Podcast Recs: TANIS

Because storytelling is storytelling, no matter what form it takes.  There are some truly astounding podcasts out there for whatever you seem to be interested in. One of my favorites is TANIS, produced by the Pacific Radio Alliance and hosted by Nic Silver.  They have other amazing podcasts, but TANIS has a special place in my heart.

Tanis Logo (taken from Tanis Podcast website)



This podcast blends real life facts and fictional mythologies to give us a genuinely intriguing mystery.  Currently on season three, you’ll easily get swept away by Nic’s narrative as he tries to untangle the mysteries surrounding this maybe mythical, maybe not, place called TANIS.    You’ll meet some really amazing secondary characters and the web of Tanis will slowly but surely suck you in.   Like the website says, “Tanis is an exploration of the nature of truth, conspiracy, and information.”   What happens when the lines between reality and fiction start to blur together and you’re left wondering which side of the line you’re actually on.

Runners Wanted Poster ( taken from Tanis podcast website)

If you are anything like me, at some point, the words “NIC SILVER NO.  DO NOT DO THAT THING” will come out of your mouth at the phone/IThing/computer because there are several of those moments where you get involved in the lives and the shenanigans and you will possibly wonder if maybe, just maybe you are going to hear someone actually die over the radio. 

Anyways, if you enjoy things that are weird, things that are mysterious, the Cthulhu mythos, Jack Parsons, or random disappearances into strange forests, give this podcast a try.

Because after all.  There are wondrous things.  There are magical things. There are dangerous things.  We get what we deserve.

Runners Wanted.

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Book Review: Invisible 3: Essays and Poems about Representation in SF/F

So as a quick disclaimer, I was always going to buy this book.  I was always going to make it part of the library of both digital and dead-tree format books that I have.   I personally know one of the people featured in it and Jim Hines as an editor was a huge selling point.    I have met him in person and while they say never meet your heroes, I was not disappointed in the slightest by meeting him.   He also gives super awesome hugs.   I had also heard great things about  Mary Anne Mohanraj who co-edited it with Jim.

I was always going to buy this book.   I knew I would read it and I had a feeling I would love it.  I knew from the premise that it would probably emotionally compromise me and I was not wrong there.  My tears are good tears, because this collection, while it points out where SF/F has failed or where we can do better as a genre with regards to representation for POC  and people with disabilities and alternative sexualities, it’s ultimately hopeful.

Cover of Invisible 3 ( taken from the Amazon page)

It starts conversations that we need to have.   Points out viewpoints that maybe we hadn’t stopped to consider before.   The essays and poems presented here are some of the finest writing I have seen and what each piece contributes is priceless.  The knowledge, the wisdom, the heart behind each piece is invaluable.

I can’t pick a favorite piece.  I’ve re-read this book twice now and I love all of them.   I will be purchasing it in every single format that it is released in because I want to support the people in it, because I want to support what they are after in producing such a work, and because I lend books freely to people and I need to have it accessible in whatever formats someone might need it in.  It is a wonderful collection that is both brilliant and necessary.

So if you have means, pick this up.  You won’t be disappointed at all.   And if you don’t have the ability to grab it or the library doesn’t have  it yet,  drop me a line and I am happy to lend it to you or send it to you.

Here is the link to the Kindle format on Amazon:  Invisible 3    The editors, Jim Hines and Mary Anne Mohanraj are both on Twitter and elseplaces at @jimchines and @mamohanraj

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Book Review: The Bishop of Port Victoria

One of the great things about conventions is that occasionally people hand you things once they know that you a) read and b) review things.   This was the case with this book, the author and I have floated around similar circles for a while, both being writers and local to the Nashville area.    So I was handed this novel and wow what a ride it’s been.

Picture a world where a super serum transforms three college students into heroes.   Superheroes that took to the street and fought crime and racked up a body count that the mobs could only dream of.   What if you had someone who was dedicated to ending this experiment by any means possible, to wiping out anyone tainted with the serum permanently.

