Melquíades

[Poem based on One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.]

Was it worth it? I wonder at the end of my life–
the last end, for a hundred times I’d died;
each time, I could not bear the solitude of death;
I rose, or fell from the sky–
a very old man with enormous wings.

I drowned,
weighed down, down,
by things I’d seen in a speck of dust.

I saw it all;
faces reflected in my crystal ball—
so cold. Frost choked the banana trees.
I saw them choking and said

nothing

as I said nothing
when the golden boy showed me the lines
etched in his palm.

I saw it all in a block of ice
that did not melt in tropical heat:
each advance and limping retreat;

and I said nothing
of defeat.

I knew it all, pastpresentfuture,
stagnating, and still, I sailed on
a ship bound to wreck in the jungle,
bound to splinter, bound to sink, in swells
of dust.

His hand pressed against ice,
how could I tell him that we were already

frozen?

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The Fan’s Party Planner: Harry Potter

The Harry Potter series is an international phenomenon. From seven wonderful books, the Wizarding world has grown to include several spin-off books, eight films, numerous video games, a London exhibition, a stage play, two theme parks, and, of course, a hearty merchandising line. I would be remiss if I did not put my experience as a Head of House (Ra, ra, Ravenclaw!) in my college’s fan club to use and design a party plan for the series that indisputably shaped my generation and the future of children’s fantasy writing.

Because Harry Potter is such a popular theme with ubiquitous official merchandise, party materials, and recognized foods, this guide will have much shorter lists for the decorations and food categories than is typical in The Fan’s Party Planner. Instead, I’ve focused my effort on the activity category to create a list of fun and games! These activities range from a simple Charms Class spelling bee to games based on real Muggle Quidditch drills, and I’ve included suggestions for adapting the activities for younger or older guests or large groups.

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Too Like the Lightning – Review

Too Like the Lightning – Review

Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer is the first book (of 4) in the Terra Ignotaseries. Appropriately-named for a series that takes the charts and maps drawn up in the 18th and 19th centuries and says, “alright, but what’s over there?”

The book is “written” by Mycroft Canner, a convict in the year 2454, bound to a penance only a social engineer could dream up: eternal servitude to his fellow man. Myrcoft’s world is, as the publisher’s summary says, a “hard-won utopia,” divided into a number of “Hives,” pseudonations not bound by geography. Mycroft is the guardian of a young boy with miraculous powers. An anonymous crime drags Mycroft through the inner circles of all the world leaders, and also threatens to reveal the secret of the boy he’s promised to protect.

That sort of sums it up, but not really. Because this book is about 70% Experience and 30% incredible, intricate plotting. Mycroft’s conceit in writing this book is to adopt the voice and style of an 18th-century philosopher. Ada Palmer (the real life author, in case you forgot), is a historian – but you’d figure that out just by reading this book anyway. The references to Enlightenment thinkers whip dizzyingly by; everything from little throwaway jokes to massive plot points draws on one historical reference or another. The world-building comes straight out of Enlightenment thought – and admits as much to the reader. We’re told that the great men and women who created this world intentionally modeled it on philosophers from all eras of human history.

There’s enough History in this book to write a dozen dissertations, but I want to draw your eyes to the all-important Language.

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“EMPTY YOUR POCKETS, CHANT!”: The Brilliance of Diana Wynne Jones’s Chrestomanci Series

“EMPTY YOUR POCKETS, CHANT!”: The Brilliance of Diana Wynne Jones’s Chrestomanci Series

One of my favorite scenes in children’s literature involves a young boy who doesn’t yet know he’s an enchanter with nine lives, hauled off by his overbearing father to find out whether or not he can do magic. Christopher is made to try all sorts of spells by the intimidating Dr. Pawson, all to no avail. Then, suddenly –

“EMPTY YOUR POCKETS, CHANT!”

Eh? thought Christopher. But he did not dare disobey. He began hurriedly unloading the pockets of his Norfolk jacket: Uncle Ralph’s sixpence which he always kept, a shilling of his own, a grayish handkerchief, a note from Oneir about algebra, and then he was down to shaming things like string and rubber bands and furry toffees…

ChristopherChant

Dr. Pawson instructs Christopher to take out his silver tiepin and tooth brace as well. (As it turns out, Christopher’s silver allergy is what’s causing his problems.) Then, Christopher looks into the mirror he’s supposed to be levitating, and tries once again.

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5 Tips For Your First Con

5 Tips For Your First Con

Why yes, that header image is me as Gogo Tomago from Disneys Big Hero 6. And yes, that is me posing like a doofus with Durarara!! cutouts. Deal with it. 

Going to an anime convention is a pretty big step for fans. They’re big, they’re scary, they’re full of people—but they’re also really, REALLY fun. So for anyone who’s about to prepare for their first con, or for anyone that’s interested in going to one, here are my top five tips for con newbies.

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A Book Lover’s Paradise-Remembering BEA

In Chicago, BEA 2016 is coming to a close.

I wasn’t there. While the biggest names in publishing were descending upon McCormick Place, I was sobbing into a galley I’ll never read as I stared at a year-old photograph of me, the Harlequin booth, and its blaring slogan, Whatever You’re Into.

Whatever You're Into
The subtle posters in question. (Photo courtesy of the author)

Well, I’m into books, and that means a golden ticket to Book Expo America is as sexy as it gets.

Even though I didn’t get to go this year, I thought I’d give a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what it’s like to work BEA. Not as an editor, agent, or publicist, but as a volunteer—because let’s be real, that’s way more fun.

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Dana and Libby Review “Don’t Starve”

Don’t Starve is a ruthless survival-horror-adventure game for the PC where everything is crazy and all of the consequences are permanent. When you die, you die. You lose all your stuff. You don’t get to restart, you don’t get to reload. The world itself and everything in it is out to kill you by any means possible, including by starvation (duh), forest fire, monster attack, bigger monster attack, lightning strike, killer swamp vines, killer bees, killer goose-moose giant hybrids, frog rain, Scottish walruses in kilts, Krampus, werepigs, giant spiders, spoiled food, the messed-up manifestations of your own steadily slipping sanity, and Charlie the two-strike monster in the darkness.

We swear, though, it’s brutally good fun.

You choose a quirky character with his or her individual perks and weaknesses and go out into this strange, humanless country with the sole purpose of staying alive long enough to, maybe, find a way off this otherworldly island and figure out why you’re here. You forage, hunt, gather resources, build, fight, explore, and delve into the darker sides of science and magic just to last another day, another season. Of course, the game doesn’t actually tell you what to do to get there. Or really how to leave. If you can leave.

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