Double The Trouble

May. 31st, 2016 09:00 pm
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Posted by BD

Restaurant | Philadelphia, PA, USA

Customer: “What’s the difference between the single fajita and the double fajita?”

Me: “The single one is for one person, where the double is usually shared as it is double the meat.”

Customer: “So you get two fajitas with the double?”

Me: “Well, no. It’s just double the meat on the skillet, which two or more people usually share.”

Customer: “So, it’s two skillets.”

Me: “No, it’s one skillet but it has double the meat.”

Customer: “So it’s meant for one person?”

Me: “No, it’s usually shared. You can have one for yourself, but it’s traditionally split.”

Customer: “So it comes on two skillets?”

Me: “No. One skillet. Double meat.”

Customer: “Okay, we want a double chicken fajita, but on separate skillets.”

Me: “So… two single chicken fajitas?”

Customer: “Yes, that sounds perfect!”

The post Double The Trouble appeared first on Funny & Stupid Customer Stories - Not Always Right.

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Posted by Jennifer Lynch

EFF and 44 Other Organizations Call for More Time to Respond

FBI NGI Face Recognition IllustrationSince 2008, the FBI has been assembling a massive database of biometric information on Americans. This database, called Next Generation Identification (NGI), includes fingerprints, face recognition, iris scans and palm prints—collected not just during arrests, but also from millions of Americans for non-criminal reasons like immigration, background checks, and state licensing requirements.  Now the FBI wants to exempt this vast collection of data from basic requirements guaranteed under the federal Privacy Act—and it’s giving you only 21 business days to object.

Today, EFF, along with 44 other privacy, civil liberties, and immigrants’ rights organizations, sent a letter to the FBI demanding more time to respond.

What is NGI?

NGI contains well over 100-million individual records that include multiple forms of biometric data as well as personal and biographic information. Although many people assume the FBI’s files only include fingerprints and other data associated with criminal activity, much of these records—nearly 50-million individual files—contain data collected for non-criminal purposes. For example, in some states, you’ll need to give the government your prints if you want to be a dentist, accountant, teacher, geologist, realtor, lawyer or even an optometrist. And, since 1953, all jobs with the federal government have required a fingerprint check—not just jobs requiring a security clearance, but even part-time food service workers, student interns, designers, customer service representatives, and maintenance workers.

Just last year, the FBI announced that for the first time it would combine almost all of this non-criminal data with its criminal data in NGI. This means that now, if you submit fingerprints for licensing or for a background check, they’ll most likely end up living indefinitely in NGI—to be searched thousands of times a day for any crime, no matter how minor, by over 20,000 law enforcement agencies across the country and around the world.

And while the FBI has said—for now—it’s keeping non-criminal photographs separate from criminal photos in NGI, if you’re ever arrested for any crime—even for blocking a street as part of a First Amendment-protected protest—your non-criminal photographs will be combined with your criminal record and will become fair game for the same criminal database searches as any mug shot photo. As of December 2015, over 8-million civil records were also in the criminal database.

NGI Disproportionately Impacts People of Color

NGI does not affect everyone equally. Thanks to years of well-documented racially biased police practices, the system includes a disproportionate number of African Americans, Latinos, and immigrants. Face recognition—NGI’s cornerstone biometric technology—is notoriously inaccurate across the board. (According to the FBI, NGI may produce a false match—indicating someone is a suspect for a crime they didn’t commit—at least 15% of the time). But research suggests that face recognition may also misidentify African Americans and ethnic minorities, young people, and women at higher rates than whites, older people, and men, respectively. So even though FBI says NGI’s face recognition isn’t designed to positively identify anyone (it produces a ranked list of possible candidates), there’s a very good chance that an innocent person will be put forward as a suspect for a crime just because their image is in NGI—and an even better chance this person will be a person of color.

NGI’s disparate impact is not limited to facial recognition inaccuracy because FBI records as a whole are also notoriously unreliable. At least 30 percent of people arrested are never charged with or convicted of any crime. But according to the National Employment Law Project, as much as 50 percent of the FBI’s arrest records fail to include information on the final disposition of the case—whether a person was convicted, acquitted, or if charges against them were dropped. If these arrest records aren’t updated with final disposition information, hundreds of thousands of Americans searching for jobs could be prejudiced and lose work. And due to disproportionately high arrest rates, this uniquely impacts people of color.

For Years, FBI Failed to Produce Basic Information about NGI as Required Under Federal Law

EFF and other organizations called for years for the FBI to release more information about NGI and how it impacts your privacy. But the FBI didn’t update its Privacy Impact Assessment for its face recognition program until last September—a full year after its entire “Interstate Photo System” was online and fully operational and as many as seven years after the FBI first started incorporating face recognition-compatible photos into NGI

In fact, the FBI has only this month released a “System of Records Notice” (SORN) about the NGI system as a whole. The federal Privacy Act requires all federal agencies to produce a SORN for any system that collects and uses Americans’ personal information, and this document is supposed to describe exactly how that data is being used and protected. But for years FBI skirted the Privacy Act—instead of producing a new SORN for NGI, it relied on outdated SORNs and Privacy Impact Assessments describing very different systems.

There’s Still A Lot We Don’t Know About FBI’s Plans for NGI

Although the FBI has finally produced a SORN for NGI, there’s still a lot we don’t know. For example, a request for proposals the FBI released last year indicated the agency planned to allow law enforcement officers to collect fingerprints, iris scans, and face recognition data right out in the field and submit that data directly to NGI. This directly contradicts 2012 congressional testimony where an FBI official said NGI would only include “criminal mug shot photos.” A photograph taken in the field before someone is arrested is not a “mug shot.“

The FBI may also decide to use face recognition in other ways. The Bureau indicated in a 2010 presentation that it wants to use NGI to track people’s movements to and from “critical events” like political rallies, to identify people in “public datasets,” and to identify “unknown persons of interest” from photographs. This use of NGI would clearly impact First Amendment-protected activities and would chill speech.

The database could also eventually incorporate photos from other sources like security cameras, social media, or even from state drivers license databases. While NGI is only supposed to include mug shot photos, there don’t appear to be any technical controls to prevent an officer from uploading photos from other sources.  We also know that at least 37 states use face recognition for drivers licenses, and the FBI has a whole team working with the states to get access to this data. 

What Are We Doing About This?

Despite huge delays in producing federally-mandated information to the public, the FBI now says we only have 21 business days to respond to its proposal to exempt much of NGI from the basic protections of the Privacy Act. These protections allow you to learn what data an agency has on you and require the agency to correct inaccurate data. They also allow you to sue if the agency doesn’t comply with these requirements.

Americans need more than 21 days to comment. The FBI’s SORN and proposal to exempt NGI from the Privacy Act are both complicated. This is why we’ve joined with 44 other privacy, civil liberties and immigrants’ rights organizations in a letter to the FBI requesting at least 30 additional days to respond. Only with that additional time do we think we can perform a thorough analysis of both proposals to ensure the FBI doesn’t do more to violate your civil liberties. After years of delay and stonewalling, the FBI owes it to the public to grant this request.

Joint Letter to FBI Concerning Privacy Act Exemptions for Next Generation Identification Biometrics Database

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Posted by Molly Templeton


Your shelves will be groaning with the weight of the fifty-one new releases in fantasy this month! Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series comes to an end, while plenty of other series take flying leaps forward; our heroes and heroines include monster-fighting bartenders, magical teens, secretive librarians, witch-hunters, and ever so many more.

Fiction Affliction details releases in science fiction, fantasy, and “genre-benders.” Keep track of them all here. Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.



The Suicide Motor ClubChristopher Buehlman (June 7, Berkley)
Remember that car that passed you near midnight on Route 66, doing 105 with its lights off? You wondered where it was going so quickly on that dark, dusty stretch of road, motor roaring, the driver glancing out the window as he blew by. You just saw the founder of the Suicide Motor Club. Be grateful his brake lights never flashed. Be grateful his car was already full. They roam America, littering the highways with smashed cars and bled-out bodies, a gruesome reflection of the unsettled sixties. But to anyone unlucky enough to meet them in the lonely hours of the night, they’re just a blurry memory. That is, to all but one…

Saint’s Blood (Greatcoats #3)—Sebastien de Castell (June 7, Jo Fletcher Books)
How do you kill a Saint? Falcio, Kest, and Brasti are about to find out, because someone has figured out a way to do it and they’ve started with a friend. The Dukes were already looking for ways out of their agreement to put Aline on the throne, but with the Saints turning up dead, rumours are spreading that the Gods themselves oppose her ascension. Now churches are looking to protect themselves by bringing back the military orders of religious soldiers, assassins, and (especially) Inquisitors—a move that could turn the country into a theocracy. The only way Falcio can put a stop to it is by finding the murderer. He has only one clue: a terrifying iron mask which makes the Saints vulnerable by driving them mad.

