Celebrate Sir Terry Pratchett’s Birthday with New Editions!

Since I first discovered that Sir Terry Pratchett shared a birthday with a family member (who is also a big fan), I think of thebeloved and belated author every year on April 28. Today, which would have been Sir Terry’s seventy-fourth birthday, is the first official Terry Pratchett Day, which will be celebrated this year with new editions of his novels, beginning with six of his fabulous Discworld books, the ones in the “Witches” series plus one stand-alone. If  you have never experienced the joy and madness that is Discworld, these books are a great place to begin. Discworld often has connections to another wizarding world, although the Unseen University is probably less enticing than Hogwarts if one were choosing an institution of magical education.  Rincewind, Pratchett’s endearingly failed “Wizzard,” undoubtedly flunked his OWLS, but he is good value as entertainment!

Equal Rites, Wyrd Sisters, Witches Abroad, Lords and Ladies, Maskerade, and Carpe Jugulum, along with Small Gods, are all getting splendid new covers, released today. This summer will see new-cover releases for the Wizards series, and, appropriately, on October 27 the Death series, WILL ALL BE RELEASED (I am rather partial to Pratchett’s cat-loving fellow in the long black robe, capital letters and all). That group will include the wonderful Hogfather. Next year will see the release of the City Watch novels and several others. So, if you love Discworld and need an excuse to buy new editions, or if you want to share this wonderful series with someone else, this is a good time to gift yourself or a loved one in honor of Sir Terry on his birthday! If you are not yet a fan of the fantastic world that travels through space on the back of a turtle (really!), and you need a place to start, you can begin at the beginning with The Colour of Magic, but Discworld is the sort of place you can just drop into from anywhere, so I highly recommend the re-working of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Lords and Ladies, which is in the series being released today. Happy Terry Pratchett Day!

Secrets of Dumbledore: Predictions Fulfilled and Promise for the Future

Last month, I posted my thoughts, predictions, and bizarre guesses about Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore based on the series of character posters that had just been released. At long last, the film has had its American release, and I am happy to offer my thoughts on the this, the third installment in the Fantastic Beasts collection. Be warned, in the interest of being un-influenced, I have not read the reviews or comments that have been posted here already, and there will be spoilers galore after the jump as we take a look at the film’s positive and negative aspects, the ways in which my poster insights were incredibly accurate (as well as some that were completely off base), and some predictions for the story to come based on what we’ve seen this time around. This review may be as wild, over-stuffed, and blatantly dangerous as Newt’s fabulous case, so proceed with caution to our latest adventure in the Wizarding World. [Read more…]

Always Winter and Never Christmas? Some Thoughts on Snow, Springtime, and Fantasy Literature

According to the calendar, the vernal equinox is coming soon, March 20. The Auditors of Time just decreed that we must all surrender an hour of our lives (they do promise to give it back in the fall), and I’ve already heard spring peepers singing for all they are worth. However, we currently are having a snowstorm here in western North Carolina, so those poor peepers are, as my dad would say, now “peeping through glass,” and the single digit temperature and sub-zero windchill are enough to make a person look twice at the calendar to see if spring is around the corner or on another continent. As I frequently point out to my fellow residents of the mountains during this time of year, “Appalachian Spring” is not just a musical composition; it is a specific species of cruel joke. It’s rather like that feeling when, well before the end of the book or film, our heroes have slain the monster and we, savvy story-consumers that we are, know that the monster is NOT in fact dead, or the monster has a baby, a mate, a scary parent, or a whole monster army in reserve. Thus, the howling winds outside and the freshly cut daffodils inside (I cut them just before the snow) have reminded me of some thoughts I have long been pondering about the way seasons, particularly winter and spring, work in fantasy literature and how the treatment of those seasons is often an indication of the worldviews of authors and of the directions their tales will take.

So join me after the jump as we ponder some fantastic thoughts and decide if “winter is coming” or if, in fact, “This is no thaw. This is spring.”

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Will Ariana be one of the Secrets of Dumbledore we see in the Next Fantastic Beasts Film?

After our lively conversation about the posters for the upcoming Fantastic Beasts:  The Secrets of Dumbledore, due out April 15, I think it is safe to say that curiosity is high about the film and about just what secrets might be revealed by and about Dumbledore and his family. Last month, Mugglenet published photos that had been taken during production on the second film, photos of an actress depicting Ariana Dumbledore in scenes that were evidently cut from the final version. It’s anyone’s guess if Ariana will appear in the new film, but there are a few interesting aspects that might be fun to ponder as we hope to learn more about Dumbledore, a character who has the distinction of always being courteous and friendly, while simultaneously holding his cards so close to his robes that hardly anyone really knows him, and those who think they do sometimes aren’t sure.

Any scene with Ariana will have to be a flashback, Pensieve, or Mirror of Erised experience, of course, so perhaps the footage shot for the second film could be used for the new one. After the jump, I have a few quick observations on these photos and their potential.

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Take a Virtual Wizarding World Trip to Universal-Orlando with ResortTV1

With high gas prices and all the other challenges of travel these days, you may not be up for a trip to Central Florida and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, so you may want to check out the YouTube channel of ResortTV1. This lovely channel has been around for over 13 years, with brother and sister team Josh and Jenna vlogging and regularly streaming from the Universal and Disney Parks.

If you can’t go out on a Friday night, go with Josh and Jenna (and sometimes their parents or Josh’s wife and son) on a stress-free visit to beautiful Orlando! I’ve enjoyed reliving my own days in that area, as Jenna and Josh wander around my old stomping grounds (the Disney World streams at Christmastime were my stress escape!). They are wonderful hosts, very family friendly and relaxed, taking viewers to the front of the line and to great views of the parades and fireworks with no crowds, high costs, or sweltering heat.

If you’ve never been to Universal Studio’s Wizarding World, check out this video from last fall, in which you can see some of the Wizarding World seasonal entertainment. You can also see some of the sites on other visits to the park. If you are hoping to visit the Wizarding World (or any other resort area park) in the future, this channel will whet your appetite. Enjoy!