Magical Words Link Roundup 7-20-2017

It’s 50 days from Dragon Con 2017 – do you know where your hosts are?

Santino Hassell discusses badass queer characters from paranormal universes within books, comics, and TV.

It’s always fun to find out who other authors regard as the sexiest or hottest heroes in sci-fi romance and fantasy novels.

Theresa DeLucci says, “Some people look at the ocean and see a wonderland of surfing and swimming. But I know better. There, there be man-eating sharks and terrible Eldritch horrors waiting to loom up from a darkened trench. Too much sunshine causes skin cancer and sand gets into the most annoying places.”

Black women have always been perceived as strong, if not superhuman, and that has been as much a burden as anything else we’ve faced in Western society. Our strength has been used as justification for our base mistreatment, in fact, both historically and in contemporary times.

The Louisville, KY Fandom Fest is scheduled to take place pretty damned soon (July 28th-30th), and while the venue hadn’t ever been formally mentioned on the con’s official materials this year, it just wouldn’t make sense to announce a venue change now, right?

Brandon O’Brien says, “Writers of colour talk about voice a lot. You may not hear it often, and I’m inclined to say without a hint of admonition that if you haven’t heard it at all, that says even more about the landscape that we’re in.”

Hot fried chicken might not make sense as the perfect summer food, but science is here to make the argument that it is — provided it’s got that characteristic crunch as your jaws clamp down on a juicy bite.

We all know about the destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria … the vast storehouse of knowledge that became the wonder of the ancient world. These are the books Rachel Caine would’ve saved from being lost to history.

Magical Words Link Roundup 7-19-2017

Tor.com is looking to hire!

Space scientists are turning their attention from Mars to another possible haven for alien life – liquid oceans locked under miles of ice on some of our solar system’s moons.

Adam-Troy Castro says, “It’s like none of them were paying any attention at all.”

A security robot in Washington DC suffered a watery demise after falling into a fountain by an office building. (Was his name, by chance, Marvin?)

We’re all storytellers. We all use story in our daily lives. They’re the atoms of our social interactions.

Business leaders need to read more science fiction.

It is important to be able to improvise when running a tabletop roleplaying game, whether the genre is fantasy, sci-fi, or something altogether different. This is because players are, above all, mad creatures who do not listen to either reason or instructions.

Magical Words Link Roundup 7-18-2017

Congratulations AJ Hartley, the winner of the 2017 Manly Wade Wellman Award for North Carolina Science Fiction and Fantasy, announced at ConGregate on July 15!

You guys already heard about the new Doctor, yes?

From It Comes at Night to A Ghost Story, a new breed of horror is creeping into the multiplex, replacing jump-scares with existential dread.

Between Marvel, DC Comics, and lesser-known imprints, comic book stories have been fully embraced by the TV medium, translating onto the small screen the huge success comics have enjoyed in cinema.

On Friday, a book jumped to the #1 spot on Amazon, out of nowhere; it quickly became obvious that the author had used a clickfarm to gatecrash the charts.

Writing is not the same as publishing. That may seem obvious to most. But picture a young author with a lot to say – This person writes and writes, day after day. Amasses a seven-foot-tall stack of words on paper. This person then thinks everyone would love to read what they wrote. And the answers come back: Not a chance in H. E. double hockey sticks!

With ‘Game of Thrones’ returning on Sunday for its penultimate season, the man who started it all reveals his fantasy movie favorites, from ‘Ladyhawke’ to ‘Lord of the Rings.’

Inspired by neuroscience, a specially designed siren designed to capture attention is finding a smart and potentially life-saving use in Africa.

Magical Words Link Roundup 7-17-2017

Let’s start the week off with a bunch of links designed to spark ideas in all you writerly types. If you end up writing a story because of one of these, let me know! Ready?

It it said to be one of the biggest buried treasures in the world. Valued at over one billion dollars, it’s no mystery why so many people have risked their lives to try and find it.

The sleepy medieval village of Gotham, or “Goat’s Town,” near Nottingham, England, has by some accounts been painted as town of fools. But other stories claim just the opposite: that the villagers were an exceptionally shrewd bunch who only pretended to be fools to trick the powers that be.

A lost manuscript reveals new evidence that Butch Cassidy survived the 1908 shoot-out during which he was thought to have been killed and lived to an old age, anonymously, in Washington state.

Mercury, the diminutive planet closest to the Sun, was notoriously mysterious due to its difficulty to explore. That changed on March 18, 2011, when the MESSENGER spacecraft from Johns Hopkins’ Applied Physics Laboratory achieved orbit around Mercury.

For the second time this summer, China’s quantum computer scientists have blown the rest of the world out of the water. In early July, a team of 32 researchers reported achieving quantum teleportation from Ngari in Chinese-occupied Tibet, to the Micius satellite up in space — across layers of interfering atmosphere and 870 miles. That’s about the distance from Los Angeles to Montana.

On January 25, 1959, nine Russian students embarked on a journey across the Otorten Mountain range, which is nestled in the northern Urals, for a strenuous cross-country skiing trip. They were never seen alive again.

On the cold evening of November 8, 1878, a sixteen year-old boy named Charles Ashmore walked out of the back door of his family’s farm house to fetch fresh water from the spring a short distance away. When he did not return, his family became uneasy and took a lantern to search for the boy. A new snow had just fallen and Charles’ footprints were plainly visible as they went out the back door and started across the yard. His father and sister followed his trail for a short distance but after going about 75 yards, they saw that the trail abruptly ended. Beyond the last footprint was nothing other than smooth, unbroken snow – the boy’s tracks simply came to an end.

