Friday, July 29, 2011

Does the Reader of an Audiobook Matter?

by Sara N.

Prior to the Tuesday release of the new Dresden Files book, Ghost Story, I was scanning the Amazon page for it, as is my wont. And I discovered that a small segment of Dresden fans are enraged. Enraged, I tell you! You see, the newest book's audio version isn't being narrated by James Marsters of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame, as the previous 12 have been. Because of a conflict in scheduling, John Glover (Lionel Luthor from Smallville) has taken over the audio duties. Glover, who has decades of acting experience and a mellifluous voice, should be more than suitable for the job.

But that doesn't matter. People are up in arms.
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This Terrifying Pink Robot Toy Is a Joke, Right?

by Sara N.

Is this some sort of bizarre parody? I mean, it has to be, right? The squeaky voices, the weird enthusiasm for the weekend, the dancing -- oh, the dancing! Do we really need small purple robots with supple skin for us to tickle? (On second thought, maybe don't answer that.)

Seriously, tell me that laughing/singsong robot voice won't haunt your dreams tonight. Or am I just a bitter, joyless crone who's forgotten what it was like to be a tween and to desperately want a giggling, school-obsessed, ticklish robot companion?
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Thursday, July 28, 2011

They DO Exist

by Megan S.

Oompa Loompas.  You probably thought the cryptids were just a product of the fertile mind of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory author Roald Dahl.  I know I did.

Turns out we were wrong.  So very wrong.

The photographic evidence is ASTOUNDING.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Fantastic Mr. Monpress: A Stellar Four Interview with Rachel Aaron

By Meghan B

 Every so often, a book series is so engrossing, well written and captivating that it makes you lose track of yourself. You miss your train stop. You read through all your meals. You glance up in disappointment when you remember you don't live in such a rich, lush and fantastic world. When you finish the last book in the series, you immediately re-read the first installment all over again. In short, the series is so epic you have to give it your full and undivided attention.

Rachel Aaron's Eli Monpress books are just that epic. Within a week I had read the first three novels in the series and actually started to re-read book one. I could not pull myself out of the amazing world she had created.

The series follows a charming and talented thief named Eli Monpress, who has his eye on earning a bounty for his capture worth a million dollars. He's joined by his friend and swordsman-with-a-secret Josef and Nico, a girl with her own demons to deal with. Using magic, outrageous quantities of luck and sheer cleverness, Eli steals anything that will get him closer to that record shattering bounty. Acting as the cop to Eli's robber is the smart and noble Miranda, tirelessly trying to bring him to justice. The characters are only part of the heady mix of magical daring do and awesome plot twists that make up the series.

I recently got the chance to interview Rachel Aaron about her brilliant characters, as well as the craft of writing. Besides being responsible for bringing Eli and friends to life, Rachel is incredibly funny and an absolutely joy to interview. Follow me after the jump as I try to hold back my inner fangirl and interview the wonderful Rachel Aaron! Caution: The interview contains spoilers!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Origins of the Slave Leia Costume

There's a lot of talk going around the intarwebs this week about the "Oh, You Sexy Geek" panel at San Diego Comic Con.  Basically, this was supposed to address the implications of the 'sexy women' in nerd culture.  Unsurprisingly, the chicks who make money by prancing around wearing teensy skimpy costumes felt that prancing around wearing teensy skimpy costumes had no negative connotations whatsoever.  (I am Jack's total lack of surprise.)  Here's an especially mind-boggling recap of how things went down.

You know what gets me, though?  This line, "Bonnie Burton and Adrianne Curry mused that women who were critical of sexy geek culture in any way were just jealous, had no confidence, and were projecting their issues with self-esteem onto the women who felt empowered by walking the Comic-Con floor in a Slave Leia costume."

Empowerment.  Really?  Let's take a look at the origins of that costume, shall we?

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Nikol's Excellent Comic-Con Adventure

Photos by Nikol
Guest Photographer and Stellar Four Reader

Nope, this isn't Nikol. Just an awesome Lady Joker Nikol came across at Comic-Con.
Stellar Four reader Nikol was our woman on the scene at this weekend's Comic-Con and she snapped some spectacular photos of cosplayers, celebrities and geeky goodness.  Check out some of our favorites after the jump!

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The Avenging Nibble

by Megan S.

