History is a Mystery


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”

A Bundle of Faerie


A new offer from Story Bundle, which expires mid-december

The Realm of Faerie Bundle – Curated by Jamie Ferguson

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

The tales in this bundle are set in worlds like Tír na nÓg, Annwn, the Otherworld, Elfame, as well as in our own—for there are places where the boundaries between worlds grow thin, and one can pass over as easily as stepping across the threshold of a door. There are queens, mermaids, and monsters. Bargains are made, and secrets kept. Duels are fought, curses laid, and wishes sometimes come true.

Continue reading “A Bundle of Faerie”

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


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.

SPECULATIVE NONFICTION: a very, very incomplete bibliography.

Jeff Harris provides a list of SpecNonFic:

HG Wells, Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress upon Human Life and Thought  (coll of linked essays April-December 1901 Fortnightly Review; dated 1902 but 1901)

JD Bernal, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: An enquiry into the future of the three enemies of the rational soul (1929; 1969)

Michael Young, The Rise of the Meritocracy 1870-2033: An Essay on Education and Equality (1958)

IJ Good (ed), The Scientist Speculates: An anthology of partly-baked ideas (1962)

Arthur C Clarke, Profiles of the Future: Enquiry into the Limits of the Possible (1962)

Stanislaw Lem, Summa Technologicae (1964, 1974: 2012)

Nigel Calder (ed), The World in 1984, volumes one and two (1965)

Dr A R Martin, Project Daedalus: JBIS Supplement (1978)

Ed Regis, The Great Chicken Mambo and the Transhuman Condition:Science slightly over the edge (1990)

Damien Broderick, The Spike: Accelerating into the Unimaginable Future (1997; 2n ed. 2001)

David E H Jones, The Further Inventions of Daedalus: A Compendium of Plausible Schemes (1999)

Stephen Baxter, The Science of Avatar (2012)

Conway, J., C. M. Kosemen, & D Naish, All Yesterdays: Unique and Speculative Views of Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals. (Irregular Books, 2012)

Enrico Rodrigo, The Physics of Stargates: Parallel Universes, Time Travel, and the Enigma of Wormhole Physics (2010)

Lewis Dartnell, The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch (2014)

Charles Adler, Wizards, Aliens and Starships: Physics and Math in Science Fiction and Fantasy (2014)
Rutger Bregman, Utopia for Realists: And How We Can get There (2017

Crit mass Wed, Oct 2: Spec Non-Fic

Through the Looking Glass To See What is Reflected in the Magic Mirror: a guided tour to speculative non-fiction

Jeff Harris notes:
Speculation is a natural part of the human imagination. Science fiction thrives on it. But it is found across the sciences, philosophy, the social sciences, and other intellectual disciplines including the popular imagination. Some of these places will be visited. Certain locations will be avoided: the pseudosciences and other forms of pseudodoxy. This talk will look at the curious and quaint relationships between science-fiction and speculative nonfiction, and certainly not the literary conceits of the kind found at https://www.speculativenonfiction.org/
Apologies for the title. It’s a twisty metaphor for our proposed trip into the conceptual realm.
As usual, 6:45 at Kappys, 22 Compton St, Adelaide for a 7pm start!