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Finally got hold of some stuff for the northeast corner!

I just like maps ok please don’t arrest me


Big news! Steven Yeun (Glenn on The Walking Dead) will play Tony Chu and Felicia Day will play Amelia Mintz in the animated adaptation of CHEW by John Layman and Rob Guillory! Layman has written the script, and both Layman and Guillory are executive-producing.

More at The Hollywood Reporter.

I’ve been misinterpreting Layman’s hints about “big CHEW news” on Twitter ALL DAY. This is much cooler news than whatever I thought he was on about.

When I’m reading, I’m looking for something to steal … Readers ask me all the time the traditional question “Where do you get your ideas from?” I reply: “We are all having ideas all the time. But I’m on the lookout for them. You’re not.”

Started reading BONESHAKER by Cherie Priest (Tor)



Ezekiel Blue’s father committed a crime, unleashing a deadly menace into steam-powered Seattle. And his bereaved family has paid the price. Now, Ezekiel is determined to clear his father’s name, risking death and the undead in the attempt.

Sixteen years ago, gold brought hordes to the frozen Klondike. Fanatical in their greed, Russian prospectors commissioned Dr Leviticus Blue to create a machine to mine Alaska’s ice. Thus the Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine was born. But the Boneshaker went awry, destroying downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas. Anyone who breathed its fumes turned into the living dead.

The devastated city is now walled in to contain the blight. But unknown to Briar, his widowed mother, Ezekiel is going in. His quest will take him into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.

Finished reading INTERZONE 251 (TTA Press)

This issue, everyone’s dealing with death … and/or removal from life. This is sf, so they aren’t always the same thing.


Ghost Story by John Grant
Ashes by Karl Bunker
Old Bones by Greg Kurzawa
Fly Away Home by Suzanne Palmer
A Doll is not a Dumpling by Tracie Welser
This is How You Die by Gareth L. Powell

Cover: Levitation by Wayne Haag

Editorial by Tony Lee
Ansible Link by David Langford
Book Zone by Paul Kincaid, Maureen Kincaid Speller, Duncan Lunan, Matthew S. Dent, Jim Steel, John Howard, Barbara Melville, Elaine Gallagher, Ian Hunter, Jo L. Walton, Jack Deighton
Future Interrupted by Jonathan McCalmont
Laser Fodder by Tony Lee
Mutant Popcorn by Nick Lowe

The death of a loved one can inspire a journey (Ashes). The death, absence, or erasure of a loved one can leave a life hollowed out (Ghost StoryOld Bones) - even when it’s so final and complete that you can’t be sure that person ever existed at all. The threat of death (or worse fates) can inspire resignation (This is How You Die) or (coupled with systematised non-recognition of your right to life in the first place) rebellion (Fly Away Home). Death (your own and other people’s) can be seen as a means to an end (A Doll is not a Dumpling).

Gendercrunching issue 251

Story authors: 1:2 (2f, 4m)

I’m not gendercrunching illustrators, reviewed authors, book reviewers, columnists or masthead any more, because I’ve realised I don’t have enough information to determine the gender of everyone in those categories without making weak assumptions based on names alone. My assessment of the gender of story authors is based on the pronouns used in each author’s biography.

‘The Beigeness’ by Kate Tempest
New Kate Tempest solo album next month! Here’s a sample.

Lord Dunsany and the Dialogue between Past and Future - Lucy Hounsom on the Waterstones Blog

The conversation continues! Here’s Lucy’s original Fantasy Faction article, and my quick response (with followup in the comments).

Lucy’s latest basically nails the whole “how did fantasy end up as essentially conservative as it did” question:

[Edward, Lord] Dunsany’s storytelling is creepy, compelling and wildly imaginative. It also carries a recurring theme: condemnation of industry and the urban scene. A habitual trait in his characterisation is a desire to escape from what he terms “Business” – the new, workaholic lifestyle ushered in by the Industrial Revolution and the resulting growth of the middle class.

… this kind of medieval, alternate world fantasy offers a man a nobler set of occupations. Surely a knight pursuing a worthwhile quest is better than being a sales assistant in dreary, industrial London. Instead of serving a base king of money, one could find greater personal fulfilment at, say, Arthur’s Round Table.

