MIND MELD: Comic Book Characters Who Deserve Reboots

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The recent announcement of the Falcon taking over Captain America, the announcement of a female Thor, Miles Morales’ Spider-Man, the new Ms. Marvel, the various incarnations of Green Lantern…there is opportunity in rebooting comic book characters to reflect our diverse society, or to cast new light and new angles on old characters.

Q: What are the perils and challenges and opportunities of doing such a reboot? Pick a comic book character that you’d like to reboot. How would you do it, and to what end?

Here’s what they said…

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MIND MELD: Books We’ve Worn Out Re-Reading

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There are books we read once. There are books we re-read. And then there are the books that we wear out because we devour it again and again. These are the books for which we have to buy ourselves another copy immediately upon lending out because we’re sure we will never see it again — or just want to make sure we have it on hand.

Q: What are some of these genre books for you? Why do you go back to them again and again?

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Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon, co-editors of the Bram Stoker and Black Quill nominated Dark Faith anthology series, are turning to Kickstarter to fund their latest partnership, Streets of Shadows. The new anthology promises to blend the best of crime and urban fantasy.

Maurice and Jerry sat down with contributors Kevin J. Anderson, Seanan McGuire, Brandon Massey, Kristine Kathryn Rush, and (not surprisingly) themselves to talk about blurring genre lines and getting away with murder. You can support their Kickstarter by clicking here.

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MIND MELD: Up And Coming Authors of The Last 5 Years

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This week’s question was inspired by the upcoming anthology Twenty-First Century Science Fiction, which features stories from “up and coming” authors beginning in the year 2000. We modified the question slightly and asked our panelists this question:

Q: Who do you believe are the “up and coming” authors of the past 5 years readers may not be aware of? What stories by these authors should readers consume?

Here’s what they said…



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Novels and stories about all things faerie have become extremely popular in the past few years, rather notably in young adult fiction. So we asked this week’s panelists…

Q: Why do you think audiences are fascinated with the world of faerie, especially the darker aspects of the myths and legends? What do you enjoy most about writing in the world of faerie?

Here’s what they said…

Julie Kagawa
Julie Kagawa is the internationally bestselling author of The Iron Fey and Blood of Eden series. Born in Sacramento, she has been a bookseller and an animal trainer, and enjoys reading, painting, playing in her garden and training in martial arts. She now lives near Louisville, Kentucky, with her husband and a plethora of pets. Visit her at JulieKagawa.com.

Faeries have always fascinated me. I love creepy tales and stories about things that go bump in the night, and I love the idea that there is this whole other world that exists right alongside ours, we just don’t see it. I think this is exactly why audiences are fascinated with the fey. They’re beautiful, seductive, mysterious, dangerous, and alluring, and we can’t help but be drawn to that.

For me, writing about the fey is like being turned loose in a fantasy playground. There are so many types of fey, so many myths and stories and legends. Nearly anything is possible when you venture into the faery world; not only do you have the denizens of Faery–goblins and piskies and kelpies and trolls–the very land can surprise you with how beautiful and dangerous it is. Trees are more than they appear. Flowers could very well be carnivorous. That bright red strawberry might turn you into a rabbit if you eat it, or put you to sleep for centuries. Nothing is safe, and anything can happen when you’re dealing with the fey. Creating the land of Faery, called The Nevernever in my books, was one of my favorite parts when writing The Iron Fey series.

My other favorite part was the cast of characters. From tiny brownies to deadly beautiful fey princes, to talking cats and faery queens, to bloodthirsty redcaps and brilliant faery tricksters, the world and legends of Faery has everything a fantasy lover could want. For authors and readers alike. They might be dangerous, they might be infuriating, seductive, devious and amoral, but when dealing with faeries, one thing is for certain. You might be eaten, seduced, made to dance forever or turned into a hedgehog for all time, but you will never be bored.
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Edited by John Joseph Adams and Douglas Cohen, Oz Reimagined: New Tales from the Emerald City and Beyond brings together leading fantasy writers such as Jane Yolen, Tad Williams and Seanan McGuire to create the ultimate anthology for Oz fans—and, really, any reader with an appetite for richly imagined worlds.