Silent HallN.S. Dolkart (June 7, Angry Robot)
Five refugees from a plague-stricken island cross the continent searching for answers. Instead they find Psander, a wizard whose fortress is invisible to the gods, and who is willing to sacrifice anything—and anyone—to keep the knowledge of the wizards safe. With Psander as their patron, the refugees cross the mountains, brave the territory of their sworn enemies, confront a hostile ocean and even traverse the world of the fairies in search of magic powerful enough to save themselves—and Psander’s library—from the wrath of the gods. All they need to do is to rescue an imprisoned dragon and unleash a primordial monster upon the world. How hard could it be?

A Green and Ancient LightFrederic S. Durbin (June 7, Saga Press)
Set in a world similar to our own, during a war that parallels World War II, A Green and Ancient Light is the story of a boy who is sent to stay with his grandmother for the summer in a serene fishing village. Their tranquility is shattered by the crash of a bullet-riddled enemy plane, the arrival of grandmother’s friend Mr. Girandole—a man who knows the true story of Cinderella’­s slipper—and the discovery of a riddle in the sacred grove of ruins behind grandmother’s house. In a sumptuous idyllic setting and overshadowed by the threat of war, four unlikely allies learn the values of courage and sacrifice.

Enemy (On the Bones of Gods #1)—K. Eason (June 1, 47North)
The Illhari Republic rests on the bones of gods, telling tales of conquest and forgetting its once-bloody devotion to its most powerful goddess. Snowdenaelikk, half-blood conjuror and smuggler, cares less about history than the silver she can win with sharp metal and sharper wits. But when the local legion blames her for burning a village, an outlander with a sense of honor intervenes, and Snow finds herself tangled in politics and an unwelcome partnership. Snow and her new partner, Veiko, together with the legion scout Dekklis, uncover a conspiracy that will destroy the Republic from within. It seems that the goddess is back from wherever dead gods go. She has not forgotten the Republic, and she wants revenge.

Julia VanishesCatherine Egan (June 7, Knopf Books for Young Readers)
Young adult. Julia has the unusual ability to be … unseen. Not invisible, exactly. Just beyond most people’s senses. It’s a dangerous trait in a city that has banned all forms of magic and drowns witches in public Cleansings. But it’s a useful trait for a thief and a spy. And Julia has learned—crime pays. She’s being paid very well indeed to infiltrate the grand house of Mrs. Och and report back on the odd characters who live there and the suspicious dealings that take place behind locked doors. But Julia certainly never imagined that the traitor in the house would turn out to be …. her. Catherine Egan builds a dangerous world where her fierce and flawed heroine finds that even a girl who can vanish can’t walk away from her own worst deeds.

Warcraft (Official Movie Novelization)—Christie Golden (June 7, Titan Books)
The peaceful realm of Azeroth stands on the brink of war as its civilization faces a fearsome race of invaders: orc warriors fleeing their dying home to colonize another. As a portal opens to connect the two worlds, one army faces destruction and the other faces extinction. From opposing sides, two heroes are set on a collision course that will decide the fate of their family, their people and their home. So begins a spectacular saga of power and sacrifice in which war has many faces, and everyone fights for something.

Dr. DOA (Secret Histories #10)—Simon R. Green (June 7, Roc)
The name is Drood, Eddie Drood, also known as Shaman Bond. My family has been safeguarding humanity for generations, facing the hidden horrors of the world so you can sleep at night and remain oblivious to the existence of the monstrous nightmares that walk and stalk among us. Speaking of predatory night terrors, there is a man who gets away with murder. A man who specializes in removing the problems from other people’s lives, by killing the people who cause those problems. No one knows who he is, just his nomme du muerte. Dr. DOA. Somehow, this demented doc poisoned me. I don’t know how he did it, when or where, but whatever is coursing through my veins seems to be immune to magic cures and treatments…

Death MasksEd Greenwood (June 7, Wizards of the Coast)
Revealed in death to have been Masked Lords, three more citizens had been murdered over the preceding day and night. All of Waterdeep now knew someone was killing the Lords of Waterdeep, one by one. Yet that was about where truth ended and speculation—however plausible—began. The broadsheets were full of wild conjecture. Who’s behind this? The ousted Lord Neverember? The Zhentarim, the Cult of the Dragon or some other Outland Power? Some cabal of guilds or nobles planning a coup? The rumors would rage on, whether the Open Lord Laeral Silverhand did something or not. That was the trouble with rumors; once loosed, they roamed free like snarling, untamed beasts, with no simple way of stopping them.

Autumn Princess, Dragon Child (Tale of Shikanoko #2)—Lian Hearn (June 7, FSG Originals)
Shikanoko has been humbled by failure, and his once clear destiny has become clouded. The Autumn Princess and the boy who is the true emperor are fugitives in the forest, alone and unprotected. In the mountain sorcerer’s hut a new generation of the Old People is born—the Spider Tribe, not quite human, not quite demons, and quickly coming of age. One clan is in retreat, the other holds the capital, and natural disasters follow one upon another. Will Heaven ever be placated? The old order has come unsettled and the weave of destiny has become unpredictable as it is pulled tighter, sharper, faster, by the instincts for vengeance and redemption, loyalty and survival. The battle for the Lotus Throne has begun in earnest.

Devastating Hate (Legends of the Alfar #2)—Markus Heitz (June 7, Jo Fletcher Books)
They are the enemies of the dwarves and control the darkest magics, but even then power of the Älfar has its limits. To save their own people, they must enter into an unwinnable war.
Sinthoras and Caphalor, two very different Älfar, watch as their plans come to fruition: the hidden land-the home of the dwarves-has fallen to their army of trolls, barbarians and Älfar, and now the lands of the hated elves are within their grasp. But the alliance is beginning to crumble as greed triumphs over obedience. And Sinthoras and Caphalor face another threat: an enemy from the empire of the Älfar, thought to be defeated, has resurfaced, and while their best warriors fight in the hidden land, the Älfar homeland lies almost defenseless.

Assassin Queen (Majat Code #3)—Anna Kashina (June 7, Angry Robot)
Nimos knows that the Majat’s victory is only temporary: during the flight, he managed to place a mark on Kara, one of the top-ranked Diamond Majat. His mind magic would now allow him to use this mark to confer her fighting skill to the Kaddim warriors and turn her loyalties to their side. The new Majat Guildmaster, Mai, is planning a march against the Kaddim. His key ally, Prince Kyth Dorn, is instrumental in these plans: Kyth’s magic gift can protect the Majat against the Kaddim mind control powers. But Mai and Kyth are having trouble getting over their rivalry for Kara’s affections—even after they realize that this rivalry is the least of their worries, at least for the moment. Something about Kara is not right…

Last Call at the Nightshade LoungePaul Krueger (June 7, Quirk Books)
Bailey Chen is fresh out of college with all the usual new-adult demons: no cash, no job offers, and an awkward relationship with Zane, the old friend she kinda-sorta hooked up with during high school. But when Zane introduces Bailey to his monster-fighting bartender friends, her demons become a lot more literal. It turns out evil creatures stalk the city streets after hours, and they can only be hunted with the help of magically-mixed cocktails. But will all of these powers be enough for Bailey to halt a mysterious rash of gruesome deaths? And what will she do when the safety of a “real world” job beckons?

A Study in Sable (Elemental Masters #11)—Mercedes Lackey (June 7, DAW)
Sarah and Nan, who are Psychics rather than Elemental Masters, are sent on a most peculiar interview by their patron, Lord Alderscroft. When they arrive at the highly eccentric bachelor’s flat, he asks them all manner of questions about their bona-fides and experience in a most offensive manner. Tiring of answering politely, Nan turns the tables on him and gets just as rude and offensive—and so do the birds! Eventually, they work with a physician, Dr. John Watson, and his wife Mary, both Elemental Masters. Sarah and Nan are to help with investigations that the famous “consulting detective” cannot (or will not) take himself, because they are tainted with “mumbo-jumbo.”

The Wheel of OsheimMark Lawrence (June 7, Ace)
All the horrors of Hell stand between Snorri Ver Snagason and the rescue of his family, if indeed the dead can be rescued. For Jalan Kendeth, getting back out alive and with Loki’s key is all that matters. Loki’s creation can open any lock, any door, and it may also be the key to Jalan’s fortune back in the living world. Fate, however, has other plans. Larger plans. The Wheel of Osheim is turning ever faster, and it will crack the world unless it’s stopped. When the end of all things looms, and there’s nowhere to run, even the worst coward must find new answers. Jalan and Snorri face many dangers, but in the end, fast or slow, the Wheel of Osheim always pulls you back. In the end it’s win or die.