In England, 1985, a series of bizarre fires broke out, destroying many homes and businesses. The link between the fires was a collection of paintings, known as ‘Crying Boys’. Out of the devastation of each fire, only the paintings would survive, and soon, they would be labelled as ‘cursed’.

It is not uncommon for children to have imaginary friends. Often times, a mischievous child will blame some wrongdoing on a spectral presence or a favorite doll, and parents will dismiss it as a bright imagination. But what happens when the doll begins to torment the child and terrorize anyone who lives within the household? Such is the strange case of Robert, the haunted doll of Key West, Florida.

The gates of hell are various places on the surface of the world that have acquired a legendary reputation for being entrances to the underworld. Often they are found in regions of unusual geological activity, particularly volcanic areas, or sometimes at lakes, caves or mountains.

Magical Words Link Roundup 7-13-2017

One of the realities of publishing that we don’t like to talk about is that a series generally lives or dies by grace of its first publisher.

For millennia lost ships—or, even spookier, ghost ships—have captured the imaginations of seafarers and landlubbers alike. It was inevitable, then, that tales of derelict ships would gain a new kind of resonance in science fiction, where ships can be the size of entire planets, and yet still vanish entirely within the black.

Fantasy tropes can be great—that’s why they become tropes. But sometimes you want to read something you feel like you’ve never read before.

From “Lord of the Rings” to “Game of Thrones,” blockbuster fantasy franchises have long been disproportionately white. Award-winning author Nnedi Okorafor is just one of the writers of color changing that by creating rich, diverse literary fantasy ― and the change is coming to prestige TV as well.

Before firearms dominated the battlefield, it’s generally agreed that the stirrup was the most important innovation in warfare for a couple centuries. With that in mind, what would magic do to warfare?

Author Philip Pullman has raised £32,400 to provide relief for survivors of London’s Grenfell Tower fire, and will name a character in an upcoming book after a young victim of the disaster.

The sciences are overwhelmingly hostile to women, and in astronomy, it’s doubly bad for women of color.

When a book gets popular enough, the author may get to see their vision reenacted on a giant screen by attractive people with bizarrely perfect teeth. What could be cooler than that? Well, for starters, it might be “cool” if the adaptation didn’t completely reverse the point the writer was trying to make in the first place.

Science fiction and fantasy have never been straightforward genres. They encompass any number of weird, obscure, and wildly imaginative works of fiction, which is why it feels constraining to have only two categories for all these tales.

Magical Words Link Roundup 7-12-2017

We are part of an amazingly creative generation. Yet, all this creative freedom sometimes has surprising side effects for our mental and spiritual health. Our passion for creating can sometimes shift into anxiety and depression.

How do you do inventory if you can’t close the library because you’re letting kids take books out for the summer?” The criticism in the other school librarian’s voice was not even trying to veil itself behind a smile.

Genre SF authors often depict futuristic swearing, blasphemy and other forms of foul speech, not always with any great conviction.

The Moon is the Tango to Earth’s Cash, the Hall to our Oates, the Lennon to our McCartney before they hated each other. Simply put, our planet and the Moon are soul mates: except, of course, if something were to happen to one of them. Like, I don’t know, what if we just blew up the Moon?

Sometimes it seems pretty incredible that Game of Thrones has been such a hit, considering how cruel it can be to its own fans. You pour your heart into these characters, you root for them, and then one day Game of Thrones sits you down and explains that this character has been lit on fire or cut in half or shot full of an improbable number of arrows.

The circus is in town. The carnival has arrived. There will be bright lights, and loud noises, and things to frighten, and things to amaze.

Is A Song of Ice and Fire ultimately the story of a long, bloody transition from a feudal, monarchical system to some kind of proto-democracy, in which all castes have a voice, and the nobles and the various religions must yield to the rule of law? In other words, can the game of thrones finally end, replaced by a civilization that actually works?

They’re fairies, mutants, or the survivors of a long-lost civilization. They dwell in the shadows, sewers, or caves not found on any spelunker’s map. Whatever they really are, these devolved monsters fear and hate modern humans, and if you’re not careful, they’ll steal you away for dinner — or maybe make you one of them.

Space might think of itself as a final frontier, but for boundless human ingenuity, it’s just another hurdle to insanity-scream our way over.

Magical Words Link Roundup 7-11-2017

Derek Haines says, “I had the occasion, albeit under the very heavy influence of a bottle or two of an extremely pleasant Shiraz, to stumble upon a rather tall gentleman with an odd outlook on life. Well, odd in the fact that he was rumoured to be dead, but we’ll come to that shortly.”

Photographer and photo editor Kathleen Kamphausen recreated some of the most passionate front covers of romance novels using Average Joes instead of Fabios, and they pretty much look like most of us trying to be seductive on any given day.

When it comes to the undead in modern horror, there are few—if any—things that come to mind quicker than zombies.

Rachel Dunne says, “Rereading books is one of my big vices – I love digging into a book and catching all the subtle foreshadowing, finding the deeper meaning. It feels a little like being invited into the inner circle, where you can nod knowingly and smirk because you totally get it.”

In Andy Weir’s novel The Martian, the protagonist endures the harsh terrain of Mars by using his own s$%t to grow potatoes. The idea isn’t that outlandish—over the last few years, a NASA-backed project has been attempting to simulate Martian potato farming by growing taters in the Peruvian desert. While early results were promising, new research suggests that survival of any life on Mars—much less potato-growing humans—might be more difficult than we thought.

For those wanting more funny sci-fi, writer Jon Bois has delivered.

Why do we still read The Lord of the Rings?

John Scalzi says, “Written yourself into a corner? Go take a shower.”