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Posted by Alex Cranz on Gizmodo, shared by Melissa Kirsch to Lifehacker

The first night the Amazon Echo Show was in my bedroom I had to carefully lay it face down on my nightstand. The display, which was cycling through my upcoming meetings, most recent news, and the weather, was simply too bright. It was like having a little super informative sun shining in my face. The second night, as…


AO3 Celebrates 25,000 Fandoms!

26 June 2017 04:22 pm
[syndicated profile] ao3_admin_posts_feed

partial screenshot of the AO3 homepage showing 25000 fandoms with the AO3 logo above the text

Tag Wranglers are pleased to announce that we have reached the milestone of 25,000 fandoms on AO3! This comes shortly after we celebrated reaching 3 million fanworks in April and 1 million users back in October.

AO3 users have always been incredibly creative. Over the years, we've reached several fandom milestones:

  • 5,000 fandoms around New Year's Day, 2010
  • 10,000 fandoms in September, 2012
  • 15,000 fandoms in April, 2014
  • 20,000 fandoms in December, 2015

Are there any rare fandoms you love that you discovered on AO3?

Sharing 25,000 Fandoms with 1 Million People

With so many new fandoms, fanworks, and users joining us daily, now is a good time to explain what this growth can mean for users and Tag Wranglers.

Tags on AO3 are shared. If you use the same exact tag that someone else has used, your works will be included in the same filters. Tag Wranglers cannot separate works using the exact same tag. We can only wrangle tags, not works.

If you discover that your work is showing up under a different filter (tag) than you intended, you can edit the tag on your work to be clearer. For example, Penny Parker is a character on the TV show MacGyver. “Penny Parker” is also a common fan name for female Peter Parker, better known as Spider-Man. If you tag your work “Penny Parker”, it will end up in the filters for the MacGyver character, even if you were thinking of female Peter. To avoid this, you could alter your tag to “Penny Parker (girl!Peter)” or something similar. That would allow Tag Wranglers to merge it into Peter Parker’s tag filter instead.

(Obviously, Tag Wranglers can’t merge the plain “Penny Parker” tag directly with Peter’s. If we did that, all of the MacGyver’s “Penny Parker” works would show up in Peter Parker’s filters, and she would not have a filter of her own. This would cause problems for fans of both characters!)

If a tag is new to you, you might find it useful to check its filter before using it. You might find that the tag has a different meaning in a different fandom.

How To Make Tags Work For You

In the month of April this year, Tag Wranglers collectively wrangled approximately 497,000 tags. In May we wrangled well over half a million! Tag Wranglers work very hard to connect your tags; you can make our job easier by being clear about what you mean.

Here are some ideas you can try in order to make your own works or bookmarks appear in the filters you want. (Please don't comment on works to ask other users to do this - this is for your own works/bookmarks only!)

  • Autocomplete is your friend: If a fandom tag exists in the autocomplete for your fandom already, try including that tag. The tags that Tag Wranglers see are based on filterable fandoms listed on the work, so using a fandom tag from the autocomplete speeds up the time it takes to wrangle your tag and have it show up correctly.
  • Making a new fandom: If there is no fandom tag yet for your work, try including the medium, creator, or year the canon was first published in the tag. This speeds up the process of creating a new fandom tag, as we will have more information to use when researching what canon you mean! For books, it's especially important to include the author's name; for movies, the year. For other fandoms, usually the media type is enough, unless the title is very generic. For example, if you're posting for the TV show "Merlí", try adding "TV" after the title, like this: Merlí (TV).
  • Be kind to RPF fans: Try to avoid mixing up Actor RPF and fictional TV or movie fandoms in your tags. If you're posting Actor RPF, please use the RPF fandom tags. If an RPF fandom tag doesn't exist yet for that TV show or movie, make one by adding "RPF" to the end of the TV show or movie's existing tag name. Example: The Hunger Games (Movies) RPF. Please also try to avoid using the Actor RPF fandom tags if you're only working with fictional characters. This will help RPF fans easily find the works they want and will reduce the effort Tag Wranglers must use to find the right place for your tags.
  • Where does original work go? If you're posting a fannish-styled original work set in your own universe with your own characters, please try using the "Original Work" tag. (Furry fans, you can use that or the "Furry - Fandom" tag.) Please take care not to directly link to paypal, patreon, or commercial sites, as AO3 is a non-commercial site. (For further information, please consult the Terms of Service.)
  • Make characters unique: Try to use full names for characters. If a character has just one name, put the name of the fandom in parentheses after it. Example: Undyne (Undertale). This especially helps avoid any potential ambiguity issues and ensures that it will be easier to find your work. You may not think the chances of having a character named Undyne in another fandom is high, but this happens frequently.
  • Separate your / and & ships / is for romantic and/or sexual relationships. & is for platonic relationships only - ones that are neither sexual nor romantic. (Pre- and Post-Relationship are still /.) & was created for those Gen fans who don't want anything non-platonic in the ships they're searching for. You can help both Gen fans and shippers by carefully choosing the tag that matches your work!
  • Add cameos in the Additional Tags: If a fandom, character, or relationship is only a passing reference, you can choose to put the tag in the "Additional Tags" (Freeforms) category instead. This will keep your work from being sorted into the fandom, character, or relationship's filter, while still telling users what's in the work. Example: Hints of Jin Dong/Wang Kai in the "Additional Tags" field keeps Jin Dong/Wang Kai fans from being disappointed that a work only mentions their relationship briefly.