Robert Aspirin’s Myth-FitsJody Lynn Nye (June 7, Ace)
Business is slow for M.Y.T.H., Inc., so when a job comes in that’s worth an absurd amount of gold—and also happens to take them to Winslow, the most luxurious vacation resort in any dimension—the team jumps at the opportunity to recoup some cash and maybe catch some R&R. But Skeeve has an unsettling feeling that this mission might be trickier than it seems. Someone in Winslow is messing with the magic lines and working hard to ensure that the M.Y.T.H. crew gets nowhere near the powerful relic they’ve been hired to find. And as the mysterious manipulation turns deadly, Skeeve, Bunny, Aahz, and the rest of their partners find themselves in a race not only to finish the job but also to escape paradise alive…

Pathfinder Tales: Liar’s BargainTim Pratt (June 7, Tor Books)
For charming con man Rodrick and his talking sword Hrym, life is all about taking what you can and getting away clean. But when the pair are arrested in the crusader nation of Lastwall, Rodrick faces immediate execution, with Hrym spending the rest of eternity trapped in an enchanted scabbard. Their only hope lies in a secret government program in which captured career criminals are teamed up and sent on suicide missions too sensitive for ordinary soldiers. Trapped between almost certain death and actual certain death, the two join forces with a team of rogues and scoundrels, ready to serve their year-long tenure as best they can.

Rocks Fall Everyone DiesLindsay Ribar (June 7, Kathy Dawson Books)
Young adult. Aspen Quick has never really worried about how he’s affecting people when he steals from them. But this summer he’ll discover just how strong the Quick family magic is—and how far they’ll go to keep their secrets safe. With a smart, arrogant protagonist, a sinister family tradition, and an ending you won’t see coming, this is a fast-paced, twisty story about power, addiction, and deciding what kind of person you want to be, in a family that has the ability to control everything you are.

An Affinity for Steel: The Aeon’s Gate TrilogySam Sykes (June 7, Orbit)
Omnibus. Now, for the first time the breakout trilogy by Sam Sykes is collected in one volume. There are only a few productive things a man can do once he picks up a sword. And the very lowest of these is to become an adventurer, like Lenk and his companions. For the right price, no deed is too dirty, no task is too dangerous, no foe too ferocious. Not even a demon. From wars ancient and terrible, wounds are bleeding. From seas deep and fathomless, demons are rising. From the mouth of hell, the Kraken Queen is calling. And all that stands between the damned and the mortal world are a pack of degenerates and the steel they carry.

The RootNa’amen Gobert Tilahun (June 7, Night Shade)
Erik thought his life was complicated before he learned he was Blooded: descended from the Gods. Struggling with a power he doesn’t understand and can barely control, Erik discovers that a secret government agency is selling off Blooded like lab rats to preternatural beings in ’Zebub—San Francisco’s mirror city in an alternate dimension. Lil, a timid apprentice in ’Zebub, is searching for answers to her parents’ sudden and mysterious deaths. Surrounded by those who wish her harm and view her as a lesser being, Lil delves into a forgotten history that those in power will go to dangerous lengths to keep buried. What neither Erik nor Lil realize is that a darkness is coming, something none have faced in living memory. It eats. It hunts. And it knows them.



The King Slayer (Witch Hunter #2)—Virginia Boecker (June 14, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Young adult. Former witch hunter Elizabeth Grey is hiding within the magically protected village of Harrow, evading the price put on her head by Lord Blackwell, the usurper king of Anglia. Their last encounter left Blackwell ruined, but his thirst for power grows stronger every day. He’s readying for a war against those who would resist his rule—namely Elizabeth and the witches and wizards she now calls her allies. Having lost her stigma, a magical source of protection and healing, Elizabeth’s strength is tested both physically and emotionally. War always means sacrifice, and as the lines between good and evil blur once more, Elizabeth must decide just how far she’ll go to save those she loves.

The Invisible Library (Invisible Library #1)—Genevieve Cogman (June 14, Roc)
Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested—the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something—secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself.

ReliquarySarah Fine (June 14, 47North)
Mattie Carver’s engagement party should have marked the start of her own personal fairy tale. But when her fiancé, Ben, is  abducted the next morning, her quest to find him rips her away from small-town life and reveals a shattering truth: magic is real—and Ben is hooked. Determined to find out who took Ben and why, Mattie immerses herself in a shadowy underworld and comes face-to-face with the darkly alluring Asa Ward, a rogue magic dealer, infamous hustler … and her missing fiancé’s estranged brother. Asa realizes Mattie is a reliquary, someone with the rare ability to carry magic within her own body, undetected. Asa agrees to help find Ben on one condition: Mattie must use her uncommon talent to assist his smuggling operations. With Asa by her side, she’ll face not only the supernatural forces arrayed against her but the all-too-human temptation that she fears she can’t resist.

Los NefilimT. Frohock (June 14, Harper Voyager Impulse)
Omnibus. Collected together for the first time, T. Frohock’s three novellas—In Midnight’s Silence, Without Light or Guide, and The Second Death—brings to life the world of Los Nefilim, Spanish Nephilim that possess the power to harness music and light in the supernatural war between the angels and daimons. In 1931, Los Nefilim’s existence is shaken by the preternatural forces commanding them … and a half-breed caught in-between. Diago Alvarez, a singular being of daimonic and angelic descent, is pulled into the ranks of Los Nefilim in order to protect his newly-found son. As an angelic war brews in the numinous realms, and Spain marches closer to civil war, the destiny of two worlds hangs on Diago’s actions.

SteeplejackA.J. Hartley (June 14, Tor Teen)
Young adult. Seventeen-year-old Anglet Sutonga lives repairing the chimneys, towers, and spires of the city of Bar-Selehm. Dramatically different communities live and work alongside each other. Ang is part of the Lani community who immigrated over generations ago as servants and now mostly live in poverty on Bar-Selehm’s edges. When Ang is supposed to meet her new apprentice Berrit, she instead finds him dead. That same night, the Beacon, an invaluable historical icon, is stolen. The Beacon’s theft commands the headlines, yet no one seems to care about Berrit’s murder—except for Josiah Willinghouse, an enigmatic young politician. When he offers her a job investigating his death, she plunges headlong into new and unexpected dangers. Ang must rely on her intellect and strength to resolve the mysterious link between Berrit and the missing Beacon before the city descends into chaos.

Spells of Blood and KinClaire Humphrey (June 14, St. Martin’s Press)
In the wake of Lissa Nevsky’s grandmother’s passing, the Russian community of Toronto will depend on Lissa to give them their remedies and be their koldun’ia. But Lissa hasn’t had time to learn everything Baba wanted to teach her—let alone the things Baba kept hidden. When Maksim Volkov feels his protective spell fail, he returns to the witch he rescued from the Gulag, only to find his spell has died along with the one who cast it. Nick Kaisaris is just a normal dude who wants things to stay like they are right now: Nick and his best buddy, out on the town. Only Nick is on a collision course with Maksim, and what he takes away from this night is going to crack open Nick’s nature until all of his worst self comes to light. Lissa’s legacy of magic might hold the key to Maksim’s salvation, if she can unravel it in time…

WoodwalkerEmily B. Martin (June 14, Harper Voyager Impulse)
Exiled from the Silverwood and the people she loves, Mae has few illusions about ever returning to her home. But when she comes across three out-of-place strangers in her wanderings, she finds herself contemplating the unthinkable: risking death to help a deposed queen regain her throne. And if anyone can help Mona Alastaire of Lumen Lake, it is a former Woodwalker—a ranger whose very being is intimately tied to the woods they are sworn to protect. Mae was once one of the best, and despite the potential of every tree limb to become the gibbet she’s hung from, she not only feels a duty to aide Mona and her brothers, but also to walk beneath her beloved trees once more.

The Shadowed Path: A Jonmarc Vanhanian CollectionGail Z. Martin (June 14, Solaris)
These are the untold tales of Jonmarc Vahanian, hero of Gail Z. Martin’s best-selling Chronicles of the Necromancer series. Jonmarc Vahanian was just a blacksmith’s son in a small fishing village before raiders killed his family. Wounded and left for dead in the attack, Jonmarc tries to rebuild his life. But when a dangerous bargain with a shadowy stranger goes wrong, Jonmarc finds himself on the run, with nothing ahead but vengeance, and nothing behind him but blood. Soldier. Fight slave. Smuggler. Warrior. Brigand lord. If you’ve met Jonmarc Vahanian in the Chronicles of the Necromancer and Fallen Kings Cycle books, you don’t really know him until you walk in his footsteps.

