Keeping an eye on The Watch

NightWatchThe Watch has found its Lord Vetinari! BBC America has announced the latest batch of casting updates for its Terry Pratchett adaptation, and Anna Chancellor will be playing the Lord Patrician of Ankh-Morpork.

In a statement to BBC America, Chancellor gave a preview of her take on the character: “With the combining characteristics of Dracula and Elvis – Lord Vetinari has sprung to life in the most alarmingly joyful way,” she said.

Lord Vetinari isn’t the only character with gender-neutral casting. Chancellor will  also be joined by Ingrid Oliver (Doctor Who) as Doctor Cruces, head of the Assassins Guild, Ruth Madeley (The Rook) as wily merchant Claude Maximillian Overton Transpire Dibbler aka Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler aka Throat, and Bianca Simone Mannie (Homeland) as Lupine Wonse, the ambitious secretary to Lord Vetinari.  Meanwhile, James Fleet (Outlander) will take on the role of the Archchancellor, head of the Unseen University school for wizards, and Hakeem Kae-Kazim (Dynasty) will play Vimes’ mentor Captain John Keel.

— update from tor.com

The Burden of Knowledge

One of the most compelling themes in Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series is the way in which he represents childhood as both a sacred time and a space for profound frustration at the complexities of the adult world. It’s one of the most unifying themes across all of children’s literature, and a difficult trick to pull off effectively. It is especially difficult to strike this balance in children’s fantasy, since the magical elements of the world can sometimes serve as deus ex machinae that make the adult world literally less complex.

— Tyler Dean, “Childhood and the Burden of Knowledge” at  tor.com

Dec 4th Crit Mass: Dinner at madré

As is our custom, the december Critical Mass will be a dinner gathering.
We’re looking at meeting at 6pm Wednesday, December 4th at madré, the fancy new pizza place on Gilbert St.

It’s a popular venue, so if you’re interested in joining us, please send roman an email, so that we can book for the appropriate numbers.

In the spirit of xmas, we ask you to bring along a book you think should be better known, along with a brief reason why you’d recommend it.

 

History is a Mystery

HistoryMys

Looking for a christmas present? This bundle avaialble for the next week:

The Historical Mystery Bundle – Curated by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Most people misunderstand the mystery genre. They expect Agatha Christie type stories—you know, bodies in the library and implausible murders and lots of puzzles. And while that is a form of mystery (cozy), it is not the entire genre.

Really, if we were going to name the genre correctly, we would call it the crime genre. But if we do that, then readers expect true crime, which is a nonfiction genre.

So we’re stuck with the inadequate word “mystery” when we mean “crime.” At least the word “historical” works for us. Although it covers a broad scope. At least in this bundle.

All of the authors in this bundle take us somewhere vivid and give us a crime appropriate to the era. Note that I did not say all eleven authors in this bundle, because we have two anthologies, Fiction River: Past Crime (which I edited) and Quoth The Raven (edited by Lyn Worthen).

And, frankly, I cheated when I put Quoth The Raven in this bundle, because the stories aren’t historical: they’re contemporary. But they’re here for two reasons: First, many scholars believe Edgar Allen Poe invented the mystery genre. Or, at least, detective fiction. (Because if you say he invented the genre, you’d be ignoring half of Shakespeare. But detective fiction? Yeah, you might have a point there.)

The second reason is that this anthology is reimagined Poe, so the stories have a distinct 19th century flavor because of their subject matter. (Besides, they might give you a good excuse to revisit Poe’s short stories. They’re stunning.)

Continue reading “History is a Mystery”

Radio serial to print

smithwwcc_199x300The Witch Who Came in from the Cold takes place in Prague, between January 18 and March 2 in the year 1970. Prague (now the capital of the Czech Republic) is in 1970 the capital of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, a nation within the ambit of Soviet Russia’s sphere of influence. The city’s dark and wintry atmosphere, as well as its age and character, are deftly evoked within the pages of the serial. So is its sense as contested territory, a field for not-quite-open war – and this same sense is evoked within the lives of each of the characters. Prague in 1970 is a place where CIA agents and KGB officers may frequent the same cafes and the same diplomatic soirées, while attempting to recruit their various local pawns.

Alongside the CIA and the KGB – and among them – are agents of two warring magical factions, the Ice and the Flame. The Ice and the Flame are vying for control of elemental Hosts – according to members of the Ice, the Flame want them in order to destroy the world.

— from Liz Bourke’s  review of  The Witch Who Came in from the Cold, Locus

Tarantino and… Star trek

Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, a.k.a. “the 9th film from Quentin Tarantino,” made quite the splash upon release when it hit theaters this past summer. It had all of Tarantino’s signature trademarks — a couple of cranky male leads, excessive violence, and a rockin’ retro soundtrack. And it’s left QT fans salivating for whatever his 10th (and possibly final?) movie will be. Rumors abound that it could in fact be a Star Trek film. Leading many fans to ponder just what the heck a “Pulp Fiction-esque Star Trek” movie would even look like.

Well, one fan has combined the well known Quentin Tarantino sensibilities and aesthetics with some old school Star Trek footage, and the result is “Once Upon a Time in Star Trek.”

— from “Fan Video Imagines Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in STAR TREK”, nerdist.com

Dragons and reading

Maria Popova of Brain Pickings contemplates “Ursula K. Le Guin’s Playful and Profound Letter-Poem to Children About the Power of Books and Why We Read”.

…Most dragons don’t know how to read. They hiss and fume and guard their hoard. A tasty knight is what they need
For dinner (they spit out the sword),
Then go to sleep on heaps of treasure. They’ve no use for the written word….

Thanks to Mike Glyer for pointing this out in File770

STET

Your story “STET” is a Hugo Award finalist, and has an unusual structure (and great emotional power). Tell us about it, and how you came to write it.

“STET” is a story that explores human priorities, AI, responsive algorithms, and the trolley problem. It’s structured as a paragraph from a textbook about autonomous vehicles, with footnotes. The reader then gets to see the conversation that occurs between the author and the editor, revealing the author’s personal connection to the subject matter. I decided to write this story after a conversation with someone who couldn’t believe that an author of genre fiction could possibly have an interest in or understanding of literary fiction. That person’s vehement skepticism drove me to write a piece in the mode of one of my favorite stories, which is told through the footnotes on a paragraph from a textbook. I wanted to explore themes of human accountability for failures of machine morality, and discussing that within a single layer of story seemed impossible, so this format suited the concept perfectly. The story is also an examination of how people, women in particular, are expected to suppress emotions like grief for the sake of professional objectivity — which is itself already myth. On one level, this is a story about grief; on another level, it’s about a woman refusing to have her grief silenced.

— from an interview with Sarah Gailey in Locus, Sept 2019

Fannish Titles revisited

TransAtlantic Fan Fund Free Ebooks

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These are just some of the 45 titles currently available at the TAFF site. They are collections of fannish writing, copied and converted to epubs for the modern fan.
Some are there for historical interest, some trip reports and some are collections of fine writing which deserve (re-)discovery. All are free to download, though we strongly recommend that a donation is made to the TAFF fan fund coffers.

I heartily recommend the two Terry Carr Fandom Harvest collections, one of which is a reprint, the other a new collection, each full of his entertaining writing.