16 September 2019 ~ 0 Comments

STORY ANALYSIS: “The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections” by Tina Connolly

written by David Steffen I am trying out a new feature that I might run occasionally here, where I pick a story that I particularly liked, and pick it apart to try to figure out why it worked so well. For this first entry, I’ll be talking about “The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections” by […]

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11 September 2019 ~ 2 Comments

DP FICTION #55B: “Dear Parents, Your Child Is Not the Chosen One” by P.G. Galalis

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Goodblood,

Thank you for expressing your concerns about Rodney’s First Term grade. Please understand that the highest mark of “Chosen One” is exceedingly rare, even among our exceptional student body here at Avalon. Rodney’s grade of “Stalwart” is neither a mistake nor cause for concern, but a performance about which you and he can both be proud.

As I indicated in my written evaluation, Rodney is a bright young man, although he does have room for improvement in the areas of effort and behavior. I’m told by his Warrior, Wizard, and Rogue teachers that he shows equal aptitude in all three classes, so I’m confident that with support and encouragement, his skills will continue to improve.

Sincerely,

Madeleine Whimbley

Teacher of Intermediate Feats & Virtues

Avalon Preparatory Academy for Adventurers

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22 July 2019 ~ 0 Comments

BOOK REVIEW: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

written by David Steffen American Gods is a contemporary fantasy/mythology novel by Neil Gaiman, published in 2001. I’ve heard the book highly recommended by many readers, and in 2017 Starz started airing a TV series adaptation, so I decided I needed to find out what it was all about. The protagonist of the book, Shadow, is released from […]

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17 June 2019 ~ 2 Comments

DP FICTION #52B: “Bootleg Jesus” by Tonya Liburd

Out where rock outcroppings yearn to become mountains, there was a town cursed with no magic.

In this town, there was a family.

In this family, there was a girl.

She was nine, almost ten, Mara. Childhood hadn’t completely lifted its veil. She had an older brother, Ivan, who was fourteen, and whose voice was changing. Elsewhere, puberty would have signaled all sorts of preparations – acceptance into a special group home as much for his safety as for the general public – while his Unique Gift manifested. Watchfulness. Guidance. Training. 

But not here.

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10 May 2019 ~ 0 Comments

MOVIE REVIEW: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a fantasy action/adventure movie tie-in to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter universe,  distributed by Warner Bros pictures in 2016.  It shares a title with one of Harry Potter’s textbooks in the Harry Potter series, written by Newt Scamander.  And it has also been published as a standalone book by J.K. Rowling in 2001.

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15 March 2019 ~ 0 Comments

DP FICTION #49B: “The Last Death” by Sahara Frost

I stare into the endless dark, watching, waiting. It’s like all those years ago, when I was a kid on Christmas Eve. Me, lying in bed, wide-eyed with anticipation, listening for the clatter of eight tiny reindeer landing overhead. Only this time, it’s not jolly old Saint Nick I’m expecting. Nor is it sugar plums that dance inside my head, keeping sleep at bay.

The silent night drags on, one moment melding seamlessly into the next until I think the world must have stopped. Only the stars show me different, each glance out my window revealing their gradual progress across the sky. Then, at long last, it’s over. The dull gleam of first light crests the horizon, and once more, the world begins to move.

“Well,” I say to myself, “Suppose I might as well get ready.”

Heart fluttering with a giddy tingle, I throw back the covers and sit up. Immediately, my poor old bones creak in protest, reminding me to slow down. “Easy, girl. Easy!” I chide, quelling the urge to spring from my bed like some youngster, “No sense in falling and breaking a hip. ‘Specially not today of all days.” I release my impatience with a huff and bob my head in a reluctant nod. Then I plant my feet firmly on the floor, reach for my cane, and carefully hoist myself up.

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01 March 2019 ~ 2 Comments

DP FICTION #49A: “Heaven For Everyone” by Aimee Ogden

The summer that God came to Whartonville, I ended up trapped on the drugstore roof with only half a peanut butter sandwich and a seraph to keep me company.

