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He broke the chains. Then broke the world…

There’s less than two weeks to go before Pierce Brown’s explosive fifth novel in the Red Rising series is published.

We can’t wait to read the next thrilling adventure, and we’re bloodydamn delighted to have a sneak-peek extract for all the Howlers out there…

Click here to read an extract

There’s still time to pre-order Dark Age – get yours fastlike.

There will also be a limited number of early copies on sale early at YALC – you’d be spacemad to miss it!

The post Extract: Dark Age by Pierce Brown (Red Rising 5) appeared first on Hodderscape.

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Stranger Things has always worn its ‘80s influences on its sleeve, so what better way to scale up the action than to throw in one of the staples of any other respectable ‘80s action sequel: evil Russians! Move aside Ivan Drago, we’ve got a new Russian threat in town. And with this third season released on 4th July on Netflix and being set only days before the Independence Day of ‘85, unsurprisingly the season features more all-American themes than you can, well, wave a flag at. Dustin and Steve talk about what it takes to be ‘true American heroes’, much of the plot is centred around a conspiracy at the Starcourt Mall, featuring heavy product placement from the likes of the Gap, New Coke and JCPenney.

But thankfully the Duffer Brothers decided to have fun playing with this imagery, not for patriotism’s sake, but in order to tease out some of the darker aspects of the American psyche: the fear of home invasion, both in a micro and macro sense; conspiracy; infiltration from duplicitous foreign powers; “horror in the heartland”. All these themes are exploited to serve the purpose of heightening the sense of small-town horror and tension. And so, in a sense it feels right that the new enemies of the season tend, more often than not, to have human faces. There’s barely a Demogorgon to be seen in the first few episodes; not even a Demodog! And they are missed – in many ways they provided some of the easiest scenes of fun and horror we’ve come to love to see in Stranger Things. But stepping back from this approach in order to elevate the story and make things feel fresh makes sense – and works, mostly…

From the very beginning of the season we barely have time to settle in before threads in the plot begin to unravel and the adventures begin. Episode one features minor tensions and rifts in the gang that end up having major implications, as they splinter off into smaller groups that don’t converge again until much later. The guys don’t believe Dustin, just back from a month at summer camp, when he claims to have met a girl who’s ‘hotter than Phoebe Cates’ (of Gremlins fame). Eleven and Mike, now a couple, are spending all their time together, much to the annoyance of a slightly unhinged Hopper, who skulks off to Joyce to brood about it. Nancy and Jonathan, both having secured summer internships at the local Hawkins paper, are at odds as to how to deal with the old-school misogyny Nancy must deal with in the face of her journalistic ambition.

Having so many storylines to follow, the constantly-moving nature of the plot is welcomed. The 8-episode (or 8-chapter) structure gives the story a much-appreciated focus – even if things still manage to sag and bloat a little in the middle and some scenes are given ever so slightly too much screen time. Pacing, for the most part, is spot on, and the tension is carefully ramped up bit by bit as the story hurtles toward a satisfying confluence of characters and stories, and a giddily thrilling finale. Stranger Things has always been best when all the gang are in a room together, trying to figure out what to do when faced with an impossible situation. It’s in these moments that the show becomes an ensemble piece, where each character is impressively fully rendered and put to good use.

All in all, after an uneven second season it’s fair to say that Stranger Things is back to its best. It’s not quite been three years since the show first exploded into pop culture prominence, and yet the gang, along with the show, seem to have grown significantly in such little time. In a way, season 3 feels like the Aliens to Season 1’s Alien, with the Duffer Brothers finding ways to scale up and progress the story, and also learning from the missteps of season 2 to provide viewers with the things that made the show so popular in the first place: a healthy and potent concoction of nostalgia, horror, conspiracy and perhaps most important of all – fun.

The post Stranger Things 3 – Review appeared first on Hodderscape.

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Two of my favorite extant objects are ones I will never see. But then, their lack of proximity is rather the point. As I write this, they are respectively about eleven billion and thirteen-and-a-half billion miles from Earth (these figures grow by the second). It is quite possible — likely, even — that no one will ever see them again. That’s beside the point.

