On this day in 1930, Pluto was discovered. Also, it was the first time a cow ever flew (and, subsequently, was milked) in an aircraft. Elm Farm Ollie bears the distinction of being the first cow to fly.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Arresting a Witch, Howard Pyle, 1883

Writing, Editing, and Publishing

Next Monday launches Geeky Feminism Week at Housing Works bookstore cafe in NYC, a week full of geeks of all stripes talking about feminism and women’s representation in the fields of geekery.

SF Said wrote a great article for the Guardian this week on the relevance of children’s books for adults.

Tor.com put out a fantastic list of notable black comic book characters, celebrating Black History Month.

In awards news: The Kitschies Award published their short list for best works containing elements of spec fic or fantasy, featuring William Gibson, Monica Byrne, and Emily Carroll. Here’s an article about how this year’s list features the first self-published book to be up for a major SF award. Neil Gaiman won a BADA for outstanding contribution to radio drama. And the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) has announced its shortlist for BSFA Awards for 2014, featuring Ann Leckie (natch) and Nnedi Okorafor.

Neil Clarke, editor of Clarkesworld, has started a new magazine called Forever. It is primarily reprints and will not be available for free.

The Guardian posted an article looking at an unexamined part of Iain Banks’ writing: his poetry.

For some more terrific poems by Laura Madeline Wiseman, check out these three in which she looks at American consumerism through the viewpoint of fairies.

And for some more free Murakami stories, including a new one, check out this link.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

A Witch Trial, John R. Musick 1893

Finally, in response to this article in the Guardian about the low artistic standards of graphic novels, Brad, our resident comics specialist, writes: “Jonathan Jones should simply read chapter seven of McCloud’s Understanding Comics and acknowledge that there are a variety of purposes behind the creation of any art (though I tend to focus on the arts that use fictional narrative): some art aims at employing known, well-recognized conventions of the form in order to communicate ideas about the world, while other art tries to break these conventions, or rewrite them, in order to say something about the form itself. Neither is superior to the other, though many people have a preference. But to say that true art is only that art which pushes the boundary of the form makes no sense, particularly in fictional narrative because there so many other reasons for the act of artistic communication.

In fictional narratives, from film to comics to novels, an artist wants the form to be as invisible as possible, to call as little attention to the formal qualities as possible, so that the ideas are given full attention by the audience. For this reason, a graphic novelist would want to use the most pervasive conventions of his time.
This simplistic criticism to which I’m responding assumes that art should have only one focus and one goal: formal qualities, he argues, should give the artist his primary focus, and challenging conventional formal qualities should be his only goal.”

Movies and Television:

This “Dancing with the Stars” video of Mario and Princess Peach dancing is really, really fun. Try not to smile.

A trailer came out this week for Crimson Peak, a new Gothic horror/ghost film by Guillermo del Toro, starring Mia Wasikowska and Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain. Can’t wait to see it; it looks creepy and lush.

And here’s a trailer for a fun, slick reboot of the 60’s show The Man from U.N.C.L.E., a spy show that dabbled in sci-fi. Starring Henry Cavill, Arnie Hammer, and Hugh Grant.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

The Discovery of Witches, Matthew Hopkins 1647.

Internet Stuff:

Enjoy this erotica written by an alien pretending not to be horrified by the human body. As always, the hilarious Mallory Ortberg is on point.

The 2015 NASA astronaut portrait shows the astronauts dressed up as Jedi. Man, astronauts just seem cool, huh? Am I late to this party? Have astronauts always been hip?

The Comics Alliance showcases some famous faces repainted as “Rule 63” gender-bent Marvel characters.

And Bill found this neat website, All Our Worlds, a database of diverse science fiction and fantasy. Yes please! I could spend hours here.

Featured Art:

This week we’re studying portrayals of witches in my fairy tale class. I’ve been doing some research on witch trials and wanted to share some of the more interesting or evocative images I’ve found with you. My favorite is the final one, of the “Witch Finder Generall” surrounded by several witch familiars and their funny names.


  • Kate Lechler

    KATE LECHLER, on our staff from May 2014 to January 2017, resides in Oxford, MS, where she divides her time between teaching early British literature at the University of Mississippi, writing fiction, and throwing the tennis ball for her insatiable terrier, Sam. She loves speculative fiction because of what it tells us about our past, present, and future. She particularly enjoys re-imagined fairy tales and myths, fabulism, magical realism, urban fantasy, and the New Weird. Just as in real life, she has no time for melodramatic protagonists with no sense of humor. The movie she quotes most often is Jurassic Park, and the TV show she obsessively re-watches (much to the chagrin of her husband) is Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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