One of the most talked about future films from at this past weekend's Comic-Con was Joss Whedon's "The Avengers."  What wasn't mentioned (or at least, I haven't heard it talked about) is that you'll soon be able to take a bite out of crime good(ies) with the Avenger's line of bakeware available from Williams-Sonoma.

Best of all? There's a tie-in comic book that's one of the cheesiest, funniest excuses I've ever seen for product placement, and it's free.  Did I mention it comes with recipes?!

Check out the online version of the comic book and the deets on what all you'll be able to stock your kitchen with after the jump.

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Tragedy in Norway

Our love and thoughts go out to the people of Norway today.  We are keeping you in our hearts.

-Laurie, Megan, Meghan and Sara
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Friday, July 22, 2011

The Cutest Photo To Come Out of Comic-Con

by Megan S.

via @TheOneTrueBIX

Aww, this is exactly the type of droid we're looking for.
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Celebrate Wedding Season with Sci Fi/Fantasy's Best Nuptials

by Laura B.
Guest Blogger

The Fourth of July fireworks have fizzled into smokey nothingness, and Labor Day shimmers far off on the horizon. It’s time to celebrate what the intervening summer weekends have in store: weddings.  Ah, love … something happily celebrated in the sci fi/fantasy worlds. Here are some of our favorite weddings from television, books and movies.
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Geek-Friendly Wedding Cake Toppers

by Sara N.

Who wants a cookie-cutter wedding? If you're in the midst of planning your wedding, embrace your fandom and show your love of all things geeky on top of your cake. It'll make the whole event even sweeter.

Feast your eyes on these geek-friendly cake toppers after the jump.
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Injured Tortoise Now Locomotes with a Steampunk Accessory

by Sara N.

Photo by WSU News Service
Animals who make miraculous recoveries after traumatic injuries always get me right in the heart muscle. Gamera the tortoise is no exception.

The 12-year-old African spur-thighed tortoise had to have his left front leg amputated following a bad burn, the Seattle PI reported Wednesday. To help him move around, veterinarians glued a $7 swiveling wheel from a hardware shop to Gamera's shell.

The 23-pound tortoise has adapted nicely to his artificial "limb" and now scoots around like a reptile from a steampunk novel. You can see him in action in the video below.
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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Comic-Con: Wish We Were There

by Megan S.

Didn't get to go to Comic-Con?  Neither did we.  No need to cry in our respective Butterbeers though, a little retail therapy will cheer us up.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fabulous Prices for Two Fabulous Books

Got a Kindle?  Got two dollars?  Then you are prepared, my friends.

Two of my favorite series starters are on sale from Amazon this fine day.  Pick up Red Headed Step Child by Jaye Wells and Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler for $1.99 each today.  

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Borders: An Epilogue

By Meghan B

If you haven't heard already, I hate to be the bearer of bad news. On Monday, Borders Books announced it would be liquidating 399 stores and laying off 11,000 employees. Borders Books is officially dead.

God, that feels like a punch to the gut, doesn't it? It's hard to imagine a world without Borders but starting as soon as Friday, that will become the sad reality. Following in the footsteps of stores like Tower Records, it's another behemoth crushed by its own inability to change, adapt and thrive in the post-Amazon world we live in. This is a sad week for book lovers everywhere. 

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What Torchwood Should Learn from Game of Thrones

I may be the only human on this earth who doesn’t love George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series.  It's too wordy, throws in too many Dramatic Chipmunk twists and turns, too many red herrings, and is just not my style, writing-wise.  That said, I like the story and the characters, and I loved the HBO series adaptation.  Unfortunately, I didn't realize the impact watching Game of Thrones would have on my other genre viewing.

Minor spoilers for Torchwood and Game of Thrones after the jump.

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Stellar Four Needs YOU!

by Megan S.

Are you lucky enough to be attending Comic-Con in San Diego this week?  We want to feature you!  Your pictures, your costumes, your awesome experiences, your favorite swag, we want it all!  Send us whatcha got (well, links to it, anyway; we can't imagine you'll wanna share your swag) so we can share it with the S4 community.  Email it, put it up on our Facebook wall, or tweet it.

Have fun!
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Monday, July 18, 2011

No Need For A Pensieve

by Megan S.

Looking for a way to display your Harry Potter memories?  You don't need a pensieve to share them with friends.  Check out some creative ideas (if I do say so myself) after the jump.
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Harry Potter: Thank You For Being A Friend

by Danielle K.
Guest Blogger

Is this the end of the Harry Potter fandom? Danielle doesn't think so.

