MIND MELD: Our Favorite Magical Items from Fantasy

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

Sure, we’d all like to own a Quidditch broom or a crystal ball, but what magical item would you want the most? That was our esteemed panel’s challenge this week. Next week we ask a new set of panelists about their favorite SF devices.

Q: What magical item, artifact, weapon, etc., from the world of fantasy fiction would you most like to own? Why? What would you do with it?

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Here’s the cover and synopsis for the upcoming California Bones sequel Pacific Fire by Greg van Eekhout.

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What I love about these “Everything Wrong With…” videos is that it reminds me how much I, as a film viewer, am willing to overlook some of the most obvious mistakes and moviemaking laziness…
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SF/F/H Link Post for 2014-07-23

Interviews & Profiles

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Screenwriter, playwright, actor, and author of Martuk…the Holy and The Martuk Series, Jonathan Winn was born in Seattle, WA. He currently lives in the US. Martuk…the Holy: Proseuche is his second full-length novel and can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

A Monster Hiding in Plain Sight

by Jonathan Winn

I don’t live in a world where sparkly vampires sigh like lovelorn teenagers, their emotional angst all but defanging them.

I don’t live in a world where zombies with endless appetites lurch and stumble, their ends often coming with a surprising thwack of a shovel.

No, where I live is truly monstrous. It’s dark and forbidding. A place where innocent lives have grisly ends and ghosts still sob. The world I live in is one of betrayal and mistrust. Where the line separating enemy from friend is cloudy and constantly shifting. A land where those who walk and talk like you and me share nothing of our humanity. The world of my immortal Martuk (as in “two” with a hard “k” at the end…Martuk) is one where monsters hide in plain sight, and the blood on their hands is steeped in consequence and regret.
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[NOTE: This is part of a series of Q&As with the Shirley Jackson Award nominees.]

Nicole Cushing is an author of dark fiction.

She is the author of the novellas Children of No One (recently nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award) and I Am the New God.

The anthology Werewolves & Shapeshifters: Encounters With The Beast Within includes Nicole’s short fiction (alongside stories by Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin, Charlaine Harris, and Chuck Palahniuk). Three of her tales received honorable mentions for Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year, Volume 5. One of her stories was selected for the Tangent Online 2013 Recommended Reading List. Several of her stories have been (or are currently being) adapted for audio presentation on podcasts such as Tales to Terrify, Pseudopod, and Cast Macabre. All told, Nicole has sold well over twenty short stories to various markets in the U.S. and U.K.

Her essay on the racism of H.P. Lovecraft has been quoted by The Guardian and linked to by The Atlantic Monthly.

She invites correspondence via Facebook, Twitter, or (if one must be old-fashioned about it) email at nicolecushingwriter (at) gmail (dot) com. A native of Maryland, she now lives with her husband in Indiana.

Nicole was kind enough to answer a few of my questions…


Kristin Centorcelli: Congrats on the Shirley Jackson Award nomination! Will you tell us about your novella and what inspired you to write it?
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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Paul Weimer! – Sarah Chorn

Minnesota dwelling Ex-pat New Yorker Paul Weimer is a Hugo Nominated podcaster [The Skiffy and Fanty Show 2014], SF Signal Irregular, Genre reviewer/columnist & writer. When he isn’t doing all of that, he loves photography and playing and talking about roleplaying games. You can find him on Twitter, and commenting on genre blogs far and wide.

Rolling Perception plus Awareness with Characters with Special Needs

by Paul Weimer

In roleplaying games, players inhabit other characters, other people, in other worlds. Wizards in a city in a desert, fighting a battle against the incoming horde of the Sand Sultan. A sword swinging barbarian delving into an ancient maze of tunnels called the “Londn Undrgrnd”. The pilot of a starship full of rogues and freebooters, the kind of woman who has the engines hot for the inevitably necessary getaway. The gnomish clockmaker, building golems to defend his allies. The Paladin of a Goddess of Law, who fights for justice not only on the tourney field, but in the Courts as well. Characters of all sorts of ethnicities, races, species and genders.

Is playing a character without legs, or with a mental disability, so different than these? Sometimes, when you roll perception plus awareness, you’re rolling for a character who has special needs. The one-eyed archer. The wheelchaired mutant with psychokinetic powers. The police officer, former army veteran, with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The dark elf cleric, an exile to the surface world, who is severely weakened by sunlight.
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SF/F Crowd Funding Roundup For 7/22/2014

Crowd funding is the in thing for obtaining money to fund a variety of projects, with Kickstarter being the most prominent of these sites. With new projects going live daily, it’s a chore to keep up with, let alone find, interesting genre projects. The Crowd Funding Roundup will be our effort to bring projects we think are interesting to your attention so you can, if you so choose, decide to help out. These posts are a collaborative effort between James Aquilone and JP Frantz.

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Author Max Gladstone joined Fran Wilde on the Cooking the Books podcast to celebrate his new book in the Craft Sequence, Full Fathom Five, just out from Tor.

