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Today’s New Books and ARCs, 4/17/14
by Whatever (jscalziwhatever)
at April 17th, 2014 (08:48 pm)

Some lovely books and ARCs in this stack — and now I want to know which look desirable to you. Share in the comments!

Open Thread: Arrow – The Man Under the Hood
by The Mary Sue (themarysue_rss)
at April 17th, 2014 (08:35 pm)

Well. We’re moving things along, aren’t we?

When last we left Star(ling) City, things were going from bad to worse. How about this week?

  • The Arrow team decide to break into Queen’s applied sciences warehouse. To blow it up. Felicity will never be a robber.
  • Laurel has a nice pinterest board, I mean, evidence wall going on.
  • Hmm, Isabel was romantically involved with Robert Queen. The plot thickens!
  • A cure for mirakuru you say, Ivo?
  • Anyone else get Dark Knight Rises memories reignited when Deathstroke was in the Arrow Lair and they cut out the lights?
  • Thank you, random doctor, for giving Laurel some more evidence by rambling on about your patient for no reason.
  • Thea, I think, wins quote of the night with, “I tried to kiss my half brother.”
  • Slade took skeleton key
  • Star Labs facility in town is where we get our Flash spinoff cameo from Cisco and Caitlin. “Are you getting a weird VIBE off this guy?” I see what you did there, writers.
  • Easter egg: Arthur light.
  • So Barry got a girlfriend while he was in a coma or he was semi-involved with Iris when he was semi-involved with Felicity?
  • Isabel and Robert were about to run away together. The plot really thickens!
  • Quentin has no problem doing a little time for the Arrow and won’t allow Laurel to speak his name.
  • Deathstroke/Slade’s big plan involved Roy hooked up to the biotransfuser, not himself. Duh.
  • Easter egg: Blüdhaven mentioned.
  • Explosives arrows!
  • Diggle shoots Isabel. Oh, hey he’s still on this show.
  • Oliver kills Ivo. Dang.
  • Felicity asks for serum help from Cisco and Caitlin.
  • A sweet, and understanding, Laurel hug.
  • Mirakuru army…Isabel alive because of the mirakuru…THE PLOT SETS! (Also, she’s totally Ravager.)

This was a really fun episode. I know we’re not there quite yet but I can’t imagine what the next season is going to look like. Share your thoughts on the episode in the comments!

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Things We Saw Today: A Giant Cardboard Velociraptor With Googly Eyes
by The Mary Sue (themarysue_rss)
at April 17th, 2014 (09:00 pm)

We get a lot of emails about Kickstarter campaigns around these parts, but this one—”KitRex: the 3D paper velociraptor that you build yourself!“—caught our eye. Fun tip: Having a campaign that involves dinosaurs and googly eyes never hurts. (Thanks to tipster Amy)

  • Canadian singer Christo Graham re-recorded all the songs from Jesus Christ Superstar as if they were sung by Muppets. It’s called Muppet Christ Superstar. Could you ask as much from any other frog? (A.V. Club)
  • An article on The Hollywood Reporter about the theme song for the upcoming Studio Ghibli flick When Marnie Was There, directed by The Secret World of Arrietty‘s Hiromasa Yonebayashi, contains an interesting little tidbit that we didn’t notice before: It’s the first Ghibli film with two female leads.
  • Via Neatorama, Google’s Street View software has gotten really good at reading captchas… you know, those things that are supposed to separate the humans from the computers. I sense Skynet.

The latest Frozen mashup to hit the Internet: Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Check out the rest on Tumblr.

  • Like our own Jill Pantozzi earlier today, Andy Khouri of Comics Alliance addresses the epidemic of men threatening women with rape in the online geek community. Choice quote: “Sexual harassment isn’t an occupational hazard. It’s not a glitch in the complex matrix of modern life. It’s not something that just ‘happens.’ It’s something men do. It’s a choice men make. It’s a problem men enable. It’s sometimes a crime men commit. And it is not in the power nor the responsibility of women to wage war on this crime. It’s on us.”
  • If you’re anything like me, this quote from Karen Gillan about filming Guardians of the Galaxy will give you a chuckle: “…I worked a lot with Lee Pace, because we’re the bad guys, and we went around antagonizing everybody.” A) Fun mental image, and B) Proof that Lee Pace is still in Guardians of the Galaxy, even though we’ve gotten nary a glimpse of his wonderful eyebrows in any of the teasers. It wasn’t just a collective dream! (io9)

io9 has a bunch of Maleficent promo pics, and if I have to lay eyes on the nightmare fuel above then so do you.

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The Mary Sue Exclusive Preview: Betty & Veronica #270!
by The Mary Sue (themarysue_rss)
at April 17th, 2014 (07:28 pm)

Enable JavaScript to check out our fancy slideshow.

  1. 1.Cover Cover
  2. 2.Variant Cover Variant Cover
  3. 3.Page 1 Page 1
  4. 4.Page 2 Page 2
  5. 5.Page 3 Page 3
  6. 6.Page 9 Page 9
  7. 7.Page 10 Page 10

Betty & Veronica #270 hearkens back to the good old days when you got four stories in one issue with… four stories in one issue!

[View All on One Page]

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Bob’s Burgers Wendy and Lizzie Molyneux Tapped to Write Comic Book Movie Adaptation
by The Mary Sue (themarysue_rss)
at April 17th, 2014 (06:48 pm)

Well don’t look too excited, guys.

The Hollywood Reporter has announced that Wendy and Lizzie Molyneux have been tapped to write the script to a Hot Stuff movie.

Hot Stuff is based on the classic comic character Hot Stuff the Little Devil published by Harvey Comics starting in 1957. He was part of Harvey’s lineup that included Casper the Friendly Ghost and Wendy the Good Little Witch. (Harvey was also behind Richie Rich.)

DWA acquired him in 2011 when it bought Classic Media, the modern-day owner of the Harvey properties.

Following the pattern of Harvey Comics stories, Hot Stuff was a young devil who loves to cause trouble, but also enjoys annoying other devils by performing good deeds. There are no plot details at the moment, but THR’s sources say the project will be a CGI/Live Action hybrid a la The Smurfs, a first for Dreamworks Pictures.

