Magical Words Link Roundup 5-25-2017

If you’ve ever dreamed of having your own castle, now’s your chance. Italy is giving away 103 run-down properties, including villas, inns, and castles for free. That means anyone can start building their personal versions of Winterfell, Casterly Rock, or The Pyke.

When the trailer for the upcoming Star Trek Discovery recently came out, it showed something I never thought I’d see in a popular sci-fi franchise: a Black woman and a Chinese woman front and center.

Among the many lessons that can be taken from the abundant success of both Get Out and Lovecraft Country is a reminder that horror can be used to elucidate powerful sociopolitical concepts, and explore ideas in a way where a more realistic narrative might fall short.

This application generates a random medieval city layout of a requested size.

Chatting with an astrophysicist is a bit intimidating. Interviewing Neil deGrasse Tyson, a famous astrophysicist, is another ballgame entirely.

In ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ ‘good’ men are not the heroes O.T. Fagbenle, or Luke, talks Little America, populism, and the role of men in conversations about feminism.

Humor author Jody Lynn Nye has way too much fun. So do the authors she hangs out with.

Here at NPR headquarters in DC, MARVELous IMAGEs and FANTAstic GRAPHICS are dancing in our heads as we contemplate this year’s edition of our famous Summer Reader Poll — who will make the cut?

Subversives! They lurk everywhere! They could be anyone, from the kindly couple next door to the innocent seeming nuclear researcher mailing thick bundles to Moscow every week, from your child’s teacher to the President himself! Even you could be an unsuspecting brainwashed puppet of the enemy!

Magical Words Link Roundup 5-24-2017

Jim Hines, who went viral for making gender-swapped book covers, explains how he raises social awareness with his sci-fi.

Nobody likes layovers, but the first astronauts heading to Mars will get to experience one of the longest such experiences of their lives. They’ll have to spend one year going around the moon, which will probably be a very annoying wait for the first people heading to the red planet.

Jo Walton says, “I once wrote jokingly here that there are only three plots, and they are Hamlet, Pride and Prejudice, and Belisarius, because those are the ones everyone keeps on reusing.”

Over the past decade, the public perception of electric cars has shifted dramatically: Surveys show that teens love Tesla, the Chevrolet Bolt was named car of the year, and in Shanghai, China, a plug-in hybrid Cadillac is winning over millennials. How did we get here?

The BBC has released a trailer for the final season of Orphan Black. I can’t wait!

Most of us love a good plot twist. We’re always trying to predict where a narrative is headed, but we’re usually thrilled when it takes an unexpected turn, surprises us, and makes us re-evaluate the assumptions we’ve made about the characters and the story.

Like the ocean it takes place on, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has had plenty of ups and downs.

Both Arrival and Moana share one particular commonality. Family relationships—and the emotional resonance of those relationships—between women of different generations have a deep influence on each film’s main character.

Buzzfeed presents 18 posts that will make book nerds laugh.

Magical Words Link Roundup 5-23-2017

Sometimes called the “fourth format,” mass market paperbacks have been considered headed for extinction for a long time. First they were going to be killed by trade paperbacks. When that format didn’t do the job, e-books emerged as the likely candidate to finish them off. Although the reports of mass market’s death have been greatly exaggerated, the format has been struggling.

1973 was a very good year. Income inequality was at its historical lowest in America, union density was at its highest, major victories were happening in civil rights. But in the world of science fiction, it was the year that one of the worst novels ever to win the top Hugo award was honoured for all the wrong reasons.

Choosing to sit down and put words on the page is occasionally easy, but mostly it’s an arduous slog; certainly not the kind of thing you do if you’re not really trying to meet your personal goals, be that publication, a competition win, or just a great story.

Hank Phillipi Ryan said, “I was thrilled to be invited. Until I heard their topic. We had to write “A Letter to My Secret.” My secret? It took a lot of thinking. And at some point, I was dismayed (?) to realize I have no real juicy secrets. I guess that’s a good thing—no, like, criminal record, or almost criminal record, no horrible encounters or crushing humiliating miseries. Any secret I thought of was—embarrassing. Or boring. Or embarrassing AND boring. And then I got it. I would reveal—that I do not like my name.”

As the age of augmented reality (A.R.) fast approaches, how long until everyone can modify their perceptions every waking moment with an A.R. contact lens?

The Roaring Twenties: a time when alcohol was illegal, a fact that only made its dark power more alluring. That’s the conflict at the heart of Moonshine, a new alt-world Prohibition era fantasy by Jasmine Gower, coming in 2018 from Angry Robot Books.

For better or worse, Arnold Schwarzenegger occupies a prominent place in the science fiction and fantasy of the late 20th and early 21st century.

Neil Gaiman will read the entire Cheesecake Factory menu if $500K is raised for his favorite charity, the United Nations Refugee Agency. Seriously.

Occult sandwiches. Just read it.

Magical Words Link Roundup 5-22-2017

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. has announced the recipients of the Nebula Awards.

A very long, long time ago when times were different there existed people who called themselves writers. They were a pleasant bunch of daydreamers, incessant travellers and occasionally, scallywags.

Blogger Austin Hodgens said, “I concluded that if I didn’t speak at all, my words could not be used against me.”

The five uncomplimentary adjectives discussed in this post have in common their origin in references to diseases and other conditions affecting humans and/or other species.

No seeds were lost but the ability of the rock vault to provide failsafe protection against all disasters is now threatened by climate change.

