On this day in 1754, Horace Walpole coined the word “serendipity,” writing in a letter to his friend Horace Mann. The etymology of the word is from a Persian fairytale, The Three Princes of Serendip, in which the princes are always benefitting from lucky chance.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Kay Nielsen

Writing, Editing, and Publishing

We have a lot of writing-centric posts this week. First, Locus Magazine recently interviewed Robert Jackson Bennett. Read some excerpts of the interview here, where he discusses how he crafts his plots.

Also in Locus Mag, an interview with An Owomoyela, short fiction author and one of the fiction editors at Strange Horizons. Apparently he’s got a novel in the works; I look forward to it.

The Guardian published an extract from a masterclass on writing SFF; this part focuses on world-building.

If you’re an organization nerd like me, you like a good spreadsheet. If you are a writer, you may understand how useful they can be. Electric Literature posted an image of one of J.K. Rowling‘s spreadsheets in which she plans Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Each column represents a different part of the plot.

Finally, Geeks Guide to the Galaxy hosted a round-table discussion between several editors and authors who also help run SFF writing workshops like Odyssey, Clarion, and a new online workshop, The Brainery (full disclosure: I’m taking a Brainery workshop right now, which is how I heard about this episode).

Movies and Television:

 A fan has created a new cut of the Hobbit trilogy, reducing the total length down to four hours and giving Bilbo a much more prominent role.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini–Enchantment

The casting for the much-anticipated Ghostbusters revamp, complete with an all-female cast, has been announced. Three of the four cast members are SNL alums, which bodes well; I’m especially excited to see more Kate McKinnon, whom I adore.

Finally, this isn’t strictly SFF material, but this story is so weird that it feels like the plot of speculative fiction: apparently Adam Sandler is making a new movie, in which he has cast Vanilla Ice as Mark Twain. And here I was thinking I’d never write a more unexpected sentence than “Kareem Abdul Jabbar has written a novel about Mycroft Holmes.”

Internet Stuff:

Haruku Murakami has begun an advice column, but you can only ask questions until January 31, so get them in now. You can submit your questions here, and the main website is here (it is in Japanese, but Google Chrome will offer to translate it for you).

Check out these gorgeous modern illustrations to the Grimm fairy tales.

And finally, do you think you might be living in a high fantasy novel? If so, the Toast has some ways you can tell for sure.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Kay Nielsen–East of the Sun, West of the Moon

Featured Art:

Kay Neilsen was a Danish illustrator in the first half of the twentieth century. His work is often categorized as art nouveau style and he created images for many books of fairy tales and other illustrated gift books. He also collaborated with Disney on some projects, contributing to Fantasia and drawing concept art for The Little Mermaid long before the film ever came to fruition.



  • 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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