These suggestions are meant to help get your tags wrangled quicker and more accurately so that users have a great experience on AO3. You won’t need to edit any tags on past works or bookmarks unless they aren’t showing up in the filters you prefer.

However, these tagging suggestions don’t mean that you can’t continue to tag creatively for various topics! Tag Wranglers love clever tags, and sometimes we can even canonize the concepts. Magneto’s Terrible Fashion Sense is just one of many enjoyable tags that make us giggle.

If you have any questions or suggestions about wrangling, please consult the Tags FAQ. If that doesn't answer your question, the FAQ explains how to contact Tag Wranglers directly, or you can send short questions to us at our twitter account, ao3_wranglers.

Please don't leave comments on this post with questions or requests about specific tags. They won't be answered, since Tag Wranglers can't easily track requests from here. Please use the options listed above to contact us. Thanks!

Denial on Tour 2017

26 June 2017 09:23 pm
purplecat: (dinosaur)
[personal profile] purplecat
We were supposed to be going to Bristol Comic Con but they cancelled the con. So instead we were let loose on the unsuspecting Bristol countryside.

More pictures under the cut )
[syndicated profile] textsfromsuperheroes_feed



Diana: We have to talk about Willem Dafoe dying in this movie via glider to the dick.

Andrew: He was stabbed right in the dick.


Jocelyn: Yes, this is a movie where the villain is killed via flying skateboard to the dick and I say, yayyyyyy!!!

Andrew: I’m imagining that scene at the end where Harry sees Spider-Man leaving his Dad’s body and he’s like, “What happened to my dad?” but then Harry must have gone over to his Dad to look at the body like, why did you deliver my dad dead and without a dick? What did you do Spider-Man???

Diana: And Willem Dafoe is naked! Spider-man took all his clothes to hide he was the goblin, that means he delivered a naked, dickless body to Harry.


Andrew: It makes more sense to me now in the next movies why Harry hates Spider-Man, cause he not only thinks Spider-Man killed his dad, but his dad one day left the house in a nice suit and came home naked, dead and dickless and Spider-Man was like, “Enjoy your dickless dad! Peace!” and Harry’s gotta have so many questions about that, the first being, “Where. Is. My. Dad’s. Dick?! What did you do with my Dad’s dick?!”

Jocelyn: I’m not gonna say that Spider-Man ate my Dad’s dick, but also, prove me wrong Spider-Man! Where’s the dick?

- The Hosts of Talk From Superheroes on Spider-Man (2002) and What Happened To Green Goblin’s Dick

Listen on iTunes to also hear why Spider-Man is the worst kisser of all time and how Nickelback killed movie tie-in songs forever.

[Talk From Superheroes on iTunes]

Oh god there’s a part about how Chad Krueger accidentally wrote a song about green goblin instead of Spiderman and it’s amazing.

Diana: So after the cast names the song “Hero” by Nickelback came on and we were dying laughing. Then we started talking and we think this movie might have killed music tie-ins for movies. Before it was Space Jam, and every Will Smith movie and the Bodyguard.

