Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Stellar Four's Scariest Movies

by the Women of Stellar Four

Who doesn't love a scary movie? Halloween is the best time to pull out your favorite film, grab some candy, and scare the pants off yourself.

We couldn't let the holiday go without highlighting some of our favorite Halloween movies. Here are the movies we always watch when the days get colder and the wind starts to howl. Does your favorite make the list?
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Stellar Four's Spookiest Books

by the Women of Stellar Four

Nothing says Halloween like a wonderfully spooky book to read at night. Author Neil Gaiman started the tradition of All Hallow's Read, in which you give a scary book to those you love at Halloween. We at Stellar Four would like to share some of our favorites with you.
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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

An Ode to Sesame Street

Awhile back on io9's observationdeck forum, someone asked us to list the television shows that got us hooked on genre works. I enjoyed Star Trek: The Next Generation during its original run (I'm way old). I loved the hell out of the Thundercats cartoon. X-Men was the show I rushed home to watch after school.

Those were all pretty great, but the show that got me hooked on genre work was Sesame Street. It's the first and best urban fantasy.

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Monday, October 29, 2012

My Little Pony... Cat

by Megan S.
In keeping with tradition (one that I totally made up last year), I've been hard at work creating a Halloween costume for Lilly instead of carving a pumpkin.  She was certainly adorable as an Ewok last October, but this time around, we'd need to step up our game.  Hmmm... Maybe something a little more (friendship is) magical was in order.

Yes, the only logical conclusion was Lilly had to go as Rainbow Dash for Halloween.  Those two girls are certainly enough alike.  Both are mischievous, adventurous, and a little bit clumsy.  And, not to brag, but Lilly makes one cute pony.

So, without further ado, here's the little fuzzball as a pegasus!
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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Last Minute Kick-Ass, Not-So-Skimpy 2012 Halloween Costumes

by Megan S. and Sara N.

Sexy Sesame Street costumes.  So, that happened. (Photo and costumes via

Whether you live in a colder climate or would simply prefer to wear a Halloween outfit that consists of more than a few strips of fabric, it can seem like there isn't much choice for women in the costume aisle at the store ... especially if you've waited until the last minute to find an outfit.

Well, have no fear, dear reader. We've come up with some kick-ass costume ideas that will allow you to remain fully clothed, assembled from items you already own or can easily acquire at a thrift store or your local megamart.
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Friday, October 26, 2012

Neil Gaiman Is Scary As Hell

Whenever I am asked to list my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman almost always is the first name out of my mouth. I don't care what you say about him, Neil is one of the best fantasy writers I've ever come across and his imagination is unfathomably immense. He has more talent in one eyelash than I do in my entire body. He's also kind, hilariously funny and incredibly smart.

He's also scary as all Hell.

Books don't scare me, but I've been kept up at night by some of Neil's more horrific tales. It's fitting that Neil "Scary Trousers" Gaiman has invented a scary book holiday just for Halloween. It's even more fitting that he's contributed his own uniquely brilliant and shockingly scary story of his own.
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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Scaring up Some Not-So-Scary Halloween Fun

by Kathy F.

There are all kinds of spooky decorations, stories, costumes and movies, but my kiddos are still a bit young to enjoy my new favorite Halloween-Night flick, Shaun of the Dead. The Nightmare Before Christmas? We're all over that from October through December. Here are some other craft, movie & book ideas for the younger set.

First, if you haven't tried Megan's Crystal Spiders yet, run to your craft store for supplies so you can make them this weekend. The spiders are our new favorite Halloween craft, and the kids have taken orders from their friends, so we have quite the crystal spider factory going on right now. They are easy and just way cool.

Tissue paper ghosts are another favorite at our house: easy, quick, and I pretty much have all of the components available at all times. Perfect for the recent rainy day when there was no way I was going to run out to the craft store.
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Pumpkin Carving Pattern: The Bear Cub Triplets from Brave

by Sara N.

You'll have the most adorable pumpkin on the block with this carving template featuring the bear cub triplets from Pixar's summer hit Brave.

Not to get all tabloid-y about it, but this is a Stellar Four exclusive, so grab the stencil, print it off, and get carving. Further instructions after the jump.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Geeky Pumpkin Carving Patterns

by Sara N.

It's one week until Halloween. Do you have a pumpkin pattern yet?

