Strange Science: Real Life Kaiju

Kaiju, which means “strange creature” in Japanese, like the ones we see in movies couldn’t possibly be real … or could they?

This article talks about the real world inspirations for some of the most popular kaiju from movies, all of which can be found in Japan. While the monsters from the movies are often much larger than their real world counterparts, and often much more colorful as well, you can see the parallels between some of these animals of Japan and the monsters they inspired.


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Unbelievable Creatures!

Our planet is home to all sorts of creatures that seem fantastical or like they’ve come straight out of science fiction. This article includes a list of seventeen of the most amazing critters. Some are quite small, like the tardigrade, but there are also larger critters like the gerenuk and the saiga antelope. The list includes insects, ocean-based creatures, and a few land-dwelling mammals, some of which are cartoonish and others of which are somewhat terrifying!

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Alumni Short Stories and An Interview!

Our alumni have been quite busy, so here’s a few more things they’ve been up to!

Patrick Hurley’s story, “A Tricky Leak,” was published at The Arcanist.

Deborah L. Davitt’s story, “Carols on Callisto,” was podcast at Escape Pod.

J. C. Stearns has a Warhammer 40K Horror novel coming out in February 2020, and he’s been interviewed about that novel and his other writing at Rapid Fire.

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Other Cryptozoology Stories

If you enjoyed yesterday’s story about an unusual creature, here are some other stories you might like!

The Skitterer: An Impression of an Imaginary Companion” by G. D. Watry (a strange cryptid that might or might not be real)

“Old Mother Shudders” by Tom McGee (advice on fighting cryptozoological monstrosities) (available in MSJ Winter 2019)

“From Matchsticks to Flamethrowers: On the Evolution of Dragons” by Isaac Teile (tracing the evolution of one of the most mythical creatures) (available in MSJ Summer 2017)

“Stheno” by Marnie Azzarelli (one cryptid makes her way in the modern world) (available in MSJ Spring 2017)

“Containment of the Last Queen” by Alby Darling (on the hunt for a legendary cryptid) (available in MSJ Autumn 2015)

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Fiction: The Titan Through the Dust

An essay by Claire Gainsborough, as provided by Joachim Heijndermans
Art by Leigh Legler

You’ve seen it. Everyone’s seen it. Kids know of it from their school books. It’s been on TV, in movies, and in every history book published in the years after the incident of Singapore City. Hell, even if you’ve never seen the actual shot, you’ll know it from the ripoffs and the parodies and the references by college kids trying to be artsy in their projects. Cultural osmosis, I think they call it. It’s a hell of a thing, to have your work be absorbed by the current zeitgeist and spat back out, like a cheesy meme passed around on Twitter, to the point that everyone around the world will instantly recognize your photo on sight, even if they have never heard your name.

And I gotta say, with the passage of time, I don’t know how I even feel about the shot anymore. For one thing, it’s been nearly twenty years since I aimed that camera, pressed my index finger down, and made a piece of history in a split second of time. So yeah, that part’s cool. But you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone familiar with any of my other work. Last year I had a book collection of my travel photography published in conjunction with Nat Geo. Sales were so-so. Biggest complaint? That shot wasn’t in it. That’s all that people want anymore. Kagemura, on the most devastating day of my life.

Is this what Eisenstaed felt like when he shot that photo of the VJ day in New York? I doubt it, because even if that kiss was forced and all that, it still had some sense of beauty to it. A joy was captured in that scene. My shot? It’s beautiful in its own terrifying way. But I just see the carnage. Carnage in blood, rubble, and dust. Absolute carnage.

Continue reading

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Strange Science: Scale Mail for Modern Protection

A teen scientist in Australia has found a new use for an ancient technology in a very modern setting: using copper scale male to protect women from excess radiation during breast cancer treatments.

She took her inspiration from learning that copper can be more effective than lead in protecting human skin from radiation. Combining that with learning about scale mail in her history class, she learned to weave together scale mail into wearable “armor.” This armor reduces skin exposure to the radiation treatments by 75%, while still allowing the radiation to work on cancer cells.

You can read more about this here!

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The Tiniest of Gingerbread Houses, through Science!

Gingerbread houses are hard to make and decorate. But a gingerbread house that’s about 20,000 times smaller than a normal one, or one-tenth the width of a human hair? That sounds like a real challenge!

A scientist at McMaster University in Canada, who works with electron microscopes, has done so. It’s carved from silicon, so it’s a bit inedible, but it’s still painstakingly decorated. What’s more, it’s on the head of a microscopic winking snowman that makes a human hair look large.

You can read more about this here!

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Review of Carpe Glitter

Carpe Glitter by Cat Rambo (Meerkat Press, 2019) is a clever novelette about family secrets, magic, and antiquated war machines. A very quick read, this novelette blends a very real story of dealing with the estate of a recently deceased family member with the surreal.

The main character, Persephone, has inherited the estate of her hoarder grandmother who was a stage magician. As she sorts through the detritus of a long life, in amongst the moldering keepsakes, she finds several things that seem more magical in a real sense, not in the stage magic sense. Putting these pieces together reveals some of her family’s secrets, helping her understand the relationships between her grandmother, her mother, and herself.

My only wish for this novelette was for it to be longer, so that more time could have been spent on teasing out the ramifications of Persephone’s discoveries and her motivations at the book’s conclusion. Despite this, it was still a fun and quick read!

The publisher provided us with a free copy of this book in exchange for review consideration.

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Stories for Winter Nights!

We’re in the midst of winter in the northern hemisphere, so here are a few winter tales to keep you company during these dark nights!

On a Winter’s Night” by Paul Crenshaw (a dark Gothic-inspired tale)

Ice Words, Fire Fonts, and Other Scripts Unwritten by Human Hands” by Tais Teng (words written in frost and other such natural things)

“The Observer’s Paradox” by Judith Field (a melancholy tale set near the holidays) (available in MSJ Autumn 2017)

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Fiction: Children of the Guillotine

An essay by Bernard Asse, as provided by Nathan Crowder
Art by Luke Spooner

You sit there smiling, full of self-importance, bloated with secrets and my finest burgundy, and question the path that brought you here to me. Our previous interactions in the Grand Salon piqued your curiosity, made you envious, perhaps. Me, the lowly child of a Parisian ex-pat and a college professor from Senegal, the talk of the city’s elite, my designs worn by the daughters of wealth and privilege. You look upon my Haute Couture and see nothing special, nothing magical. Certainly, I must have done something scandalous, must have fucked my way into a position of influence, must know where the bodies are buried, to achieve such unwarranted acclaim. How tired your bleated protests, thinking they are unique, thinking you are the first to question my vision as a designer.

Rooting in the soft ground of my known history, you tried to dig up some dark secret. You found nothing but carrots but convinced yourself they were diamonds. Convinced yourself that my association with esoteric spiritualists makes me look mad, as if black magic could account for my successes.

If I truly were a sorcerer, then you were a fool to come to my home to confront me.

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