Picture this: Sicily. 1914.

Wait, I was channeling Sophia from “The Golden Girls” again. But it is a good way to start. Picture this: It’s a glorious July evening in 2011. The sky is blue, the streak of horribly hot weather has given way to a cool evening. And outside a theater near the Nation’s Capitol is a motley crue of fans, wearing scarves in house colors, facinators, time turners and robes. Many are carrying wands. Some are wearing t-shirts. A few are dressed as characters. And all of them are wearing buttons reading “It’s real to us,” a gift presented at a dinner earlier that evening.

Standing in line, all of them have the glow of excitement. But it is tempered with nostalgia and sadness. For this morning, when the clock reaches 12:01, the last of the films, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” will start. And about two-and-a-half-hours later, the movie will be over.

And then what? My friends outside the Harry Potter fandom ask me. Won’t it all be over? Don’t the film taglines say, It all ends here?
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Urban Fantasy Week Contest: We Have A Winner!

Boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a winna! Katrina H. is now the proud owner of a signed copy of Stacey Jay's "Dead on the Delta."

Bummed you didn't win? You can always console yourself with a copy of the book from Amazon or your local bookstore. We also have a few magnets and postcards left to give away.  Just email us your address and we'll send 'em your way.
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Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Best Urban Fantasy Book You Haven't Read

by Sara N.

Have you read Sunshine yet? If not, I envy you this first-time reading experience. Here's why you should pick it up, post-haste:
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Friday, July 15, 2011

S4 EXCLUSIVE: An Excerpt from Stacia Kane's Next Book

To quote Meghan B., "MUPPET FLAIL!" Downside author Stacia Kane has given Stellar Four an exclusive peek at her next book in the urban fantasy series, Sacrificial Magic. The following is the first half of chapter one, but you won't be able to read the rest til the book comes out in March 2012. -Megan S.

Please note: The following excerpt is taken from the pre-copyedits version of the manuscript. Final published version may vary slightly.

by Stacia K.

“Only the bravest fight the dead.”
--Grand Elder Thomas, speech to graduating students, 2007

Chapter One

Had the roof over her head not been a broken mess, shredded insulation and pieces of tile dangling like the rotting innards of the living thing it had once been, she wouldn’t be getting hit on the head with cold droplets of water at odd, annoying intervals.

That would have made her happier. Or at least not quite as unhappy. Nothing could have made her particularly happy at that moment, when she was about to wander down a dark hall where a ghost lurked, and hopefully manage to freeze it before it sliced off her head or stabbed her or whatever the hell else it planned to do. The odds of a ghost in this corpse of a building not having a weapon were—well, there were no odds at all. Only the dumbest ghost on the planet wouldn’t have found some sort of weapon in this ramshackle palace of destruction, where her boots sloshed through a good two inches of foul water, broken glass, metal shards, pulped books, and who the fuck knew what else.
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Urban Fantasy Nerd Crush: Harry Dresden, Wizard

by Sara N.

(Note: There are no spoilers here for any of the books in the series. Instead, you'll get vague allusions and heaps of non-specific compliments for the man and his creator.)

I can't be the only bookworm out there who'd like Harry Dresden to be her literary leading man.

Harry is a wizard. (He's got an ad in the phone book and everything.) However, wizarding barely pays the bills, so he often consults on paranormal cases for the Chicago Police Department. And even with that supplemental income, he still scrambles to pay the bills. He's a good guy who wants justice to prevail and evil to get stomped in the neck. Often, he's the guy who gets called in to do the stomping.

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A Little Friday Nightmare Fuel

Need a bit of hot zombie action to hurry your Friday along?  Check out the first chapter of Rhiannon Frater's The First Days.  Those tiny reaching fingers are going to haunt me.
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Track Your Urban Fantasy Favorites With an Interactive Map

by Sara N.

The setting of an Urban Fantasy book can be as important to the story as the heroes, anti-heroes and villains. So do any of your favorites hang out in a neighborhood near you? Check out Stellar Four's map for the spots where some of our Urban Fantasy favorites play and slay.