Dreams of Distant Shores—Patricia A. McKillip (June 14, Tachyon Publications)
Bestselling author Patricia A. McKillip is one of the most lyrical writers gracing the fantasy genre. With the debut of her newest work, Dreams of Distant Shores is a true ode to her many talents. Within these pages you will find a youthful artist possessed by both his painting and his muse and seductive travelers from the sea enrapturing distant lovers. The statue of a mermaid comes suddenly to life, and two friends are transfixed by a haunted estate. Fans of McKillip’s ethereal fiction will find much to delight them; those lucky enough to be discovering her work will find much to enchant them.

League of Dragons (Temeraire #9)—Naomi Novik (June 14, Del Rey)
Napoleon’s invasion of Russia has been roundly thwarted. But even as Capt. William Laurence and the dragon Temeraire pursue the retreating enemy through an unforgiving winter, Napoleon is raising a new force, and he’ll soon have enough men and dragons to resume the offensive. While the emperor regroups, the allies have an opportunity to strike first and defeat him once and for all—if internal struggles and petty squabbles don’t tear them apart. Aware of his weakened position, Napoleon has promised the dragons of every country—and the ferals, loyal only to themselves—vast new rights and powers if they fight under his banner. It is an offer eagerly embraced from Asia to Africa—and even by England, whose dragons have long rankled at their disrespectful treatment. But Laurence and his faithful dragon soon discover that the wily Napoleon has one more gambit at the ready—one that that may win him the war, and the world.

Stiletto (Rook Files #2)—Daniel O’Malley (June 14, Little, Brown)
When secret organizations are forced to merge after years of enmity and bloodshed, only one person has the fearsome powers—and the bureaucratic finesse—to get the job done. Facing her greatest challenge yet, Rook Myfanwy Thomas must broker a deal between two bitter adversaries: The Checquy—the centuries-old covert British organization that protects society from supernatural threats, and … The Grafters—a centuries-old supernatural threat. But as bizarre attacks sweep London, threatening to sabotage negotiations, old hatreds flare. Surrounded by spies, only the Rook and two women who absolutely hate each other, can seek out the culprits before they trigger a devastating otherworldly war.

Return of Souls (A Song for No Man’s Land #2)—Andy Remic (June 14, Publishing)
If war is hell, there is no word to describe what Private Jones has been through. Forced into a conflict with an unknowable enemy, he awakes to find himself in a strange land, and is soon joined by young woman, Morana, who tends to his wounds and tells him of the battles played out in this impossible place. She tells him of an Iron Beast that will end the Great War, and even as he vows to help her find it, enemy combatants seek them, intent on their utter annihilation. Return of Souls is the second volume of the trilogy Andy Remic began with A Song for No Man’s Land.

Allegiance of Honor (Psy-Changeling #15)—Nalini Singh (June 14, Berkley)
A staggering transformation has put the Psy, humans, and changelings at a crossroads. The Trinity Accord promises a new era of cooperation between disparate races and groups. It is a beacon of hope held together by many hands: old enemies, new allies, wary loners. But a century of distrust and suspicion can’t be so easily forgotten, and it threatens to shatter Trinity from within at any moment. As rival members vie for dominance, chaos and evil gather in the shadows and a kidnapped woman’s cry for help washes up in San Francisco, while the Consortium turns its murderous gaze toward a child who is the embodiment of change, of love, of piercing hope: a child who is both Psy … and changeling.

Before the Feast—Saša Stanišic (June 14, Tin House Books)
It’s the night before the feast in the village of Fürstenfelde (population: an odd number). The village is asleep. Except for the ferryman—he’s dead. And Mrs. Kranz, the night-blind painter, who wants to depict her village for the first time at night. A bell-ringer and his apprentice want to ring the bells—the only problem is that the bells have gone. A vixen is looking for eggs for her young, and Mr. Schramm is discovering more reasons to quit life than to quit smoking. Someone has opened the doors to the Village Archive, but what drives the sleepless out of their houses is not that which was stolen, but that which has escaped. Old stories, myths, and fairy tales are wandering about the streets with the people.



In the Shadow of the GodsRachel Dunne (June 21, Harper Voyager)
Eons ago, a pair of gods known as the Twins grew powerful in the world of Fiatera, until the Divine Mother and Almighty Father exiled them, binding them deep in the earth. But the price of keeping the fire lands safe is steep. To prevent these young gods from rising again, all twins in the land must be killed at birth, a safeguard that has worked until now. Trapped for centuries, the Twins are gathering their latent powers to break free and destroy the Parents for their tyranny—to set off a fight between two generations of gods for control of the world and the mortals who dwell in it. When the gods make war, only one side can be victorious.

The Weaver’s Lament (Symphony of Ages #9)—Elizabeth Haydon (June 21, Tor Books)
For a thousand years, the lands ruled by the Cymrian Alliance have been at peace. When the brutal death of a dear friend catapults the kingdom to the brink of civil war, Rhapsody finds herself in an impossible situation: forced to choose between her beloved husband, Ashe, and her two oldest friends, Grunthor and Achmed. Choosing her husband will mean the death of thousands of innocents. Siding against him will cost Rhapsody the other half of her soul, both in this life and the next. The lines between the past and future are irrevocably blurred, and the strength of true love is tested in unthinkable ways.

The Sword of Midras (Blade of the Avatar #1)—Tracy Hickman and Richard Garriott (June 21, Tor Books)
The prequel to Shroud of the Avatar from Portalarium! The world died during the Fall. Abandoned by the mighty Avatars and their Virtues, the people who remained were left defenseless in an untamed land. That is, until the Obsidians came. Through dark sorcery and overwhelming force the Obsidian Empire brought order to chaos, no matter the cost. Aren Bendis is a Captain in the Obsidian Army who has seen enough of what a world without Virtue looks like and is willing to do whatever it takes to establish a lasting peace. But after finding a magical sword that only he can wield, a sword his trusted scout, Syenna, claims is a blade once used by the legendary Avatars, Aren is thrown into a far more unfamiliar battle.

Duskfall (Chaos Queen #1)—Christopher Husberg (June 21, Titan)
Stuck with arrows and close to death, a man is pulled from the icy waters of the Gulf of Nahl. Winter, a seemingly quiet young fisherman’s daughter, harbours a secret addiction that threatens to destroy her. A young priestess, Cinzia, must face a long journey home to protect her church from rebellion. A rebellion sparked by her sister. Three characters on different paths will be brought together by fate on one thrilling and perilous adventure.

Born of Legend (The League: Nemesis Rising #9)—Sherrilyn Kenyon (June 21, St. Martin’s Press)
As one of the most recognizable members of his royal house, Dagger Ixur has a bounty on his head that guarantees him no quarter from any friend or even family. He will fight to the bitter end. With what he believes is his dying breath, he saves a boy born to an extinct race from a group out to enslave the kid for his legendary abilities. Ushara Altaan has spent her entire life hating those born to nobility. As a rare Andarion Fyreblood, she is sworn to end the existence of any royal she finds. But when Dagger saves her son’s life, she is torn between her people and a debt that can never be repaid. Yet worse than Dagger’s family are the League assassins who will stop at nothing to claim the lives of her Tavali family. How can she ever trust Dagger when he is a disinherited outlaw whose very name is synonymous with betrayal?

Boundary Born (Boundary Magic #3)—Melissa F. Olson (June 21, 47North)
Something wicked is at work in Colorado’s supernatural community. Vampires are being paralyzed or killed with poison … a weapon favored by witches. This offense threatens to break apart the already-fractured alliance between witches and the undead. The state’s cardinal vampire, Maven, summons boundary witch Allison “Lex” Luther to stop the killing before it ignites a war. Lex has barely started investigating when she gets another surprise: the biological father she’s never met arrives on her doorstep. Then the next vampire is poisoned—and this time it’s Maven herself. In order to find the killer, Lex will have to face down her own birthright and call on every ally—both living and dead.

Never EverSara Saedi (June 21, Viking Books for Young Readers)
Young adult. When Wylie encounters Phinn—confident, mature, and devastatingly handsome—at a party the night before her brother goes to juvie, she can’t believe how fast she falls for him. And that’s before he shows her how to fly. Soon Wylie and her brothers find themselves whisked away to a mysterious tropical island off the coast of New York City where nobody ages beyond seventeen and life is a constant party. Wylie’s in heaven: now her brother won’t go to jail and she can escape her over-scheduled life with all its woes and responsibilities—permanently. But the deeper Wylie falls for Phinn, the more she begins to discover has been kept from her and her brothers. Somebody on the island has been lying to her, but the truth can’t stay hidden forever.

