Magpie Monday

Here are some shiny things that caught my eye recently:

♦ The 2012 Chelsey Awards were given last week in recognition of excellence in genre art. The winners produced quite an amazing collection of art to feast your eyes upon, but I decided to share one of the three-dimensional art winners instead of an illustration. Below is the gorgeous Moonstruck, a bronze by Michael Parkes, one of my favorite living artists. Hanging in my living room is a canvas print of his painting The Three Graces, which was the first serious piece of art I ever bought (by “serious” I mean the amount of money it cost; I’ve been very happy with signed prints, which are considerably less expensive, but sometimes you just have to have a piece regardless of cost—this philosophy has also gotten me into trouble with books, I might add). One day I would like to own one of Parkes’ bronzes, but until then I’ll admire photographs of them. Check out the rest of the 2012 Chelsey Awards winners here.

♦ Book Nook. 

Edith Wharton’s library. (Via).

Please to enjoy these online stories:

An excerpt from Brandon Sanderson’s novella Legion at

30 Pounds of Human Tissue by Jennifer Campbell-Hicks at Daily Science Fiction

A Wizard at War by A.M. Roelke at Daily Science Fiction

Breaking the Frame by Kat Howard at Lightspeed

Watching Rockets by John Philip Johnson at Daily Science Fiction

Heaven Under Earth by Aliette de Bodard at Electric Velocipede

Cartographer’s Ink by Beth Cato at Daily Science Fiction

An excerpt from Troll: A Love Story by Johanna Sinisalo, a Finnish novel I loved. Weird Fiction Review, which hosted the excerpt, also had a great interview with Sinisalo, conducted by my pal Adam Mills, and a reprinted essay by Sinisalo, “Weird and Proud of It.” Go check out all of these pieces! You’ll be glad you did.

While you’re at it, enjoy these online poems, both from Jabberwocky:

Undoing Winter by Shannon Connor Winward

I Dreamed the Moon by Julia Rios

Christopher Barzak continues his blog posts about Birds and Birthdays with Writing with Dorothea Tanning.

Fantasy Faction has a nice overview of some of the classic female fantasy writers.

This past week AlphaBooks, an alphabetical tumblr exploration of fictional characters curated by Ben Towle, moved to the O’s. My favorite was O is for Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmanuel Ambroise Diggs (better known as the Wizard of Oz, created by L. Frank Baum), rendered by Marc Basile.

What kind of book reader are you? A diagnostics guide.

If you’re interested in re-imagined book covers for controversial books, check out the Imprint post Recovering Lolita, in which John Bertram shares some of the submissions for a contest to re-design the cover for Nabokov’s novel (and talks about the contest). In the spring, Lolita: Story of a Cover Girl will be published with the results of the competition and essays by both designers (most of them women) and Nabokov scholars. I’ve not read Lolita, but I’m fascinated by this idea. At left is one of the new cover designs by Jamie Keenan (click to see larger). Via.

Speaking of book covers, you might enjoy Scent of a Kitten: The 20 Irrefutable Theories of Book-Cover Design from The Guardian. Some nice examples there.

Here’s Matt Damon reading on the set of The Talented Mr. Ripley:

And for Molly, Cameron, Sterling, and other Faulknerites, here’s the man reading:

♦ Viewers’ Paradise.

Did you know that watching reruns can actually help restore willpower?

I’ve been looking forward to The Hobbit movies, but I haven’t been following much about them except that they’re now a trilogy. I have to say, I’m pretty excited about the recently released images of Lee Pace as the elf Thranduil, father of Legolas. Those eyebrows were made for an elf warrior! Via.

Do you agree with this list of the best character intros from science fiction and fantasy movies?

Ryan Gosling’s monster movie with Christina Hendricks might be the best thing ever. I’m inclined to agree.

So last week io9 told me why I should be watching Hulu’s creepy deal-with-the-devil series The Booth at the End. You know what? I didn’t even read the whole article; I went straight to Hulu to watch the first episode and ended up watching the entire first season in a single sitting (the next day I watched all the available episodes of the second season). It’s really well done and I love what writer Christopher Kubasik does with “the tension between wishes and wants” (to quote the io9 article). The show is very character based and interested in story. Also, Xander Berkeley, as The Man, is fantastic (note to self: watch more stuff with Xander Berkeley). Cameron definitely needs to watch The Booth at the End, and so do the rest of you.

♦ Les Contes de Fées.

Top British writers hail birth 200 years ago of Grimm tales that bewitched them.

Also, this:

♦ Mary Shelley’s 215th birthday was on August 30th.

♦ The Ninth Art.

Tansy Rayner Roberts discusses Lady Sif in last week’s installment of her Where the Wonder Women Are series.

