Jason Heller

Jeanine Basinger is a veteran film historian and author with a well-respected body of work — including 11 books — behind her. But read her new book, The Movie Musical!, and you might think she's a debut author with something to prove.

Yetu's life is not her own. A member of the mermaid-like, undersea race called the wajinru, the main character of The Deep has been chosen as the newest historian of her people. As such, she must gather their ancestral memories, and bear them in pain until the annual ritual of sharing, called the Remembrance. Historians suppress their own personal desires, identity, and memories in service of their fellow wajinru — but Yetu is not happy about this arrangement.

In the prologue to her book God Save the Queens: The Essential History of Women in Hip-Hop, Kathy Iandoli recounts her time working at an Internet radio station — and how, one day in 2009, a famous rapper who was appearing in the studio referred to her by saying, "F**k that c**t."

In 1969, Newsweek bestowed this honorific on Janis Joplin: "The first female superstar of rock music."

It's also a claim that Holly George-Warren sets out to prove in Janis, her new biography of the iconic Texan singer who rocketed to fame after becoming the frontwoman of the San Francisco blues-rock group Big Brother and the Holding Company — only to die four years later at the age of 27, a casualty of the freewheeling '60s, the decade she came to embody.

What constitutes cosmic horror? The term has been in use for decades, usually to describe the work of H. P. Lovecraft and his ilk — that is, authors who explore the marrow-deep terror humanity feels in the face of the unknown. We're not talking about things that go bump in the night. We're talking about inscrutable beings with godlike proportions who straddle the universe, who wield mysterious forces that predate the Earth itself.

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