Vintage Halloween art from squidoo
If not, don't worry. The Internet has you covered. There are patterns out there for just about any geeky fandom if you look hard enough. And to make your life even easier, I've compiled some of the best ones for you.

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Halloween Week Contest

Guess what, ghouls and goblins?  Halloween is just seven days away and we're celebrating with a week jam packed with All Hallows' Eve goodness!  OK, sure.  We've actually been celebrating Halloween for almost two months now on Stellar Four but can you blame us? Halloween's one of our favorite holidays and this year we're making it extra special with an awesome contest. 

S4 and Wyrding Studios are giving away this BOO-tiful* filligree brass bat necklace.  And, to sweeten the pot, the giveaway is open to S4 followers all around the globe!  To top it all off, everyone gets a 20% off code for orders of $30 or more at Wyrding Studios.  Get a jump start on your holiday shopping through the end of November by entering the code STELLAR when prompted.  You can check out their available designs here.

All you need to do to enter the giveaway is send us an email titled Halloween Contest and let us know which social media you use to follow us with a link to your account!

*Sorry.  Sometimes Megan S. just can't help herself when it comes to puns.
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Monday, October 22, 2012

All You Really Need to Know About the 2012 Election You Learned From Popular Science Fiction & Fantasy

by Megan S.

In just two weeks, Americans will decide the fate of our nation with the 2012 presidential election. Sounds a bit dramatic, doesn't it? That's because it is. We will not only be electing the leader of our nation, but setting the direction for federal legislation and, with judicial nominations, how our laws will be interpreted for decades to come. The biggest domestic issues dividing our country currently are up for debate on Nov. 6, and the outcome could drastically change your life and that of your loved ones.

What's at stake in the election? The economy, women's rights, health care, and gay rights are four of the biggest domestic issues up for grabs this November. The intricacies of the topics and the arguments surrounding these wedge issues can be overwhelming. How's the average voter supposed to wade through all of the detritus to get to the heart of the matter so she can determine how she should vote?

Strangely enough, one of the best places to turn to for help interpreting wedge issues is science fiction and fantasy. Genre fiction (whether it's a television show, movie, or novel) examines our biggest issues from all sides in ways that are easy to understand, and our four biggest domestic problems are no exception.

So let's examine the hot topics using some of the most popular science fiction and fantasy of the last decade. This will make your choice at the polls on Nov. 6 much more clear after we discuss allegories from our favorite genre.
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Friday, October 19, 2012

How Would Your Fave SF/F Leaders Do in a Presidential Debate?

by Sara N.

The presidential debates have taken center stage in the news recently as the candidates spar for votes. But wouldn't this process be so much more interesting if the debaters were our favorite characters from sci fi and fantasy? Read on to see how the various elected officials and members of the nobility from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, The Walking Dead and many more would fare if they actually had to worry about elections.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Steampunk Meets Kung-Fu

When I saw the tagline "Steampunk Kung-Fu Throw Down" you know I had to check it out.

The storyline from IMDB says:

"Young genius Yang Luchan travels to Chen Village to learn the forbidden secrets of martial arts, but quickly learns that the village is menaced by a formidable battalion of Steampunk soldiers. The villagers realize that in order to save their home, they must trust this strange outsider with their knowledge of Tai Chi."

Um, yes please!

See the trailer after the break.
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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Humble Truce

Everyone here is well versed in my all out war against e-books (if you're new here: Hi! Welcome! I'm Meghan and I don't like e-books!), so what I tell you next may be a huge surprise.

I want you to buy some e-books. Not just one e-book either. I want you to buy thirteen.

Before you reach through your computer screen to check my forehead for signs of a brain-melting fever, let me explain. This is for charity. Charity and books are awesome.

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Three Creeptastic Ways to Serve Cocktails for Halloween

by Megan S.

There's no need to buy a billion and two strange ingredients you'll never use again to serve thematic cocktails and mocktails on Halloween.  You just need a couple of clever ways to style the drinks and you'll be the hit of the party.  Not sure what to do?  Try these three easy monster styling suggestions!

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Sparkle! Has Gorgeous Jewelry for Every Geeky Fandom

by Sara N.

I fell in love at this year's Chicago Comic Con.

Luckily for my husband (and unluckily for my bank account), my new love affair is with Sparkle! jewelry.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

When Adele & 007 Meet

I really can't wait for the latest Bond flick, Skyfall. The tux, the cars, the gadgets - just hells yes! I even look forward to the newest theme song. I don't always like the song, of course, but I always want to hear it.