Pride’s Spell (Sin du Jour #3)—Matt Wallace (June 21, Publishing)
The team at Sin du Jour—New York’s exclusive caterers-to-the-damned—find themselves up against their toughest challenge, yet when they’re lured out west to prepare a feast in the most forbidding place in America: Hollywood, where false gods rule supreme. Meanwhile, back at home, Ritter is attacked at home by the strangest hit-squad the world has ever seen, and the team must pull out all the stops if they’re to prevent themselves from being offered up as the main course in a feast they normally provide.



Descendant: The Complete Nikki Glass SeriesJenna Black (June 28, Gallery Books)
Omnibus. For Immortal Huntress and cunning private investigator Nikki Glass, vengeance trumps all in this complete collection of acclaimed author Jenna Black’s addictive urban fantasy series! The omnibus edition includes all four Descendant novels, as well as the e-novella Pros and Cons that takes place between the events of Deadly Descendant and Rogue Descendant.

Magic Bitter, Magic SweetCharlie N. Holmberg (June 28, 47North)
Maire is a baker with an extraordinary gift: she can infuse her treats with emotions and abilities, which are then passed on to those who eat them. She doesn’t know why she can do this and remembers nothing of who she is or where she came from. When marauders raid her town, Maire is captured and sold to the eccentric Allemas, who enslaves her and demands that she produce sinister confections, including a witch’s gingerbread cottage, a living cookie boy, and size-altering cakes. During her captivity, Maire is visited by Fyel, a ghostly being who is reluctant to reveal his connection to her. The more often they meet, the more her memories return, and she begins to piece together who and what she really is.

The Curse of Tenth Grave (Charley Davidson #10)—Darynda Jones (June 28, St. Martin’s Press)
Part-time PI and full-time grim reaper, Charley Davidson has asked a lot of questions throughout her life: Why can I see dead people? Who is the hot supernatural entity following me? How do I get gum out of my sister’s hair before she wakes up? But, “How do I trap not one god, but three?” was never among them. Until now. And since those gods are on earth to kill her daughter, she has little choice but to track them down, trap them, and cast them from this dimension. But one of them stole her heart a very long time ago. Can a god of absolute death and destruction change his omniscient spots, or will his allegiance lie with his brothers? Those are just some of the questions Charley must answer, and quick.

The Perdition Score (Sandman Slim #8)—Richard Kadrey (June 28, Harper Voyager)
The request from Thomas Abbot, the Augur of the Sub Rosa council, couldn’t come at a better time for James Stark, aka Sandman Slim. He needs a little action, and now Abbott wants Stark and Candy to investigate the disappearance of a young boy—and help uncover council members who might be tied to Wormwood’s power brokers. Stark’s plans change when he meets a dying angel who gives him a vial of a mysterious black liquid that could be a secret weapon in the ongoing war between angels who want to allow human souls into Heaven and rebel angels willing to die to keep them out. When one of Stark’s closest friends is poisoned with the black liquid, Stark and Candy have to go to the only place where they might find a cure: Hell.

The Seascape TattooLarry Niven & Steven Barnes (June 28, Tor Books)
Aros of Azteca and Neoloth-Pteor are the deadliest of enemies: Swordsman and Sorcerer, locked in mortal combat, who have tried to kill each other more times than either can count. But when the princess Neoloth loves is kidnapped, there is only one plan that offers any hope of rescue … and that requires passing off the barbarian Aros as a lost princeling and infiltrating the deadliest cabal of necromancers the world has ever seen. They cannot trust each other. They will betray or kill each other the first chance they get. But they’re all each other has.

Hope and RedJon Skovron (June 28, Orbit)
A nameless girl is the lone survivor when her village is massacred by biomancers, mystical servants of the emperor. Named after her lost village, Bleak Hope is secretly trained by a master Vinchen warrior as an instrument of vengeance. A boy becomes an orphan on the squalid streets of New Laven and is adopted by one of the most notorious women of the criminal underworld, given the name Red, and trained as a thief and con artist. When a ganglord named Deadface Drem strikes a bargain with the biomancers to consolidate and rule all the slums of New Laven, the worlds of Hope and Red come crashing together, and their unlikely alliance takes them further than either could have dreamed possible.

The Nightmare Stacks (Laundry Files #7)—Charles Stross (June 28, Ace)
After stumbling upon the algorithm that turned him and his fellow merchant bankers into vampires, Alex Schwartz was drafted by The Laundry, Britain’s secret counter-occult agency. Alex has no stomach for predatory bloodsucking, so he has little choice but to accept his new role as an operative-in-training. Alex’s first assignment is to help assess the costs of renovating a 1950s Cold War bunker in Leeds into The Laundry’s new headquarters. Unfortunately, Leeds is Alex’s hometown, and the thought of breaking the news to his parents that he’s left banking for civil service, while hiding his undead condition, is causing more anxiety than learning how to live as a vampire secret agent preparing to confront multiple apocalypses.

The Age of Myth (Legends of the First Empire #1)—Michael J. Sullivan (June 28, Del Rey)
Since time immemorial, humans have worshipped the gods they call Fhrey, truly a race apart: invincible in battle, masters of magic, and seemingly immortal. But when a god falls to a human blade, the balance of power between humans and those they thought were gods changes forever. Now only a few stand between humankind and annihilation: Raithe, reluctant to embrace his destiny as the God Killer; Suri, a young seer burdened by signs of impending doom; and Persephone, who must overcome personal tragedy to lead her people. The Age of Myth is over. The time of rebellion has begun.

ElixirRuth Vincent (June 28, Harper Voyager Impulse)
Mabily “Mab” Jones is just a twenty-something, over-educated, under-employed New Yorker trying to survive as a private eye’s unpaid intern … or is she? Once a powerful fairy tricked by the Fairy Queen into human form, Mab is forced to face her changeling past when investigating a missing person case at a modern speakeasy. Obadiah Savage bootlegs fairy Elixir to human customers thirsting for a magical fix. But when Mab and Obadiah become joint suspects in a crime they didn’t commit, the only way to prove their innocence is to travel back to the fairy realm. And when Mab confronts the Fairy Queen and learns the depth of her betrayal, she must decide if the fate of the fey world is worth destroying the lives of the humans she’s come to love.

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Posted by Stefan Raets


Welcome to this week’s installment of the Kage Baker Company series reread! In today’s post, we’ll finish up In the Garden of Iden, covering chapters 22 through 24. The reread’s introduction (including the reading order we’ll be following) can be found here, and the index of all previous posts here.

Before we get started, the usual warning: this reread contains spoilers for the entire series, so be careful unless you don’t mind finding out plot elements and major revelations from later books.

And with that, we’re off!


Chapter 22

Summary: Mendoza is inconsolable after the events of the previous night. Nefer tries to put a positive spin on it, saying it’s for the best. Joseph gets Mendoza to focus on finishing her botanical work. Mendoza overhears a conversation between Master Darrell and Francis Ffrawney, and finds out that Nicholas is going to be burned at the stake. She immediately sets out for Rochester.

Commentary: After the events of the previous night, Mendoza spends most of the time crying helplessly. Nefer tries to console her with an “it’s probably for the best” speech that gets no reaction from Mendoza, showing to what extent Mendoza is wrapped up in her despair: she would have probably bitten Nefer’s head off if she’d been paying attention. (Nefer also casually mentions they would have probably had to kill Nicholas because he’d seen too much, and in Sky Coyote Joseph will confirm this. We’re getting further and further away from the idea of the Company being a benevolent organization, aren’t we?)

Joseph is much more effective than Nefer in dealing with Mendoza’s sadness. When he walks in with an armload of plant material from the garden, including some butchered ilex tormentosum twigs, it finally stirs Mendoza out of her catatonia and gets her back to doing what makes her happiest: her work. The work will remain Mendoza’s refuge for the next two centuries or so, until Edward comes on stage towards the end of Mendoza in Hollywood.

But how hilarious is Joseph in this scene, playing up how inept he is at collecting and processing “all this shrubby stuff” with lines like “Yes, sir, this is pretty interesting. Really funky leaves and, uh, I guess this is a flower or something—”? For all the comedy here, this is also Joseph at his fatherly best, actually looking out for Mendoza by trying to distract her from her sadness.

Unfortunately, getting Mendoza back to work also causes her to overhear the conversation between Master Darrell and Francis Ffrawney. When she hears that Nicholas has been caught preaching “the old heresies” in Sevenoaks and has been condemned to burn, she immediately drops everything and sets off for Rochester.