Bob’s Burgers is a great show in general, but it would be doing the program a disservice to not mention how fantastic and unique its core female characters are in sitcom television, particularly Tina Belcher (who is not old enough to have earned a spot on our list of Characters Genderswapped in Production, but totally deserves one). It’s great that the Molyneux sisters are getting recognition for the success of the show.

Hot Stuff the Little Devil might not be a comics property that folks are screaming for, exactly, but if it’s got the folks behind Bob’s Burgers behind it, I’m interested in seeing how things pan out.

(via The Hollywood Reporter.)

Hungarian Cover of The Human Division
by Whatever (jscalziwhatever)
at April 17th, 2014 (06:26 pm)

Keeping once again in the basic template established for the OMW books by the publisher. I am assuming that these two gentlemen are Harry Wilson and Hart Schmidt. In which case, they’re kinda more dreamy than I imagined them. Which is fine!

Sorry To Burst Your Masturbatory Comic Bubble (No, I’m Not)
by The Mary Sue (themarysue_rss)
at April 17th, 2014 (06:00 pm)

[Editor's Note: This piece was originally published on Jill's tumblr, The Bird and the Bat. Trigger warning for language about sexual threats.]

I have a theory on why a small segment of men who read comics send rape threats to women who write about comics. To put it simply, they think we’re destroying their masturbatory fantasies (literal or otherwise).

You may laugh but it’s quite possibly the source of all the hatemongering. They’re under the impression comics are for men. Men only. And the characters therein, specifically the female characters, are there for them to ogle. The mere thought of that being taken away from them is frightening (even though, you know, porn and porn comics!). So frightening they will do anything to stop it. And they think silencing women with threats is the answer. 

Can’t blame them for that thinking completely. After all, comics have been marketed at men 18-34 for a long time. But, and this is always what gets me, if you want your precious comic books to exist in 20 years, you need other demographics to read them.

The first time I was called a “cunt” online (Oh, boy! I must have missed the day in my college journalism courses where they went over that part of the job!), was when I wrote an op/ed titled, “Aquaman Needs a New Costume” for Newsarama back in 2010 (at least this is the first time I remember). I had written for Comic Book Resources previously but before then, had only written convention coverage or interviews. Here I was, writing my previously Heartless Doll-hosted comic book column “Hey, That’s My Cape!, a woman, giving an opinion on a comic book character’s costume (a male character at that), and I was harassed for it.

It was incomprehensible to me at the time, having only really been on the receiving end of the warm and fuzzy part of the comics community before then, that someone would have such vitriol over a comic book. Of course, it wouldn’t be the last time I gave my opinion online and therefore, was just the first in a long line of misogynist hate directed toward me (I have a “shithead” folder in my email as well as one on my desktop filled with screenshots of the offenders. This is, sadly, necessary for legal reasons.).

We could call them assholes. They are. But so is the driver who decides they need to get in front of me in rush hour traffic. These people are worse and they shouldn’t be excused with a wave of the hand.

When these issues are brought up, there are always responses to the effect of, “I haven’t seen it so it doesn’t exist.” My guess is, they have seen it. They either ignore it, or it’s such a part of the way they were brought up it doesn’t even register. [Edited to add: You also might not see it because community managers delete them before you get a chance. We do that frequently on this website.] But for a larger portion of people seeing others bring up issues of misogyny in the comics community, it’s a no-brainer. “This is bad.” “This needs to stop.”

Janelle Asselin, a good friend and colleague of mine (and former TMS weekend editor), spurred this recent round of discussion thanks to a critique she wrote on CBR of a new Teen Titans comic book cover. Because one of her critiques happened to include the size and shape of a teenage character’s breasts, she received all manner of harassment, including rape threats sent via a survey she was conducting on…wait for it…sexual harassment in the comic community.

What Janelle experienced (some more details in her own words here), was not new. Let me repeat. Was. Not. New. It’s happened for years, to countless individuals. Not just in comics, obviously, but every industry.

I’m happy to see folks like Dan Slott, Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, and more – probably big names to the disgusting offenders – publicly decrying the behavior as abhorrent and unacceptable. Fellow journalist (and dude) Andy Khouri just added to the growing pile with a piece on Comics Alliance, “Fake Geek Guys: A Message About Sexual Harassment.”

But a part of me is also sad. Why? One, because this has been going on for far too long (This is just the latest outcry. Remember when Mark Millar got involved after hearing about a notoriously vile troll who went after myselfdcwomenkickingass and others? That’s just one of many.) and because these men’s voices seem to carry louder in the community than the women who’ve been experiencing it first hand and speaking out about it for years. And two, because I’m not sure it will have any effect whatsoever on the offenders. That minuscule segment of the community is set in its ways. Comics are for them. Don’t let anyone else in. This set of Double D’s are for me. Period.

It’s also important to remember there are numerous women without someone famous speaking on their behalf. I know women who have quit doing what they love because of the threats they’ve received and how scared they’d been made to live as a result. It’s unacceptable. So what do we do?

Rachel Edidin had some good thoughts in her recent Tumblr post but bottom line? Shun them. Seriously. Shun them. Do not accept them in our community. You may say, “I’ve never seen someone make a rape threat online,” but can you say the same about a rape joke, or a man telling a women she’s being “too emotional” or “she needs to get laid?” My guess is no. And guess what? That’s where it starts. Making someones’ gender an attack point.

You see it. You know you do. Next time, say something.

(top pic via Wonder Woman #19, Cliff Chiang art)

Others Talking About This

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Maleficent And Her Cheekbones Get Their Own Funko Figurine
by The Mary Sue (themarysue_rss)
at April 17th, 2014 (06:20 pm)

Angelina Jolie‘s prosthetic cheekbones don’t really translate all that well to Funko’s round-faced aesthetic, but I’ll give them a pass because this is a really cool figure. See Evil Cheekbones in action in a new Maleficent featurette behind the jump, where you’re also find a Princess Aurora Funko.

(via: Collider)

Previously in Maleficent Stuff

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June 9th 1959: Previously unseen pictures of Carole King
by Retronaut (be_a_retronaut)
at April 17th, 2014 (05:30 pm)

“Carole King at a recording session at RCA Studio B in New York City that have never been seen before.  Carole was 17 in these photos.  She was there to record the songs “Short-Mort” and “Queen of the Beach” both Goffin-King compositions.  The guitar player on the session was Jerry Landis aka Paul Simon – that’s Paul on guitar in the checked shirt.  Also present at the session was Gerry Goffin among others.”