Here is the book’s description:

When L. Frank Baum introduced Dorothy and friends to the American public in 1900, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz became an instant, bestselling hit. Today the whimsical tale remains a cultural phenomenon that continues to spawn wildly popular books, movies, and musicals.

We asked a few of the authors a couple of questions…

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Edited by John Joseph Adams and Douglas Cohen, Oz Reimagined: New Tales from the Emerald City and Beyond brings together leading fantasy writers such as Jane Yolen, Tad Williams and Seanan McGuire to create the ultimate anthology for Oz fans—and, really, any reader with an appetite for richly imagined worlds.

Here is the book’s description:

When L. Frank Baum introduced Dorothy and friends to the American public in 1900, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz became an instant, bestselling hit. Today the whimsical tale remains a cultural phenomenon that continues to spawn wildly popular books, movies, and musicals.

We asked a few of the authors a couple of questions…

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Edited by John Joseph Adams and published by TOR, The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination features all original, all nefarious, all conquering tales from the megalomaniacal pens of Diana Gabaldon, Austin Grossman, Seanan McGuire, Naomi Novik, Daniel H. Wilson and 17 OTHER EVIL GENIUSES.

The book description is this:

Mad scientists have never had it so tough. In super-hero comics, graphic novels, films, TV series, video games and even works of what may be fiction, they are besieged by those who stand against them, devoid of sympathy for their irrational, megalomaniacal impulses to rule, destroy or otherwise dominate the world as we know it.

We asked a few of the authors a couple of questions…

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Edited by John Joseph Adams and published by TOR, The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination features all original, all nefarious, all conquering tales from the megalomaniacal pens of Diana Gabaldon, Austin Grossman, Seanan McGuire, Naomi Novik, Daniel H. Wilson and 17 OTHER EVIL GENIUSES.

The book description is this:

Mad scientists have never had it so tough. In super-hero comics, graphic novels, films, TV series, video games and even works of what may be fiction, they are besieged by those who stand against them, devoid of sympathy for their irrational, megalomaniacal impulses to rule, destroy or otherwise dominate the world as we know it.

We asked a few of the authors a couple of questions…

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In episode 174 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester chats with author Seanan McGuire.

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MIND MELD: Do You Like To Re-Read?

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Q: What are your thoughts on re-reading favorite books and what are some books and/or series you re-read or plan on re-reading?

Here’s what they said…

Elizabeth Bear
Elizabeth Bear was born on the same day as Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, but in a different year. This, coupled with a childhood tendency to read the dictionary for fun, led her inevitably to penury, intransigence, the mispronunciation of common English words, and the writing of speculative fiction.

This seems like an awfully long way to go to find a controversy. There is no moral aspect to re-reading over reading something new; both are perfectly valid uses of one’s leisure time.

For writers, of course, keeping up with an at least cursory overview of what’s new in one’s field is a professional obligation, and its good to have a founding in the classics. And research often requires reading an awful lot of nonfiction–but reading for pleasure or comfort? I’d say read whatever makes you happy. You’ll get different things out of a book each time you read it–and rereading is certainly a primal human drive. Otherwise, kids wouldn’t want The Little Engine That Could twice a night every night until it becomes engraved on their DNA.

We learn and internalize via repetition, after all–and narrative are the mechanism our minds use to organize information in a crowded, chaotic, and unknowable universe.

Also, sometimes we just don’t want to be surprised. Although the best books are unavoidably surprising; they surprise us every time.
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MIND MELD: Where is Urban Fantasy Headed?

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Urban Fantasy remains as a strong and vibrant subgenre of Fantasy. Like any subgenres, over the last few years, new authors, new ideas and new motifs have often radically reshaped a genre once known for “supernaturals in the night” into a much broader category. We asked this week’s panelists:

Q: Where do you see Urban Fantasy going from here?

This is what they had to say…

Tad Williams
Tad Williams is best known as the author of the Otherland series. His most recent work, Urban Fantasy, is The Dirty Streets of Heaven.

