BRAVE NEW WORLDS

Dive Into The Magical Worlds Of These Fantasy & Science-Fiction Series!


Published on May 7, 2024


Credit: Natalia Y.

American author Stephen King once said "books are a uniquely portable magic" . We believe he is absolutely right: There is something truly fantastic about the way books transport us to unique worlds, where the laws of our reality are changed into something new and magical. And this world-making ability is probably most evident in the epic fantasy and science fiction genres.

We have selected ten book series which truly make use of their authors’ abilities to imagine new, fantastical scenarios which push the boundaries of our understanding. Keep on reading, you might find a new favorite!

1

Dune - Frank Herbert

Credit: Wolfgang Hasselmann

We’ll start this list with what many believe to be the most important science-fiction series on the 20th century. Frank Herbert’s magnum opus is still revered to this day for creating one of the most innovative and inventive settings in history.

While "Dune" delves into psychic abilities, prophecies and the political turmoil between ancient houses, one of its strengths is the way the planet of Arrakis is described. Herbert shows his true mastery in creating not only a breathtaking landscape, but a complex and detailed environment on which themes such as politics, technology and magic can flourish.

2

A Song of Ice and Fire - George R.R. Martin

Credit: mauRÍCIO SANTOS

Most known for being the inspiration behind the hit HBO show "Game of Thrones" , this book series by American author George R.R. Martin truly changed the way fantasy series are conceived nowadays. A Song of Ice and Fire not only included dragons, magic and armor-clad knights fighting in epic battles , but it also incorporated intrigue, treachery and political machinations to a medieval setting.

While the first book of the series was published nearly 30 years ago, the reading world is still expectantly waiting for the final two books to be published. Martin is definitively taking his time: the latest book in "A Song of Ice and Fire" was published in 2011. Nevertheless, despite this decade-long gap, fans of this series have not wavered and are still eager to find out what the next books have to offer.

3

American Gods - Neil Gaiman

Credit: Simone Pellegrini

America is truly a melting pot of civilizations : The "Land of the Free" has provided a home for people from all around the world, on which hundreds of different cultures, heritages and traditions have coexisted for centuries. English author Neil Gaiman was inspired by this multiculturalism to create his 2001 book "American Gods", on which America becomes a place on which different civilizations exchange not only their cultures, but also their gods and mythical creatures.

"American Gods" follows the story of Shadow Moon, an ex-convict who finds himself involved in a matter between the old gods that travelled to America. Shadow gets to know the Norse god Odin, the Hindu god Ganesh, and a leprechaun called Mad Sweeney, among others. The series was adapted into an Emmy-nominated show in 2017.

4

The Dark Tower - Stephen King

Credit: Constant Loubier

While Stephen King is known as the indisputable master of horror , with over 65 iconic novels published, he is also a beloved contributor to the fantasy series thanks to his iconic series "The Dark Tower." Mainly comprised of eight novels, this series follows gunslinger Roland Deschain on his quest to reach the Dark Tower, a mythical structure on which all universes are connected.

While the plot might seem simple, it is anything but. King establishes a rich and complex domain, on which countless characters and settings are seamlessly interwoven. It is no wonder that King himself has referred to this series as his "magnum opus": It is a dark but magical universe filled with the genius of this beloved author.

5

The Foundation Series - Isaac Asimov

Credit: Robs

Even if you are not a science-fiction fan, you might still be familiar with Isaac Asimov’s "Three Laws of Robotics." This fictional set of rules, first published in the 1942 short story Roundabout , established the way on which artificial life could be safely integrated into our society. And while the Three Laws are heavily ingrained into pop culture to this very day, Asimov contributions to the science-fiction genre go way beyond them, including his groundbreaking series "Foundation."

Originally comprised of three novels published between 1942 and 1950, this series recounts the final days of a future Galactic Empire, and the development of a new discipline known as "psychohistory." In 1982, Asimov published "Foundation's Edge", the first of four books that expanded the universe he created in the 50s.

6

The Witcher - Andrzej Sapkowski

Credit: Jonathan Kemper

Just like Game of Thrones, this series by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski might be better known by the award-winning videogame series of the same name. However, there is a reason behind why fans of the series were so enthralled by the videogame: it finally allowed them to experience in first-hand the fantastic and mysterious world that the book series masterfully describes.

