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Update: The USPTO has withdrawn this from publication for "further review."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

Pay what you like for DRM-free, award-winning Canadian sf

The Aurora Award Bundle 4 includes ten books that were finalists for, or won, Canada's Aurora Award for excellence in science fiction and fantasy, including the outstanding Napier's Bones and Sean Stewart's monumental Resurrection Man. (Thanks, Derryl!) Read the rest

SON OF COCKY: a writer is trying to trademark "DRAGON SLAYER" for fantasy novels

Back in May, the romance writing community was rocked by a scandal after author Faleena Hopkins started enforcing a trademark over the common word "COCKY" in the titles of romance novels; I predicted then that there would be some sociopaths who would observe the controversy and decide that it was an inspiration, rather than a warning, and start trying to use trademark to steal other words from writers and their titles. Read the rest

Kickstarting Dream Askew and Dream Apart, no-dice, no-GM RPGs about radical justice, queers and Jewish shtetl life

Dream Askew and Dream Apart are "no-dice, no masters" RPGs where players collaborate to tell stories together without dice or dungeon masters: Dream Askew uses the system to create campaigns in "a queer enclave enduring the collapse of civilization" and Dream Apart is set in "a Jewish shtetl in a fantastical-historical Eastern Europe." Read the rest

Exploring the politics and history of alternate universes at the Templin Institute

If you haven't seen any of the videos produced by the Templin Institute, then you are in for a real treat. Templin is a shadowy online organization of deep sci-fi, fantasy, and game geeks who post a prolific number of extremely well-done documentary video essays covering the histories, politics, factions, cultures, and characters behind dozens of sci-fi and fantasy universes.

I have binge-watched dozens of episodes covering aspects of Star Wars, Star Trek, Fallout, Mad Max, Dune, Harry Potter, Warhammer 40,000, Aliens, and many more. They do a really impressive job of putting together these essays using film clips, screen caps, concept and fan art. The writing and narration are also well-done and extremely informative. I learned a lot, even about fictional universes that I already know way too much about.

Recently, the Templin Institute has announced a crowd-contributed sci-fi universe that they are creating themselves. They are going to allow their viewers to submit planets, races, factions, and the like, and the best/most popular ones will be incorporated into the world and future videos. I love this idea. I just hope it doesn't take too much away from their weekly coverage of existing fictional worlds.

You can follow them on their YouTube channel, Twitch, and Facebook. And you can support them on Patreon, if you like what they are doing. Read the rest

Jim Henson's 'Labyrinth' returns to theaters for 3-day fan celebration

David Bowie and his bulge will be viewable on big screens nationwide come April 29, May 1, and May 2. Fathom Events' three-day fan celebration will bring back Jim Henson's 1986 fantasy Labyrinth to select cinemas. Audience members are encouraged to wear costumes.

The event will include exclusive introductions by Brian Henson and Jennifer Connelly. In addition, audiences will enjoy a special theatrical screening excerpt from the award-winning fantasy series “The Storyteller.”

In case you thought you imagined the enormity of his bulge... you didn't:

Read the rest

Kickstarting a print revival of Amazing Stories, the world's oldest sf magazine

Ira Nayman writes, "I'm the Managing Editor of Amazing Stories, which was the first true science fiction magazine (Hugo Gernsback published the first issue in April, 1926; yes, the Hugo Awards were named after him). In its time, it published such luminaries of the genre as Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, E. E. 'Doc' Smith and Arthur C. Clark, to name a few. Read the rest

Steven Brust's "Good Guys," a hardboiled noir urban fantasy, with everything great about Brust on proud display

Steven Brust is a literary treasure and his longrunning Vlad Taltos series, now nearing its final volume, is a good example of where his strengths lie: hardboiled plotting, snappy dialog, weirdly realistic and plausible depictions of magic, and a sensitive eye for power relationships and their depiction, all of which are on display in his latest, outstanding novel, Good Guys, about the minimum-wage sorcerers who investigate magical crimes on behalf of a secret society.

Monsters Beware! is the long-awaited sequel to Giants Beware! and Dragons Beware! and it is AAAAAAMAZING!

Rafael Rosado and Jorge Aguirre's middle-grades graphic novels Giants Beware! and Dragons Beware! are two of my family's favorite books: Rosado and Aguirre's character design, comedic dialog, plotting, and scenarios are so charming, so funny, so overwhelmingly, compulsively great that we've re-read these dozens of times; now we've got Monsters Beware, the third volume in the series, where the mysteries of Mont Petit Pierre and the intertwined lives of the huge cast of characters from the previous volumes come together.

Beneath the Sugar Sky: return to the world of "Every Heart a Doorway" for a quest through the land of Confection

Beneath the Sugar Sky is the third novella in Seanan McGuire's wonderful Wayward Children series, following from 2016's Every Heart a Doorway and 2017's Down Among the Sticks and Bones, chronicling the lives of the children who've accidentally returned from the magical kingdoms they adventured in, who haunt Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children praying that the door to their true homes will return and they can vanish into it forever.

Starlings: razor-sharp stories and poems from Jo Walton

Stephen King once wrote that "a short story is like a kiss in the dark from a stranger" -- that is, sudden, pleasant, mysterious, dangerous and exiting, and the collected short fiction of Jo Walton, contained between covers in the newly published Starlings, is exemplary of the principle. Walton, after all, is one of science fiction's major talents, and despite her protests that she "doesn't really know how to write stories," all the evidence is to the contrary.

An excerpt from Souls, Light and Wings, a debut novel by Simon A.G. Spencer

My first book, Souls, Light, and Wings has just released and I'd like to share an excerpt from its first chapter. The book is a bit hard to describe along clear genre lines, but if you pulled my arm or asked me nicely, I'd call it a post-apocalyptic fantasy crime thriller. Kind of a mouthful, right? I originally just wanted to write a more traditional urban fantasy story, but one chapter in and I found myself so bored with the world I'd built that I wanted to destroy it. So I did. The story follows a pair of police officers on a journey across an icy wasteland in search of a way to return a strange magical creature to his own world, while being pursued by a vicious criminal. Featured in this story are shapeshifters, train cults, an oblivious demon, kaiju, and plenty of other oddities.  Please enjoy:

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