View Urban Fantasy's Hot Spots in a larger map

Thanks to Megan S., Laurie K. and Jason N. for the assists on the series I haven't read. And apologies to those fantastic series that don't take place in an identifiable, mappable location, such as Stacia Kane's Downside novels and Lilith Saintcrow's Dante Valentine books.
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Character Arcs, Choices and Consequences in Urban Fantasy

Long series of books following a single character are popular in the urban fantasy genre.  We get in on the ground floor with butt-kicking women like Rachel Morgan, Anita Blake, and Kate Daniels and we travel with them as they learn and grow.  Often, the places they end up are not the places they thought they'd be.  Sometimes, the places they end up are nowhere we wanted them to go.  As Meghan showed us, one of the most controversial character arcs in urban fantasy is that of Anita Blake.

Observations about character arcs, minor spoilers for the Anita Blake and Kate Daniels series and some NSFW language after the jump!

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

'Neon Graveyard' Review

by Megan S.

Las Vegas's Neon Graveyard by Lissa
I read a lot of urban fantasy.  It's not by design, I just like an ass-kicking heroine and urban fantasy has plenty.  The drawback to consuming so much of one subgenre is that it can get monotonous after a while.  The stories seem to blend together, the heroines never seem to learn from their mistakes, and each protagonist seems to get more isolated as the series goes on.  There have been a few series that stood out like beacons over the last few years with unique story lines and truly likeable characters.  One that has is Vicki Pettersson's Signs of Zodiac which was recently completed with the release of the sixth book, The Neon Graveyard.

Check out why the Signs of the Zodiac books are a must read after the jump.  Don't worry, I won't spoil any of the books for you!

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The Anita Blake Conundrum

By Meghan B

As urban fantasy week winds down, I'd like to pose a question to you, our lovely readers. Yes folks, it's discussion time!

What I would like to know is do you think urban fantasy belongs in the sci-fi section or should it be moved to romance?

Why are you in the sci-fi section?!
I will give you one name to consider as you form your answer: Anita Blake. Anita Blake has effectively ruined most urban fantasy for me and I'm stunned those books are in the sci-fi section of my local bookstore. While the books started out with the promise of zombies and mystery solving thrills, it quickly turned into nothing much beyond Anita banging every dude she came across. They just happened to be were-animals and vampires. That is considered urban fantasy and sci-fi?

Where do we draw the line? So much of urban fantasy seems to be nothing more than a set-up for the protagonist to screw the attractive immortals in the city. Sure, they may solve a crime or two along the way, but mostly it's just about the supernatural sex. Look at some of the covers on the urban fantasy novels in the sci-fi section. Don't they seem out of place next to, say, George R.R. Martin or Cherie Priest?

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't mind a bit of sexytimes in my novels. It just seems to me that many urban fantasy novels I've seen and read are less about the urban and the fantasy and more about the sad yet devastatingly handsome vampire who only needs the equally as pretty protagonist to heal all his ancient wounds. Nakedly. Sookie, I'm looking at you!

So what's the cut off? What makes a novel be more sci-fi and another be more romance? Why is Anita Blake shelved in sci-fi but other urban fantasy like J.R Ward is not?

Let me know in comments what you think! Is Anita Blake urban fantasy? Where does sci-fi's urban fantasy end and romance's paranormal romance begin? Does it matter?
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"I'm a Hufflepuff!"

by Sara N.

I yet again interrupt Urban Fantasy week, this time to bring you this gem in honor of the premiere of the final Harry Potter movie at midnight tonight (no doubt playing at several theaters near you). Be honest: Aren't you secretly a little worried that you'd be sorted into Hufflepuff?

So will you be hitting one of the midnight screenings of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 tonight?
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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Draw Your Weapon

By Meghan B

Here at Stellar Four, we want you to be the best urban fantasy hero or heroine you can be. Sure, we could run down a list of places to buy leather pants and trench coats from, but that's too easy. You could go to your local mall and walk out dressed like you stepped off the cover of an urban fantasy paperback. No, we want to get to the good stuff. Stuff you can't find in your local mall.

Like weaponry. What urban fantasy protagonist isn't complete without a menacing broadsword or sleek katana? A fine blade, forged by magic, that makes you capable of slaying anything that dares to cross your path. Even rain.

You heard me right. Rain. A foe both powerful and wet. Wouldn't you like a weapon that can defeat even the most determined and malicious of downpours?

If that answer is a resounding "yes", discover the item you quest for after the jump!