In 1977 — the same year that Star Wars hit theaters and the Apple II hit shelves — two spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral, just a few weeks apart. They were built to last five years, and their original mission was to study Jupiter and Saturn up close. We had never visited the gas giants, and this destination was grand adventure all on its own. I get goosebumps imagining scientists crowding around monitors as the photographs came back, becoming the first to view interplanetary wonders: raging storms, icy rings, moons with active volcanoes. The spacecraft were still working just fine after this success, so the mission was extended to include Uranus and Neptune, then extended again to follow the twin probes well beyond our planetary neighborhood. The Voyager mission is now in its forty-second year, and both Voyager 1 and 2 are now travelling through interstellar space. They’re still gathering data. They’re still phoning home.

I’m explaining all of this for the sake of context, because we haven’t actually arrived at my two favorite objects yet. It’s not the spacecraft themselves that I have a particular affinity for. It’s the cargo they carry.

One side of each probe holds a phonographic record, made of copper and plated in gold. As its label clearly states, each record contains “The Sounds of Earth”: Music, animal calls, friendly greetings in fifty-five languages. Recordings of heartbeats, thunder, kissing, engines, fire, footsteps, ocean waves, morse code spelling out per aspera ad astra. The record includes encoded images as well — 115 in total, ranging from sketches of DNA to photos of Earth to diagrams of human reproduction to scenes from everyday life. It is a small, encapsulated piece of the enormity that is us, stamped into metal, strapped onto the sides of two awkward-looking robots, and blasted out into the galaxy in the hopes that maybe — just maybe — someone will find it (visual instructions for playing the record are, of course, included).

I love listening to the contents of the Voyager Golden Record (you can do the same, if you like). It’s not a particularly congruous listening experience, and the recordings aren’t all pleasant things to listen to, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is the relentless optimism, the starry-eyed passion that went into making these things at all. The hours upon hours spent in careful, careful discussion about how best to sum up humanity, about which languages would represent the largest number of living humans, about which pieces of music were just right. On a quieter note, the records are a love story — the story of how Ann Druyan, the creative director of the project, met Carl Sagan, the content committee chair, and then went on to get hitched and shape the worldview of an entire generation through the combined power of their words. I genuinely don’t know who I’d be today if it wasn’t for their work, and the work of every scientist and researcher and engineer who brought about that gorgeously idealistic era of space exploration. It doesn’t matter if anyone ever finds the Golden Records, or if there even is anyone out there to find them. What matters is that we thought it was worth a shot — not because there was any profit in it, or an opportunity to stick a flag somewhere, but purely because we hoped to connect with something greater than ourselves.

Anyway, the reason I’m here is because I was asked to write something about why I wrote To Be Taught, If Fortunate. That’s basically it.

To Be Taught, If Fortunate will be published in August 2019 and is available to pre-order now.

The post Becky Chambers on the contents of the Voyager Golden Record appeared first on Hodderscape.

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A battle has been won, but the war still wages on . . .

Roper, the Black Lord of the northern people, may have vanquished the Suthern army at the Battle of Harstathur. But the greatest threat to his people lies in the hands of more shadowy forces.

In the south, the disgraced Bellamus bides his time. Learning that the young Lord Roper is planning to invade the southern lands, Bellamus conspires with his Queen to unleash a weapon so deadly it could wipe out Roper’s people altogether.

And at a time when Roper needs his friends more than ever, treachery from within puts the lives of those he loves in mortal danger . . .

Click here to read an extract from The Spider

The Spider by Leo Carew is out now in hardback, ebook and audio.

The post Read an extract from The Spider by Leo Carew appeared first on Hodderscape.

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We are thrilled to announce a brand-new contemporary young adult series by Sandhya Menon, the New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met Rishi. In a universe described as ‘Gossip Girl with a dash of magic’ the St Rosetta’s Academy series is set at an elite international boarding school, following three sets of teens as they navigate first love, friendship, and identity.

The first book, Of Curses and Kisses, will publish on 4th February 2020, following Princess Jaya Rao, who finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, a member of the rival royal family behind a humiliating scandal involving her little sister. Jaya has a plan for her revenge on the young nobleman in order to even the score between their families: make him fall in love with her and then break his heart the way his family has broken hers. But when Jaya and Grey begin to actually fall for each other, she starts to realise there’s maybe more to him than his name and his family imply. . . Can the pair find their happy ever after despite their differences?