- Alison Smith

Previously unseen pictures of Carole King Previously unseen pictures of Carole King Previously unseen pictures of Carole King Previously unseen pictures of Carole King Previously unseen pictures of Carole King Previously unseen pictures of Carole King Previously unseen pictures of Carole King Previously unseen pictures of Carole King Previously unseen pictures of Carole King Previously unseen pictures of Carole King

Courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment Archive

In the Shriveled, Dry Nothing of It
by Live with Flair (live_with_flair)
at April 17th, 2014 (10:14 am)

Do you remember the Glorious Homemade Trellis my husband made for me for Mother's Day last year? I love this trellis!

I loved that we picked out peachy-pink colored climbing rose bushes that I just know will one day cover the whole side of the house. We pruned, and three months later, we had beautiful climbing roses (but no blooms yet).

Then, crisp autumn winds and a seventh month winter shriveled the bushes down to nothing. They seriously seemed beyond hope.

Today, I check and find the very first sign of spring growth. How does this even happen in the face of shriveled, dry nothing?

I'm so excited! Keep growing, little rose bush! Grow strong and mighty up the trellis!

I'll keep you posted.

The Four Levels of Discrimination (and You) (and Me, Too)
by Whatever (jscalziwhatever)
at April 17th, 2014 (04:21 pm)

I’ve been talking about sexism recentlymy own and others — and I have to say I’ve found it increasingly exasperating to see the massively defensive response of “not all men are sexist” that inevitably follows. One, because it’s wrong (more on that in a bit), and two, because the more I see it, the more it’s obvious that it’s a derail, as in, “Holy shit any discussion of sexism makes me uncomfortable so I want to make it clear I am not sexist so I’ll just demand recognition that not all men are sexist so I can be lumped in with those men who are not sexist and I can be okay with myself.”

(I also note a fair correlation between the men who demand acknowledgment that men are not all sexist and the men who show some general hostility either to women or to the idea that they are being actively sexist through their own words or actions. But then, I don’t really find this correlation all that surprising.)

The silver lining to this exasperation is that it’s been making me think about sexism, and the more general concept of discrimination, more carefully. At the crux of the “Not all… ” formulation, it appears, is the (honest or otherwise) assertion that in order to participate in discrimination, one has to actively and with malice aforethought choose to discriminate — in order to be sexist, one has to be a sexist, in other words (or to be racist, one has to be a racist; in order to be homophobic, one has to be a homophobe, etc).

And, well. No. In fact, you don’t actively have to go out of your way to discriminate in order to participate in discrimination — that’s kind of the point. Some of that is already built into the system that everyone is part of. You get it, positively and/or negatively, no matter what; everyone does. You may then also decide to support discrimination in one way or another, and that’s the thing that changes you from being (for example) sexist to being a sexist. But to deny that baseline discrimination we all deal with because you’re not by your own lights actively trying to promote that discrimination is silly. It’s there, it’s real and it’s measurable, and you take part in it, one way or another.

But where does the line get drawn between being [x]ist and being an [x]ist, as it were? Let me posit what I think are four (very) general states of discrimination, as a way to suss out my own thoughts on the matter.

(And here is where I add the following disclaimers: One, these are my own thoughts, not rigorous research. Two, people who routinely and rigorously study discrimination may find this delightfully naive. Three, I acknowledge that the following framework is both very general, simplified and “chunky,” as in, reality is a great deal more subtle than four easy-to-conceptualize levels. Four, this is a work in progress. Got it? Okay, then:)

So, here are four basic levels of discrimination as I see them, each building on from the other, each with generally increasing negative effect on those discriminated against:

Level One: Ambient – This is the discrimination that is given to you, by society in general, by the particular groups you participate with in our general society, and by immediate influences (i.e., family, friends, teachers and authority figures). Your own ambient mix of discriminatory things will vary due to all of the above, as you drill down from the general to the specifics of your own life. But that doesn’t mean you avoid discrimination (or its effects); it merely dials in what particular discriminatory things you are more strongly influenced by. Everyone is influenced by the ambient discrimination, which is why, in fact, everyone is sexist, racist, classist, etc — we all got given this stuff early, often and before we could think about it critically. This is the baggage we deal with.

Level Two: Advantageous – This is the level where you realize that sometimes discrimination works for you, and you take advantage of it… or at least, are willing uncritically to accept the benefits of it. You may or may not wish to acknowledge that you have these certain advantages, and when you do acknowledge it, you may or may not try to assert that those advantages don’t apply to you specifically, i.e., that you didn’t get an automatic benefit due to discrimination and instead what benefit you’ve accrued is due to something intentional about you (“No one ever gave me anything! I worked for it all!”). But your recognition and acceptance of this advantageous discrimination is neither here nor there about a) whether it works for you, b) whether by participating in it, you’re helping to reinforce that discrimination.

Level Three: Argumentative – This is the level where you take on board the idea that discrimination is desirable in some way (usually in a way that benefits you directly, or benefits a group you belong to, so you accrue general and indirect benefits), and as a result you argue for and/or defend discrimination. This can take on a number of forms, from the relatively benign (the “not all…” argument) to the not at all benign (arguing that being a slave in the US was not so bad, or that women aren’t mentally composed to do math or physics or computer programming, or that Muslims are naturally inclined toward violence, as examples), and the use of rhetorical process to drive a discussion of discrimination either away from recognition of discrimination, or toward a different topic in order to control and contain the discussion.

Level Four: Antagonistic – The level where you choose to actively set yourself against others due to their differences from you, by (as examples and not limited to) acting to obtain or calling for limits to their freedoms (or to maintain current, actively discriminatory practices), actively minimizing their participation in society, either in general or in a specific subset, threatening them by word or by action and/or encouraging others to do the same.

So: I am sexist in that I have a raft of general assumptions and expectations about women and men that I got just from living in the world that I do; some things seem “girly” and “womanly” to me while some other things seem “boyish” and “manly.” But I am willing to argue that I am probably not sexist, because I don’t, for example, believe that men have inherent rights and privileges that women should not, nor do I believe women’s roles are lesser or subservient to men’s, nor do I, say, threaten them with rape or violence when they say or do something I dislike.