The titular character of this book is such a person.  And I will tell you that this book is gripping and well-written.   Alan’s craft is solid and good, the imagery is incredibly vivid.    This character, however,  this Bishop who’s alternate persona of a goodly local priest… Eric Raven is a horrible human being.

Because this book, this series of interconnected short vignettes, is about the rise and eventual fall of Father Eric Raven, The Bishop of Port Victoria.     A man who hates the supers so much that he will murder babies in their sleep to prevent the super bloodline from propagating.    He is the worst kind of human and just like a horrific car crash happening in front of you on the freeway, once you pick this up, you’ll have a hard time looking away.

It’s not an easy read by any means, and it hits especially hard, given the current climate of fear and hatred that permeates our country at the moment.   Father Raven is the embodiment of the darker uglier sides that exist in this country.   I was not sorry to see how he eventually winds up.

If you like darker fiction and the gritty pulp styles of writing, give this a try.   If you are at all sensitive to racial/religious violence and/or violence against women, I’d stay away from it.  It can get triggery in places.

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Everything Old Is New Again

Everything old is new again.  

A fact for which I am profoundly delighted.  The latest from Shonda Rhimes,  Still Star-Crossed takes a centuries old play and breathes new life into it.  Everyone knows how the story of Romeo and Juliet ends.   The tragic end of the two heirs of the great houses and how their death ended a feud between their families. The title of the show even comes from that very first monologue.  “A pair of star-cross’d lovers…”   

Lashana Lynch as Rosaline ( taken from Lashana Lynch’s Twitter: @LashanaLynch )

This show takes that ending and runs with it, spinning out for us a glorious tapestry of politics, murder, intrigue, and marriage. For anyone like myself, who always wonders about what happens next, this show is an marvelous delight.   It takes what we already know and elevates that knowledge from a two hour play into a larger story that plays out extraordinarily well on the television screen. 

The deaths of the two heirs is simply a drop in the bucket of the much larger story unfolding in Verona. The death of the old Prince, leaving his son, Escalus and daughter, Isabella in charge of a city that is lacking only a spark to set off the powderkeg that dwells beneath it.

There are some lovely new twists as well that add more depth and intrigue to what we already know from the play.  Lord Montague having known already of the marriage between his son and Juliet, and indeed, having paid Friar Lawrence to make it happen.  Count Paris is not dead after all, but secretly recovering from his wounds in the basement of the Capulet stronghold. It is not said whether Paris is related to Escalus and Isabella, however there is a notable change in that Mercutio is not kin to them.  They’ve slotted him firmly in as belonging to House Montague.   A curious change, but easily understandable.

Wade Briggs as Benvolio Montague (taken from the ABC Still Star Crossed website)

The show displays elegantly exactly how precarious the situation for some city-states in Italy could be during this time period.   As Escalus states, there are threats within the city walls and outside of them and in order to preserve their lives as well as their seat of power, they have to walk a very tight line through all the factions.

I do wonder a little that instead of forcing Rosaline and Benvolio to marry, Escalus didn’t think to marry Rosaline himself and order Isabella to marry Benvolio and solve the issues that way.   Both houses now joined with the royal one and therefore now having a greater stake in what happens to Verona.   It would have allowed him to marry the woman he loved as well as solving some of the touchier political issues (and creating whole new ones as well, but there is no such thing as a perfect marital alliance during this time period).   Alas, he did not.  Which turns out to our benefit, as it would be a different show, if he had.

The casting for this show is lovely.   It’s a similar style of casting to the 1997 Disney version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella and I, for one, adore it.   I wish all my favorite shows would look like this, with the care and the talent and the attention to detail.   Lashana Lynch as Rosaline is absolutely perfect.  

Still Star-Crossed airs on Saturdays on ABC 10/9 Central and if you enjoy period television at all, you won’t want to miss this one.   There are currently only four episodes out, so it should be simple to catch up if you’ve missed the first few.

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