Carrying all the trademarks of Sandhya’s other beloved works, including brilliant writing and diverse characters, we can’t wait to enter St Rosetta’s Academy!

Of Curses and Kisses will be released in February 2020 and is available to pre-order now from Amazon, Waterstones and other good bookstores.

The post Announcing a new YA series from Sandhya Menon appeared first on Hodderscape.

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We are thrilled to announce a brand-new contemporary YA fantasy series by Sandhya Menon, the New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met Rishi. In a universe described as ‘Gossip Girl with a dash of magic’ the St Rosetta’s Academy series is set at an elite international boarding school, following three sets of teens as they navigate first love, friendship, and identity.

The first book, Of Curses and Kisses, will publish on 4th February 2020, following Princess Jaya Rao, who finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, a member of the rival royal family behind a humiliating scandal involving her little sister. Jaya has a plan for her revenge on the young nobleman in order to even the score between their families: make him fall in love with her and then break his heart the way his family has broken hers. But when Jaya and Grey begin to actually fall for each other, she starts to realise there’s maybe more to him than his name and his family imply. . . Can the pair find their happy ever after despite their differences?

Carrying all the trademarks of Sandhya’s other beloved works, including brilliant writing and diverse characters, we can’t wait to enter St Rosetta’s Academy!

Of Curses and Kisses will be released in February 2020 and is available to pre-order now from Amazon, Waterstones and other good bookstores.

The post Announcing a new YA fantasy series from Sandhya Menon appeared first on Hodderscape.

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WARNING: SPOILERS FOR GAME OF THRONES FINALE EPISODE: THE IRON THRONE

Wow – it is finally over. The Hodderscape Team are mostly in shock after the last episode of Game of Thrones, but we have managed to gather ourselves together to write down some thoughts on the final divisive episode. 

I definitely have mixed feelings about the end of GoT. It was impossible for the writers to keep everyone happy and I myself have no idea what my ‘perfect’ ending would look like. Bran as King definitely felt like a last-minute decision (‘Dany?’ ‘No.’ ‘Jon?’ ‘No.’ ‘Sansa?’ ‘We’ll give her the North.’ ‘Sam?’ ‘Ha- no.’ ‘So, I guess, Bran?’) but I liked that Jon ended up in the North and back with Ghost and enjoyed the Small Council scene at the end. Sansa and Arya’s ‘arcs’ (as I believe we’re all supposed to say now) felt the most satisfying. But Dany’s death felt really badly done and the destruction of the Iron Throne by Drogon (who now, apparently, understands metaphor) let like something that was high-fived over in the writers’ room but fell flat in reality.
-Alice

‘Okay. Fine.’ – is what my reaction to the final episode was as the closing credits began to roll. In a season which, for me, only really managed to produce one exceptional episode (‘The Long Night’) my expectations had been lowered to a point where what I once would’ve considered to be a decidedly sub-par conclusion to a brilliant TV series, I’ve come to accept as probably being the finale it deserved. Harking back to all the compressed plot-lines of season 6 and onwards (remember that irrefutably laughable ‘take-a-zombie-to-King’s-Landing’ plot device?) I was unsurprised and unperturbed – for the most part – at how ham-fisted and contrived it all ended up being. After all, look at all the great things we got to see: Dany is defeated! No more Iron Throne! Tyrion and Jon don’t die! Sansa becomes Queen in the North (hooray!)… Arya goes west (hmm… OK). Bran the Broken, formerly known as The Three-Eyed Raven, formerly known as Bran, becomes King of the Six Kingdoms…? OK, I was a little perplexed at that one. But on the whole, let’s say for what I had come to expect, I was satisfied. It was as good a final episode as we were ever going to get in the end.
– Cameron

If you want my final GoT review it is ‘Yay, Jon petted Ghost, what a good dog.’
– Ruth

Welp.

I realised when I worried that Jaime’s golden hand might twitch back through the rubble in the opening moments that this series had pushed me too far. I made the stabbing noise for Jon killing Dany a good 2 minutes before it happened. I laughed out loud when the random council of lords and ladies started discussing elections. I remain so, so angry that Bron made a joke about funding brothels and Bran left to warg into Drogon in the closing council scene. This is not what I came for. I have struggled to come up with ways they could have made this worse.