Neil Rivas’s posters encourage you to call immigration on illegal alien superheroes.

I was a big fan of Wonder Man in the ’80s, though I can’t say now why I liked him so much. Must have been the glowing red eyes. I’m a sucker for glowing eyes. (Yes, that’s part of the reason why I love so much the video for Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”!) Here’s The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe REDUXE Edition‘s take on Wonder Man by Stefan Tosheff, which I like a lot. (One of the comments suggested the look was too much like the new Superboy’s look, but I like the new Superboy’s look so I’m not quibbling.)

Check out Matthew Olin’s series of superhero typographic classifications! Via.

Super-Team Family‘s mash-up of Hellboy, The Spectre, Dark Phoenix, Vampirella, and Fin Fang Foom made me so, so happy (click through to read the notes on the cover).

Suture This.

What a delicious photo from Sutured Infection—the lady on the left looks as if she’s leeching away the life-force of her companion.

Speaking of sutures, I want to eat this skin cake! (If the cake’s not red velvet, I shall be terribly disappointed.)

♦ She Blinded Me … with Science!

Biological, Social, Forensic, Botanical, Labor, Textile, and Water-Balloonic!

Harvester ants use their own internet for hive-mind decision making.

Speaking of ants, here’s the eight super-adaptable life forms that rule our planet. Consider me officially unnerved.

New forensic test can predict hair and eye color of suspects.

Eight things you didn’t know you could do with human sperm. Though perhaps some of you didn’t want to know?

A handy introduction to the morbidly fascinating science of autoerotic asphyxiation.

The tablecloth that looks better with spills (it’s very cool!).

Could your mind be reprogrammed while you’re asleep?

What Americans actually do all day long, in two graphicsVia.

Shockingly beautiful photos of electrified plants.

The tawdry medical history of soft drinks.

Chocolate could prevent men from strokes. I’m all over this, people.

Why are human babies so helpless? What’s even scarier is how many adults just want “to gobble them right up”!

12 college courses mental floss wishes their schools had offered. I would definitely take “Monsters in Word and Image” at Centre College.

While we’re on the subject of educational science (yeah, I know I’m stretching “science” to its breaking point here), McSweeney’s offered a grading scale for the fall semester, composed entirely of Samuel Beckett quotes. I’m going to use this rubric, I think.

And now, the science of water balloons. First, a video of slow-motion water-balloon popping on a guy’s face (check out other slow-motion popping videos at mental floss here).

Second, the art in science: Tim Tadder’s photographic series Water Wigs is all about hitting bald men with water balloons and capturing the results on film. Check out the link for the entire series of photographs, but below is one of my favorites (“The Conquistador” is also great). (Via)

♦ Writers’ Corner.

Now this is how you write a fantasy novel about the British Empire.

Charlie Jane Anders lays out one simple and incredibly painful way to fix your novel draft.

I do love writing houses. Check out Michael Pollan’s writing house below (more pictures available here). He writes about building the house in A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Dreams (which is actually on my shelves—I need to read it!)

The King of Elfland’s Second Cousin on where genres come from and how to stitch them together.

What the romance genre can teach science fiction and fantasy writers. Also, how to write about hermaphrodite sex.

Taking from the World Tree: Mythology and Cultural Appropriation.

Clause I said so: a refresher course on sentence types.

Elizabeth Spann Craig’s Twiiterfic had some great links, as usual. Here are some I found particularly interesting: Susan Sipal on The Highly Sensitive Person and the Writer (I should read THSP, as I often feel overwhelmed by the world); Courtney Carpenter on Breaking into Travel Writing: The 5 Elements of Writing Travel Articles; James Scott Bell on How to Write a Novella; and Joe Bunting on 4 Reasons to Write Short Stories.

Great SF authors share their biggest writing setbacks—and how they triumphed. In response to the io9 article, Theodora Goss wrote about her own setbacks and stumbling blocks. Reading these kinds of things always make me feel a little better about where I am with my writing because it helps to remember that every writer stumbles at some point. I especially liked Goss’s last paragraph:

I think it’s one of the most important things I learned—that if you want to do anything creative, you need to ignore how society, and often your family, tell you to live. The model of life they espouse is not the one that will allow you to do what you most want to. You need to create your own life, in a way that enables your art.

♦ Just because:

♦ The Quebec City Magic Festival presents “The Disappearance” (via). Fun!

♦ To end on a more somber note, here’s a fascinating and moving video from New Zealand that

shows the soldiers of 2/1 RNZIR Battalion performing their Unit haka, powerfully acknowledging the lives and feats of their fallen comrades as they come onto the Unit’s parade ground. It is also an emotive farewell for they will leave via the waharoa (the carved entrance way) for the very last time.

Read more about the haka by clicking here and reading the full description of the video.

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