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BREAKING AWESOME: Real Life Urban Fantasy Edition

Camping in a Taiwanese Graveyard

Icelandic Town Hopes Angry Elves Have Been Soothed by Songs

"It is hoped that elves and hidden people around the north-western Icelandic town of Bolungarvik will start to calm down again following their recent dangerous pranks and humans’ subsequent efforts to appease them.

"Local residents sang songs and said prayers in honour of the peeved hidden folk and elves this week in an effort to smooth ruffled feathers. Dynamiting began again midweek following a nasty incident, reported here, where rocks and soil rained down on Bolungarvik."

British Banking Consultant Turns South African Witch Doctor

Thomas Heathfield, 32, whose family hail from Maidenhead in Berkshire, renounced sleep for three days, rose at 2.30am to dance for the tribal ancestors and vomited up goats' bloods as part of his training to become a 'sangoma'."

More after the jump including the future of the Sookie Stackhouse books!

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Team Unicorn FTW: Alien Beach Crashers

by Megan S.

Geek chic Team Unicorn has done it again with Alien Beach Crashers.  The group's latest vid is a send-up of 1960 beach party movie trailers and features guest stars Chuck's Zachary Levi and Happy Town's Abe Benrubi.

Check out the ladies' newest sci-fi creation after the jump!
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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Awesome Urban Fantasy Book Covers

I must admit, I get a little tired of the ever-present Hot Chick in Leather urban fantasy covers. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. It's just, you know, every single book. (Well, unless it's written by a man about a man and then it's got Trench Coat Wearing Guy on it.)

I've gathered a few favorites that buck these trends after the jump.

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The Kindle Has Ruined Me for Hardback Books

by Sara N.

I interrupt Urban Fantasy week with this important message: Once you go e-book, you never go e-back.

I was thrilled to buy the hardback copy of A Dance With Dragons this morning, all 1,016 pages of it. I have the first four books in hardback all signed by GRRM himself! and of course I wanted Book 5 in hardback to match.

But I've been reading books on the Kindle for weeks now, and to my surprise, I'm struggling. This hardback book is heavy. And cumbersome. And hard to read with a cat on your lap. It doesn't recline gently on my knees, nor can I hold it loosely gripped in one hand.

This is my first hardback book purchase in my own post-Kindle world, and boy, have my perspectives changed. I still want the hardback as a lovely addition to my physical library. And I'm way to cheap too spring for both the hardback and Kindle editions. But wow, do I miss my e-reader right now!

Has anyone else been shaken to the very core by a similar realization?
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Monday, July 11, 2011

One MILLION Dollars

Okay, maybe not a million dollars.  But I intend for Stacia Kane's charity auction item for LA Banks to be mine.  All mine.  As in not yours.  Do any of you dare to bid against me?!
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Urban Fantasy Up Your Life

by Megan S.

Our heroine in a gritty urban setting, just like you see on most UF covers. 
Who is this mystery woman clad in leather pants?
Without a head, she could be practically anyone. Even you!
photo credit: Daniel Conway
Have you always wanted to live in a world where fairies, ghosts and magic were real?  Do you long to wear clothing ill-suited for chilly climates and deliver snarky quips to Big Bads?  Well, what's stopping you?  We've got a guide to everything you need to make your life like that of your favorite urban fantasy heroine.

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A Good Cause: LA Banks Auction

by Megan S.

Leslie Esdaile Banks, author of the acclaimed Vampire Huntress series and New York Times Bestseller, was recently diagnosed with late stage adrenal cancer.  She's gravely ill but you can join the ranks of urban fantasy writers, romance authors and others across the world that have banded together to help Leslie fight cancer.  Almost 100 hundred auctions are still up for bid on eBay by some of your favorite authors to raise money for Leslie's treatment.  Included are a weekend in New Orleans for a writers conference, manuscript critiques, and signed books.

Check out what some of my favorite urban fantasy authors are offering after the jump.

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Urban Fantasy Week Contest

Hold on to your hats and fascinators, kids, 'cause we've got another contest!  We're giving away an autographed copy of Stacey Jay's Dead on the Delta as well as magnets and postcards in celebration of Stellar Four's first Urban Fantasy Week.  To win the autographed copy, all you have to do is like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or click the follow button for Google Friend Connect on the left side of the page.  Wanna up your chances of winning? Do all three!  We'll announce the winner next Monday.

The postcards and magnets are first come first serve so email us and we'll send out as many as we can!