But of course that’s an easy formulation, isn’t it. We don’t really do or say anything useful if we only acknowledge the most extreme examples of discrimination as evidence that someone is a bigot in one way or another. This is part and parcel of the “not all…” assertion — one, that the ambient discrimination in the world doesn’t count when considering someone’s discriminatory assumptions and behavior, and two, that somewhere along the way, there’s a big, bright line at which one can say “hey, now you’re being a sexist/racist/homophobe/whatever.”

And, you know, I don’t think it works that way. Ambient discrimination makes us discriminatory. We all do it; we’re all that way because that’s what we get all around us. What makes of us not a sexist, or a racist, or a homophobe, or whatever, is what we choose to do when we recognize our discriminatory behaviors or attitudes (or have them pointed out by others). If you work to minimize them going forward, in yourself and in your larger world, then you’re probably not a sexist/racist/homophobe/whatever. If you sort of shrug, and go, yeah, well, that’s life, then, yes. You’re totally a sexist/racist/homophobe/whatever. You don’t have to wait to claim that title, or have it justifiably applied to you.

(And yes, before the angry straight white male brigade descends, this applies to everyone, not just straight white men. If you’re not aware of it already, please bone up on the concept of intersectionality. But let’s also not pretend that straight white dudes aren’t first among equals when it comes to these issues, please. You all know my thoughts on my own social group by now.)

So. Am I, John Scalzi, sexist, and racist, and other forms of discriminatory? Yup. That stuff got built in, mostly when I was young and/or wasn’t paying attention. It happened to you, too. Sorry. But I also try to work against being a sexist, and a racist and other such things, by seeing those things in myself and working to correct them, and to correct them outside of myself as well. Am I work in progress? Yes. I’m not perfect at it, either. I show my ass from time to time. But I’m happy to keep on progressing. It’s a lifetime effort.

What I hope is that because of that effort, the ambient discrimination that people will get born into and participate in will suck less in the future than it does now. That’s what I can do, and what you can do, too.

Winter Is Here: The Game of Thrones Version Of Frozen’s “Let It Go” [VIDEO]
by The Mary Sue (themarysue_rss)
at April 17th, 2014 (05:12 pm)

Disney’s Frozen is slowly working its way through the rest of pop-culture, much like a winter’s frost. In this latest parody, Ice and Fire (aka Jon and Daenerys) join in to sing out loud about their Westeros woes. But wait! There’s more! Click ahead to watch another Game of Thrones fan-created music video featuring hits from Katy Perry, Imagine Dragons, and more.

The full list:

Titanium – David Guetta feat. Sia (House Targaryen)
Roar – Katy Perry (House Lannister)
The Monster – Eminem (House Stark)
Demons – Imagine Dragons (All)

And yes, that’s Katie Wilson as Daenerys in both videos.

Previously in Frozen

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Steven Salmon on writing with cerebral palsy
by Nathan Bransford, Author (nbransford)
at April 17th, 2014 (04:00 pm)

At the Wisconsin Writer's Institute a few weeks back I had the pleasure of meeting Steven Salmon, a blog reader with Cerebral Palsy who has published three books, an impressive output not least of which because he writes using morse code.

He agreed to an interview and here are the responses:

NB: What made you decide to start writing?

SS: I became a writer to show people that a severe physically disabled person can be and are productive valuable members of society if given a chance to succeed. All of my life, I was told "you can't" by disabled advocates. When I graduated from high school with honors, the government labeled me as "unemployable." The government didn't believe that I could work and wouldn't help me go to college. For two years after I graduated from high school I stayed at home doing nothing watching TV and reading sports autobiographies. Living in isolation made me angry. Boredom ate at my heart.  My dream was to attend college. I even contemplated committing suicide. But my mother put me through school herself. I vowed to be the best college student once I enrolled in college.  My strong determination made me want to prove the government wrong. I used my anger to become a productive person: a writer and eventually an author.

NB: What's your writing process like?

SS: I use Morse code to write along with a word prediction program called CoWriter. Morse code allows me to use a mouse. I swing my head back and forth between two buddy buttons attached to a portable metal stand on my wheelchair. I spell out each word one letter at time. CoWriter predicts words that I start to spell allowing me to choose a word that I want from a number list. CoWriter automatically leaves a space to start the next word. When I enter a sentence into a word document or an email, CoWriter automatically leaves two spaces to begin a new sentence. I used to use voice recognition to write, but it didn't work for me anymore because voice recognition started using words instead of using sounds for letters that I was using. A couple of years ago, I started using Morse code to write. Morse code is more accurate than voice recognition for me. I can edit my writing now. 

NB: I was amazed to learn that you write using morse code. Does this process mean you plan your scenes ahead or do you still have room to improvise?

SS: Morse code and CoWriter are just tools giving me the ability to write fast.  When I write, I have a scene in my head.  Usually I write very detailed scenes without outlines or notes. I want a good "working" first draft.  Something that I can build on for a second draft. I want to be able to give it a friend or my literary agent who will edit it.  Then like all writers, I will rewrite the manuscript and edit it again. I write all day every day. Morse code and CoWriter allow me to write late at night. That is important I have care attendants to manage, a manuscript to rewrite for my agent, publicity to do and postings to write for my blog. I love writing at night with a baseball or a basketball game on TV.  I'm all alone writing with my black cat at my side. 

NB: Is there an advantage to thinking about every letter as you go?

SS: There is no real advantage to spelling out one letter at a time. Morse code and CoWriter are just tools allowing me to write like a paintbrush for a painter. It's up to me, the writer to make the words come to life for the reader. There is nothing like knowing that a manuscript is coming together like watching a house going up. A writer is a creator and seeing your writing come together is something to be proud about. At the end of the day the writer has satisfaction seeing the writing in their mind like a carpenter admiring a hard day of work as the sun sets. Only the writer can see it! 

NB: Who is your writing hero?

Larry Watson is my favorite author. He wrote White Crosses, Justice, Orchard and Montana 1948. He taught writing at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point when I was a student there. Larry is my mentor and helped me get my first novel going. He doesn't talk much. But I was one of the few students that he opened up to. It was a privilege to have Larry teach me. We are friends now and email each other. 