"The Witcher" narrates the travels of Geralt of Rivia, an adventurer who travels across an unnamed fantasy continent fighting evil creatures and monsters . With eight books, spanning over two decades, this epic saga is filled with dark plots, fearsome monsters and thrilling adventures.

7

The Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis

Credit: Ingo Stiller

The first series on this list to be intended for a younger audience, C.S. Lewis classic collection of books is to this day considered a masterpiece in the fantasy genre . Originally published between 1950 and 1956, this series comprises the creation and history of Narnia, and the adventures of a group of children that wander into this fantasy realm.

C.S. Lewis’ books are filled with magical and outstanding characters but perhaps the most well known of them all is the lion Aslan , creator and protector of Narnia. To this day, all seven books of this series are still being published, and cherished by young readers everywhere.

8

Discworld - Terry Pratchet

Credit: Anna Wangler

Who says fantasy series can’t also be funny? If there is a fault to most of these epic, grand-scale masterpieces is that they sometimes take themselves to seriously. Their characters tend to be noble and brave warriors, charming renegades or eccentric geniuses: none of these archetypes leaves a lot of room for humour. However, one of the most praised series of all time is known not only for it’s massive length and detailed world-building, but also for its hilarious and colorful humour. We are talking, of course, about Sir Terry Pratchet’s "Discworld."

Set in the titular Discworld, a flat planet held on the back of four giant elephants standing on top of an even bigger turtle, this massive series is comprised of 41 stand-alone novels, with the final entry being published in 2015 following Pratchett’s death. To focus on one main character would be a disservice to the magic of the series : from Rincewind the unskilled wizard to Granny Weatherwax the witch, every character in the Discworld series is filled with life and personality, and they pay tribute to the genius of one of the most creative authors of his time.

9

Conan the Barbarian - Robert E. Howard

Credit: Artem Kniaz

When Robert E. Howard created "Conan the Barbarian" in 1931, he couldn’t have been aware of how iconic this ferocious barbarian was going to become. In his over 90 years of history, Conan has appeared in several stories, comics, movies and video-games. He was portrayed by action superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1982 film "Conan the Barbarian", and later on by Jason Momoa in its 2011 remake. Conan has surely become a timeless pop icon, and to think that he got his start as a side character in a humble pulp magazine.

Conan first appeared as the main character of a Robert E. Howard story in 1932, in the short story "The Phoenix on the Sword." This first tale laid the groundwork of the characteristics Conan would be known for: a black-haired warrior, muscular and fierce but also chivalrous and noble.

10

The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien

Credit: Thandy Yung

We’ll end this list with a timeless classic . What’s the first image that comes to mind whenever you hear the term "fantasy book"? Do you think about an old wizard, dressed in a grey robe and a pointy hat? Or maybe do you think about an epic battle between men and hideous monsters, fighting to establish which civilization will remain? There’s a reason why the term "fantasy book" is so heavily associated with characters from J.R.R. Tolkien’s "Lord of the Rings" series: Almost eighty-years since its publication, this masterpiece is still considered the quintessential entry into the fantasy genre.

The three main books of this series ("The Fellowship of the Ring", "The Two Towers" and "The Return of the King") describe Frodo Baggins’ quest onto the evil land of Mordor, in order to destroy a magical ring that could bring the dark lord Sauron back to life. Tolkien’s worldbuilding ability knows no equal: this series established a complex universe comprised of creatures, history and its very own fictional language, known today as "Tolkien Elvish".


UNSOLVED RIDDLES

10 Mind-Bending Mysteries That Defy All Explanation


Published on May 7, 2024


Credit: Marek Piwnicki

Get ready to delve into the realm of the unexplained and unresolved. From eerie disappearances to uncharted phenomena, some of these unsolved mysteries defy logic and will leave us scratching our heads.

In this article, we will explore 10 mind-bending enigmas that continue to elude explanation despite all attempts to elucidate their perplexing nature.

1

The Vanishing Act

Credit: Charlie Hales

The infamous Bermuda Triangle, spanning between Miami, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico, is considered by many to be a hot spot for unexplained disappearances of both ships and aircraft since at least 1840. However, despite extensive research, the reasons behind the vanishings remain elusive. Some attribute the apparent phenomenon to magnetic anomalies, while others point to human error or natural explanations.