Chapter 23

Summary: Mendoza makes it to Rochester, where she talks the Mayor into letting her speak with Nicholas in his cell. She tries to convince Nicholas to recant, but he refuses. Joseph tries to convince Mendoza to leave, but she insists on staying and watches Nicholas address the audience before he is burned at the stake.

Commentary: The first part of this chapter describes Mendoza’s 30 mile journey to Rochester. What jumped out at me here (aside from Mendoza finally seeing the osiers and weirs she was looking for at the end of chapter 8!) is the way she scares off her assailant by planting terrifying images in his mind. Mendoza thinks that he “must have been a psychic dog”. Maybe this, combined with Mendoza’s Crome radiation, explains why he is receptive to this type of quasi-telepathic sending, because if this worked for everyone, I imagine the Company’s operatives would do it much more often, right? (As it is, I seem to remember at least one other instance of this, maybe in one of the short stories or novellas, but I can’t recall exactly where.)

The conversation between Nicholas and Mendoza, in the cell before Joseph arrives, is heartbreaking. Mendoza was and is willing to give up everything to be with Nicholas, but he is now convinced that she is trying to tempt him from what he considers his holy duty to become a martyr for his faith. The chasm between them has widened even further, but Mendoza is still holding out hope.

Joseph makes a grand entrance in his scene, beginning with a polite “Excuse me” before taking a swing at Nicholas, locking the Lord Mayor out of his own dungeon, and then giving Mendoza a stern, fatherly lecture complete with “You are in a lot of trouble.” The showdown between Mendoza’s immortal father and her mortal lover shows that, despite Joseph’s smarmy manners and endless manipulations, he really does care for Mendoza: “You’re the one who’s made her hate what she is. How’s she supposed to live, now, after what you’ve done to her heart?”

When Joseph tells Nicholas “Age after age, you come back.” Mendoza assumes he’s referring to reincarnation. When Joseph explains how reincarnation really works (the same basic personality templates popping up throughout history) he obviously has no idea how close to the mark he really is, not just with the obvious example of the Adonai but also other famous people who were planted throughout history by the Company, as we’ll find out much later in the series.

Joseph initially doesn’t fight Mendoza over wanting to stay for the burning. Joseph has witnessed over 700 burnings in his previous role with the Inquisition, so he knows what to expect and should have a good idea of how it will affect Mendoza. This makes it surprising that his first reaction is “It might teach you a lesson, at that” when Mendoza insists on staying because she still believes Nicholas will recant. Later on, when they’re back in the Mayor’s house, he’ll do everything he can to convince her to leave, offering to lead her horse and even promising he’ll call in favors to get Mendoza the New World assignment she’s wanted since her training days. Would Mendoza have been more receptive to this argument if Joseph had started out with it from the start, rather than hoping the sight of her mortal lover being burned alive would somehow be cathartic?

But then, after the slow buildup of tension, the final scene of the chapter is wrapped up in just a few pages, so quickly it’s almost shocking. This is one of those scenes that will echo back and forth throughout the entire series. It’ll be referred to frequently by people we haven’t even met yet, and have consequences all the way to the very end of the series. However, at this point it’s mainly a very personal tragedy for Nicholas and Mendoza.

Mendoza and Joseph are given front row seats as Nicholas is led out. Right before Nicholas is tied to the stake, Mendoza has a flashback of chained figures wearing sanbenitos and shuffling towards their executions. I’m guessing that this one of Mendoza’s very early (pre-recruitment) memories, maybe from seeing an auto-da-fé in Santiago when she was very young.

Nicholas breaks free briefly to perform a twisted version of the sacrament of baptism on Mendoza, using his own blood. After being tied to the stake, he addresses the crowd, shaming them for not fighting for their religious liberty and exhorting them to fight back against the Counter-Reformation. Then, after the flames have been lit, he speaks directly to Mendoza, charging her to join him in the flames and return to God. Mendoza wants to run to Nicholas, but she is unable to move, once fighting so strongly against the Company’s conditioning that “there was an audible crack as muscle strove against bone” before finally coming to the sad conclusion: “I had no free will.”

I’m probably reading too much into things here, but we’ve talked about all the religious symbolism throughout this book (and later in the series) so bear with me: one of the most disturbing parts of this sequence is Nicholas quoting from, of all things, the Song of Solomon in his final words to Mendoza: “I am the same that waked thee among the apple trees” and so on. It’s specifically disturbing because he also quoted from the Song, more appropriately and during much happier times, at the end of chapter 13 in the lines his “Friar John” squeaks to Mendoza as they are about to make love for the first time. (This bizarre circle will ultimately be completed at the very end of the series: take a look at the last line in the epilogue to the final novel, The Sons of Heaven.)

Later on in the series we’ll also learn that, thanks to the persuasive powers of the Adonai, the lives of most of the people who witnessed the execution will change drastically after hearing Nicholas’s sermon. Many of them will heed his call in some form, some committing suicide, others taking up arms against religious persecution. It’s even argued that this speech is what caused Joseph, up to this point a loyal Dr. Zeus operative for countless centuries, to go rogue and look into the darker aspects of the Company. Maybe most importantly, a man named Crokeham (not named in this chapter but mentioned in the “Extract from the Text of Document D” in The Life of the World to Come) will be part of Sir Francis Drake’s crew at Catalina Island, recovering the scientific documents and mysterious devices and potions that will eventually find their way back to Doctor Dee in England and become a necessary link in the founding of Dr. Zeus.


Chapter 24

Summary: Mendoza, clearly in shock, wraps up her work in a daze before leaving Kent. Six months later, after lots of drugs and therapy, she arrives at her new post in the luxurious Company research base New World One.

Commentary: A very minor point to start this chapter: when the team is on its way out of Kent, they encounter a mortal who is hoping to sell a “dragon skull” at the Iden estate. The skull actually belongs to an ichthyosaur, not a dragon, making this the first of several instances of ichthyosaurs appearing in the series in unexpected (not to say impossible) spots. I’ve never really known what to make of these appearances, but I wanted to document this first one here so we can maybe figure it out as we read along. Anyway, moving on!

Throughout this chapter, Mendoza is in shock to such an extent that she’s unresponsive, not to say borderline catatonic. It’s incredibly sad to see her like this, knowing how passionate and strong-willed she usually is, but it’s also understandable given the horror she just witnessed. Joseph, maybe feeling guilty for steering her towards Nicholas early on in the mission, promises to pull strings in order to get her out of trouble and get her stationed in the New World. He’s probably also responsible for the removal of the AAE flag on her file so she can remain in the Americas for the next few centuries.

This chapter also features the very first appearance of Victor, who will become one of the most important characters in the entire series. He’ll appear in various roles in many novels and stories, playing a crucial part in many key plotlines. Here, he introduces himself as the Personnel Coordinator for New World One, but in the novella “To the Land Beyond the Sunset”, we’ll learn that he’s actually also the Company’s Political Officer in this base.

New World One comes as a bit of a shock after we’ve spent most of the novel in 16th century England: a luxurious tropical paradise complete with four restaurants and a golf course. Even its shiny transit lounge is a stunning contrast with the much grubbier one Mendoza arrived in when she got back to Spain from Terra Australis. The servants in New World One are intercepted human sacrifices who consider it an honor to serve what they believe to be the Sons and Daughters of Heaven. We don’t meet the base’s General Director Houbert in this novel yet, probably because Kage Baker didn’t want to distract from Mendoza’s pain by showing the somewhat comical character responsible for the obscene level of luxury in the base.

Because of this, the stunning final few paragraphs of the novel have their full intended effect: when Mendoza is sipping her margarita and sees monkeys throwing rotting fruit at each other, her suppressed emotions finally break through. The little Spanish girl from chapter 1 has become an immortal cyborg, as far removed from regular mortals as mortals are from monkeys, but despite the Company’s best efforts the psychological damage she’s suffered will always be a part of her. I get chills every time I read those final paragraphs.
And so, my friends, we have finally come to the end of In the Garden of Iden! What I find most impressive about this novel, still my favorite one in the core series, is the way it changes completely as you find out more about the Company. I loved it the first time I read it, as an innovative time travel story about immortal Company operatives and as an unusual but gorgeous historical romance, but during that first reading I had no way of understanding or even knowing about all the different factors that are already in play here but will only be revealed in later books: the New Inklings, the Adonai project, Labienus and Nennius, just to name a few. It’s only in The Life of the World to Come and The Children of the Company that those crucial aspects of this story will be revealed, making In the Garden of Iden a novel you simply have to read twice in order to appreciate the full scope of Kage Baker’s meticulous planning.

