CCFinlay

On January 14th, 2015, fantasy author C.C. Finlay announced that he was taking over for Gordon Van Gelder as editor of the long-running Fantasy & Science Fiction. Finlay has previously guest-edited two issues of Fantasy & Science Fiction, a process he describes as “a job audition.” Though he goes on to credit the writers published in those issues as most deserving of the credit for the success of his audition.

As a personal anecdote (that is, worth only the breathe it takes for me to write these words), I submitted stories to both of Finlay’s guest-edited issues, and though neither was accepted, I found the feedback he included in his polite rejections to be smart, concise, and terribly useful for improving the story on further rewrites. As an aspiring writer, I believe the magazine is in very good hands.

Finlay’s first foray as full-time editor of Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine will begin with the March/April issue. “Current editor Gordon Van Gelder has an inventory of stories for the magazine,” Finlay revealed while speaking of the magazine’s transition into his hands. Van Gelder replaced Kristine Kathryn Rusch as editor of Fantasy & Science Fiction in June, 1997. “After the March/April issue,” Finlay continued, “these will be mixed in with the stories that I select. It will probably take a few issues to make the transition, but it won’t be sudden. Readers will still see many of the familiar writers they love. And I expect there to be new voices as well.”

One of Finlay’s first changes is to adopt the online submission system he used for the guest-edited issues for all issues of the magazine going forward, a move that is sure to attract a larger pool of writers. “Electronic submissions are easier for writers,” Finlay said. “They reduce barriers to submitting, so more people from more backgrounds in more parts of the world can send me stories. That means a larger, more diverse pool of stories for me to read in search of great stories. It also means less recycling. So I strongly prefer electronic submissions.”

The March/April issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction is already at printers and will be one bookstore shelves in the coming weeks.

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Becoming Gandalf

“Petite, her silver hair shining, Le Guin shrugged and grinned when Neil Gaiman placed the medal around her neck,” described The New Yorker of Ursula K. Le Guin when she accepted the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters presented by the National Book Awards on November 19, 2014. Le Guin might be petite in stature, perhaps, but her words in acceptance of the achievement were anything but small.

“Hard times are coming,” she said, her voice ringing out over an awed crowd. . “We’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom – poets, visionaries – realists of a larger reality.”

Le Guin is a legendary figure in science fiction and fantasy, author of many classics, such as The Left Hand of Darkness and The Wizard of Earthsea, and a champion for literature’s place in the every changing landscape of modern society — a “realist of a larger reality” is there ever was one. Her acceptance speech rang through the SFF community and beyond, a tolling bell of optimism. Through her ongoing insistence to use fiction as a lens through which we examine ourselves, Le Guin, and writers like her — poets, visionaries, realists of a larger reality — has continued to challenge speculative fiction to be a catalyst for positive change, a limitless medium that can offer hope to a world that obsesses over hopelessness. Read More »

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So, it’s that time again. 2014 is in the rear-view mirror and we’re all puking nostalgia for the year gone by. Below is a list of some of my very favourite things from 2014.

This is very intentionally not a Hugo ballot (because who likes being strapped down by those rules if they don’t have to be), as I wanted some freedom to group things as I feel they should be grouped, and because I want to be able to celebrate stuff that I enjoyed immensely, but isn’t quite right for the Hugo Ballot (*coughFantasyLifecough*). My Hugo nominations will come later, but this should give you a hint of what’s to come.)

So, without further adieu, let’s jump into my favourite things of 2014!

My Favourite Novel

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

Buy City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

Who would have thought that Robert Jackson Bennett, author of quirky horror/urban fantasy mash-up novels, would write the best secondary world fantasy of the year? City of Stairs is an absolute delight from beginning to end. It’s a chain-smoking, edge-of-your-seat, snarl of a novel with a wonderfully grizzled cast. The broken city of Bulikov, decimated when its gods were killed, is one of the most tragic and fascinating examples of “setting as character,” and its an absolute joy to explore its mysteries as Shara and Sigurd (an odd couple that you can’t help but love) unravel its mysteries. To top it off, Bennett wraps things up with a conclusion so satisfying and epic that you can’t hardly believe the novel’s only 450 pages. Other authors only manage to fit half so much into novels twice as long.

Even as I was startled by its twisted depth, I adored every moment I spent with City of Stairs. Colonialism lies at the centre novel’s centre, and RJB handles it with equal parts boldness and delicacy. The ruined beauty of Bulikov and its fallen gods haunted me long after I turned the final page. Read More »

john-rhys-davies

“John Rhys-Davies has been cast as King Eventine Elessedil, one of the most important characters in The Elfstones of Shannara,” announced the official Terry Brooks website, reporting on news posted by The Hollywood Reporter. The Welsh actor is best known for playing Sallah in the Indiana Jones films, and… Gimli the Dwarf in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Yes. Jonathan Rhys-Davies will not only appear in screen adaptations of two of the most successful fantasy IPs of all time, but he will portray a dwarf in one and and elf in the other. What is this sick reality I’ve fallen into?

I’m… not sure what to think of this. I like Rhys-Davies, have since I was a kid and he was bouncing around alternate realities on Sliders, but his M.O. is exactly the opposite of the version of Eventine Elessedil that lives in my head. And, let’s be honest here, going from playing a dwarf to playing an elf is just too difficult for my brain to parse without getting a headache.

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Ever had one of those grey, rainy days where you needed to escape to somewhere magical? Where the rules and pressures of your daily life don’t apply? I’m sure we all have. Veronique Meignaud has discovered how to capture that plane of existence and lay it on paper (or, in pixels, at least.) The French artist, based out of Montreal, might best be known for her work creating artwork for Magic: The Gathering, but her body of work goes well beyond the bounds of Zendikar.

From her incredible use of colour, to her style that manages to straddle that line between esoteric and magical, Meignaud is responsible for some of my favourite pieces of fantasy artwork in recent years. More of her art can be found on her official website, and her Tumblr feed.