This is a satisfying solution to the conundrum, for me, anyway. The ability to parse and play out responses and alternatives to the things we find dissatisfying about the world around us is one of the most exciting and essential aspects of writing and reading fiction. If you want to look at it dryly and from a distance, forgetting for a moment the idea of fiction (or all art) as noble or essential for its own sake, and looking at it a bit more functionally, fiction is important because it lets us demonstrate that other ways of doing things (other technologies, other societies, other systems, other structures, other modes of thought) are available and might be worthwhile and feasible - without having to tear down what we currently have and actually demonstrate the other ways in practice. Of course, this is also why fiction is sometimes considered dangerous - it’s a way of revolting without taking violent or even overt action against the status quo.

So, next question: if we’re reading Lord Dunsany’s fiction as his way of working through his dissatisfaction with the way things were going post-Industrial Revolution, how come his response was to retreat (to undo change, to return to old systems) and not to improve (to keep changing and progressing, finding fixes for the problems he saw with the new normal)?

If I was feeling uncharitable, I could try to blame a lack of imagination on Lord Dunsany’s part (I mean, it takes a lot of imagination to believe that people generally had a better quality of life in the Middle Ages than after the Industrial Revolution, but it takes another level of imaginative leap to dream up something completely new and unseen). But I think the answer is simply: he was a conservative sort of chap. This is the basic dividing line between the conservative and the progressive: both agree that what we’ve got isn’t working, but the conservative believes it’s not working because of too much change, and can be fixed by repealing the changes they see as being responsible; while the progressive believes it’s not working because of not enough change, and can be fixed (or at least iteratively improved) by introducing even more change.

Which, I think, is why fantasy is often associated with a conservative attitude and sf with a progressive one - when in fact, the archetypal fantasy story involves a peasant becoming a king (okay, usually still within the bounds of primogeniture, but it’s still essential a fantasy of social mobility), while the archetypal sf story might involve aliens who are inherently evil (and therefore a-okay to kill without remorse) just because they’re aliens, or might even explicitly warn against progress by painting new technological discoveries as being responsible for great destruction or injustice (as opposed to blaming the uses people put them to).

We still haven’t fixed a lot of the workaholic / commuter lifestyle issues Lord Dunsany was reacting against, but that doesn’t make me want to run away and live in Westeros; I’m ambitious and naive enough to think we can fix what’s wrong with the world while hanging on to our progress-and-technology-enabled perks.

Workye Shallo - from Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia, roasted by Notes, sold by Flat Cap, Borough Market - is my new brew

Part of ‘one farmer, one roaster’ project, this delicate coffee is a distinct, flavourful lot from Yirgacheffe producer Workye Shallo. Expect a light mouthfeel, jasmine and lavender aromas, a bergamot acidity and dried apricot sweetness.

The beans fight back against the grinder. The scent of the grounds is an assault, a warning. The extract thrashes in the mouth, claws at the throat, riots in the belly. It’s a war of attrition. Can you absorb enough energy from it to put it down, to keep it contained, before it batters down your interior walls?

Spoilers, sorta.

1. Every time they go into battle together, Gwen makes Peter cover her in several layers of webbing, like body armour. (web-kevlar? weblar?) Just because you can take on the super-scum of the earth wearing nothing but spandex, she says, don’t think I can too. I’m not afraid out there, but I’m not stupid, either.

2. Gwen and Peter are making out on top of the bridge supports again. So hey, says Gwen, playing idly with one of Peter’s web-shooters, so long as we’re making hanging out at dizzying heights a habit, you got the parts lying around to make another pair of these?

3. Following through on her investigation of Max Dillon, Gwen stumbles upon Oscorp’s Special Projects department. In the middle of hacking the security systems to allow her to steal the prototype Vulture flight-pack for herself without setting off any alarms, she remembers she was meant to be at that scholarship interview an hour ago. Damn it, thinks Gwen, are that guy’s weird priorities and awful timekeeping both rubbing off on me?

4. Gwen, says Peter, I finally figured it out! I shouldn’t feel responsible for putting you in danger, because it’s your choice. It’s not me putting you in danger, it’s you. Right?

5. No, Peter, says Gwen, though she’s hard to hear over the earthquake tread of her Rhino mechsuit (hey, while you’re there stealing stuff from the bad guys anyway, right?), you still got a lot to figure out yet.