The problem with knowing where a genre is going starts with defining the genre itself. What exactly is “Urban Fantasy”? There’s always been a category of work in what was then just called “Science Fiction” that fits this bill, from Bradbury’s October Country stuff to Sturgeon and Leiber and many others, including myself and many contemporaries. (I’d love to know what my book War of the Flowers was if it wasn’t urban fantasy.) But these days it’s also a consumer category — that is, it’s meant to narrowcast to people who apparently like fantasy stories that don’t take place in the traditional epic-fantasy environments of imaginary pasts. At the moment that means lots of fairies, vampires, werewolves, and zombies, most of which used to be thought of as components of “Horror”. So it’s hard to say. The trendy stuff — hello, bloodsuckers! — will peak and dwindle, just like serial killer novels did, but there will always be stories that can rightly be called Urban Fantasy. So I suspect it’s not a question of whether the waves will still come in — they will — but what kind of surfers will be on them. Memes will rise and decay (mostly through incestuous overuse) but as long as people stay interested in what lies behind ordinary life, I suspect the genre, at least the part that is about storytelling, will stay strong.

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REVIEW SUMMARY: A fast-paced neo-fairy crime adventure with only a few storytelling speed bumps.

MY RATING:

MY REVIEW
PROS: The characters were comfortably familiar, the story had plenty of emotional moments, and some long-held romantic feelings get acted on.
CONS: A very minor one – the main character, Toby, was supposed to be acting crazier than usual in this novel, and with good reason, but it wasn’t obvious that her actions were more than the slightly-broken outcast changeling rebellions she always did.
BOTTOM LINE: If you liked any of the other books in the series, you’ll want to pick this one up right away.

While you could pick up Ashes of Honor if you hadn’t read the first five books in the series, I don’t recommend it. Not only are the other books excellent, but this one in particular deals with plot points based in earlier stories, and won’t have the same impact on a new reader.

In her latest adventure, half-human half-faerie private investigator Toby Daye is asked to find a missing changing child. Who’s asking, and why no one knew about an entire teenager before now, are part of what makes this mystery more trouble than usual. Toby can’t give away someone else’s secrets, and she can’t let the kid stay missing – the changeling’s magic is untempered by pure faerie blood, and either she comes back, or the world falls apart.

Literally.

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REVIEW: Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire

SYNOPSIS:Verity Price fits in her family’s dealings and study of “cryptids” in between her dreams of being a ballroom dancer. Too bad the monsters and a monster hunter have other ideas for Verity’s aspirations…

MY RATING:

MY REVIEW
PROS: Strong and clear first-person narration by an interesting character.
CONS: The Cryptid universe feels a tad crowded in ecological terms; a couple of plot beats, especially at the beginning, feel off; unsure about the leading male counterpart character to Verity.
VERDICT: McGuire starts yet another interesting urban fantasy series.

Non-human sentients and nonsentient ‘monsters’ (Cryptids) stalk the streets of the Big Apple, New York City. Verity Price wants to mainly engage in her dance career but the family business of dealing with cryptids leads her to discover that the population of Cryptids, especially young female ones, is being thinned out. Is it the agent of the self-professed monster hunting Covenant that Verity’s family broke away from years ago? Or is it something much, much worse, something that might threaten cryptids and humans alike? Something thought extinct?

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REVIEW: Feed by Mira Grant

REVIEW SUMMARY: With cutting wit and sharp dialogue, this book of the living dead explodes with life.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: In the world of tomorrow, every man, woman and child is infected with the potential to rise from the dead, but it is still a world ruled by political agenda that will stop at nothing. A sister and brother blogging team seek the truth and a little zombie action, in an ever-descending downward spiral.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Snarky and cutting wit; excellent future prognosis in a well realized zombie world.

CONS: First-person narrative lacked some of the descriptive exposition to better reveal the physical world; main antagonist is revealed a little late and is a tad obvious.

BOTTOM LINE: With a narrative that speaks to the reader you are drawn into a world of the future that seems so plausible it may have you looking up Doctor Kellis and checking the existence of the filovirus Marburg EX19, just to make sure you don’t need to stock up on ammo and blood testing units. It’s zombies, bloggers, politics, technology and medical revolutions all mixed into a bloody cocktail and poured for your enjoyment. Beware of snarky dialogue that will make you smirk.

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SF Tidbits for 9/2/09

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SF Tidbits for 8/7/09

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