Andrew: But no band has done a soundtrack for a major motion picture movie since that song. Cause prior it was Prince, Seal, big name pop stars doing original songs for superhero and action movies, and then Nickelback did “Hero” for this movie and since that moment every pop band was like, never again.

Jocelyn: That is mind blowing. A song so shitty it killed musical tie-ins forever.

Andrew: And it’s also a song that sounds like it should be about Superman, it’s all about flying high and that’s literally the one thing Spider-Man doesn’t do.

Jocelyn: I guarantee the movie execs were like, okay Nickelback, one reminder, Spider-Man does not fly on the wings of an eagle, he doesn’t fly, he goes around on web strings because as mentioned in his name, he is a Spider-Man. And Nickelback was like, no problem, eagles, whatever!

Diana: Wait, is this song about Green Goblin? Because they say “fly on the wings of an eagle” and Goblin has a glider.

Andrew: Oh my god they might have accidentally written about the villain!

Jocelyn: Yeah we wrote it about Spider-Man, you know the big green guy on the flying roller skates!

Andrew: Nickelback was like, “Who’s the star of this movie?” “Well, Willem Dafoe is the biggest actor …” “Willem Dafoe’s character, “The Hero to save us!”

Jocelyn: Chad Kroeger please just give me a straight answer, yes or no, do you understand that Willem Dafoe is not the hero of Spider-Man?

Listen to more Talk From Superheroes on iTunes.

(no subject)

26 June 2017 08:32 pm
[syndicated profile] laurel_lj_friends_feed

Posted by file770


The winner of the 2017 James White Award is “The Morrigan” by Stewart Horn. The award, established in 2000, offers non-professional writers the opportunity to have their work published in Interzone, the UK’s leading sf magazine. Commenting on the winning story on … Continue reading

(no subject)

26 June 2017 08:19 pm
[syndicated profile] laurel_lj_friends_feed

Posted by myselfdestruct

More reports are coming out about the drama behind the scenes of the Han Solo spin off film. As you may be aware, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were replaced by Ron Howard last week.

A break down of additional drama is below.

The Hollywood Reporter alleges multiple situations of a difference in opinion on the film between the directors and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.

The directors were not filming extra takes to use in the editing process and Kennedy and Solo co-scriptwriter/producer Lawrence Kasdan were concerned about the direction Miller and Lord were going with the film.

Sources claimed the directors were beginning to feel massive pressure from Kennedy and Kasdan and limiting their creative freedom during the production process.

After filming moved from London to the Canary Islands this year, Lucasfilm replaced the editor of the film, Chris Dickens, with longtime Ridley Scott collaborator Pietro Scalia.

In addition, Lucasfilm also asked the directors to bring on an acting coach (as THR notes, while it’s not unusual for acting coaches to be hired, it’s unprecedented for a film so late in production) for star Alden Ehrenreich, after registering dissatisfaction with the performance Miller and Lord were getting out of the actor.

Kennedy requested writer Kasdan to head to the set after these changes didn’t lead to the results they were looking for on the film. Miller and Lord pushed back at his presence—said to be similar to Tony Gilroy’s late-game involvement in completing Rogue One after its own production troubles—and a day later, Kennedy made the decision to fire the directors.

One source speaking to THR claims that upon the announcement to the crew that Ron Howard would step in to take over the film a day after Miller and Lord’s firing, applause broke out. But while Miller and Lord are now off the film, sources claim that Howard is very willing to use much of the footage they shot to help complete the movie.

Bob Iger isn't confirming or denying if the movie will be delayed.


(no subject)

26 June 2017 08:18 pm
[syndicated profile] laurel_lj_friends_feed

Posted by spankmypirate

8. We Have Witnessed The Creation Of A World

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

In a sequence that is both political and spiritual, we may have very well learned the origins of BOB. And no, he wasn't the love child of Tr*mp and P*t*n.

5. Have We Seen The White Lodge?

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Slay us with that Old Hollywood aesthetic Lynch!!

4. Laura Is The One

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Laura may not be the biological child of Leland and Sarah Palmer, but a supernatural being sent down to Earth to defeat BOB. couldn't she have taken out James Hurley on the way js

Rest of the list at the SOURCE

free glitter text and family website at FamilyLobby.com

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

(no subject)

26 June 2017 08:17 pm
[syndicated profile] laurel_lj_friends_feed

Posted by theqinra

According to one of the producers, DuPré Pesmen, Jay, a child diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma, was visiting the set of the third 'Harry Potter' film and wanted to be in the film.