The ingredients for Cooking the Books podcast #003 – “That’s Craft with a C: Cooking the Books with Max Gladstone” include:
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Spectral Press has posted the table of contents for the upcoming anthology Spectral Book Of Horror Stories edited by Mark Morris and sporting a wonderful cover from Vincent Chong.

The book will be published in September but can be pre-ordered now.

Here’s the table of contents…

  1. “On The Tour” by Ramsey Campbell
  2. “The Dog’s Home” by Alison Littlewood
  3. “Funeral Rites” by Helen Marshall
  4. “Slape” by Tom Fletcher
  5. “The Night Doctor” by Steve Rasnic Tem
  6. “Dull Fire” by Gary Mcmahon
  7. “The Book and the Ring” by Reggie Oliver
  8. “Eastmouth” by Alison Moore
  9. “Carry Within Some Small Sliver of Me” by Robert Shearman
  10. “The Devil’s Interval” by Conrad Williams
  11. “Stolen Kisses” by Michael Marshall Smith
  12. “Cures For a Sickened World” by Brian Hodge
  13. “The October Widow” by Angela Slatter
  14. “The Slista” by Stephen Laws
  15. “Outside Heavenly” by Rio Youers
  16. “The Life Inspector” by John Llewellyn Probert
  17. “Something Sinister In Sunlight” by Lisa Tuttle
  18. “This Video Does Not Exist” by Nicholas Royle
  19. “Newspaper Heart” by Stephen Volk

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So this is happening: Phineas & Ferb take on Star Wars.

Premieres this Saturday, July 26th at 9 PM on Disney Channel. I’m crossing my lightsabers that this is better than the Marvel mashup they did a long time ago in a galaxy far away…

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Here’s the cover and synopsis for Sharon Lynn Fisher’s upcoming novel Echo 8.

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Here’s an extended look at the upcoming BBC drama Intruders, based on the Michael Marshall Smith novel…a book I’ve been wanting to rad, but now have to read. Thanks, BBC!

The series is about a secret society devoted to chasing immortality by seeking refuge in the bodies of others. It stars John Simm (Doctor Who), Mira Sorvino, James Frain and Millie Brown.

Jack Whelan (John Simm), a former LAPD cop with a troubled and violent history, finds the quiet idyllic life he has crafted with his wife, Amy (Mira Sorvino) shattered when she goes missing. While Jack is consumed with an investigation, which threatens his very core, a sinister agent named Richard Shepherd (James Frain) is embarking on a series of lethal executions. Meanwhile, a distraught little girl named Madison (Millie Brown) runs away from home into a world of danger.

Here’s the trailer…
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SF/F/H Link Post for 2014-07-22

Interviews & Profiles

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[NOTE: This is part of a series of Q&As with the Shirley Jackson Award nominees.]

Kit Reed is the author of the Alex Award-winning Thinner Than Thou and many other novels, including The Night Children, her first young adult work. Reed has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award and has been a James W. Tiptree Award finalist. Kit Reed lives in Middletown, CT, where she is Resident Writer at Wesleyan University.

Kit kindly answered a few questions about her Shirley Jackson Award nominated collection The Story Until Now.


Kristin Centorcelli: Congrats on the Shirley Jackson Award nomination! Will you tell us a bit about your collection?
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Eleven failed expeditions have ventured into Area X. We embed with the twelfth – a psychologist, a surveyor, a linguist, an anthropologist, and a protagonist – as they cross Area X’s mysterious border, hoping to discover their precursors’ fates.

Annihilation, first in a trilogy to be drip-fed throughout 2014, is part dark fantasy horror, part sci-fi adventure into verdant wilderness, and part bittersweet fabulism. The prose is lucid, gripping, and establishes a not altogether disagreeable sense of “breathless and unexplainable dread,” in H.P. Lovecraft’s words.

Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness (1936) and William Hope Hodgson’s The House on the Borderland (1908) are significant precedents in their mix of trepidation, adventure, and rapture. Annihilation can also boast a crawler and a pit, a bit like Abraham Merritt’s “The People of the Pit” (1918).
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In episode 253 of the SF Signal Podcast Patrick Hester brings together Lista Paitz Spindler, Delilah S. Dawson, Fred Kiesche, and John DeNardo to discuss:

  • Your favorite Summer Movie So Far (and Yet To Come)
  • A Book You Read that you swore you would NEVER READ (…and did you enjoy it?)
  • Doctor Who Returns in August – DOES ANYONE CARE ANY MORE? (it’s been soooo long)
  • What comic books should Fred read next?
  • Why are bear claws superior to bagels in every possible way?

FYI - We are going to read a book to discuss on air in August. The name of that book? Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer.

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The Kat, Incorrigible series books 1-3 will be released as a boxed set in October 2014.

Here’s the synopsis:

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This is way more funny than it oughtta be…

NSFW warning!

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Books Received: July 21, 2014

In the interest of full disclosure, here are the books we received this week.
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