NB: Any advice for aspiring writers out there?

SS: My advice to writers is writing is hard work! Writing a day or two a week is not writing. Larry told a writing class once if you want write to get rich writing get out now. If you want to learn how to write to write stay. In my opinion a real writer needs to be passionate about their writing and believe in their writing. There are very few rewards to being a writer. You don't get paid. A writer needs people to confide to sharing the highs and the lows of writing. My college classmates are my confidants. Writers need to have confidants to lean on when nothing seems to be going right or they are pursuing a literary agent. A year ago, I was in a pursuit of an agent trying to impress her by doing several rewrites. I grew frustrated with her, but college classmates kept me focus. They gave me strength when I needed the most. But I got the agent thanks to my classmates. They are my inspiration. 

I'm living a writer's dream. But it's a lot of hard work and long hours just writing. Not many writers are willing to make that kind of sacrifice.  But if a writer wants an agent the writer has to work!  If I have a literary agent, then other writers can to by working each day.  

Not bad for "unemployable" person according to the system. 

Thanks to Steven for participating! Check out his books here.

Interview: Mark Buckingham On Dead Boy Detectives and the End of Fables
by The Mary Sue (themarysue_rss)
at April 17th, 2014 (04:30 pm)

Last November DC announced that its Vertigo title Fables is coming to an end next year with issue #150. The epic saga began over a decade ago in 2002, and it, along with various spin-off titles, has become a major hit, attracting many fans who weren’t comic book readers before. Mark Buckhingham has been one of the book’s biggest artists throughout its run. At Emerald City Comicon 2014, we talked to him about the series’ end. We also discussed his work on the new series Dead Boy Detectives featuring Edwin Paine and Charles Roland, two ghosts originally introduced in Neil Gaiman‘s Sandman series in 1991.

Alan Kistler (TMS): We’ve got a year until the end of Fables. Looking back, has this journey met what you wanted to accomplish?

Mark Buckhingham: Oh, yes. It’s sad to end things. But mostly, it’s been an absolute delight. The only doubt I think we had in the early days was whether or not the audience was there for us and would stay long enough for us to tell our story. We also had a planned ending and we did talk several times about it, but it was always a year off or so. There was always another next big story that could fit in before the end point. We’ve had an embarrassment of riches that the fans were willing to stick with us and watch this epic unfold.

We started with a core cast but became a multi-generational story. We’ve seen glimpses of second and third generation characters and things to come. That’s been extraordinary. The fact that we’re working in our own universe and are largely left alone has definitely worked to our favor. And we’ve been able to exploit and explore that universe through other titles. So we don’t ever feel like we’ve let a character disappear. If Cinderella isn’t in Fables, that’s because she’s on a mission in her own book.

TMS: Cinderella’s definitely my favorite of the tie-ins. It’s hard to imagine now what it would have been like without the spin-off books, when the cast of the core title kept growing and growing each year. Was that design or necessity?

Buckingham: By about the fifth year of the series, we wound up with something like 300 cast members. And you have to do a juggling act to keep them all on stage. I remember saying to [creator] Bill [Willingham], how are we ever going to get to everyone? We have two or three major plot points in each arc. We’ve been extraordinarily fortunate from the amount of support and investment that DC and Vertigo have placed in us by letting us explore the universe through the other books. They’ve done a lot to help us develop the fanbase and be accessible. That’s been wonderful throughout our run.

TMS: What I’ve really enjoyed about the related titles is that each has its own atmosphere, even though they’re obviously taking place in the same universe. Was that a plan from the start or just how the books naturally evolved with their creative teams?

Buckingham: Those differences were definitely important to have. The personalities of certain characters are so strong that they need their own stories and they almost dictate how their tales will be told. I was so delighted when Bill moved Jack out of the main series because I found him revolting. Then everyone who worked on his book, they gave it such a distinctive flavor that it became its own universe and they filled it with new characters. Every time we try to open a window to give ourselves more breathing space, we find a huge cavern full of stuff. It’s been an amazing trip to follow these different paths. So it’s part planning, part surprise.

TMS: Have there been any surprises or unexpected challenges for you personally along the way?

Buckingham: It’s a good question. Juggling so many characters, like I said, was a task. But there’s not been a lot of difficulty. It’s more that there’s been a lot of artistic delight. The fact that there were so many interesting female characters in the story, that’s something I’ve been craving. I’ve always enjoyed finding these women that have a presence and a strength of will that readers could identify with and enjoy their journey. Cinderella and Rose and Snow White and others. Some of them have qualities that make them difficult to love, like Frau Kinder. But she has a journey you get to enjoy being a part of and you see that she doesn’t like the path that she’s on and what changes.

TMS: It also must help attract a larger readership rather than the typically targeted male audience. Many other comics don’t feature women as prominently or as interestingly as men.

Buckingham: I sometimes think a lot of the male characters wind up being sidekicks to these interesting women of the core cast, and that’s been a wonderful thing. I think that’s why I see so many women readers and why many have used Fables as their entry point into comics. It’s told in a classic storytelling style that’s accessible. You don’t have to know any other comic book stories that came before it. And it deals with things we encounter in our lives, but Bill gives the stories and relationships unique twists to explore in a very exciting and demanding way. It becomes a soap opera type situation the way we really get into the lives of these characters. I’ve loved so much being a part of it.

TMS: Switching gears to Dead Boy Detectives. Edwin Paine and Charles Roland were introduced in the Sandman story “Seasons of Mist.” Since then, they’ve shown up in crossovers, short stories, their own mini-series, and now the new on-going series you’re writing with Toby Litt. They seem ironically named since they never stay gone. What is it about these two ghost children investigators that makes us refuse to let them rest?

Buckingham: Neil just hit it so right with Sandman #25. He just perfectly encapsulated these two boys from different times, they lived and died almost a hundred years apart from each other, but they attended the same school and faced bullies and then found kindred spirits in each other that they wanted to hang onto. And that was powerful enough for them to stand up to Death and not go back. They wanted to stay in this world to explore and to experience a life that was denied them because their physical lives were cut short so soon. I think that really gets to the reader. You feel their pain, you can identify with their sense of loss and their desire to investigate mysteries and to try to grow up while simultaneously remaining these wide-eyed innocent boys who want to explore and discover what the world’s all about.