“I said, ‘Well, we can’t really do that, and you’re already here.’ Alan [Rickman] came over and introduced himself to Jay, and Jay was so happy to meet him. He was really knowledgeable. He was about 15 at the time, and he knew a lot about Alan’s other films, and Jay mentioned to Alan that what he really wanted to do was be in the film.

“Alan looked at me, and he kind of went into his Snape-mode in costume, and said, ‘Why isn’t this child in the film?’ Everyone had a good laugh, and Alan took him by the hand and put him into the crowd of kids as they were panning across. The back of him is actually in a shot.”

The shot ended up not being in the final cut of the film but Presmen and Chris Columbus later got Jay to show up in 'Rent'.


(no subject)

26 June 2017 07:53 pm
[syndicated profile] laurel_lj_friends_feed

Posted by totteringg

After Kelly Osbourne #PissedHerOwnPants outside of a Starbucks, and tweeted about it complaining that they wouldn't let her use the restroom, it was picked up by some gossip sites and now Starbucks has responded.

They apologized for the misunderstanding, stated that there isn't a restroom at that location, and offered Kelly a single free Starbucks drink for the next time she stops by:
“We are working to follow up with Ms. Osbourne to clarify any confusion. There simply is no restroom in this store, and inquiring customers are typically directed to a store a few blocks away,” a rep for Starbucks told Page Six on Monday. “We sincerely apologize for any misunderstanding and hope to welcome Ms. Osbourne back for a beverage on us very soon!”

What's the best thing you've gotten in exchange for peeing yourself?

(no subject)

26 June 2017 07:42 pm
[syndicated profile] laurel_lj_friends_feed

Posted by polynucleotide

TJ Miller gave The Hollywood Reporter the scoop on why he left Silicon Valley and it's quite a wild ride. Some highlights:

-- Creator Mike Judge felt it was becoming more clear that TJ didn't want to do the show anymore.
-- When asked if he wanted a reduced role next season, TJ brought up if producers would be okay if he left.
-- Mentions he wants to parasail into Cannes for the Emoji Movie because it would be funny. Also calls working on the Emoji Movie worse for American culture than staying on the show.
-- Says he is incredibly busy, not an actor but a comedian, and calls his exit a good joke.
-- Straight up says he doesn't like co-showrunner and director Alec Berg and calls him an idiot.
-- HBO was really nice and cool about him leaving.
-- Said Kumail, Zach, and Martin took him leaving well. Doesn't mention Thomas Middleditch, but says they have a big/little brother relationship and mentions him when saying he thought HBO people/Alec Berg didn't think he had the power/position to just leave.
-- Doesn't watch the show now, nor will he in the future.


this fucking guy omg

(no subject)

26 June 2017 07:42 pm
[syndicated profile] laurel_lj_friends_feed

Posted by moheetoe

(sm is yet to release the video on youtube...smh)

Apink-Five MV


Apink keeps releasing the same song over and over again, tomorrow Stellar's comeback!

(no subject)

26 June 2017 07:24 pm
[syndicated profile] laurel_lj_friends_feed

Posted by tordotcom



So, I sat down to pick an end point for this week’s blog post and realized that the problem was not so much the end as the beginning. Yeah, someone forgot where the dividing line was between chapters 3 and 4. Some of the important details in chapter 4 were neglected and we need to take a second look. These issues help frame the competing forces of identities, relationships, revenge and duty in chapters 5 and 6, and those are fairly central to the book.

This reread has an index, which you can consult if you feel like exploring previous books and chapters. Spoilers are welcome in the comments if they are relevant to the discussion at hand. Comments that question the value and dignity of individuals, or that deny anyone’s right to exist, are emphatically NOT welcome. Please take note.

Miles is a pretty Carpe Diem kind of guy (which explains the Marvell poem i mentioned last week), and is even more so in his Naismith persona. It’s a sign of his desperation that, during his second embassy reception, he’s reduced to pondering seizing a goldfish on suspicion of espionage. In his defense, the reception has been undermined by a set of mis-delivered in-ear translation devices. I suspect sabotage, perhaps a plot by the short-staffed Cetagandan embassy. Miles’s companion on this occasion is one of the wives of the Baba of Lairouba. They don’t share a common language, so I can’t evaluate her interests or personality. I imagine that she’s a biologist with a keen interest in genetically modified seeds, and she dabbles in interior design. Her younger brother is a budding actor who has been taking classes in mime, which is why she finds Miles amusing. No word on who Ivan is awkwardly pantomiming to. I concur with Miles’s dismay when the earbugs are delivered just in time for the after-dinner speeches.

