From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Category Archive for ‘Non-Fiction’ rss


Dance, Magic, Dance

Labyrinth is one of my favorite movies of all time. I’ll admit that even though Genevieve mentions in her column today–I’m not as cynical about it as she is. I love that movie and always will, but I have to admit that 10-year-old me was slightly horrified by David Bowie’s tights. Or rather, what was IN his tights.

This scene and it’s song will go down in history. …As what, I don’t know. To this day I can sing it by heart even though I still don’t know what the hell it means. Perhaps the offending bulge could explain it to us all one day.


No Objectivity: 10 Fantasy Movies That Ruined It for the Rest of Us

There’s an elite class of fantasy movie that presents beautiful and unknown worlds, captivating characters, and compelling stories that touch on what it means to be human.

Unfortunately, you’ll never get people to watch them, because they saw one of the ten fantasy movies that ruined it for the rest of us. If they’ve seen three or more of the movies on this list they’ve probably sworn off fantasy for life, and deep in your heart you know you can’t blame them.

The movies include:
1. Willow (1988)
2. The Lord of the Rings
5. Excalibur (1981)
6. The Craft
8. Labyrinth (1986)

See the full list


Lit News: Andre Norton’s Legacy; Awesome Heroines of Epic Fantasy

  • Grasping for the Wind lists 9 Awesome Heroines of Epic Fantasy — good thing they’re asking for suggestions, because I went “OMFG where is Hari from The Blue Sword and Aerin from The Hero and the Crown and Morgaine from The Mists of Avalon?” But then I also don’t know what counts as “epic.”
  • Terry Pratchett talks about his dementia — bringing a sad but much-needed bit of awareness to the world of mental disorders. He is a great genius. 🙁

And More


Erzebet YellowBoy, author of A Spell for Twelve Brothers

Erzebet YellowBoy was born in Philadelphia, but was moved around quite a bit from state to state by her family. She continued this tradition as an adult until she finally relocated to England in 2006. She now lives in West Yorkshire with her partner and many lively houseplants including an African violet who is slowly taking over the world. All of her time is free. She spends it binding books, editing, writing and creating mixed media assemblages with a focus on the use of bones. She gardens and reads and concocts strange potions in the kitchen when she gets bored with the rest of it.

Tell me a little about “A Spell for Twelve Brothers.” What was the first image or phrase or impetus that made you sit down and spin it out?

It was really the birds in the tale of The Six Swans that inspired this story, but as I have a fondness for corvids I chose to turn the princes into ravens. While I don’t necessarily believe in it, I am often compelled to write stories about redemption, and this (for me) falls into that category.

If you don’t necessarily believe in redemption, does that mean your characters don’t usually find it?

Most of them do, but they are just as likely to achieve it by means of their own strengths as they are through some external force. In “At the Core,” the main character finds a sort of redemption in her dead grandmother’s letters, while “Following Double-Face Woman” is a tale in which there is no redemption to be had.


Don’t Blink: Tales From the Far Side

Almost everyone has seen a Gary Larson Far Side cartoon in a newspaper or on a T-shirt, mug, calendar, or greeting card. But if you weren’t watching CBS on the night of October 26, 1994, you missed Tales From the Far Side, an award-winning animated short film that you’ve probably never heard of. Yes, that’s right: the Far Side was animated. Twice. And it’s brilliant.

The first short film premiered as a Halloween special in 1994, where couch potatoes and animation buffs like me saw it and were never able to forget it. The program was never broadcast on television again, but it did make the rounds at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, where it took the Grand Prix. Three years later, a sequel (aptly titled Tales From the Far Side II) never even made it to television.

Both short films are comprised of a series of vignettes in the visual style of the print comics, with a haunting musical accompaniment by jazz guitarist Bill Frisell (who has featured some of the scores from the soundtrack on his disc Quartet). The tone ranges from the slapstick to the macabre, humorous to depressing, and even has some live action cow action thrown in there.

The only way to purchase the show is through a website in the U.S. at For a long time the shows were only available separately as overpriced VHS tapes, but now they finally have both on one overpriced DVD–and it’s worth every penny. The version of Tales From the Far Side on this commercial disc is actually a “director’s cut” which features some alternate dialogue, extended and additional vignettes, and an alternate ending. Unfortunately, the untooled broadcast version is superior both in pacing and execution, particularly in the final punchline. Check it out at Fantasy.