This time around, Adele tackles the job. Here's a trailer featuring the song, so you can enjoy a little Daniel Craig too.

What do you think? Other than Javier Bardem's wig is a character unto itself, I like it. The Bond song needs someone who can be sultry and just belt it out at the right time. My favorite of the post-Dalton Bonds has long been Tina Turner's Goldeneye, but this one might win out. We'll have to see.

What do you think? Which Bond song is your fav?
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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Morrisoncon: Comics, Booze, & The Upcoming Apocalypse

So first off, I apologize for this being a week late. However shortly after the con I picked up a pretty nasty demon masquerading as a cold that settled in my sinuses and kept me from thinking straight for the better part of the week. 

Morrisoncon was one of those things I heard about and immediately bought tickets for. Vegas? Comics? Gran Morrison? All being put together by the folks behind the famous Isotope Comics? It was something that guaranteed to be a unique experience. And it was.
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Awesome Printable Book Covers

If you're anything like me, you're often taken aback or just mildly embarrassed by the covers on some of your favorite books. Whether it's a riproaringly awesome urban fantasy novel dragged down by a strangely Harlequinn Romance-style cover or a great piece of fantasy that suffers from a poorly designed dust jacket, you can feel a little weird reading it out in the open. Or perhaps you're tired of people trying to bother you as you're reading. Thankfully, there is a stylish and awesome solution.

Erin Bowman and her very talented friends, Tracey Neithercott and Sara Henni, have created beautiful and FREE printable book covers for you to create and enjoy. They're nothing short of genius. They're all sized for a YA hardcover, but they're working on making mass market, trade and e-reader sized ones. With slogans ranging from "Go away. I'm reading." to "In Forks. Send help!", they're hilarious, fun and sure to make a point. They're also all gorgeously designed.

There are eleven covers in all, and each one is ridiculously awesome. Erin Bowman's website involves all the instructions you need to get them printed and assembled. All for the shocking and amazing price of free.

I know what I'm attempting to make this weekend!
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Monday, October 8, 2012

Indiana Jones vs. Eglantine Price

by Megan S.

It's the early half of the 20th century.  Hitler's evil regime is waging a war against the world and you have the chance to take down the Nazis.  Who do you choose to be on your elite team of heroes: famed scholar and dashing rogue Indiana Jones or fussy and forgetful Eglantine Price* (played by Angela Lansbury)?  If you chose Indy, you'd be wrong.  Don't believe me?  Let's do the math with a side by side comparison.

*WHAT?!?  You've never heard of Bedknobs and Broomsticks? Get thee to Amazon!
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Friday, October 5, 2012

Time Travel Books to Read on the TARDIS

by Sara N.

I've been on a bit of a time travel kick recently, even before Looper came along to blow my mind with its twisty time-bending plot and its uncomfortably realistic vision of the future (well, except for the time travel, of course).

Time travel has been one of my favorite literary devices since I devoured the kiddie book Time at the Top as a dreamy tween. Since then, I've fed that love with The Terminator and Doctor Who and The Time Traveler's Wife. But ever since I read (and adored) Stephen King's "let's kill Oswald" opus 11/22/63 last year, I've moved into overdrive in my pursuit of time travel books. Read on for some favorites.
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Thursday, October 4, 2012

We Need More Hats

by Kathy F.

A little while ago I noticed a small bump on my ear. It didn't go away, so I got in to see a dermatologist. He told me the spot looked weird (what everyone likes to hear, yes?) advised cutting it off (the bump, not the ear), and sent it off to be tested. I'm going to skip the gory details and just say "Ow!" Fast forward a couple of days and I get the call that they found skin cancer cells.

That "c" word is a bitch to hear, isn't it?

Luckily they were small cells and it looks like they got it all. I'll be going back in soon for a follow up, and you better believe I'll be scrutinizing every mole and bump. I'll also be going back for regular checkups, making sure I've got sunscreen on more than just my face, and I'll be rocking the hats year round.

I seem to skip between the "Well, shit" response, relief that it's not as bad as it could be, some freaking out, then back to "Well, shit." I know that's all normal, and my brain will sort it out eventually. I'm now at the point where I can say the word cancer, so that's progress. I did do some retail therapy with a good friend to pick up a couple of new hats. I got the obligatory floppy sun hat (on sale since summer is coming to a close), as well as a cloche hat that should do well this fall. I need to add more to my wardrobe.

