Dawn of the Witch: A Review of The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden

European folklore has always been a major inspiration for modern fantasy, but there is something special about the folklore from Eastern Europe and Russia.  Cold winters and dark forests have proved to be a fertile breeding ground for all manner of fireside tales.  Baba Yaga roams the woods, flying on her pestle or controlling her house walking on chicken legs.  Chernobog haunts both nightmares and Disney movies, making an unforgettable appearance in Fantasia.  The land can be cold and inhospitable, but this same land brought us the domovoi, guardian of the hearth, and the vazilda, guardian of horses.  The land can be cold, but the one who inhabit it can be very warm.

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Doctor Who vs the Devil: A Review of Doctor Who: Scratchman, by Tom Baker

The first episode of Doctor Who aired on November 23rd, 1963.  William Hartnell starred as The First Doctor, although he would not known to be only the first until a couple years later when, as part of a plot device, the Doctor regenerated into another body played by another actor.  This is a character who travels through time with their companions, solving problems and resolving conflicts.  There have been Thirteen doctors to date, with a few unnumbered appearing in small roles.  The latest episode aired on January 1st, 2019.  Like the title character, Doctor Who transforms itself for newer generations while maintaining a place in the heart of pop culture.  This is a show that means so much to so many and the world is better for it.

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The Space Princess and the Wanted Criminal: A Review of Polaris Rising, by Jessie Mihalik

Science-fiction takes many forms, but there are two archetypes which nearly all science-fiction stories fall into.  First, there is the hard sci-fi.  The Expanse, The Three-Body Problem, anything by Robert A. Heinlein.  These are the stories which pay extra attention to the technologies of the future and go to great lengths to explain exactly how races have progressed to their points.  This type of science-fiction can be literary, it can be intellectual, and it can be gritty.  On the other end of the spectrum is the space opera.  Star Wars, Firefly, A Princess of Mars.  In space operas the technology is present, but is not central to the story.  These stories are all about the characters.  Where hard sci-fi series can fluctuate between multiple viewpoints, space operas relish in following an individual or a group of characters throughout their adventure.  As our world changes and progresses, hard science-fiction and sometimes feel outdated, but space operas are timeless.  Polaris Rising is very much a space opera.

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