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A college student sits alone. Their housemates are away for Christmas, and a storm howls beyond the walls, the branches of a tree tap-tap-tapping against the window. The wind drops for a moment, and in the pause they hear a creak on the stairs, a footfall where there should be none. Their breath catches in their throat.

The woodsman nails a plank across the window to his hut, making sure to hammer those tacks all the way in. He knows...

Article by Sam Tyler on 20th September 2022
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The Bookseller polled agents recently, and they saw one major trend for 2022 as ‘Joy-seeking, as readers continue to gravitate towards books that inspire, lighten, and distract...’ They also dubbed an increase in science fiction sales as showing the desire for ‘escapism’. Almost any book distracts, or could be used to ‘escape’, but never mind.

As I hear some sneering from all around me, some...

Article by Sam Tyler on 31st March 2022
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J.R.R. Tolkien isn’t the only dead white male author to write epic fantasy dominated by male characters, though you wouldn’t necessarily know that from the internet. The debate over his authorial intent has only increased recently as early scenes from the upcoming adaptation “The Rings of Power” have been released, showing women and non-white actors portraying Tolkien’s characters, something that depending on who...

Article by Ant on 22nd February 2022
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I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
- Douglas Adams
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Those of us lucky enough to be returning to some semblance of normalcy in recent weeks and months have clocked those little moments where we rediscovered something we barely knew we missed.

For me, it was sitting outside a coffeeshop, pretending to read a respectable-looking book, listening to people I didn’t know talk about some mundane thing I had no interest in. I think it was lake house rentals. They were going into...

Article by Sam Tyler on 13th July 2021
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by Ry Herman

I have always been fascinated by the period when Odysseus, great hero of Greek mythology, became the World’s Biggest Asshole.

That probably requires some explanation. The Greek myths were never written down in any single, canonical text. They changed over time, and the shifting details could radically alter the meaning. The earliest stories of Odysseus depict him as a hero with a keen mind and a silver...

Article by Sam Tyler on 10th June 2021
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I love the ocean. I love its crash and roar, I love how it purrs violently at night. I love it in a storm, on a clear calm day, or when the full moon is sitting just above the horizon and turning all that black water to silver. I’m also terrified of it. It’s a force of nature: it doesn’t care that you’re there, you can’t negotiate with it, you don’t matter. It’ll eat you up, dash you on rocks, drag...

Article by Sam Tyler on 8th April 2021
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I was walking down a towpath when I heard that my nephew had been born. I almost tripped into the glossy water as I flapped about with the news. I wanted to tell everyone: the person at the window of the boat we’d just passed, the dog walker being pulled along by a spotty terrier. My husband and I were boaters then. We’d been teachers before and now we’d become boaters. Both felt like full time occupations.

It was at...

Article by Sam Tyler on 23rd March 2021
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One of my favourite characters to write for The Second Bell is also one of the least loveable characters, from the point of view of a reader. 

Kalina is a young woman, living in the striga village, without any family and friends to claim her. Within their community’s the ultimate law is to bring the strigas’ other hearts under control. Self-knowledge and self-exploration are forbidden, for fear the...

Article by Sam Tyler on 9th March 2021
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I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
- Douglas Adams
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Fantasy can feel like a packed, oversaturated genre. Some writers seem more than happy to walk well-footed paths when it comes to character arcs, magic systems, and worldbuilding. Maybe more than anything else, the settings of so many fantasy novels seem directly lifted from Tolkien—all babbling brooks and green glades and perfectly picturesque mountains.

Don’t get me wrong, I thrilled at that landscape as a child first...

Article by Sam Tyler on 26th January 2021
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I live in South Africa, a country known for its capacity for forgiveness and its horrendous murder stats. Every day on the news, women and children go missing and turn up mutilated in forests and rubbish dumps. But this is also the place of Mister Mandela and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where apartheid killers cried broken tears with the families of their victims.

Just before writing Malachi, my life led me to a strange...

Article by Sam Tyler on 13th October 2020
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In September 1963, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee were at the height of their powers: well into their run on the Fantastic Four, they’d also recently launched the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, and Thor, among others. Their Marvel Universe portrayed the world outside readers’ windows, unlike its Distinguished Competition, and it would have been disingenuous to show an America in which civil rights was not a central issue. Whether it was out...

Article by Sam Tyler on 25th September 2020
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Gene Roddenberry famously pitched Star Trek to NBC executives as “Wagon Train to the stars”. He was referencing, of course, the TV series about a group of settlers forging their way westward across 19th-century America. Wagon Train was hugely popular in its time, running for eight seasons between 1957 and 1965, although nowadays it is largely remembered for its role in inspiring a markedly more successful SF franchise.

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Article by Sam Tyler on 15th June 2020
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