We live in a world today which seems, or is made to seem, more divided than ever. Asterios Polyp is a book about division, but it turns that which divides us into positives, finding balance in opposition and progress in compromise. David Mazzucchelli, best known as the artist for the seminal Batman: Year One, is sole creator on this book and, while he doesn’t deal in geopolitical division or the problems of race or wealth that plague the world currently, the lessons that can be learnt from the deeply human philosophy in Asterios Polyp are ones that we all need to be reminded of.
Yes, you read that right. In a world populated with Death Eaters, Dementors, and Dark Lords, where giant snakes possess the dead and werewolves thirst for the blood of children, the diminutive, frilly-frocked schoolmarm from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the absolute worst.
Don’t believe me? Let’s take a moment to consider the competition. Sure, the Dark Lord is all dark and lordly, but he’s also pretty one-dimensional. His motivations aren’t particularly complex or original. He’s hateful to everyone and everything, so there’s no chance of us sympathizing with him. He’s even hideously ugly, just to hammer the point home. In short, he’s so thoroughly eeeeevil that there isn’t room for much else, and as I’ve argued before, eeeeevil is dull.
Becky Chambers talking about her (alien) family at Tor.com
Erin Lindsey talks Incorporated for WIRED's Geek's Guide to the Galaxy
Molly Tanzers's short story "Demure" at Great Jones Street... isn't.
Caspian Whistler's A Profound Waste of Time is available for pre-order.
Lessons learned writing (and editing), over on Terrible Minds, with Mahvesh Murad and Jared (...and Claire North and James Smythe and Saad Hossain and Sami Shah)
Mahvesh and Jared pick djinn-adjacent recommendations for Barnes & Noble
...and full-on-jinn reading for Tor.com.
Jared talks Tékumel over at r/fantasy
The year the world changed forever was the year the foxes changed colour. Well, it didn’t happen as quickly as that, within a single season, but it might as well have. One year they were white, the next they were red. Bigger too, and bolder. Out on the tundra she called home, a long way from any other living soul, the old woman known as Aapia found a red fox carcass, its belly slashed and open to the cold skies. She took the carcass home and made a coat from its fur. In the old days, its russet blaze would have been fatal for hunting, but the snow had gone along with the white foxes.
The Hall of Video Game Art, Exhibit 714: Yes, This Post Is About Breasts But It's Not What You Think
Ah, environmental storytelling. It is, without question, one of the things I love best. I’m delighted whenever I encounter it, be it in film, in illustration, in theme parks — and yes, indeed, in video games. In this series, I’ll be taking a deep dive into some of my favorite examples within that modern medium. See, I come from a theater background, and I’m often struck by the parallels between plays and games. Both are creative composites, constructed from elements that can be appreciated on their own — writing, music, vocal performance, costumes, and so forth — but come together into something greater than the sum of their parts. And just as every play exists on borrowed time, so, too, does a game. A theatrical production eventually closes; a game eventually becomes unplayable as computers progress. C'est la vie.
That limited lifespan is what makes me want to celebrate the small details that bring virtual worlds to life. Many objects I’ll describe in the months ahead cannot be interacted with. None are addressed by dialogue, nor are they required by quests. These are things you could easily walk past or miss altogether. The brilliant background is what I’m tackling, the sublime details that transform a mere scaffold of pixels into a soulful work of art.
Which is why I’ll begin with Bethany Hawke’s tits.
The Last Dangerous Visions might be the most famous science fiction book to never exist. 'TLDV' was the long-mooted and nearly-almost-published sequel to Dangerous Visions (1967) and Again, Dangerous Visions (1972) - two vastly important and influential publication in modern speculative fiction.
This ambitious anthology, seemingly intended to be the final word in contemporary SF, was delayed for numerous reasons, documented elsewhere by both Ellison and many others. The anticipation, the delays, and the numerous authors it affected made for, to put it mildly, a great deal of drama.
The UK has a fantastic small press scene. To celebrate the people behind the imprints, and help out the writers that are looking to them for publication, we've asked a number of editors to share what they're working on - and what they're looking for. This week our featured publisher is Influx Press.
Could you tell us a bit about who you are and what you're doing?
I’m Gary Budden, one of the founders of independent publisher Influx Press. I set it up in 2011 with Kit Caless (now of Wetherspoon’s Carpets fame…) with the aim of producing one anthology and things snowballed a bit from there.
We originally started out with the idea of producing what we called ‘site specific’ writing, i.e. writing with a strong sense of place. That’s broadened out a little now to whatever great fiction and creative non-fiction takes our fancy – which is one of the benefits of running your own press, of course.
Anne Jefferies was nineteen years when she first encountered a world only she could see. It was customary in 1640s Cornwall for the wealthiest families of the parish to take on the children of the poor, training them for service until the age of twenty-one. It was a lonely life, but nowhere near as bad as penury, and Anne knew it. She was taken from her pauper father to work as a live-in servant with the Pitt family. Moses Pitt, the eldest son, later reported that Anne was a spirited girl, tomboyish, but otherwise unremarkable.
That was until she pierced the veil.