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One of the main characters on HBO's hit series, Game of Thrones, is paralyzed. Another has lost his right hand. We've met an important character with a severe skin disorder and another with an intellectual disability.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

New York's Time Square is known to many as the crossroads of the world — and now a new tourist attraction displays much of it under one roof. Gulliver's Gate is a miniature, for-profit exhibition populated by tiny people and the equally small things that exist in their world.

Ever since Peter Minuit bought Manhattan Island from the Native Americans, New York City's character has been defined by money and con artistry. So it is that classic New York stories are always populated by a grifter or two.

In 2013, acclaimed ballerina Wendy Whelan underwent reconstructive surgery that left her hobbled, both physically and emotionally. For Whelan, it wasn't just her career with the New York City Ballet that was at stake; it was also her artistic voice.

In the epicurean world, Northern California is famous for two intoxicants — wine and weed. With recreational marijuana about to be legal in the Golden State, some cannabis entrepreneurs are looking to the wine industry as a model.

On the elegant terrace of a winery overlooking the vineyard-covered hills of Sonoma County, north of San Francisco, a dozen invited guests are sipping pinot noir, nibbling hors d'oeuvres and taking hits off a water pipe.

We'll be releasing the results of this year's Summer Reader Poll on Comics and Graphic Novels later this week — and it's a varied and deeply idiosyncratic list, trust us. Y'all have some fascinating favorite comics.

Not to spoil anything, but the final list skews heavily toward recent offerings, which makes sense: The stuff that's been around a long time may earn people's respect, but new discoveries spark excitement. And that's what any survey that asks folks to name their favorites will naturally turn up.

Octavia Butler used to say she remembers exactly when she decided to become a science fiction writer. She was 9 years old and saw a 1954 B-movie called Devil Girl from Mars, and two things struck her. First: "Geez, I can write a better story than that!" And second: "Somebody got paid for writing that story!" If they could, she decided, then she could, too.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LAKSHMI SINGH, HOST:

On-air challenge:

I'm going to give you clues for some 5-letter words. Switch the 2nd and 4th letters to make a new word that answers the second clue.

It can be hard to grow up in an ultra-religious household. I was raised in a strict Pentecostal family, and I remember not being allowed to go trick-or-treating or have any sign of Santa Claus because both were deemed to be inspired by Satan. When you're a little kid, you don't question it — that's just how it is. It takes getting older to realize you're different from everyone else.

'Tropic Of Kansas' Rips Dystopia From The Headlines

Jul 9, 2017

In the vast galaxy of science fiction, it is always three minutes 'til doomsday.

There is always some monster, some alien warlord, some catastrophe so imminent that no one has time to pee. Lives are always on the brink. More than ray guns, more than starships, this is the defining characteristic of sci-fi literature. Disaster, within and without.

The first comic book I ever read was an obscure DC title that I begged my parents to buy for me from a rotating rack at a New Jersey Turnpike rest stop.

It's somehow fitting that a biography of Sarah Vaughan would emerge during the centennial of Ella Fitzgerald. That's been Vaughan's story from the get go. The brilliance of her instrument was, is and ever shall be compared to Fitzgerald's — the First Lady of Song, the darling of rhythm, the swinging-est singer on record.

It's rare to talk to a celebrity who hits as many demographic heights as Baddiewinkle. She's an Instagram influencer with more than 3 million followers; she's been featured by two major cosmetics lines; and she turned heads when she wore a bedazzled nude bodysuit to the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards.

In the early 1950s, sportswriter Steve Rushin's hometown of Bloomington, Minn., had a population of just 9,902. Within a decade, it had exploded to more than 50,000, becoming the kind of booming American suburb where families were large and life centered on school, church and sports.

A recently discovered photograph that some believe shows Amelia Earhart alive and well on an atoll in the Marshall Islands has exhumed the never really buried mystery about the pioneering aviator's disappearance after her Lockheed Electra vanished in the South Pacific on July 2, 1937.

If you ask Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch, wrestling was just better in the 1980s: They say it was less slick, less violent, more fun — even silly. There were easier entry points, too.

"Liz and I will watch a wrestling match now, and we'll actually make it 15 minutes in and still have no idea who the good guy or the bad guy is," Mensch says.

Just a few days after director David Lowery finished shooting Disney's live-action Pete's Dragon, he started a project that could hardly have been more different — the micro-budget, quietly revelatory, poetic, meditative, and aptly titled A Ghost Story.

Lowery shot in secret and very quickly. His setting, an entirely unremarkable suburban rambler that was slated for demolition, which allowed him to destroy it when necessary, and his chief storytelling device a childlike representation of a ghost — a figure draped in a white bedsheet.

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

First up on this week's show, Gene Demby of our Code Switch team and Sam Sanders of the new podcast It's Been A Minute join Stephen and me to talk about Baby Driver, Edgar Wright, music, car chases, Ansel Elgort, and why it's so hard for guys who are originally admired by young women to get the respect they deserve.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Two hugely popular live entertainment companies are joining forces. Cirque du Soleil announced yesterday it is acquiring Blue Man Productions. NPR's Rose Friedman reports.

The rules were clear; to participate, you needed four things:

A floral-printed dress (knee length), a shawl (red or pink), artificial flowers in your hair (three, at a minimum), but most important of all, of course, was the unibrow.

Hundreds of people came together at the Dallas Museum of Art Thursday night, in an attempt to set the record for the largest gathering ever of people dressed like Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Growing up in New England as a first-generation Pakistani-American, Haroon Moghul was taught that practicing his Islamic faith would make life his better. What he didn't anticipate was how challenging it could be to be Muslim in America.

In 2001, Moghul was the student leader of New York University's Islamic Center when the Sept. 11 attacks occurred. Shortly thereafter, he was called upon to be a spokesperson for the Muslim community in New York — a role he describes as both a "civic responsibility" and a "tremendous burden."

Alissa Nutting's plots arrive with all the irrepressible, grotesque flamboyance of a flasher at a funeral. Her last novel was the nauseating but addictive story of a female sexual predator. Her latest, Made for Love, opens with the protagonist, Hazel, arriving at her father's trailer to find him cohabitating with a sex doll named Diane, "the kind designed to provide a sexual experience that came as close as possible to having sex with a living (or maybe, Hazel thought, a more apt analogy was a very, very recently deceased) female."

Summer Reading For Your Woke Kid

Jul 6, 2017

Social activist Innosanto Nagara wanted to find a fun book to read to his 2-year-old son that also talked about the importance of social justice.

He wasn't looking for the typical fiction written for children. Instead, he was looking for unique narratives — by writers of color and/or authors who can speak about social issues through their own experiences.

Nagara couldn't find any. So he wrote one.

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