I think in general people remember to wear hats and use sunscreen in the summer, because it seems obvious, but although the weather is cooler (and even on a cloudy day), those rays are still there. Also, as completely un-fun as it is to add to the list of medical checkups we all have to schedule the older we get, it's a good idea to add a visit to the dermatologist, especially if you have any weird bumps or moles. Double-time if something changes quickly or grows. I had a friend who went in to get a spot checked after they heard my tale. Yep, same deal, but the good news is it looks like they caught his early too.

It's not really in my nature to dwell too long on things I can't change, so now that the PSA is over, let's get on to something fun: what kind of geeky hats should I get? Etsy, Thinkgeek and SuperHeroStuff to the rescue!
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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Steampunk Abroad

Victorian England
English author Samuel Johnson once famously said "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life." Call me tired of life, then, but I am weary of London. Steampunk London, that is. I still love you, real London. No hard feelings. But your gear and cog-covered cousin is starting to drive me batty. Lately it seems that anything that's steampunk must be set in London or its outskirts and, I hate to say it, but I'm bored!

Steampunk is one of my favorite genres to read. Sadly, there isn't enough of it out there, and even worse, most of it is totally focused on Great Britain. I can understand why; it's called the Victorian era for a reason, after all. What many people overlook is how vast the English empire's reach was back then. Why can't we see steampunk novels taking place in India, Australia or Japan? Just imagine what those stories could be like. Besides just the potential for gorgeous new locations, think of the chance to address some of the most important yet under-written aspects of the Victorian age: colonialism.
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Monday, October 1, 2012

Free Printable Fantasy Labels for Halloween

by Megan S.

The key to creating the perfect alchemist's laboratory for Halloween is using vintage-looking labels proclaiming fantastical contents on recycled jars.  It took me days to make the labels shown in the photo above but, lucky for you, you just have to print them out.

In order to recreate the look of my lab, you'll first need to rescue four interestingly shaped bottles from the recycling bin.  (I've been saving fun containers for six months for projects like these so I might have had a leg up but I'm sure you'll find a few neat ones in the recycler.)  I chose an octagonal strawberry preserves jar from Trader Joe's, a vanilla extract bottle, an airplane bottle of Patron tequila with a cork top, and a Bailey's Irish Cream bottle.  Next, print out the labels I've included below.  If you want glossy labels, carefully apply two inch wide packing tape on each image before cutting the labels from the sheet.  Then, after soaking off the original labels and drying the containers, use double sided tape to adhere the Felix Felicis, Apple Poison, and Snozzberry Extract labels to the bottles.  Use a hole punch and embroidery thread to tie on the Drink Me manilla label.  One more thing, for the complete look, use a few layers of grey tulle, grey embroidery thread, silver buttons, and glass buttons to decorate the tops of the bottles both for continuity and to obscure any of the original advertising.

So, there you go.  Download the labels below and get to it!
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15 Stunning Vintage (And Printable!) Portraits for Halloween

by Megan S.

Stunning tintypes, daguerreotypes, and other early portrait photographs are perfect for adding a bit of wonder to your All Hallows' Eve celebrations.  They're also the next piece of our elegant and dilapidated Halloween decorating starter kit!  I've picked 15 gorgeous vintage portraits (including one painting I just couldn't pass up) for you to use.

Decorating with the vintage images is super easy.  Print the following images out after dragging and dropping them to your desktop or upload the bunch to a photo printing service.  (I used Walgreens and picked the batch up less than an hour later at my local pharmacy.)  Use plain, cheap frames with one or two more elaborate pieces mixed in to display the portraits.  Your collection will take on a creepy feeling when the crystal spiders and mushrooms are added.

So, without further ado...
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How to Make Crystal Mushrooms

by Megan S.

Are you ready for part two of our Creepy, Classy, Crafty DIY Halloween Decorating Starter Kit?  Good.  Crystal mushrooms may not look like much on their own but tuck the little faux fungi to the side of the photos in your Halloween portrait gallery and in your alchemist's laboratory, and suddenly everything looks a bit more rundown and creepy!

Making the foam sculptures is fast, easy, and only requires a few supplies.  However, the mushrooms will take a few days to dry so be sure to get them done ahead of time.

Here's what you'll need:
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