I liked the costumes, particularly Sansa’s final outfit. Also the CGI, particularly Dany channelling the Kremlin/Nazis and Drogon waking up under the snow. Kudos to those technical teams. They almost made the fact that the majority of the episode was panning shots of characters catwalking around worthwhile. I think the actors really tried with an abominable script, with Peter Dinklage taking on 90% of the dialogue solo as well as he possibly could.

Alas. Ask me in 10 years, I think I’ll feel the same.
– Caitriona

Wow! I am so sad it’s the final episode but boy what a ride. I do agree with some of the criticism I’ve seen about the final few episodes but I also wonder how you can end such as epic adventure that is Game of Thrones? You could never please everyone and I’m not even sure I knew how I wanted it to end? I do think everything seemed nicely and quietly resolved by the end. I loved the touching moment with Brienne writing about Jamie’s legacy, and I’m pleased Jon has returned to the Night Watch to be with Ghost and the Wildlings – it’s where he belongs. I wouldn’t say I loved this season as much as the rest of the series but I hope George R. R. Martin finishes the books as maybe the story won’t feel so rushed as a novel – please George write! Also I am a little lost as to what to read/watch now. Any suggestions?
– Maddy

The post Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne Final Episode Review appeared first on Hodderscape.

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SPOILERS AHEAD FOR GAME OF THRONES: THE BELLS!!!

The Game of Thrones fans in the office have managed to stop arguing long enough to write down some thoughts on this week’s divisive episode. 

Deep. Breath.

Well, that was tough. And I don’t doubt that it’s credible that Dany could have got there, and it’s not as if this show hasn’t tortured us before (waves at Shireen at her stake), but….REALLY???!! I just don’t think I really believed in the moment when Dany flipped and thus found it hard to tolerate the protracted, methodical nature of her destruction of all life in King’s Landing. Jon Snow’s bewildered face hardly covers it. And much as I love a moonlit cliffside execution by dragon, I thought that Varys’ storyline didn’t do him credit either. This man has survived so many reigns of Westeros – how was he so bad at plotting and so easy to catch? All in all, a disappointing episode that paid off too many characters’ stories too cheaply (WTF Jaime?) and has set up a rather obvious ending. Boo.

-Alice

Controversial opinion alert! I have never been Team Dany, and I am not massively surprised or distressed by her Flame On! moment. Yes, she has always previously used her armies and dragons against people in power, but I think her messianic streak and her ‘my-way-or-no-way’ approach always had the potential to make her as bad as the rulers she was aiming to replace. (Also, has she checked in on Mereen lately? That city could be overrun by slavers again for all it seems to interest her now.) I do feel like the more interesting story of how a character who’s heroic (when they are hurting people we hate) becomes a baddie (when they’re just intent on victory at all costs) has been rushed. There’s a more interesting take on her isolation, and fear, and determination that only exists in my head: we haven’t properly seen that on screen. And I’m definitely not pro the lazy ‘she’s a Targaryen/Jon wouldn’t sleep with her’ justifications given. But fundamentally I believe GAME OF THRONES is a cynical show about war and rulers, and I am much happier with this version of the story than a ‘yay Dany is Queen now, fairytale ending!’ take. Having said all that, I am pissed off that Jaime didn’t go back to King’s Landing to kill Cersei rather than try to save her. That would have been a better endpoint to his redemption, right?

-Ruth

I am equal parts vindicated for my dislike of Daenerys, and deeply disappointed that she actually Went There. I could see it coming but still hoped she would do right at the last minute and remember who she wanted (or claimed she wanted) to be all this time. It was absolutely gut-wrenching watching Drogon destroy King’s Landing, and particularly awful to see Daenerys’ troops butchering innocent civilians in the streets. I am so, so disappointed in Grey Worm! Elsewhere, I loved Arya and Sandor’s goodbye (ESPECIALLY when she called him Sandor!) and Jaime and Tyrion’s last moment together. While I think Jaime is an utter fool for abandoning Brienne in favour of dying with his evil twincest sister, it really was very sweet seeing the brothers share some love. Tyrion is my MVP right now and I can only hope that he survives long enough to kill Daenerys and put someone better (*cough* Sansa *cough*) on the throne, as an apology for backing a tyrant and doing his good pal Varys so dirty.