TMS: How are you and Toby making the current series different from the mini-series and short stories that have been published before?

Buckingham: I’ve enjoyed all their stories that came since they appeared in Sandman #25. We’ve had these glimpses of them along the way and they’ve all been quite different, which sort of goes along with the fact that they’ve all been short stories. We got these capers that were resolved and then we forget the dead boys for a while. But now we get to really explore the boys through an ongoing series. We can explore what makes them tick, and not just what binds them together but where the fracture lines lie for that could make their friendship crumble.

TMS: You’ve also got a new character joining the duo, a tech nerd named Crystal.

Buckingham: Crystal’s part of what exposes the fracture lines and makes the boys examine their relationship. On the one hand, she opens doors for them. She’s allowing them to discover the internet and technology that can assist them in finding out stuff about the cases they’re working but also information about themselves. What happened to their bodies, all that kind of stuff. But at the same time, she’s such a personality in herself and she’s brought chaos into their lives. She’s highlighting their differences and they’re going to think long and hard about the road that they’re on and how they contrast. It’s a wonderful opportunity to push their story into a positive direction. I think people will like it.

Alan Sizzler Kistler (@SizzlerKistler) is an actor and freelance writer. He is the author of Doctor Who: A History.

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Orange is the New Black Has an Orange is the New Trailer
by The Mary Sue (themarysue_rss)
at April 17th, 2014 (04:12 pm)

Ms. Regina Spektor says you’ve got time to watch this trailer. You’ve. Got. TIIIIiiiiiiiiime.

(via Variety.)

Previously in Orange is the New Black

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This Cosplayer Made Herself Into Pacific Rim’s Gipsy Danger, Will Kill All Kaiju For Her Family
by The Mary Sue (themarysue_rss)
at April 17th, 2014 (03:22 pm)

Nona Neon Cosplay, I bow to your greatness. Especially considering you incorporated a vegetable strainer into your Pacific Rim cosplay. 

She writes:

So here, finally, is the finished product after months and months of grueling work. A tribute to the favorite film my eyeballs have ever seen, is Gipsy Danger from Pacific Rim! Starting construction on this was the most ambitious decision i have made. Going into it with absolute ZERO armor building knowledge and juggling school, a job, a boyfriend, and a MegaCon deadline. Needless to say the odds were against me. However, after lots of trial and error Gipsy was finally completed. I am very critical of my work and it’s rare that i say this. But this is one outfit i am very proud of.

Construction Time: 6 months
Constructed of: varying thickness’s of EVA craft foam, recycled household items, vegetable strainer, acrylic visor
Cost: Approx $175

The Kaiju don’t stand a chance.

(via Fashionably Geek)

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Lawsuit Accuses X-Men Director Bryan Singer of Sexual Misconduct With Underage Boy
by The Mary Sue (themarysue_rss)
at April 17th, 2014 (03:04 pm)

The Wrap has obtained copies of federal court documents which reveal a lawsuit accusing Bryan Singer, director of many of the films in the X-Men franchise, Superman Returns, and others, of sexually abusing a seventeen year old boy.

More specifically, the lawsuit alleges:

Defendant, BRYAN JAY SINGER, manipulated his power, wealth, and position in the entertainment industry to sexually abuse and exploit the underage Plaintiff through the use of drugs, alcohol, threats, and inducements which resulted in Plaintiff suffering catastrophic psychological and emotional injuries. Defendant Singer did so as part of a group of adult males similarly positioned in the entertainment industry that maintained and exploited boys in a sordid sex ring.

The suit also alleges the involvement of Marc Collins-Rector, former chairman of Digital Entertainment Network, who plead guilty to eight charges of child enticement in 2004, admitting to luring five minors across state lines for sexual purposes. Collins-Rector is said to have introduced Singer to the plaintiff, Michael Egan, in 1998 (Egan was seventeen). This began, according to the suit, a period during which Egan was coerced, with promises of realizing his career aspirations as an actor and model, threatened with harm to his person and family, and drugged into performing sexual acts on Singer and enduring acts performed on him.

Egan is represented by Jeff Herman, who previously represented five plaintiffs accusing Sesame Street puppeteer Kevin Clash of sexual abuse. Singer’s attourney called the suit “completely without merit… We are very confident that Bryan will be vindicated in this absurd and defamatory lawsuit. It is obvious that this case was filed in an attempt to get publicity at the time when Bryan’ s new movie is about to open in a few weeks.”

Singer himself has not, as yet, made public comment about the accusations.

(pic (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2014. story via The Wrap.)

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A To Z Challenge: Outlaw Star "Come On!"
by David Powers King (davepowersking)
at April 17th, 2014 (08:00 am)

For my first A to Z Challenge ever, I'm highlighting a favorite track from various science fiction and fantasy movies, games, and TV shows. Feel free to press play and listen while you visit other A to Z participants.

Thanks to Cartoon Network back in the late 90's, I found Outlaw Star, a sci fi Anime that, to this day, I have yet to find another that's equally entertaining. The frequent twists and irreverent humor had a profound impact on me, so I had to tune in after school. The score by Kow Otani lived up to the premise of outlaws and pirates in space.

There will be a new track tomorrow. Thank you for stopping by!

I'm David, and "lay off my grappler arms, will ya, buddy?!"

Lunchbox Dad Creates Pop-Culture Meals For His Kids
by The Mary Sue (themarysue_rss)
at April 17th, 2014 (02:16 pm)

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It probably says something about my urge to take care of something other than a cat that I can’t imagine packing any type of lunch for a child, let alone a creative one. Thankfully, Beau Coffron, also known as “Lunchbox Dad,” is happy and willing to do so for his three children. Take a look at just some of the fantastic lunchbox images he’s put together with yummy ingredients which make up Star Wars, Frozen, Dr. Seuss characters and more!