We’ll continue our reread in two weeks with the first few chapters of Sky Coyote. I’ll drop a note here later to let you know which chapters we’ll cover in that post. However, before that we have a treat for you: next week we’ll have a guest post from Kage Baker’s sister Kathleen Bartholomew about Kage’s process when writing In the Garden of Iden!

Stefan Raets reads and reviews science fiction and fantasy whenever he isn’t distracted by less important things like eating and sleeping. You can find him on Twitter, and his website is Far Beyond Reality.

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Posted by Sarah Tolf


George R.R. Martin read from a new The Winds of Winter chapter at Balticon over the weekend. Given the choice of hearing from Mercy, Aeron, or a “fake history” regarding Aegon’s sons, fans overwhelmingly voted for Aeron Greyjoy, AKA Damphair, the youngest of Balon’s brothers and a priest of the Drowned God. Titled “The Forsaken,” Martin promised a dark chapter that would appeal to “Ramsay fans.” Yeesh…

Several redittors have compiled a comprehensive summary of the chapter, which details the Damphair’s fate following the Kingsmoot. Spoilers abound, of course, and we warn you that Martin wasn’t kidding about how brutal the whole thing gets. And check out our full list of available chapter excerpts and summaries from The Winds of Winter.

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Posted by Natalie Zutter

David Mitchell Cloud Atlas Future Library Project Katie Paterson Margaret Atwood From Me Flows What You Call Time

The shelves of the Future Library Project have now doubled in number of books! A year after Margaret Atwood handed over her manuscript for Scribbler Moon—which will not be read until 2114—the FLP has announced its next participant: Cloud Atlas author David Mitchell. He is the second author of 100 invited to write a new poem, short story, novel, or piece of nonfiction—the style doesn’t matter, so long as it matches creator and curator Katie Paterson’s vision of “the theme of imagination and time, which they can take in so many directions.” Mitchell turned in his novel, From Me Flows What You Call Time, down to the wire of his 1 a.m. deadline before boarding a plane to Norway to hand over the completed manuscript.

As part of the FLP’s establishment in 2014, 1,000 trees were planted in Oslo’s Nordmarka forest; 98 years from now, those trees will be chopped down to provide the paper to print the 100 projects, for the authors’ descendants and future fans to finally read. Before he left, Mitchell explained to The Guardian why it’s so important to look ahead a century instead of reading these works now:

Everything is telling us that we’re doomed, but the Future Library is a candidate on the ballot paper for possible futures. It brings hope that we are more resilient than we think: that we will be here, that there will be trees, that there will be books, and readers, and civilisation.

Mitchell expounds on that mentality in a stirring piece for the FLP explaining how he almost let the opportunity pass him by, and points out that this endeavor that is so futuristic to us will seem remarkably ancient by the time it comes to fruition:

Katie Paterson will not be alive in 2114, nor Anne Beate Hovind, the Future Library’s coordinator, nor me, nor the next thirty or forty writers who deposit manuscripts in Deichman Library in Oslo, nor the foresters who tend the plantation of spruces. We have to trust our successors, and their successors, and theirs, to steer the project through a hundred years of political skulduggery, climate change, budget cutbacks and zombie apocalypses. We have to trust that ‘digital archeologists’ will manage to get inside ancient USB sticks. Katie Paterson has to trust me and my successors not to hand in a sheaf of blank A4 pages at the hand-over ceremony at the Future Forest at the end of May. We all have to trust that people not yet born will solve Known-Unknowns and Unknown-Unknowns. We trust that our trust is not misplaced. Being trusted often brings out the best in people—like when the cabin staff asks me to sit in the exit row, I actually read the ‘What to do in an Emergency’ sheet and feel enabled and alert. Trust is a force for good in our cynical world, and the Future Library is a trust-generator.

He also has a great sense of humor about the whole thing:

[The process was] quite liberating, because I won’t be around to take the consequences of this being good, or bad … But I’m sandwiched between Margaret Atwood, and no doubt some shit-hot other writer [yet to be revealed]. So it better be good. What a historic fool of epochal proportions I’d look, if they opened it in 2114 and it wasn’t any good.

While you won’t have the chance to read these books (unless we master immortality as predicted in Monica Byrne’s TED Talk), you will have the chance to see them in just a few years. From Me Flows What You Call Time will be sealed and placed alongside Scribbler Moon in a special wood-lined room in Oslo’s new public library, set to open in 2019. Here’s more from Mitchell:

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Posted by Stephanie Ritter

We’ve heard tales of the Mad King dating all the way back to season one, but a Mad Queen? Nope, it’s not a recap of RuPaul’s Drag Race you’re about to read, we’re talking Game of Thrones on today’s Nerdist News! It should go without saying that this thing is practically booby trapped with spoilers, so turn back now before you trip the wire and fall into a wormhole-like trap door to Spoiler Country, because we’re diving into “Blood of My Blood” deep!

Since I’m sure we’re all still reeling from Holding the Door, Benioff, Weiss, and company gave us time to catch our breath with a solid hour of set-up for something bigger, ending on Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of a Thousand Names rallying her troops in the name of well, war. She proclaimed her plan to rule the seven kingdoms, for the first time acting out of something besides altruism, you know, plain ol’ total control of the kingdoms and all of their inhabitants. Is this all the start of a set-up for a crazy reveal, or better yet, something… mad? That’s right, we’re throwing down the speculation gauntlet and wondering if the Mother of Dragons is about to go bananas just like her dad and turn into a Mad Queen.

Genius theory-mage Joanna Robinson over at Vanity Fair posted a genius breakdown this week of the Khalessi’s call to action from atop her dragon. In her article, she pointed out that in the past, Dany has always articulated her real desire is in the name of good, standing for freedom, instead of, you know, child-killing, and other murder-y type stuff. But in this week’s episode, the Queen of the Andals basically reiterated the speech Khal Drogo gave in the name of her unborn son, promising that the Dothraki army would get to rape, pillage, and totally destroy any Westerosi they encounter in their journey across the sea in 1,000 ships, y’know, in the name of control, not freedom. But where oh where exactly are they going to get these ships? There just might be a guy, nay, a King of the Iron Islands who’s heading towards just that. But will the Breaker of Chains make a deal with the devil–sorry, I think you guys know him as Euron Greyjoy (the guy that ripped out all those tongues)–in order to get the ships she needs?

And let’s not forget that we did just see a quick peek at the Mad King in Bran’s raven-y flashback. Coincidence? I think not! But what do you guys think? Have we been tricked into believing in the one good person in all seven kingdoms only to be burned hard when she goes full-on baddie? Will Daenerys be able to fight the madness and remember the good person she was, becoming the only true hero of this entire show? Let’s discuss!

"Let's see what's in the box!"

May. 31st, 2016 05:24 pm
rosefox: Origami boxes. (gift)
[personal profile] rosefox
The Con or Bust auction is going on right now, and you can bid on a tea-and-advice date with me!

There are only two bids up there right now, and the top four bids win, so bid early and often. :) And if we're not going to be in the same geographical location anytime soon, we can have a Skype-and-advice date instead.

Con or Bust is a fantastic organization that gives people of color financial support and free memberships to attend SF/F conventions. They've helped hundreds of fans and do amazing work. I'm thrilled to be supporting them by donating my time, and I hope you will support them too by bidding (there are lots of other delicious things up for auction, including jewelry and signed first editions), donating to a future auction, and/or spreading the word. Fan-run fan-supporting organizations like Con or Bust are part of what make the SF/F community so great--please help them keep doing their amazing work!

Symptoms (1974)

May. 31st, 2016 09:31 pm
[syndicated profile] diaboliquemagazine_feed

Posted by Kat Ellinger

symptoms coverWhen the BFI announced they were restoring Jose Ramon Larraz’s Symptoms to blu-ray earlier this year, I, like many others who had been waiting, wishing, a master of this “lost film” would be unearthed, could hardly believe the news. The title had been on the BFI’s most wanted list for quite a while, and it seemed like all hope was lost when no elements appeared to be forthcoming despite the appeal. In fact, when I reviewed the film a couple of years ago, the mood of that particular piece focused on lamenting over the fact that Symptoms could only been seen in raw bootleg form (a fact which seemed positively criminal at the time); captured in VHS quality from a showing on British TV in the early eighties. The film seemed to vanish into the ether, after being entered as the official British entry at Cannes in 1974, despite its brief airing on television. Sad times indeed, but now Symptoms is back, fully restored, and rightfully so, given the status of the film as not only a piece of stunning cult horror, but one of the most beautiful, and haunting British genre films of the seventies.