Think about the questions that are haunting you. Can you ever know the one you love? Can an outsider ever belong to a community that doesn’t want her? Are there really some things in life that you cannot fix and you just have to step away from them?

You’re an author, and you’ve finished editing your book. You now want to find someone to proofread it for you – smart move! If you’re submitting to an agent/publisher, you want to give your manuscript every possible advantage. If you’re self-publishing, the last thing you want is reviews saying ‘good story, but it could do with proper proofreading’.

Joss Whedon is most famous for creating Buffy the Vampire Slayer, its spin-off Angel and the short-lived but much-loved Firefly series. Here, he shares his tips on the art of screenwriting.

Magical Words Link Roundup 5-18-2017

Philip Athans said, “Last week I posted a short story that I wrote twenty-three years ago and had published in the now-defunct magazine Aberrations. I asked a big question: What have I learned in the last twenty-three years?”

Billions of years ago, rain on Mars was heavy enough to shape the planet’s surface, carving channels into the red dirt and washing away parts of impact craters, new research suggests.

No literary genre is an island. Even if there is one genre you usually read, odds are, it has more in common with other kinds of stories than you might think.

This is the alternate universe where legendary science-fiction writer William Gibson’s Alien III (that’s “III,” not “3”) screenplay was realized. It is, perhaps, a better world than ours…And yet, not only was the script never produced, it’s largely been forgotten.

What do people use to get stuff done?

A couple of thoughts about it. The best way to address it would have been “SpoCon and the hotel itself no longer allows room parties…

The Alien franchise should have stopped at Aliens. One original film, one sequel. (EDIT: Misty could not agree more!)

But despite the vast and wondrous spectrum that is man, Hollywood seems to have extremely specific ideas of what a man is supposed to be. And it’s not super great.

For readers who really dive into a book, it can be difficult to accept that the characters within are mere constructs of ink on paper.

Lots of people say that they love space opera, but can’t even name one space Diva.

Magical Words Link Roundup 5-17-2017

Unfortunately… Amazon is a jealous, vindictive god.

What is a book snob and how do you know if you are one?

Is it the trappings of space opera’s setting — starships, space stations, aliens, peculiarly advanced technologies and faster than light travel—that make something feel like space opera, even when the opera part is domestic, constrained, brought within bounded space, where the emotional arcs that the stories focus on are quietly intimate ones?

Putting the tantalizing mixture of scifi and fantasy with stylish, gritty crime and intrigue on movie screens is nothing new. In fact, it’s been a tradition practically since film noir came into fashion, and the combination has resulted in some truly great films.

Some writers are afraid of poverty, others of obscurity; some are afraid of writing a dull book, others of writing a shallow one; some are afraid their writing is too literary, while others fear that theirs is not literary enough.

Science fiction fans are always looking for the next big thing. For new stories with worlds and universes we never knew existed. For cutting edge ideas and places and characters unlike anything we’ve seen or read or contemplated.

Mother’s Day is dedicated to honoring the mothers and mother figures in our lives. These women come in many forms, from the women who raised us to the teachers and role models we’ve found in the world around us—even in fiction.

While many space operas are happy to feature witty banter, few truly take advantage of all the comical end of the scale has to offer. Submitted for your approval, here are six seriously funny space operas.

Authors make stuff up. Let’s not pretend it’s any more magical than that. It’s when we’re called out for populating those made-up worlds in ways that reveal our assumptions about that future that we get uncomfortable admitting that on the page, we rule absolute.

So, if something as crazy as a trip to Mars is happening soon, what happens way after that? That’s what Year Million, a six-part documentary-drama series from National Geographic, is set to explore.

Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions, Underground creator Misha Green, Bad Robot and Warner Bros TV are making an anthology series for HBO called Lovecraft Country, based off of the Matt Ruff novel of the same name.

Magical Words Link Roundup 5-16-2017

Libraries often feel like magical places, the numerous books on every shelf holding the ability to transport their reader to new and wonderful worlds.

The term steely-eyed missile man is a complementary term rooted in NASA’s Apollo history when flight controller John Aaron’s quick thinking saved the Apollo 12 mission from disaster…Why exactly have script writers chosen to refer to this particular event in NASA’s history and what makes the characters in these stories “steely-eyed men?”

Today, noir stands as the slightly smug older brother of the crime genre. He’s smart, philosophical, literary, engaging, and incredibly unpleasant. He’s not much fun at parties. But he can teach you a thing or two.

“Wait… what? You want me to ignore advice from Hemingway and other great writers?” Yep.

Libraries are under attack and not just from this thing they used to call austerity but also from readers.

Horses in space? It would seem like a nonstarter…Still, there’s something about a horse.

Sometime over a span of a week and a half in mid-April, a burglar (or several) broke into a property in a Birmingham suburb, stealing jewelry and one item that’s even more valuable — certainly to Harry Potter fans, at least: an 800-word, handwritten prequel to the series, scrawled on a postcard by J.K. Rowling herself.

“I was literally running out of space to keep all of my hard copies of books, my shelves were full and it was becoming somewhat perilous to manoeuvre through the floor of the study for fear of tripping and taking out several stacks of books.”

It has been dubbed the most mysterious star in the galaxy. The star, more than 1,200 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus the Swan, flickers and dims in a way never seen before.

Where is the editor’s hand evident—if at all—in the writer’s work?

Women have always written space opera.