Coffron also includes instructions on how he put each creation together on

(via Laughing Squid)

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The little things matter: how my kid’s school schooled me on reacting to sexual bullying
by The Amazon Iowan (cullinan_heidi)
at April 17th, 2014 (02:08 pm)

I just returned from a meeting with my kid’s school counselor addressing an issue concerning her, and while there are others getting a talking-to right now, I can’t stop thinking about what just happened. I’m humbled, and I’m so incredibly … Continue reading

Aimee Richardson (aka Myrcella Baratheon) Wins At Cast Reactions to Game of Thrones’ Purple Wedding
by The Mary Sue (themarysue_rss)
at April 17th, 2014 (01:30 pm)

Warning: Spoilers for The Lion and the Rose. Spoilers everywhere.

We’ve already seen Maisie Williams‘ reaction to Game of Thrones‘ most recent twist. Now it’s time to hear from Baratheon children Myrcella and Joffrey… or, well, the people who play them. Those are behind the jump, while above you can see the reactions of some of the non-Baratheon cast.

Oh, Jack Gleeson. I’ll miss you.

(via: Vanity Fair, Winter Is Coming)

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Sailing the Stormy Seas
by Women and Words (womenwords)
at April 17th, 2014 (01:00 pm)

As I write this, I’m preparing for an event that I’m participating in. (By the time you read this, it will already have happened.) I was talking about this event in one of the FB groups that I belong to and I mentioned that I was really nervous. Of course, people left encouraging comments and I said that I was going to start chanting: Calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean.

Then someone left this comment: No, ride the waves. Smooth Seas Do Not Make Good Sailors.

"Packet Ship  in a Stormy Sea" by Thomas Birch

“Packet Ship in a Stormy Sea” by Thomas Birch

I found that to be an interesting and profound analogy. And it’s true. By fighting the waves and weathering storms, we learn what works and what doesn’t. Without the tough tests and hurdles we face in life, we wouldn’t grow as people or improve as artists. And, I suppose, we would have nothing to write about.

I’ve had many new experiences over the last few years and as unnerving as some of them have been, I believe that I came out the other side a more well-rounded person. And the things that I’ve done more than once, I have found get easier with each occurrence. I have faced fears that I never thought I would face and done things I never thought I’d do.

So, when you are reading this, I’m hoping that I will be looking back on the experience with fondness. My hope is not only that I will do well at the task I’ve been given, but also that I will have fun doing it. I’m battening down the hatches and facing the storm dead on. With any luck, I will ride it out and drift into calm seas afterward.



Book Announcement: “Zeroes,” to Harper Voyager
by terribleminds: chuck wendig (terribleminds)
at April 17th, 2014 (01:03 pm)


Harper Voyager acquired rights to my novel, Zeroes, in a two-book deal, with publication slated for 2015. What the hell is this book, you ask? Well:

When five hackers — an Anonymous-style rabble rouser, an Arab Spring hactivist, a black-hat hacker, an old-school cipherpunk, and an online troll — are scooped up by the U.S. government and told they face prison sentences or worse, they take the deal that’s offered them: working as white-hat hackers in service to their nation. Forced into an uneasy alliance, threatened by their warring personalities and sabotaged by rival hackers, the five begin to fear for their lives as their orders grow increasingly dark and strange. But it’s only when they discover the truth behind the sinister NSA program that they realize the stakes go well beyond anything they could have imagined . . .

A fast-paced, character-driven thriller with a timely and provocative premise, Zeroes is Michael Crichton meets The X Files shot through with the DNA of Daniel Suarez, Cory Doctorow, and Stephen King.

The second book is as-yet-unnamed.

So: woo! This is exciting stuff. Very geeked for you guys to read this book.


Thanks to my agent, Stacia Decker at DMLA, for brokering the deal. And thanks to Harper for loving the book in the first place! So. Uh. Ahem. Is 2015 here yet?

*checks watch*

*pokes calendar*

More cool news to come soon, I think!

c. 1920s: “Honey Boo Boo”
by Retronaut (be_a_retronaut)
at April 17th, 2014 (12:09 pm)


Flog a Pro: would you turn this bestselling author’s first page?
by Writer Unboxed (writersunboxed)
at April 17th, 2014 (11:00 am)


Trained by reading hundreds of submissions, editors and agents often make their read/not-read decision on the first page. In a customarily formatted book manuscript with chapters starting about 1/3 of the way down the page (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type), there are 16 or 17 lines on the first page.

The challenge: does this narrative compel you to turn the page?

Storytelling Checklist

While it’s not a requirement that all of these 6 storytelling ingredients be on the first page, I think writers have the best chance of hooking a reader if they are. The one vital ingredient not listed is professional-caliber writing, a given for every page.

  • Story questions
  • Tension (in the reader, not just the characters)
  • Voice
  • Clarity
  • Scene-setting
  • Character

Let’s flog the first pages of this bestselling author’s new series novel. Although it will attract readers familiar with the series, it still needs to stand alone on a bookstore table—and an editor’s desk. Please judge by storytelling quality, not by genre—there are folks who reject an opening page immediately because of genre, but that’s not a good enough reason to reject it.

This novel was in first place on the New York Times hardcover bestseller lists for April 12. Let’s see just how strong the opening page is—would this have hooked an agent if it came in from an unpublished writer? Do you think it’s compelling? Following is what would be the first manuscript page (17 lines) of Chapter 1.

“Long live the King.”

At the sound of the deep, grave voice, Wrath, son of Wrath, had an instinct to look around for his father . . . a spark of hope that the death had not occurred and the great ruler was as yet still with them.

But of course, his beloved sire remained gone unto the Fade.

How long would this sad searching last? he wondered. It was such useless folly, especially as the sacred vestments of the vampire King were upon himself, the bejeweled sashes and silken coat and ceremonial daggers adorning his own body. His mind cared naught for such proof of his recent coronation, however . . . or mayhap it was his heart that remained unswayed by all that now defined him.

Dearest Virgin Scribe, without his father, he was so alone, even as he was surrounded by people who served him.

“My lord?”

Composing his visage, he turned around. Standing in the doorway of the royal receiving chambers, his closest adviser was like a column of smoke, long and thin, draped in dark robes.

“My honor to greet you,” the male murmured, bending low. “Are you ready to receive the female?”

Take Our Poll
My vote and editorial notes after the fold.

The-KingDid you recognize J.R. Ward and his newest, The King: A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, the twelfth novel in this series? Interestingly, the bestseller we looked at in last month’s Flog a Pro was also the twelfth in a series. Good for the authors.

