Bone Swans, by C.S.E. Cooney (review)

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C. S. E. Cooney’s Bone Swans collects four previously published short stories and one purpose-built novella. The book won the World Fantasy Award in 2016. Every story demonstrates solid craftsmanship, and I do not like any of them. In part this is my fault, and yet I don’t believe a mere mismatch is wholly to blame.

Read full article here.

The Worst Witch (2017 tv series) (review)

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In the (ongoing) 2017 CBBC series The Worst Witch, Mildred Hubble is the only girl at the prestigious Cackle’s Academy who hails from a non-witching family. She squeaked in to the school, and due to her unusual background she struggles to catch up with classmates whose lives have been inundated with magic since their births. Mildred is sweet and far from stupid, but she’s also a tiny disaster-magnet who stumbles from one catastrophe to the next. Her best friends, Maud Spellbody and Enid Nightshade, help see her through, while causing a few problems of their own. Mildred adores Cackle’s and the general camaraderie of the girls, which even her on-going feud with a classmate, the insecure and thus obnoxious Ethel Hallow, can’t spoil for her. The members of the teaching staff have their own dramas, and all the characters get caught up in the seemingly perpetual struggle to defend the school against forces that would repossess it, outright destroy it, or subject it to a much-needed magical Ofsted inspection.

Read full review here.

 

Ronja, The Robber’s Daughter (review)

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Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter is an anime series based on the book of the same title by Astrid Lindgren, the beloved Swedish children’s author most famous for her Pippi Longstocking books. The title character grows up in a remote fort deep in the forest, the darling of her father Mattis’s band of robbers. The forest contains a variety of fantastical creatures, animals, and significant environmental threats, but the greatest, most plot-shaping dangers arise from people: Mattis’s feud with another robber chieftain and both clans’ long war with the forces of law and order. After initially distrusting Birk Borkason, the opposing clan leader’s son and heir, Ronja befriends and becomes very close to him. The two children vow to treat one another as brother and sister, and when they choose to uphold that vow over the objections of their families, the children must strike out on their own and survive in the woods as best they can.

Read the full article here.

Paddington 2 (review)

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One night at after-work drinks, a developer on my girlfriend’s team announced without any irony that “Paddington 2 is sick.” “It’s like, really political,” he continued approvingly, his East London accent coming on especially strong a few beers in. Indeed, Paddington 2 is both sick and thoroughly political from start to finish. If the first film was “fuck UKIP, the children’s movie,” Paddington 2 maintains an unimpeachable level of craft, reinforces this stance and pushes itself to think and to say yet a little more.

Read full article here.

Nirvana in Fire / Lángyá Bǎng (review)

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In December of 2017, The Wind Blows in Chang Lin, the sequel to Nirvana in Fire, or Lángyá Bǎng, began airing in China. Though it is probable that many readers of this site were completely unaware of the event, it was without exaggeration one of the most anticipated releases in the world. The original Nirvana in Fire had, after all, been an incredible success both as an online serial novel and as a 2015 television series, “surpassing ten million views by its second day, and receiving a total number of daily internet views on iQiyi of over 3.3 billion by the end of the series. Nirvana in Fire was considered a social media phenomenon, generating 3.55 billion posts on Sina Weibo that praised its characters and story-line. As of December 2016, it has a total view of 13 billion views as reported by VLinkage.” [1]

Of course, a Chinese series may have 13 billion “legitimate” views, incredibly well-received Korean and Japanese syndications, and popular fan translations into various languages and yet raise not one whisper in Anglophone media discourse. There the boosterising think pieces sit, chewing the exhausted fat of a mediocre direct-to-Netflix serial with a title not even the pieces’ writers will clearly remember in two years’ time, exalting prestige television that uses its indisputably high production values to tell maybe three discrete, distended soap operatic stories which center middle-class white male subjectivity in played-out Modernist crisis say 80% of the time. We are given to understand that good television began existing a decade ago, exclusively in the US and maybe a little bit in the UK, with special mention of that Nordic crime thing you like, and that the world is even now bounded in the nutshell of the coastal borders of the US. The fact that this is nakedly market-driven, ahistorical nonsense—and frankly racist—is not particularly important to such analyses.

I am reviewing the original Nirvana in Fire now because, quite soon, the fansubs of the sequel will percolate out. They will be very imperfect, but they are all you will get, because there will be no official translations. [2] In order to engage with The Wind Blows in Chang Lin you will probably want to know something about the original Nirvana in Fire, which alas has the same translation issue. And the original is so revelatory that for all this you had better give it a go or I will come to your house and kill you in real life, I swear to god.

Read full article here.

Fiction Publication This Year

Still Out:

Rumpelstiltskin (urban fantasy, m/f erotica)
For who are so free as the sons of the waves? (historical fiction, m/m erotica, urban or high fantasy)
“she would cast him to the Wolf, the Wolf should have him” (historical fiction, m/f erotica, urban fantasy)
The Able and the Virtuous Consorts (historical fiction, f/f erotica)
Well-Fortified (historical fiction, horror, m/m erotica)
Lawful Evil (historical fiction, m/m erotica, urban fantasy)

Needs Resubmitted:

Coming Alongside (historical fiction, m/m erotica, arguably steampunkish)
If the sky holds (urban fantasy)
Senbazuru (m/m erotica)
Bunkmates (post-apocalyptic sf, m/m erotica)
Post-Production (m/m erotica)

Due to Be Published:

Couched in a Curious Bed
(historical fiction, m/genderfluid intersex erotica)
Solo Exhibition (m/f erotica, out March 8)
Rereading (f/f erotica, Owning It, out 28 March)
A Year Without the Taste of Meat (f/f romance, SF, kickstarter soon)

Out:

Bacchae (SF, out October 2017)
Too Frequent A Place (horror, historical fiction, fantasy, m/m erotica, out October 2017)
Dinner Plans (m/m erotica, out October 2017)