Good luck!
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Who Are You People and Why Are You Gunning Down Werewolves?

By Meghan B

Harry Dresden, patron saint of urban fantasy
Hello and welcome to Stellar Four's first urban fantasy week! What's that you say? You have no idea what urban fantasy is? Neither did I! I've done my detective work and discovered the nitty gritty of the dark underbelly of this insanely popular genre of sci-fi/fantasy novels.

We have some mindblowing articles for you this week, as well as a contest that's sure to please urban fantasy aficionados and newbs alike! But before we get into all that dark and seedy goodness, we need to figure out just what in the blazes urban fantasy actually is.

Grab your favorite magical talisman, keep an eye out for vampires and discover a whole new world of magical weirdness after the jump!

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Need A Refresher Before You Start Dancing with Dragons?

by Sara N.

I've already confessed that I haven't reread George R.R. Martin's previous four Song of Ice and Fire novels prior to the release of A Dance with Dragons on Tuesday. (Tuesday, people! Tuesday!) If you're in a similar situation, here are two websites that will get you up to speed. Neither contains spoilers for ADWD, but I can't make the same promise for any of the comments, forums or discussions on the websites. Once you leave the main articles, tread carefully!

For those who want a quick run-down, Tor details the last known whereabouts of the main characters and key supporting characters up through A Feast For Crows. It's short but thorough.

For those who are willing to spend a little more time, The Tower of the Hand has amazing chapter-by-chapter descriptions of the first four books. It'll take significantly longer, but it's still faster than rereading each book, and it provides significantly more details.

However you choose to prepare for the release day, just remember one thing: It's almost here! At last, at last!
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Friday, July 8, 2011

Watch Tonight's Torchwood Right Now and Right Here!

by Megan S.

Yep, this tonight's episode right now and right here. Feel free to thank me in the comments.  Or, you know, a little something more appropriate like tell us what you thought of the first US-based Torchwood.

UPDATE: Looks like they're no longer allowing embedding. Check it out here, instead.

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Books in the Modern Era

The Girls of Stellar Four may be divided on the whole eReader issue, but if there's one thing we all agree on, it's our love of books.  We especially love a good mashup of the classics with new tech.

Check out iPhone docking stations, eReader covers, iPad cases and a bonus pair of gorgeous heels that all look like classic old tomes after the jump.

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An Interview with Jane Espenson, TV Writer Extraordinaire

by Laura B.
Guest Blogger

Jane Espenson has her hand in many a sci fi/fantasy television creation … all of which, I might add, are severely awesome. From writing credits on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica and Game of Thrones to producer on Torchwood, Caprica and many, many others, Espenson has cut quite a path through the sci fi/fantasy realm of television. She gave up her time to answer a few questions related to fairy tale creatures, Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games books and her love of boundary-pushing television. 
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To Reread or Not to Reread: That Is the Question

by Sara N.

A little book called A Dance with Dragons is coming out on Tuesday. No big deal. It's only the fifth book in George R.R. Martin's massively popular Song of Ice and Fire series, upon which HBO's Game of Thrones is based. It's a mere No. 1 on Amazon's bestseller list. It's just a 1,040-page tome that follows up on beloved characters that were last seen in a book published a decade ago.

Yeah. I'm a little excited.

However, the release of book five raises the question of rereading. Here's the dilemma:
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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Secret Societies are Always Fashionable

by Megan S.

Fascinated by secret societies?  Check out these creative pieces from Etsy and find out more about each society after the jump!

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The Best Ask Obama Tweet for Browncoats

by Sara N.

President Obama on Wednesday became the first sitting president to have a town hall meeting over Twitter. The event generated many thought-provoking tweets. It also generated many bizarre, confusing and funny ones. Huffington Post collected the most hilarious tweets under the hashtag #askObama, and I'd like to draw your attention to this one:

Well played, @emcognito. Well played.

Thanks to Chris B. for the tip!
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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

How Could You Be So Heartless?

By Meghan B

Gail Carriger has done it again! Recently, the fourth volume of her amazing Parasol Protectorate series came out and I couldn't be happier. For months I waited with bated breath to see what would happen to our dearest Alexia, her stubborn husband and the delightful werewolves, vampires and mad French scientists around her. Now it's finally here!

