupled with worries about racial stereotyping, the romanticising of violence and the reduction of moral issues to cosmic battles between absolutes.

It is worth noting that Peter Jackson’s superbly visualised film versions of Tolkien’s novels if anything intensify some of these problems. But things are not quite that simple. ...

...he ends up writing, despite himself, a story that is more of a novel than a myth. Myths have no authors, it has been said. Even with the apparatus of invented language and ethnography, Tolkien’s history and “legendary” are haunted by the self-awareness of a particular type of 20th-century author: English, Catholic, academic, intensely aware of the devastation of a very specific England by industrialisation and urbanisation, more stoical than optimistic, yearning for a shared social narrative that would reaffirm certain solidarities of faith and mutual respect; deeply conservative but just as deeply opposed to unexamined power and the tyranny of profit.

Read the rest

Hiroshi Unno's 'The Art of Fantasy, Sci-fi and Steampunk'

I can not read or understand very much of Hiroshi Unno's The Art of Fantasy, Sci-fi and Steampunk, but it is a visual treat!

This tome collects images and art from novels, early fantasy and romance to steampunk. Unno catalogs the incredible maturation of fantasy art work from the 19th century today.

I spent a couple hours leafing through this book, and it will live on my coffee table for quite a while.

The Art of Fantasy, Sci-fi and Steampunk by Hiroshi Unno via Amaozn Read the rest

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