Summer’s here!

ConCarolinas begins today, and many of your Magical Words friends will be in attendance! We hope we’ll see lots of you there.

Magical Words will be taking a short break from now until June 12, 2017.

Magical Words Link Roundup 5-31-2017

Jonathan Franzen claimed he won’t write about race because of limited ‘firsthand experience’, while Lionel Shriver hopes objection to ‘cultural appropriation is a passing fad’. So should there be boundaries on what a novelist can write about?

Astronomers have found a new “super-Earth” circling an M-dwarf star, and it could be habitable.

David Farland says, “A while ago I promised to tell you why I reject good stories when I’m reading for Writers of the Future. So let’s talk about those stories that get an Honorable Mention.”

WWhat are your dreams trying to tell you? Research suggests they could be warning you about disease risk factors.

Modern sci-fi and fantasy isn’t just the product of great writers — plenty of non-authors contributed to the genres we love as well.

Titus Chalk finally reads the book after which he was named – Mervyn Peake’s gothic classic Titus Groan.

We like to think we run the planet, with our higher intelligence and penchant for being pretty innovative at warfare. But a hard glance at the animal kingdom gives us pause.

Magical Words Link Roundup 5-30-2017

The original ‘Power Rangers’ star Jason David Frank has had a bit of a close shave, as a lone gunman headed to Phoenix Comic Con with the intention of killing him.

In some advanced facilities, it’s becoming more common for an exoskeleton to be used as people rehabilitate while walking on a treadmill. But research published this week in the journal Science Robotics has identified a major design flaw in these systems.

Chris, the protagonist of Get Out, is in an interracial relationship with Rose, a (basic) white woman who wants him to finally go to her childhood home and meet her parents. And this is where the horror starts. At the invitation.

Italo Calvino once said, “A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.” There are constantly lists put forth regarding “must read classics” and invariably comments follow with titles left off.

In the past twenty years, authors—henceforth known as the Infected—have emerged, plague-ridden, with what we will collectively call the writing bug.

It’s easy to hand wave lyrical masterpieces by claiming the writer came up with the song while on drugs. But, if you actually take time to look, some of the most famous songs of all time have some surprising sources of inspiration — and rarely are hallucinogens involved.

We all have them. Our guilty pleasure movies. Movies we like that we don’t like to tell other people. Films that bring us unbridled joy while making others cringe in pain. Films so many people hate but you just, somehow, for whatever reason, love.

Magical Words Link Roundup 5-29-2017

Literature allows us the oddly satisfying experience of reading about companies that embody our worst fears, and perhaps even act as a kind of warning sign, like The Jungle for climate change or Internet privacy. Here are 12 novels that serve up the creepiest of corporations.

Science fiction is a vast, expansive genre with many, many great stories from giant robots to alien invasions to exploring distant stars. And while we’ve all probably seen a few episodes of Star Trek, there’s a multitude of fantastic written works in the genre that chances are you’ve missed out on.

For decades, aspiring fantasy writers have been subjected to dismissive behavior from college professors who disparage genre literature, even though such professors often admit they’ve never actually read any fantasy or science fiction.

All eyes are on princess Diana of Themyscira, the world’s premier Amazonian warrior, as fans and critics brace themselves for what could be the biggest moment for superhero franchises in the last 15 years…Wonder Woman has already made history.

Dave Farland says,”Seriously, though, I sometimes wish that I could explain to a young writer why I’m passing on a story. So I’m going to talk about it here.”

There are bad movies and then there are really bad movies. In the olden days, we didn’t have a way to measure what were the most critically panned. But now, thanks to the magic of Rotten Tomatoes, it’s easy to find out which movies the critics agree stink.

We want to make things that are the best we could possibly make — because if they’re not our best, what’s the point? The problem is, we’re scared we’ll never achieve our best. So we put things off for months and agonize over our procrastination.

If you’ve been waffling over whether to come to ConCarolinas, take a look at the wonderful fun in store! Come play with us!

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.