2

A Cryptic Manuscript

Credit: Sohaib Al Kharsa

Dating back to the 15th century, the Voynich Manuscript is a handwritten book filled with bizarre illustrations and an unknown script referred to as Voynichese . Scholars and cryptographers have attempted to decipher its contents for centuries, yet its mysterious language remains uncracked. While some believe it was conceived as a work of fiction or, perhaps, a joke, the manuscript's true origin, purpose, and the meaning of its intricate drawings remain one of history's greatest linguistic conundrums.

3

A Signal from Space

Credit: Ben Wicks

In 1977, a radio signal was detected from deep space by Ohio State University's radio telescope. The strange signal lasted 72 seconds and was dubbed the "Wow! Signal" because it bore the expected hallmarks of extraterrestrial origin. But despite numerous attempts, scientists have still been unable to trace its source or explain its origin. The signal's sudden appearance and unique frequency continue to fuel speculation about life beyond the Earth.

4

An Enigmatic Construction

Credit: K. Mitch Hodge

The prehistoric monument of Stonehenge, an imposing circle of colossal stones in the middle of a grassy field, has puzzled archaeologists for centuries. The purpose of its construction as well as the exact technology used by its ancient builders - who did not leave written records behind - remain mostly an enigma. However, many researchers have pointed out that the monument could have functioned as a sort of early astronomical observatory.

5

The Somerton Man

Credit: Farhan Azam

In 1948, an unidentified man was found peacefully dead on Somerton Beach in Australia. Police found a scrap of paper that read Tamam Shud (meaning "finished" in Persian) in his pocket, later found to be a torn page from Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, a 12th-century Persian poetry book. The man's identity, cause of death, and the meaning behind the mysterious phrase remain unknown to this day. A baffling case that could have easily been ripped off the pages of an Agatha Christie book, The Somerton Man continues to mystify investigators, spawning numerous theories but offering no concrete answers.

6

A Bizarre Broadcast Intrusion

Credit: Fran Jacquier

In 1987, during two separate incidents, an unknown individual wearing a Max Headroom mask hijacked television broadcasts in Chicago. The bizarre intrusions featured distorted audio and peculiar visuals, leaving viewers bewildered. Following the broadcast intrusion, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched a criminal investigation. However, despite numerous inquiries and widespread speculation over the ensuing decades, the culprits behind the intrusion remain unidentified to this day.

7

The Dyatlov Pass Incident

Credit: Hendrik Morkel

In 1959, a group of experienced hikers in the Ural Mountains (then part of the Soviet Union) met a mysterious and tragic end. Their tent was found slashed open, and the hikers were scattered in various states of undress, some with internal injuries. The cause of their deaths and the strange circumstances leading to the incident remain unsolved, with the prevailing secrecy of Soviet authorities at the time further complicating inquiries. The tragic incident has sparked numerous theories, from natural disasters to military experiments, but definitive answers remain elusive.

8

The Taos Hum

Credit: Ethan Wright-Magoon

Residents of Taos, New Mexico, have reported a persistent low-frequency hum, known as the "Taos Hum," since the early 1990s. Despite investigations, the source of this mysterious sound, which can only be heard by a small percentage of the population, remains unknown. Similar phenomena have been reported in other parts of the world, leading researchers to believe local sources or even biological auditory effects might be the cause.

9

The Ghost Ship

Credit: Jamie Morrison

In 1872, the ship Mary Celeste was discovered adrift in the Atlantic Ocean with its crew mysteriously missing. Surprisingly, the ship was intact, with all its food and valuables untouched. Insurance fraud, mutiny, waterspouts, and giant squid attacks have all been proposed as possible explanations, but no convincing evidence was found to prove any of these theories. Despite exhaustive investigations, the fate of the crew and the reason for their sudden disappearance remain one of maritime history's most enduring enigmas.

10

The Sleeping Sickness Spell

Credit: Gregory Pappas

During the early 20th century, a mysterious illness known as Encephalitis lethargica struck half a million people around the world, causing affected individuals to enter a prolonged state of lethargy or sleep. While the exact cause remains unknown, one of the leading theories suggests that brain inflammation triggered by an autoimmune response to a certain strain of bacteria or viral infection could have been responsible for the observed symptoms.

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quibble

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