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I am once again a guest geek on this week's episode of Wired.com's Geek's Guide to the Galaxy, hosted by David Barr Kirtley. This week's topic is Game of Thrones spoilers.  You can listen here.

So as I've already said, we're taking things from episode to episode this season.  I'll be recording each episode but not watching it as it airs.  Afterward I'll be checking in on Facebook to learn whether there are spoilers for future books.  If the answer is yes or maybe then I stop watching until I read the next book.

But I'm happy to say that we made it through this week's episode, so I'll be delivering you another writeup.  I should add that my knowledge of A Song of Ice and Fire will be put to the test a little bit more this year than in previous years.  Yes, A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons are the most recent books, but they're also the ones I've read the fewest times.  I've read the first three books four times each--they're fairly imprinted onto my soul at this point (though I do continue to pick out new details with each successive reread).  I've "only" read AFFC three times, and ADWD twice.  Do I know the general layout of the stories?  Yes.  Do I have that same encyclopedic knowledge as I do for the first three books?  Not quite, especially not with the most recent book.  These books are dense enough that they really require multiple rereads to really get a full handle on everything that's going on.  This said, I still know the books fairly well and can definitely continue providing more insights than your average fan.  So let's jump in, and enjoy the ride this season for as long as it lasts (because I'll be shocked if I don't have to stop watching at some point this season).  As always, if you're not up to date on all the GoT episodes and reading materials (including sample chapters for the next book), the usual spoiler warnings apply.  Also, as some of you may have heard, multiple episodes to the latest season were recently leaked online.  I have a personal friend who has confirmed to me that he's seen the first four episodes.  Let me be perfectly clear here: if you've managed to track these episodes down online, great.  But this is NOT the place to discuss them in any shape or form.  I don't care if they contain spoilers to future books or not.  Let's keep this an even playing field for everyone, and only focus on materials that have been officially released to the reading and viewing public.  Breaking of this sacred rule shall earn you a lifetime ban on all my personal social media accounts (I'm not fucking around here--don't test me!)

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Game of Thrones: The Plan for Season Five

  • Apr. 6th, 2015 at 5:40 PM

So over the years I've accrued what I would deem a small but loyal following concerning my writeups for each new episode of HBO's Game of Thrones.  There were some years where I worried I might too busy to do said writeups, but I always found a way to make time for them.

This year poses a new obstacle (in addition to the potential time constraints).  I'm what you might call a GoT purist.  I've been reading the books since they first came out in 1996.  I have a first edition hardcover, signed by the Great George himself.  I've read the entire series several times over.  Yes, I am hardcore.  This doesn't prevent from enjoying the HBO series, even when they deviate from the books, so long as it's warranted.  When they stray in a different direction and it still work, I am fine with heaping on the praise.  When these new choices are weaker than the original story and/or poorly conceived, I do not hesitate to shred them.  But I always look forward to and watch each episode (twice over).

But in all things, it has always been books first.  That is the true source material.  That is what I care about above all else when it comes to this world, this story, and these characters.  I said as much on George's blog when he got sucked into a conversation about this, and The Wall Street Journal actually quoted me.  And as everyone and their mother knows by now, the HBO series is quickly catching up to the books.  And while in some instances they'll be taking the story in new directions, in other instances they'll be revealing things that happen in the books before I get the chance to read them.  And then there is third part of this equation, where things will be happening and I won't know if they're from the books or not. Honestly, that could drive me a little batty.

For me, it's vitally important that I read what happens before I see it.  There have been a couple of instances already where HBO has been playing with fire.  First, there was the Other King changing the human baby into an Other.  I have no idea if that is something unique to HBO or a bombshell waiting to happen later on in the books.  But being as the (potential) damage was already done, I chose to keep watching.  Then there was the death of Jojen Reed.  This would've been enough to make me stop watching, except I was 100% he was going to die based on all the hints George dropped in the books.  And being as he's still alive in the books where they killed him in the HBO series, it's not as if any important details have been ruined for me concerning the manner of his death.  He could even still have an important role to play in the books, so I'm really all right with this one.

But it was kind of the last straw, because I knew I'd just dodged a major bullet.  And by the Seven, I won't let the show dictate the story to me.  So where does that leave me and these reviews?  It's quite simply really.  When Game of Thrones premieres this Sunday @ 9:00, I won't be watching it.  But I will be recording it.  And at 10:00 p.m. I will log into Facebook and ask if I must beware of spoilers.  If the answer is no, I'll happily watch the episode and you'll get your review.  If the answer is yes, then I'll be pulling the plug on these reviews (and taking certain steps to guard against spoilers that I'll get into a later date).  If the answer is maybe there are spoilers/I can't tell/etc., I'm afraid I'm not willing to take that risk, so once again the plug will be pulled on further reviews.
I fully expect that at some point this season I'll have to stop watching the HBO series while I wait for the next book.  I have read all the sample chapters to the next book that George has posted on his website, so perhaps that will buy me a little time.  And even after I stop watching I intend to record every episode, so that once I've read the next book I can immediately get caught up on the HBO series.  A recent post from the Great George also provided a subtle suggestion that the finish line to The Winds of Winter is in sight (you have to read between the lines, but it's there), so hopefully I won't have to deprive myself too long when it comes to the HBO series, though I might easly find myself back in the same boat come season six if the next book comes out before then.  But that is a concern for next year.  In the meantime, I will ride the HBO series and keep providing you my reviews for as long as I can.  But once it's over, it's OVER.  I'm waiting for the real winter.  