Jeannette Westwood, author of “The Banyan Tree”

Jeannette Westwood was born in Boston, but moved to San Jose when she was ten days old. She’s lived in the Bay Area for most of her life since then, and still finds herself there now despite attempts to go to college somewhere far away. She’s a student, undeclared, and her possible major changes every week or so.

If she had copious free time, she’d learn how to make paper, paint and silkscreen t-shirts, and build a 5’4″ multi-colored giraffe out of papier-mache. In reality, she steals time when she can, and relaxes, reads, writes, and attempts to be artistic in smaller, doable amounts.

Where do you get your ideas?

It’s a lot of what ifs and following thoughts and situations to see where they go. I get ideas while showering, while trying to go to sleep (very inconvenient, then I have to get out of bed, turn on the light, write it down, and crawl back into bed knowing in a minute I’ll have a new thought). I get ideas from pictures, from images I think are beautiful. From moments when life seems funny and more than a bit strange.


Holiday Break

Columbus Day weekend is upon us!  There are cons and vacations and people running out to take advantage of the last little bit of global warming before the cold descends on us for real.  We’re going to take a break this weekend — no Blog for a Beer.  But, if you’re jonesing for something to […]


The Jeremiads: Welcome to the Minority

If you are reading this, you are in a very small minority of people who read genre short fiction (I assume you read short fiction if you are reading this column on a genre short fiction website). You are probably in a slightly smaller minority of people who write short fiction, if the rumors about who reads short fiction are true and I suspect they’re more true than not. And what’s more, you’re in the tiniest of tiny minorities, people who read genre short fiction online.

I don’t know what the reader count is for a magazine like Fantasy, and anyway it’s hard to measure online statistics in any concrete manner, but we can make some guesses about the size of the current active short fiction audience by looking at a few things. At Worldcon, Sheila Williams of Asimov’s said something along the lines of advertisers count every magazine subscription as 2.5 readers for the purpose of estimating reader count. Analog has roughly 22,000 subscribers and a couple thousand newsstand sales. So let’s be generous and say 3 people for each copy of the magazine. Why not? That’s 72,000 readers for the largest of the SF/F magazines. Escape Pod, the internet’s largest genre short fiction podcast, has according to the last figures I can find, 18,000 downloads an episode. Let’s be generous and say that there are 3 listeners to each download say that’s another 54,000 reader-listeners. That brings us to a generous estimate of 126,000 readers a month–mostly just U.S. readers probably, and the number is certainly larger in the whole English-speaking world. The math is highly suspect, but let pretend it’s accurate for a bit.

Let’s compare those numbers to a few popular blog RSS feed subscribers. Yes, blogs are free, etc, but I just want to make a point here about the number of people involved in doing what you’re doing. Techcrunch has around 986,000 feed subscribers. BoingBoing has 536,000 or so subscribers. Let’s be generous and triple those numbers too, because not everyone reads websites by RSS feed, right? Some of the biggest websites on the internet have ten times as many readers as there people reading short fiction in total.


“Data, why are you laughing?”

At a Star Trek convention in New Jersey this past March, Spiner imitated a fanboy all too well and asked his old Captain, Patrick Stewart, some challenging questions about his recent lead role in Macbeth.


Crossing Lines: Deconstructing Black Superheroes

A few months ago came up with their list of the Top 25 Black Superheroes of All Time. As a life long comic book/superhero fan I was anxious to check out who they considered the best. Some of their choices I cheered and at others I cringed so hard I worried that my face would stick that way. However, cringing in regards to black superheroes is not that unusual.

All too often black heroes are based on harmful and offensive stereotypes cleaned up just enough that the majority of people won’t object. For example: Patriot from the Young Avengers title, the leader of the group and grandson of the original black Captain America. He’s a hero and a great leader until we come to learn that he’s lied about the source of his powers and is actually shooting up a new street drug to gain super-strength. Or to take a hero from the list itself, D.L. Hawkins from the TV show Heroes; the only black hero on the first season and an escaped prisoner. Yes, it does turn out he did not commit the crime he was incarcerated for but he has committed previous crimes. Other black superheroes are simply two dimensional copies of a white hero given a more “street” background, a coat of brown paint and then called something like “Black” Goliath — who’s one of the heroes on the list by the way.