Post-speech, Miles is approached by the reporter who watched Naismith’s rescue of the clerk from the liquor store in chapter three. I mentioned this last week, but I think it is worth bringing up again. Not atypically for Miles in his mid-twenties, he thinks he’s a lot smoother than he is. He proposes that Naismith is his clone, blames the Cetagandans, and then says that Naismith’s presence makes “his own security” nervous. Our plucky girl reporter either isn’t at the top of her game, or has bought the romantic balderdash the Lord Mayor of London’s wife was encouraging Miles to dish out at the last reception; She fails to spot that Miles’s “own” security is not provided by the Barrayaran government or, at least in this instance, by his father’s armsmen. Lt. Lord Vorkosigan doesn’t have his own security on Earth. Miles’s own security in this instance is provided by the Dendarii Free Mercenary Fleet, Admiral Naismith commanding.

Miles is going to encounter this reporter again shortly, in his alter ego. Once again, the Dendarii’s funds have not come through. The Dendarii need a loan, and the Admiral’s duties are piling up. Miles secures permission from Galeni to take a security detail and tend to business. Miles’s head is full of foreshadowing as he suspects Galeni of embezzling the Dendarii’s funds, and wonders what his family might have lost in the Komarran revolt. Galeni hasn’t said anything about his family, which is hardly surprising, as he also doesn’t seem to be interested in socializing with his juniors. But yes, that is an interesting line of thought.

Miles heads for the shuttleport, security in tow, and everything gets hairy when someone tries to drop a maintenance vehicle on him. At this point, it should be evident to the most casual observer that Miles has both Dendarii and Barrayaran security working for him, which should blow his cover. But he sticks to the story while the London police interrogate Elli, who blew away the attackers with a rocket launcher. That she fired from the hip. I fully understand why Miles finds her so irresistible. I can also see why the press shows up and Miles does his best to continue to confuse his enemies. At this moment, he feels certain his enemies are the Cetagandans, with a possible side-order of Duv Galeni. The police let Elli go when they discover that the remains in the maintenance vehicle belonged to some local hit men. Miles assumes that the Cetagandans are trying to subcontract out Naismith’s assassination.

The kerfuffle at the shuttle port results in a delay in Vicky Bones’s plan to commit financial fraud. It’s a short delay, and the plan is successful anyway. The Dendarii start looking for temp jobs to try to prevent the financial situation from deteriorating further. Miles also dispatches Elena Bothari to deliver a message to Commodore Destang at Tau Ceti IV about Miles’s suspicions in re. The missing eighteen million marks. Miles’s theories revolve around Galeni pocketing the cash for an unknown purpose. He hopes that’s not true because he would hate to justify Barrayaran prejudices against Komarrans.

The third line of duty that Miles is going to attend to this week is Lord Vorkosigan’s duty. He proposes to Elli. Remember that Elli is in on Miles’s personal story, but she usually spends time with Admiral Naismith. So Miles isn’t just proposing to her, he’s proposing in his own person as someone Elli doesn’t really know. Miles and Elli have only been out on a date once, and he was Admiral Naismith then. Remember that, on that occasion, Elli bought her own cat blanket, and then sent it back to the embassy with Miles. This is a metaphor for what their marriage would be like if Elli was crazy enough to consent to it; She would have to make enormous sacrifices to take on an entirely new role in life for Miles’s benefit. Elli sees Miles as an Admiral who sometimes pretends to be heir to a Barrayaran countship and a Lieutenant in the Barrayaran military. She not only doesn’t know Lord Vorkosigan (although she thinks his accent is cool), she doesn’t know why Miles wants to continue to be him.

I don’t think Miles deserves to propose at this point. He and Elli have been avoiding romance until very recently. Furthermore, Miles still has a huge crush on Elena Bothari, and he’s hooking up with Taura in his free time. I don’t think he’s been up-front with Elli about any of that. He wants things that he hasn’t earned. The idea of earning the right to propose is pretty far off his twenty-five-year-old radar. I’m glad she said no. Miles will be finding himself encumbered with more relationships, and with the obligations they confer, shortly after he returns to the embassy and finds that Galeni has disappeared.

Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer teaches history and reads a lot.

(no subject)

26 June 2017 07:02 pm
[syndicated profile] laurel_lj_friends_feed

Posted by file770


Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials, offered to let readers bid for a chance to name one of the characters in his next book to benefit the victims of the recent Grenfell Tower disaster. A teacher is bidding for … Continue reading

(no subject)

26 June 2017 06:54 pm
[syndicated profile] laurel_lj_friends_feed

Posted by tordotcom



Peter Parker Iron Man 2 Tom Holland fan theory confirmed retcon

Let’s be real, the part of Spider-Man: Homecoming that we’re most looking forward to is Tony Stark playing superhero dad to Peter Parker. But according to a recently revealed (or recently retconned) bit of MCU lore, if not for Tony, Peter might not have lived to become Spider-Man.

Tom Holland recently confirmed a fun fan theory that the kid in the Iron Man mask that Tony Stark saves from a Hammer drone in Iron Man 2 was actually Peter Parker. It was one of those bits of headcanon that lined up accurately enough to be believable: A 10-year-old (or slightly younger) Peter would have likely attended the Stark Expo, considering his avid interest in tech and his admiration of Tony, especially since the Expo was held in his hometown of Queens.

Watch the scene in question:

“I can confirm that that is Peter Parker,” Holland told the Huffington Post several times over. “I can confirm that as of today. I literally had a conversation with Kevin Feige only 20 minutes ago. Maybe I’ve just done a big, old spoiler, but it’s out there now. It’s cool. I like the idea that Peter Parker has been in the universe since the beginning.”

Holland’s “conversation” with Feige likely means that they decided on the retcon shortly before said interview. Regardless, it’s a fun retcon that lines up especially well with our own thoughts about Peter being born in 2000 and growing up in a world with superpowered people always being around. It also provides an even better context for all the delightfully awkward hugs in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

via io9

(no subject)

26 June 2017 06:33 pm
[syndicated profile] laurel_lj_friends_feed

Posted by beysactingcoach

Jeffree Star was invited to Kim K's home in order to try out her new highlight and contour kit from KKW Beauty. Jeffree loves the product and praised it's "minimalist" (ahem, Claire's) packaging. Subscribers were quick to point out that the review was half-assed compared to other reviews on his channel and accused him of liking the product just to get in with Kim K.

On Snapchat, Jeffree claimed that he was "unbiased" and tested the product again and revealed that there was very little product. He went on to say that it wasn't patchy and still loved the product.


(no subject)

26 June 2017 06:33 pm
[syndicated profile] laurel_lj_friends_feed

Posted by theemii

''OMG KATY PERRY!!! I am so honored to have done her makeup for her Witness World Wide on Youtube Live and also for my channel!!! Her album is everything---snatch it NOW!! Thank you Katy and Chris and Michael for welcoming me with open arms into your glam fam! I hope to work with you again!



(no subject)

26 June 2017 06:24 pm
[syndicated profile] laurel_lj_friends_feed

Posted by tordotcom



The Witchwood Crown by Tad Williams

Like most people who grow up to be writers, I was a pretty weird kid. It will perhaps not entirely surprise you to learn that I was not a popular child; I spent the majority of my elementary-school recesses looking for dragons in the woods alone. I dressed as Raistlin three Halloweens in a row. I was certain that magic slumbered within me—not sleight of hand, but the real weather-altering enemy-smiting fireball-hurling stuff—waiting patiently for me to find the key to unlocking it. Other children were not kind to me, so I kept reading. There’s not a single doorstop-sized fantasy epic published between The Sword of Shannara and Sunrunner’s Fire that I haven’t read at least once (when I realized, belatedly, that this predilection was not endearing me to my peers, I took to disguising the telltale sword-and-naked-lady covers of my preferred reading material with a reusable cloth book cover; this concession, however, did not make me popular).