World Fantasy Convention: Roommate Needed

  • Mar. 3rd, 2015 at 6:53 PM

UPDATE: Roommate acquired!

So I'm going to the World Fantasy Convention this November, which will be my first convention in a couple of years.  I'm pretty stoked, especially since WFC has always been my favorite con.  While it's close enough to drive up there and spare me the cost of a plane ticket, having your own room can still be a bit pricey.  So I'm searching for a potential roommate.  If anyone is interested, please message me at dougcohen2@gmail.com.  

Oz Reimagined: Promotional Deal

  • Feb. 11th, 2015 at 10:45 AM

Amazon.com is running a new promotion, and Oz Reimagined is part of it.  Until March 11th, you can purchase a Kindle edition of the Oz Reimagined anthology for just $1.99.

Space and Time Issue 122

  • Jan. 21st, 2015 at 10:28 PM

Yesterday I received my contributor copies for Space and Time Magazine # 122, which includes my short story, "The True Song."  Being as this magazine is over forty years old, I'm proud to be a part of its tradition.  You can purchase an e-copy of this issue over at Weightless Books if you're so inclined. You can also view the complete ToC over at the magazine's website.

Welcome to part 103 in my comprehensive retrospective of Realms of Fantasy, the final installment in this series.  In previous editions, I would share some thoughts on the fiction in each issue, along with the accompanying departments.  However, there are no more individual issues to discuss.  Installment 102 in this series covered the October 2011 issue, which was the final issue in RoF’s publishing history.  Even so, this series calls for one last installment to boil down this vast overview, to, as the title states, put the retrospective in perspective, not to mention the magazine itself.  As such, the format for this final installment will be somewhat different from previous editions.

So let’s jump in, shall we?  Be warned in advance that this final retrospective is LOOOOONG.  It's so long that LiveJoural can't handle the entire retrospective in one entry.  So here's Part I.  Part II will follow shortly.  There are some statements with asterisks scattered throughout both parts.  All of those can be found at the end of Part II.  Sorry, I'm copying and pasting everything from another file and don't feel like moving these statements around.  Them's the breaks!

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Realms of Fantasy: October 2011 (Issue 102)

  • Dec. 19th, 2014 at 7:31 PM

ROF October

Part 102 in my comprehensive retrospective as I read the fiction in Realms of Fantasy and offer my thoughts, right up to the final issue.  This time around I’ll be discussing the October 2011 issue, which is indeed the final issue in the magazine’s run.

I covered most of the relevant details surrounding the magazine’s closure in the previous retrospective.  What I’ll add is that Shawna and I both wrote some farewell editorials that were posted on the magazine’s website alongside the publisher’s cancelation notice.  There was also a ring of finality to this closure that the previous two hadn’t had.  Perhaps it was because we accomplished so much in our final year of publication—a Nebula Award, a Nebula nomination, publishing a cover that won Spectrum’s Editorial Silver Award, publishing our first themed issue, followed by our hundredth issue, and our fiction editor being honored at the World Fantasy Convention as the Editorial Guest of Honor.  I can’t say that we went out on our terms, especially when we had so much more planned for future issues, but I can say that creatively we went out strong.  I’d like to think this knowledge made the closure a little easier for both Shawna and myself. 

And while we were disappointed to see the magazine reach its end, I have a feeling that had someone else stepped in to save RoF yet again, Shawna and/or I would have passed on returning a third time.  Three sets of publishers and three closures in less than two years can be kind of exhausting.  Enough was enough.  For a brief time there was discussion among the publishers of possibly taking the remaining materials we had in inventory and publishing them as some sort of of .pdf, but this never came to pass.  And so RoF passed into magazine history, though we did enough in our time that we’ll be leaving our mark on the speculative field for years to come.  And with this said, let’s dive into the final issue.

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Realms of Fantasy: August 2011 (Issue 101)

  • Dec. 15th, 2014 at 9:36 PM

RoF August

Part 101 in my comprehensive retrospective as I read the fiction in Realms of Fantasy and offer my thoughts, right up to the final issue. This time around I’ll be discussing the August 2011 edition, which is the penultimate issue of the magazine.

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Douglas Cohen

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