Archive by Author

Horror review: Penny Reeve on A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge

10 Dec

Although she’s been a name within the young adult horror/fantasy scene for a while now, Frances Hardinge was recently projected into the mainstream public gaze when her novel The Lie Tree won the 2016 Costa Book of the Year Prize. After such a bar was set with her last novel, Hardinge’s fans waited with bated breath for her newest, A Skinful of Shadows. Luckily it is an intricate and masterfully told coming-of-age tale, full of intrigue and more than a little creepy, which lives up to expectations. Plus, it was nominated for the Waterstones Book of the Year Award 2017. Take that, Costa.

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My Superpower: Aidan Doyle

23 Nov

My Superpower is a regular guest column on the Skiffy and Fanty blog where authors and creators tell us about one weird skill, neat trick, highly specialized cybernetic upgrade, or other superpower they have, and how it helped (or hindered!) their creative process as they built their project. Today we welcome Aidan Doyle.

My superpower is reading the air.

I taught English in Japan for 4 years and I once heard my students referring to someone who was KY. I learned this meant kuuki yomenai — literally unable to read the air. Unable to read the unspoken messages others are trying to convey. Unable to grasp the context of the situation.

My Japanese co-workers would often ask me for advice about how to phrase something in English. They pointed out to me that my answer was often “it depends.” So much depends on context. Sam Sommers’ book, Situation Matters: Understanding How Context Transforms Your World, examines this topic in more detail, especially the idea of how much of our behavior is dependent on circumstances. “We’re easily seduced by the notion of stable character. So much of who we are, how we think, and what we do is driven by the situations we’re in, yet we remain blissfully unaware of it.”

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Horror Review: Penny Reeve’s Top Picks from the Mayhem Film Festival

12 Nov

October is my favorite month of the year. From the first of the month I put on my favorite knits — regardless of the weather outside — and draw up reading and movie lists full of horror, creepiness and witchcraft. This October I spent time watching a ton of films — a lot of which were screened at the incredibly good Mayhem Film Festival held in Nottingham, UK, each year — and I wanted to share with you my top picks, from the classic to the hilarious to the ritualistic.

Have you seen anything great over the past month and a bit? Let me know in the comments. Continue reading

Movie Review: “Blade Runner 2049” (‘As clear as dreaming’)

10 Oct

I can’t remember ever being as disturbed and enthralled at one time by any movie as by “Blade Runner 2049.” That makes it fine art in my eyes.

The movie is disturbing because it so explicitly poses questions about personhood, objectification and empathy. I gasped a few times and flinched several more times, and so did my companion. Besides the consent issues, the violence in it is also disturbing, and this vision of 2049 is even more dystopic for PoC and women; however, I saw those elements not as gratuitous, but rather as deliberate showcasing of the problems of society. I’ll discuss that more after the spoiler warning. Continue reading

Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties (reviewed by Penny Reeve)

8 Oct

Carmen Maria Machado’s writing has — very rightly so — been receiving a lot of attention recently. Readers have been champing at the bit for more of Machado’s work since she set the literary world alight in 2014 with the incredible short “The Husband Stitch” and now we’re rewarded with a collection of her short stories with Her Body and Other Parties, which I’m already slating as one of my top reads of 2017.

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