Tad Williams’ first novel, Tailchaser’s Song, was published in 1985. It follows the adventures of Fritti Tailchaser, a young feral cat whose love interest, Hushpad, disappears suddenly and mysteriously. Fritti’s search for his beloved takes him through multiple cats’ societies, a magnificently creepy underground city ruled by a diabolically Rabelaisian cat-god whose throne is a mountain of dying animals, legendary cat heroes in disguise, a kingdom of squirrels, and a complex and extensive cats’ mythology complete with creation stories and a family of cat deities. I read it so many times as a kid that my copy’s covers literally fell off. I can still quote parts of it from memory. When Williams’ next book came out in 1989, I was more than ready. I was obsessed.

The Dragonbone Chair isn’t about cats, but it’s so marvelously complex and vivid that my ten-year-old self was willing to overlook this flaw.

The first in the planned Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy that would later go on to overspill its banks—the third volume, To Green Angel Tower, is so massive that the paperback edition was released in two volumes—The Dragonbone Chair tells the story of Simon, a rather Fritti-like young kitchen scullion in the castle of Prester John, the High King of Osten Ard. Simon doesn’t stay a kitchen boy for long; shortly after Prester John’s death, his heir, Elias, briskly sets about making pacts with the devil (in this case, the supernatural undead very bad Storm King, who is a Sithi, Williams’ elf equivalent), employing a deranged priest/warlock with a taste for human sacrifice and a lot of sinister hobbies, and getting some wars started, all of which require Simon to rise to a variety of occasions including but not limited to frolicking in the woods with the Sithi, befriending a wolf and her troll custodian, killing a dragon, unearthing enchanted swords, allying himself with Elias’ rebel brother, Prince Josua, and defeating armies of evil hellbent on the destruction of the human race. Hijinx ensue, for something like four thousand pages. Simon does turn out (thirty-year-old spoiler alert) to be secret royalty, as one does in these sorts of novels, but for most of the series he’s just bumbling along, making about fifty mistakes a page, whining about his tribulations, wishing he had a snack, and doing his best to deal with a world gone suddenly terrifying. He is human, relatable, frequently annoying, and eminently easy to identify with if you are twelve-year-old weirdo who would way rather be fighting evil armies than getting gay-bashed in sixth period. Out of all the books that kept me going during the brutal misery of elementary and middle school, The Dragonbone Chair is the only one I’ve returned to as an adult, and the only one that takes me back immediately to that sense of breathless wonder that suffused my childhood reading; like Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin, or Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, it’s a book I’ve read so many times, and started reading so young, that its characters feel more like childhood friends of mine than somebody else’s invention.

I lost interest in epic fantasy before Williams finished publishing the Memory, Sorry, and Thorn books; whatever muscle drove me through series after thousand-page-series of dragons and magic and princesses atrophied, and I took to carrying Derrida around instead (I know). Dragons were not cool, even for someone whose new project of being cool was rooted in not caring whether people thought I was cool, but I had also outgrown them. I’ve never gone back to reading high fantasy, though I do love me some vampires and goth fairies. And yet I just about lost my mind with excitement when I learned that Williams was publishing a follow-up series to Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, starting this year with The Witchwood Crown. I WANT TO SEE ALL MY OLD FRIENDS! I thought. HOW IS BINABIK DOING! IS QANTAQA STILL A VERY GOOD WOLF! WHAT HAS THAT RASCAL DUKE ISGRIMNUR BEEN UP TO! LET ME GUESS: THE NORNS AREN’T ACTUALLY ALL THAT DEFEATED!

And lo: I was not disappointed. The Witchwood Crown reads like a high-school reunion that I actually wanted to attend. Everyone you know and love has shown up and is catching up over the snacks table! (Except for Qantaqa, alas; Binabik rides one of her descendants, who is charming but nowhere near so memorable.) The Norns are still really, really bad! This time they’re so bad even some of the Norns think the Norns are bad! They still want to eradicate the human race! There are persons with dubious motivations, persons who are Not What They Seem, several quests, enchanted objects of great import, more dragons, palace intrigue, armies running around, a super-evil Norn Queen with a very cool outfit and palace situation, and Williams’ trademark orchestra pit’s worth of characters and peoples and plotlines and motivations and good jokes and terrifying setpieces for villainy. I read the whole thing in three days (I have a long commute). I inhaled it. I want the next one! Are you reading this, Tad Williams? WRITE FASTER! SEND ME THE GALLEY!