I felt like a kid waiting for the bell to ring on the last day of school. I stared down the clock at work like it owed me money, trying to will it to go faster so I could head to the nearest bookstore, buy my copy and eagerly begin to devour it on the train ride home. I heard the "get item" music from the Legend of Zelda games play in my head as I lifted the paperback off the New Release table. I wanted it that badly.

I am happy to report that Heartless does not disappoint! All the Victorian wit and preternatural wisdom that Gail is so good at nearly dripped from every page. The opening chapter gave me everything I was hungering for; Alexia and Lord Maccon and Lord Akeldama, oh my! With a flourish, the story took off and I nearly missed my train stop because I was so engrossed in the plot.

If you've never read any of Gail Carriger's brilliant Parasol Protectorate series, I implore you to stop reading this right now and get thee to a bookstore. If those newfangled e-readers are your thing, Orbit Books has helpfully made the first three volumes available as a special $9.99 e-book bundle for July only!  Read them, marvel over them, and then dive into my review of the latest volume!

After the cut, find out what I loved so much about Heartless! Beware, here there be spoilers!

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The Writing Ball: The first commercially produced typewriter was so very steampunky.

Google Exec Marissa Mayer Explains Why There Aren't More Geek Girls

"Mayer blames the dearth of female programmers and Internet entrepreneurs in part on tech’s image problem. She argues that growing up, girls are offered a narrow stereotype of what it means to be a “geek” -- something akin to the bespectacled loner who spends hours typing away at a screen. Attracting more women to the Silicon Valleys, Alleys and Roundabouts of the world requires doing away with those stereotypes and showing young women that techies don’t have to love video games. Mayer herself is no ordinary geek: she’s a former ballet dancer with a penchant for cupcakes and the fashion designer Oscar de la Renta."

Buffy tees, zombie survival tips and more after the jump!

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ewan McGregor & Chris O'Dowd Play With Lightsabers

by Sara N.

The boyish glee in this YouTube clip from The Graham Norton Show is infectious; I dare you not to make lightsaber noises right along with Ewan McGregor (the Star Wars prequels) and Chris O'Dowd (Bridesmaids, The IT Crowd). It's so adorable that you'll even forgive McGregor for his skinny jeans and unfortunate goatee.

How funny is it that O'Dowd seems to have trouble with his lightsaber? Maybe he should try turning it off and on again.

This episode of The Graham Norton Show is scheduled to air on BBC America on Saturday.
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Science Fiction for Newcomers: Old Man's War

A while back I ranted that it was damned hard to find a science fiction story I could recommend to sci-fi novice friends of mine as a ‘jumping in’ point.  Since then I’ve immersed myself in science fiction – both to find a good starting point and because I would have anyway.  I’ve read books that are amazingly complex yet never lose touch with their humanity (A Fire Upon the Deep), grim takes upon what makes us who we really are (Altered Carbon), and the sometimes terrible deeds required to keep utopia in bloom (Use of Weapons).  Through all of this, I found science fiction that challenged me and kept me coming back for more, but nothing that I could hand to a fresh fish and say, “Here ya go, Charlie, get reading!”

Then I picked up Old Man’s War by John Scalzi and voila! I had found the object of my quest.

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Braaaaaains: A How To

by Megan S.

I've been wanting to try making Jello internal organs since I read Penn and Teller's recipe for a bleeding heart when I was a kid, but I've never come across an appropriate mold.  That's why I was so frakking excited to find the Fred Brain Freeze ice cube mold at Target the other day.  I would finally have my zombie just desserts!

Find out how to make the Jello brains, where to buy the mold (because Target's sold out) and a nerdy guide to making Jello shots after the jump.

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Red, White and Zombie Goo

By Meghan B

Sarah and David are back in the third volume of Jesse Petersen's sharp and quirky zombie apocalypse series, Living With The Dead. Hilariously tilted as "Eat Slay Love", this volume follows our brave and snarky married couple as they continue to drive across the country to find safety. It's chocked full of the zombie killing we've come to know and love from Petersen, but this volume had a little bit extra too.

What is great about these books is how quick they are to suck you in. This one picks up only a month after the events in "Flip This Zombie" and you are immediately in the action. As with all the other volumes, the book continues to follow Sarah's POV and she doesn't hold back with clever asides and pop culture references. Her husband, David, keeps up his end too with quips and jokes made at the expense of the zombies they fight.

This volume focuses more closely on David and what happened to him after the events of the second volume. Here there be spoilers! Find the spoiler-ific review under the cut!
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