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A few decades ago, if you said the word “Gothic haunted house novel,” the phrase would very definitely have brought to mind something with a rambling Victorian mansion, tortured heroines, mad women in the attic, sombre men, and wailing ghosts. It probably wouldn’t have brought to mind a little old lady baking scones and conducting […] The post Secr…
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A short story isn’t just a novel in miniature form. It isn’t even a shortened novella. It is a creature of its own devising. There’s only time for a snapshot of reality, and in the space of a few thousand words, you have to be able to draw in a reader, make them feel for […] The post Keeping it short – with Gianni Washington first appeared on Break…
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The literature of our past is littered with casual gender biases. You describe someone as a “witch” and the natural assumption is that they are female. But according to Diane Purkiss, while mostly women were accused in the English witch trials, in some of the Scandinavian countries, men were in the slight majority. In fact, […] The post Secret soci…
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“In space, no one can hear you scream.” It’s an iconic tagline that can be applied to so many modern stories about space travel and exploration (except, perhaps, our beloved Star Trek). Obviously, space travel in real life can be incredibly perilous, but the perils of space in fiction have moved beyond the worry about […] The post The horror of spa…
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Religion has been part of our society for centuries. Is it any wonder then that it can make up a large part of our fiction – from CS Lewis’s allegorical Chronicles of Narnia series to Anna Smith Spark’s Empires of Dust trilogy and the Loki books by Joanne Harris. But with so many religions the […] The post Religion, tradition, and history in fantas…
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We have a bit of an unusual episode for you today! While it is amazing that we have so many authors who want to come on the show – we feel truly honoured – we thought it was about time we returned to talking among the three of us, like it was when we first […] The post Yes, we’re also authors – with Lucy and Charlotte first appeared on Breaking the…
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Love can last a lifetime, but revenge is forever… Love is a common driving force for novels, and it comes in many forms. It could be the pursuit of true love, or the quest to turn unrequited love into a passionate relationship. Often, it can be the loss of love that spurs a hero or […] The post Obsessional love and vengeance with S.E. Porter first …
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The title of this episode is taken from Will R. Bird’s memoir of World War 1, a title which also inspired that of Katherine Arden’s novel set amidst the horror of the Great War. When it comes to writing about war, past authors have glorified it with moments of pathos. Who can forget the stirring […] The post Ghosts have warm hands – with Katherine …
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Welcome to our first episode of 2024. Yes, the title’s a quote from our incredible guest. As a podcast dedicated primarily to speculative fiction, we rarely find ourselves taking a deep dive into history. But the growth in popularity of both myths and retellings is bringing with it a new focus on historical periods, and […] The post Beneath the ski…
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Modern fantasy owes much to J.R.R. Tolkien, including his problematic colonialist views and othering of cultures and races different from his medieval European-inspired setting. Many authors since then have used ‘historical accuracy’ as a defence against a lack of diversity in their similarly inspired settings. But even if we gloss over the fact th…
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We love our folk horror. The genre has been growing in popularity these past years, and it’s not hard to see why. Writers take pastoral settings such as windswept hills or rugged sea coasts and imbue them with a sense of deep isolation. Throw in a community that seems at first utterly safe and then […] The post Community and isolation – with Jennif…
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Welcome to our Halloween episode! Romance has always been big business and these days there are plenty of subgenres. Despite its popularity, however, some snobbery still exists, often dismissing romance as “women’s fiction.” But if romance is really so terrible, why does it sell so well? Are the female characters in these books still the […] The po…
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It’s October, so we’re officially allowed to talk about Christmas. Sure, we’ve got Halloween first, and that’s a celebration we should all be enthusiastic about, but take a look at what books are being pushed by bookstores, Amazon, and even supermarkets, and you’ll find that Christmas stories are starting to creep in. You could say […] The post The…
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We often take for granted the role language plays in communicating our favourite stories. And here in the west, there exists an unspoken expectation to be able to consume those favourite stories in English. The necessity and importance of translation is a given. Writers producing work in English but for whom English is their second […] The post The…
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We’re honoured to have Isabel Cañas join us on the show as she talks us through not only her fabulous new novel, Vampires of El Norte, but also her experience of breaking into publishing as a Mexican-American writer and the pressure on marginalised creators to produce something “fresh”. Mentioned in this episode: Isabel Cañas is a […] The post “Som…
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In the preface to Les Fleurs du mal, Baudelaire indicated that boredom is the truest suffering, andthis idea later became central to the fin de siècle movement, an era of decadence in which artificemasqueraded as, or was even elevated to the status of, art. The Belladonna Invitation by Rose Bigginis a Gothic exploration of the […] The post The pois…
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When it comes to science fiction – and particularly dystopian science fiction – doctors are either the saviours of humanity with their invaluable medical knowledge, or they are the villains, using a lack of rules to exploit the vulnerable for their own questionable ends. But why is that? Is it a case of power corrupts? […] The post Medical hive min…
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Folklore and fairy tales can sometimes be inextricably bound up with religion. In the Grimms’ own collection of fairy tales, the Devil turns up and so do angels. ‘The Peasant in Heaven’ as well as ‘The Devil and his Grandmother’ were included alongside more famous tales such as ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Rumpelstiltskin’. With the current appetite […] The p…
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For this week’s episode, Lucy and Charlotte thought they’d take the opportunity to talk about something they have a passion for: folklore. In particular, the ballad of the Singing Bone, which is Aarne Thompson index number 780. To give it its full name, the Aarne Thompson Uther (shortened to ATU) index was created to try […] The post The singing bo…
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It’s a standard rule of writing that if you want your protagonist to look heroic and competent, you’ve got to get a powerful and menacing antagonist. In the past, writers have used AI as an overwhelming and hostile force, while others have chosen gods. But Emma Mieko Candon has taken the unusual step of pairing […] The post The AI apocalypse with E…
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I went a little bit left-field with the introduction to this episode, but I was weirdly excited by the fact that there was a major event in politics on the day I’d planned to discuss politics on the podcast! So please just bear with me, I promise it is all related to speculative fiction! On […] The post Politics and tropes in fantasy with Andrea St…
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In this episode, I am really excited to talk about a book I was invited to read last year. The premise drew me in immediately – the last of humanity fighting to exist above an inhospitable earth – the only thing keeping them safe is their city built and maintained by plants magically manipulated by […] The post Embracing rage in speculative fiction…
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Speculative fiction is no stranger to exploring issues of colonialism, particularly in science fiction, from first contact stories to wars over territories. While many such stories are extremely black and white, the realities of colonialism are far murkier. A colonial mindset shapes not just the colonised but also the coloniser, often in unexpected…
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Horror works best when it’s relatable. The best protagonists in a horror story are those that are just like us: they’re sensible, trying to scrape by, possibly raise families, and make the most of life. We empathise with people we understand. Cassandra Khaw is no stranger to the average Joe (or average Jane) as a […] The post After the end – with C…
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Fairies and fairy stories have fascinated us for centuries. They have been present in British art and literature certainly from the 1600s, with the earliest mention being dated as the 13th century. But what if, in the early 1900s, the world was fully aware of and accepting of the existence of fairies? What if academics in Oxford […] The post Away w…
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