Jose Larraz is known to many horror/exploitation fans through his carnal epic Vampyres (1974); a sultry piece of bloody Britsploitation, with ample lashings of Spanish sauce. While Vampyres still rates as a highly popular title of its kind, the rest of the director’s horror output remains criminally unavailable in quality formats. Like many independent directors of the era, and this point seems especially true for Spanish filmmakers working in Euro-cult (Jorge Grau, Paul Naschy and Amando de Ossorio in particular), their work seems to have fallen by the wayside when it comes to joining the restoration race against their American. British and Italian counterparts. Although the reasons for this are varied and complex, what it amounts to is that the legacy of many of these names is left to stand in the shadows to some extent, and not given the respect due: a fact especially true when talking about Jose Larraz as an important voice in seventies cult horror film. And on that note, this release becomes a particularly important one, regardless of the disturbing fact that some people seem more concerned with moaning about the colour of the box on the recent US edition of the same film. The fact that this film can now be seen in such a beautiful format should be cause for nothing less than pure celebration.

Symptoms represents Larraz on top form. Taking some of the ideas that flowed through the bulk of his early seventies output: madness, cruelty, sexual repression, warped family secrets, lust and obsession; tying up all these themes to make his masterpiece. Larraz’s obvious skill aside, the fact this is a masterpiece owes a huge debt to the exquisite casting involved; a factor lacking in some of his earlier pieces (although that is not to say they aren’t as enjoyable as Symptoms, they are very much so, just for different reasons). But let’s face it, Angela Pleasence gives such an outstanding performance, many would struggle to keep up. Giving it her all in the portrayal of the fragile Helen, a young lady who has returned to the isolated family manor house out in the idyllic English countryside, recovering from a recent illness, the circumstances of which remain shrouded in mystery for most of the plot. Accompanying her is friend Anne (Lorna Heilbron), and it is clear from the outset Helen is smitten. Whether those feelings are reciprocated is never quite clear. Larraz instead focusing on an intense, yet understated, aura of sexual tension rather than opting for the no holds barred approach to lesbian themes he took for many of his other films: most notably  Whirlpool (1970), The Coming of Sin (1978), Madame Olga’s Pupils (1981) and the previously mentioned opus Vampyres. Symptoms shares a similar understated vibe in this regard with its direct predecessor Ramon  (1974) —  as well as the idea of a woman haunted by her past, and disturbing dreams. The nudity factor is low (in contrast to Larraz’s other work), but the tension is fit to bursting; especially when creepy groundsman Brady (Peter Vaughan) is added into the mix. His presence ensuring an ominous tone is maintained throughout.

Symptoms (1974)

Symptoms (1974)

Even when Larraz was at his trashiest, one thing he could almost always guarantee was a sense of atmosphere and ambiance. With Symptoms he hits his highest notes, utilizing scenes of the British countryside— a dreamy lake and autumnal misty woodland— to create something poetic and haunting that really encompasses a Gothic vibe which Hammer Horror and the other dominating British studios of the time could only wished for in their wildest dreams. This was a fresh contemporary sense of Gothic, revolving around themes of madness and decay, sexual jealousy, dark shadows and a sense of things that go bump in the night, complete with the odd body in the lake. Larraz takes some of the themes and ideas he explored in his preceding work, embellishing them with a sense of gorgeous English Gothic charm, while removing the elements of sadistic sexual violence seen in Whirlpool, Deviation (1971) and The House that Vanished (1974). The director instead opting to take the same route he traveled in La Muerte Incierta (1973)— and in fact there is a killer POV scene almost mirrored between the two films, which is rendered far more powerful, than seen in the former, by the slowly, slowly approach developed in Symptoms— and Emma, Puertas Oscuras; where similar themes of sexual repression, obsession, and mental illness are used to terrifying effect. 


This edition from BFI Flipside, as well as providing a mouthwatering transfer, comes packed with some pretty fabulous extras too; the highlight of which is a particularly charming interview with Angela Pleasence. Pleasence, who confesses to only having revisited the film in recent times, appears genuinely touched it is now considered an important piece of cult cinema and loved by so many fans. Talking with a sense of modesty and wit about her time working on the set, her interview is highly enjoyable. Other interviews include co-star Lorna Heilbron, and Brian Smedley Ashton— who served as an editor on Symptoms but then went on to produce some of Larraz’s later films; including Vampyres. There are also two documentary features included; From Barcelona to Tunbridge Wells: The Films of José Larraz, which many UK fans will recognise from the Pete Tombs’ late nineties TV series Eurotika! (which was originally screened on Channel 4), and On Vampyres and other Symptoms (2011) by Celia Novis, which runs at just over an hour, and provides some important context on the director’s early career.


The Bottom Line

An essential release for all fans of contemporary gothic, British horror and Euro-cult. Existing fans are likely to be overjoyed with the transfer and package of extras provided by BFI Flipside.

Symptoms (1974)

Symptoms (1974)

The post Symptoms (1974) appeared first on Diabolique Magazine.


May. 31st, 2016 05:19 pm
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Posted by krikkiter68


Love in the afternoon, dressing up and dazzling Spring sunshine.

Words: 519, Chapters: 1/1, Language: English

Femslash for All

May. 31st, 2016 05:16 pm
[syndicated profile] ao3_ff_feed

Posted by BulletStrong


Regina ships a lot of lesbians. Swan Queen.

The shortest, dumbest, crack story I've ever written and I love it.

Words: 283, Chapters: 1/1, Language: English

i'm so into you i can barely breathe

May. 31st, 2016 05:15 pm
[syndicated profile] ao3_ff_feed

Posted by hollstxin


The English teacher makes the class pair up for a project. Everyone but Clarke, and a girl at the back, has a partner. Clarke is forced to pair up with her and discovers that she is the most cold hearted bitch she's ever met.

(cliche, but I know you gays love it)

Words: 1043, Chapters: 1/?, Language: English

eyes closed and smiling

May. 31st, 2016 05:10 pm
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Posted by PixieXW


Delia and Patsy say their goodbyes

Words: 884, Chapters: 1/1, Language: English

"And Peggy"

May. 31st, 2016 05:09 pm
[syndicated profile] ao3_ff_feed

Posted by ihaveaplan


Summary: Angelica is smart and witty, Eliza is sweet and beautiful, and Peggy? Peggy was nothing compared to them. After being homeschooled for the past few years, Peggy is shipped off to the King’s Boarding School where her sisters and their friends are already attending. Peggy doesn’t fit like everyone else does- and so she tries to “fix herself” through any means possible. But what will she do when her secrets begin to spill out again? And how will she cope with someone who needs her?
“And Peggy…”

Words: 1191, Chapters: 1/1, Language: English

Best Kept Secret

May. 31st, 2016 05:08 pm
[syndicated profile] ao3_ff_feed

Posted by BluhBluh


When Evelyn is brought to the prison, her lies and past catch up with her, and she finds herself trapped in a web of deceit, trickery and blonde hair.

Will swap POV's but will not be written in the first person
Will start between the end of season 3 and start of season 4

Words: 1360, Chapters: 1/?, Language: English

Stars Forever

May. 31st, 2016 04:56 pm
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Posted by NaryCanary


Mikaela Shindo and Yuuichiro Amane meet at an audition for an upcoming production film. When Mikaela gets casted for the lead role, the two become inseparable and the whole world sees it.

Fast forward 3 years later and the two have a nasty fall out. As time goes by, they wonder if they can ever go back to the way they used to be, or maybe more.

Words: 4424, Chapters: 1/?, Language: English

She Has To Look Her Best

May. 31st, 2016 04:09 pm
[syndicated profile] ao3_ff_feed

Posted by christina009


This is a Clizzy one shot, it's meant to take place before Alec and Lydia's wedding in episode 12! Also, this is my first time writing something like this so please let me know if you enjoyed it!

Words: 1279, Chapters: 1/1, Language: English

[syndicated profile] snopes_feed
A photograph that appears to show the Democratic presidential candidate napping at a Memorial Day event is unclear in context.

Tuesday Yardening

May. 31st, 2016 04:15 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Today we used a shovel and bucket to start spreading sawdust from the treeline along the road where we had a couple of stumps ground out.  This will help reduce weeds along the new line of shrubs. 

Off the air

May. 31st, 2016 10:04 pm
oursin: Photograph of a spiny sea urchin (Spiny sea urchin)
[personal profile] oursin

Or, Schrodinger's frelling wifi.

On the bus to Madison, had a reasonable connection yay.

On the bus back to O'Hare, although there appeared to be a connection, it didn't actually do anything - also was an older bus with nowhere to plug in chargers, which may have some bearing.

At O'Hare, have been doing the Masochism Tango with Boingo, which sneers at the tablet and won't connect, but on the laptop, after several rounds of frustration, seems to have let me online for a minimal period.



beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)

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