The sandwich part is true! Hell, all of it is true. I’d eaten the rest of my lunch on the bus, before God’s approach hit the news. I can always buy more lunch in the hospital cafeteria. When the cafeteria and the rest of the city aren’t under three feet of water, at least. I know it was bad, and people died, but I’m still glad we got a flood instead of the plague of locusts that just hit Fargo. Two months later and you still can’t step outside without a crunch, is what I hear.

Anyway the seraph must have flown up before the rain really started coming down, and I managed to climb up onto the street light and from there to the roof. So there we were together in the middle of the storm. “I thought He didn’t do this shit anymore,” I said to the seraph. They shrugged, or at least I thought they did. It’s hard to read body language on someone who’s seven feet tall with six wings and a dozen mouths, but I’ve had practice lately. You know they can’t really speak for themselves? Sure, they talk, but everything they say is an echo from the Almighty’s own lips. Or at bare minimum from one or another of His prophets. So body language turns out to be kind of important. “There was a covenant or whatever.”

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21 December 2018 ~ 0 Comments

MOVIE REVIEW: Smallfoot

Smallfoot is a 2018 computer-animated musical adventure children’s film about a town of yetis living in high mountains above the clouds, oblivious of the human world until plane crashes and a young yeti, Migo (Channing Tatum) sees a smallfoot (their name for humans).  Everything about the yetis’ lives is defined by the laws written on ancient stones worn by their leader the Stonekeeper (Common).  Migo  is the son of Dorgle the gong-ringer (Danny DeVito) who rings the gong every morning to make the sun rise.  Every day is spent with daily labors that don’t have a clear purpose but are prescribed by the stones.   Migo and his young friends, including Meechee the Stonekeeper’s daughter (Zendaya), Gwangi (LeBron James), Kolka (Gina Rodriguez), and Fleem (Ely Henry) question the wisdom of the stones.

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03 December 2018 ~ 1 Comment

DP FICTION #46A: “The Hammer’s Prayer” by Benjamin C. Kinney

I showed up early for work, as always. The airport’s underbelly was the ugliest place in Boston, but I would’ve spent every hour there if I could get away with it. Among the hurried machines and distant reek-sweet jet fuel, I had everything I needed. A purpose, a paycheck, a place to hide; and most of all, a land of function without beauty, where nothing would tempt me to invest it with holiness and life.

The other officers grunted hellos as they arrived, and we split up into pairs for our little contributions to the safety of mankind. My supervisor Darrell beckoned me to him once again, and I took my place by the conveyor belt, pleased for the company of his press-perfect uniform blues. I had never let him know me, as I could let no human know me, but he had come to appreciate me despite the dull mask of my restraint.

I brushed clay dust from my uniform, tugged on my gloves, and watched humanity’s obsessions trundle toward the scanner. The belt hummed with the comfort of purposeful movement, content with suitcases and backpacks and baby strollers. A hard-shelled bicycle box wedged against a chute, and a light blinked amber as the conveyor belt clunked to a halt.

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16 November 2018 ~ 7 Comments

DP FICTION #45B: “The Coal Remembers What It Was” by Paul R. Hardy

Oh, I remember my mam. She’s been gone nigh on forty years, but I still think of the mornings when I were little and she’d show me the demons. She’d be up at the crack of dawn, kneeling down afore the stove to shove kindling in the firebox with one hand because she were cradling my baby brother in the other. And then I’d come along and pick a bit of coal out of the scuttle and ask: is there a demon in this one? And she’d say no, and I’d put it back and pick up another and ask: is there a demon in this one? And she’d say no again and I’d take another and like as not she’d clip me round the ear before I said owt else. “It’s not demons, Elsie,” she’d say. “The coal remembers what it was, that’s all. But it’s still only a lump of coal and I need to get the fire lit for your dad’s bath so get away with you and stop bothering me with your nonsense!”

Dad were on the night shift, you see. I hardly ever saw him with the hours he worked. He’d get home in the morning so covered in coal dust I thought he were a piece of coal himself. And then he’d have his bath and go straight to bed, and he were out again before I were back from school. People are always asking me about him. I get sick of all the questions. They’re only asking because he died in the disaster, but that were seventy years ago and it’s not like I were down there in the mine with him when it happened. I were back home, with Mam. Course I was. I were only little. I were up early to look at the demons.

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