Reviewing The Witchwood Crown feels a little silly, to be honest. If you like this kind of stuff, you’re going to love it. If you liked The Dragonbone Chair, you’re going to love it. The main little boy this time around is Simon and his wife Miriamele’s grandson, Morgan, who’s significantly more insufferable a central character than Simon was, but is thankfully offset by any number of memorable and wonderful and funny and devious characters. There is, as previously, a minimum of sexual assault (bless you, Tad Williams) and an abundance of smart, interesting, complicated, and well-developed women. The characters based on indigenous peoples and non-Western nationalities are not racist clichés. Nobody gets raped in order to become a Strong Female Character. I am sure there are a great many obsessive fans who will put a lot of time into ferreting out minute inconsistencies and detailing them on Geocities-era websites—they’re those sorts of books—but I cannot imagine The Witchwood Crown’s reviews will otherwise be anything less than glowing.

But what got me the most about this new one, the thing that felt the best, was not the book’s considerable literary merits but its power to muffle the outside world for the time it took me to read it. The real world, right now, is a place that is rapidly approaching insupportable. While I wrote this review, police officers pulled disabled people out of their fucking wheelchairs as they protested the decimation of the Affordable Care Act outside Mitch McConnell’s office; Seattle police shot Charleena Lyles, a black woman who called 911 to report an intruder, in front of her children; the police officer who murdered Philando Castile was acquitted; Muslim teenager and activist Nabra Hassanen was beaten to death for wearing a hijab; protestors in London organized a “day of rage” march in the wake of the deaths of potentially hundreds of poor, working-class, and immigrant people in a fire in the Grenfell Tower apartment block; that was just the last three days.

It’s a hard time to be alive and a hard time to be fighting in solidarity with other vulnerable and marginalized people facing down a regime that is actively trying to kill us, to strip us wholesale of our rights and bodily autonomy and access to healthcare and wealth and security and basic safety and housing and, and, and. The villains of The Witchwood Crown aren’t morally bankrupt plutocrats backed by a massive propaganda machine plundering a country to top off their over-stuffed pockets. They’re evil. They follow the rules of evil in fantasy novels. They’re not taking away anybody’s insurance, they just need a magic crown and the end of the human race. You know the logic of Williams’ world, its mechanics, who is a jerk, who is lovable, who is doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, and who will probably turn out tolerable after a good long story arc. The pleasure of a book like this is for me a nostalgic one, a return to that immutable alternate world I inhabited as a child, a world totally removed from the concerns of the actual world I lived in. I looked in books for something like an isolation tank, a story vivid and complete enough to eclipse the cruelty and heartbreak of elementary school, to transport me fully to a place where I, too, had room to become a warrior. A book that gives you a space to rest for a minute feels, these days, like a gift. For a few hours I forgot what it feels like to be human right now; it’s the breath that makes the fight possible. Find it where you can. If you need dragons to get there, you could do a lot worse than these.

The Witchwood Crown is available June 27th from DAW.
Read an excerpt from the novel and get a closer look at Michael Whelan’s cover art here on Tor.com.

Sarah McCarry is the author of three novels: All Our Pretty Songs, a Tiptree Award honoree; the Norton award-nominated Dirty Wings; and the Lambda award-nominated About A Girl.

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26 June 2017 06:10 pm
[syndicated profile] laurel_lj_friends_feed

Posted by jgp1968

Scottish singer Susan Boyle is reportedly being bullied by a gang of up to 15 teenagers, mostly boys, in her hometown.

They set paper on fire and threw it at her, pelted a bus she was riding in with rocks and have screamed at her, calling her an "ugly old bitch".

Boyle revealed that she has Asperger's, a form of autism, in 2013 and has spoken of being bullied as a child for being different.

Her spokesperson said they are engaging the police to ensure her safety.


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26 June 2017 05:54 pm
[syndicated profile] laurel_lj_friends_feed

Posted by tordotcom



Harry Potter 20 years J.K. Rowling Joanne Rowling Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Edinburgh International Book Festival

Back in 1997, a little-known writer named Joanne Rowling gave a reading of her new fantasy novel—something about boy wizards and philosophers’ stones—at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Of course, twenty years later, we know that those children were among the lucky few to first hear the story of Harry Potter… and their parents got a phenomenal deal on tickets.

Thanks to the Edinburgh International Book Festival for sharing this cute bit of history for the 20th anniversary of the publication of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone!


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