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Signs & Portents

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Pagan News Beagle: Airy Monday, November 16

The Guardian examines the long-term influence of one of the world's most famous science fiction novels. A comic details the story of a cop secretly practicing magic. And Vin Diesel explains how The Silmarillion informs his views of mortality. It's Airy Monday, our weekly look at magic and religion in popular culture. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

Many stories utilize fantastical races and creatures to investigate questions of multiculturalism and segregation. One such story is Taylor C's Monsterkind, a webcomic about a human social worker living in an area where non-humans, discriminated against by the system they live under, predominate. Comics Alliance gives their impressions here.

When it comes to science fiction novels, few have garnered as much attention and praise as Frank Herbert's Dune. The work, which author Arthur C. Clarke once described as "I know nothing comparable to it except The Lord of the Rings," tells the story of a young noble who becomes embroiled in a rural planet's religious war for independence. But why is Dune so beloved and influential? The Guardian's Hari Kunzru offers one perspective.

Most comics' take on magic is fantastical, but Image Comics' new series Black Magick has a different take. Written by Greg Rucka and illustrated by Nicola Scott, the comic's protagonist is a police detective whose knowledge of the occult as an underground witch offers her a unique perspective on the horrific crimes haunting her jurisdiction. You can read Kotaku's review here.

When it comes to representation in films or television, most of the concern is over the faces in front of the camera. But that's not all that matters. It's also important that, in order that our media offers a wider and more naturalistic perspective, that the people behind the camera—including both directors and producers—are more diverse as well. The Mary Sue explains why.

Vin Diesel is many things: movie star, celebrity, producer, screenwriter. He's also an avid aficionado of high fantasy and one of the world's most prominent players of Dungeons & Dragons. In this interview with Diesel at io9, the actor explains how J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion has shaped his spiritual worldview, most specifically regarding death.

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Aryós Héngwis (or the more modest Héngwis for short) is a native of the Pontic-Caspian steppe, born some 5000 years ago, near the village of Dereivka. In his youth he stood out from the other snakes for his love of learning and culture, eventually coming into the service of the local reǵs before moving westward toward Europe. Most recently, Aryós Héngwis left his home to pursue a new life in America, where he has come under the employ of BBI Media as an internet watchdog (or watchsnake, if you will), ever poised to strike the unwary troll.

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