-Kate

I am so mad. Like so, so mad. I’m not mad at what actually happened, but I am mad about how it happened. Even leaving the rest of the season how it is, I think they could’ve done a far better job of showing Dany turn into the Mad Queen (emphasis on showing not telling). Really guys, she burns the city because Jon refused to have pity sex with her (…his aunt) and because she has a genetic disposition to being crazy? I don’t buy it. The timing was totally off too – if she had decided to raze the city at any time other than the one moment where she has a chance to show mercy I could have understood because it was the only thing she thought could work. But as the Bells start ringing and the city surrenders? No. Perhaps it’s because I’ve always been team Dany, and wanted her on the iron throne, but I honestly think that’s not the case – they could’ve done this so, so well, but they didn’t, and they’ve done the character a massive disservice.

But I didn’t hate it all! The battle was epic, and truly terrifying (although c’mon – you can’t set up those Scorpions to be completely deadly and then not have a single one hit). The scenes of Arya running through the streets of King’s Landing were spectacularly shot, and I’m even more in awe of Maisy Williams (she can go from young and innocent to badass survive at the top of a hat, and make both convincing). I was also onboard with Cersei finally getting a chance to be more than a cartoon villain, and I thought the scenes where she’s finally realises she’s been defeated, and is no longer in control were epic (even if I was a tad disappointed that she wasn’t assassinated by either Jamie, or Arya wearing Jamie’s face.

-Sam

I have very mixed feelings. As much as I enjoy not having to deal with the smug condescension of GoT fans who get around to reading the books before I do, It’s been clear for a while that D+D have been suffering from a lack of source material to adapt for the series. Watching King’s Landing burn to the ground was a devastating and visceral viewing experience, which I enjoyed – for want of a better word. No TV series has ever done spectacle as well as GoT. But where was the satisfying build-up to Dany’s transformation, where was the intrigue and exposition needed to make the theatre of the situation that much more impactful and harrowing?

We have one final episode left in the entire series now, just 80 minutes left. But it feels like we still have enough politics and character arcs to last us another season at least. I’m worried we’re not going to be left with a satisfying conclusion. I really do hope that they can pull it out of the bag and deliver something special for the finale.

-Cameron

Wow! Another epic battle, which proved that you only need one dragon to obliterate the Iron Fleet and take King’s Landing by storm. But I’m so saddened by the transformation of Dany to a villain. I’ve been a big supporter of hers, even when she’d had to make tough decisions (like killing Varys) but I always thought she would do the right thing in the end. Well I was wrong, I felt as gobsmacked as Jon Snow. And when Grey Worm continued the fighting and gives Jon a withering look of ‘You’re either with us or against us,’ I felt so crushed. Jon’s loyalty is going to be really tested now. I was sad Cersei didn’t have more of a gruesome or shocking death, she’s been the main villain throughout and it seemed a bit sad that she would meet her end in the arms of Jamie and in the rubble. I loved the filming on the street with Arya, you really felt all the terror of the people. I was so nervous that Arya, who has saved the human race from the White Walkers, was now going to be killed by a falling building. Not cool! But phew, she’s survived! And now she’s found a horse, is it her destiny to go and kill Dany? I don’t know how this is all going to end but I am certainly going to be super sad when it’s over.

– Maddy

The post Game of Thrones: ‘The Bells’ Review appeared first on Hodderscape.

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The Hodderscape Team are back with another audio review, and this time we’re discussing the highly anticipated film, Avengers: Endgame.

WARNING: THIS POST AND RECORDING CONTAINS SPOILERS!

In our audio review, Avengers fans Cameron, Sam, Thorne and Maddy all dive deep into some of the most burning questions:

  • Did everyone cry?
  • Whose departure were we most sad about?
  • Where is Gamora???
  • Did Captain Marvel get a big enough part in the film?
  • How does time travel work?
  • Who is everyone’s favourite Avenger?
  • What do we think will happen next in the upcoming movies?
  • Plus, obviously our ratings out of 10!

Hodderscape Reviews... Avengers: Endgame - SoundCloud
(2369 secs long, 21 plays)Play in SoundCloud

What did you think of Avengers: Endgame? Comment below to join the discussion, we would love to hear your thoughts too!

The post Hodderscape Reviews… Avengers: Endgame appeared first on Hodderscape.

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