My vote: No.

I’ll give the story a pass on the sort of stilted language as that style is part of the series and is often seen in this genre. On storytelling merit, however, it didn’t work for me. What actually happens? The character ruminates (set-up) and he’s asked to receive someone. For this reader, there were no story questions sufficient to raise tension, no stakes apparent for the coming encounter with “the female,” so it was a no-go.

Your thoughts? If this weren’t the 12th novel in a successful series , would you have turned the page?

If you’d like to help beginning novelists with your constructive criticism, join me on Wednesdays and Fridays for floggings at my site, Flogging the Quill.

About Ray Rhamey

Ray Rhamey is the author of five novels and one craft book, Flogging the Quill, Crafting a Novel that Sells. He's also an editor who has recently expanded his creative services to include book cover and interior design. His website,, offers an a la carte menu of creative services for self-publishers and Indie authors. Learn more about Ray's fiction at

1951: USAF Guide to Psychological Warfare
by Retronaut (be_a_retronaut)
at April 17th, 2014 (11:01 am)

Syke Air 1 Syke Air 2 Syke Air 3 Syke Air 4 Syke Air 5 Syke Air 6 Syke Air 7 Syke Air 8

Twentieth Century: Passover
by Retronaut (be_a_retronaut)
at April 17th, 2014 (10:01 am)

“The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) — the world’s largest Jewish humanitarian group — has dug up Passover-related archival photos taken during the course of its work from around the world over the past 100 years.

“The images show diverse Jewish communities in Ukraine, Israel, Iran, Italy and elsewhere celebrating the occasion by eating matzah bread and holding seder dinners.

“This year JDC — which is marking its centennial — is organizing Passover gatherings like these in dozens of countries as part of its mission to support Jewish life around the world.”

- American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee

Passover Passover

Making Matzah at nursery school. Teheran, Iran, 1964

Making Matzah at nursery school. Teheran, Iran, 1964

Children holding up matzo at Seder: "..the first Passover feast for many of the Jewish refugee and French orphans who are cared for by the Federation des Societes Juives en France was  held in the children's canteen where they take all of their meals..." France, 1947

Children holding up matzo at Seder: “..the first Passover feast for many of the Jewish refugee and French orphans who are cared for by the Federation des Societes Juives en France was held in the children’s canteen where they take all of their meals…” France, 1947

Transmigrants receiving Matzo boxes. Italy, 1980s

Transmigrants receiving Matzo boxes. Italy, 1980s



Writing in Public: Month 9, Day 16
by Dean Wesley Smith (deanwesleysmith)
at April 17th, 2014 (09:49 am)

Month 9, Day 15 of this Writing in Public challenge.

Taking a day off from the writing Morning Song: A Seeder’s Universe Novel

All good plans with writing and life tend to go astray. I had hoped to have a big day on the novel today, got nothing done instead. Happens.

Got up at my new normal around 1 p.m. and spent the next four-plus hours dealing with household stuff and doing a little e-mail. Got the new mattress delivered and a new dryer to replace the one that had given up the ghost.

The delivery people left at 6:30 and I headed out to dinner with my friend from Boise. Great dinner and we sat and talked until 10:30 p.m. We’ve known each other over fifty years. Great fun.

Home, by 11 p.m. and did a little homework, then went to the basement to watch some television. 1:30 a.m. back into my office and finished up the homework. So tired, by 2 p.m. I give up tonight and going to go get some sleep.

Picture is of me rescuing my cat, Walter White, from the top of the old mattress I had pulled out and leaned against a wall waiting for the new mattress to come in. Walter somehow got up there and I rescued him. The entire sequence of pictures is on Twitter under Kris’s account.

Walter mattress



Totals For Month 9, Day 16

– Daily Fiction: 00 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 27,975 words

– Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 1,400 words

– Blog Posts: 300 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 8,050 words

– E-mail: 23 e-mails. Approx. 450 new words. E-mails month-to date: 405 e-mails. Approx. 13,500 words

– Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 4 Covers

For projects finished in the first eight months and links to the posts, click on the Writing in Public tab above.

For projects finished this month and where you can read them, click continue reading below.

Stories and Projects Finished This Month So Far

In order of production with the most recent at the top.

— Turned in Smith’s Monthly #8. It will be out in May.

— Finished short story “A Pinch of How Rosie Lived.” It will be in Smith’s Monthly #8. About 4,100 words total.

— Finished the Introduction for Smith’s Monthly #8. About 800 words total.

— Finished the Forward for Fiction River: Past Crime. About 600 words total.

— Finished short story “An Education for Thursday.” It will be in Fiction River: Past Crime later in the year. About 5,200 words total.

— Finished short story “In Case of Emergency.” It will be in Smith’s Monthly #8. About 3,200 words total.


Tanya Huff’s VALOUR’S TRIAL out Now in the UK!
by Zeno Agency Ltd. (zeno_lit_agency)
at April 17th, 2014 (09:00 am)


Tanya Huff‘s fourth Confederation novel, VALOUR’S TRIAL is out today in the UK! The novel is published by Titan Books. This is the first time the series has been published in Britain (with more to come!). Here’s the synopsis…

Unexpectedly pulled from battle, Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr of the Confederation Marines finds herself in an underground POW camp, where her fellow marine prisoners have lost all will to escape. Now, Torin must fight her way not only out of the prison, but also past the growing compulsion to lie down and give up — not realizing that her escape could alter the entire course of the war.

Here’s what critics have said about VALOUR’S TRIAL

‘Huff’s appealing heroine is as fiercely maternal as she is fierce in battle. The denoument is not unexpected, but Huff skillfully accomplishes its exposition while still managing a few surprises.’  –  Publishers Weekly

‘It’s a great read, a powerful surviving scenario made particularly fascinating by the interactions of multiple species working together.’  –  Locus

‘Filled with both action scenes and personal drama, this sf adventure belongs in most libraries.’  –  Library Journal

The preceding novels in Huff’s Confederation series are: VALOUR’S CHOICE, THE BETTER PART OF VALOUR and THE HEART OF VALOUR.


Zeno represents Tanya Huff in the UK and Commonwealth on behalf of the JABberwocky Literary Agency in New York.

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