Where the Trains Turn November 19, 2014 Where the Trains Turn Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen His imagination runs wild. The Walk November 12, 2014 The Walk Dennis Etchison Creative differences can be brutal. Where the Lost Things Are November 5, 2014 Where the Lost Things Are Rudy Rucker and Terry Bisson Everything has to wind up somewhere. A Kiss with Teeth October 29, 2014 A Kiss with Teeth Max Gladstone Happy Halloween.
From The Blog
November 21, 2014
Never Wait for a Sequel Again: 17 Standalone Fantasy Novels
Stubby the Rocket
November 18, 2014
The Hollow Crown: Shakespeare’s Histories in the Age of Netflix
Ada Palmer
November 17, 2014
In Defense of Indiana Jones, Archaeologist
Max Gladstone
November 14, 2014
An Uncut and Non-Remastered List of Star Wars Editions!
Leah Schnelbach
November 13, 2014
Why Do We Reject Love as a Powerful Force in Interstellar?
Natalie Zutter
Mon
Nov 17 2014 4:00pm

The The Legend of Korra’s “Reunion” is All About the Ties that Bind

Avatar Legend of Korra Reunion

Well okay, with this episode of The Legend of Korra, Kuvira seems to be well and truly beyond the pale. Ethnic concentration camps, Kuvira? Yep, you’ve gone and Godwin’d yourself. Not to mention that all the guys have the sides of their heads shaved, all Hitler Youth style. It’s a good look in Sleep No More, but here it is frankly just ominous. There is no doubt in my mind that the next stage in Kuvira’s plan is the “re-unite” the Earth “Empire” is marching to conquering Republic City. It looks like she’ll be in black-and-white by the time she gets there, though this season’s theme of “Balance” still gives me hope of some nuance in the final ethical calculus.

Worry not: this is a fun episode; a nice change from last week’s episode that features Asami’s stun glove, Bolin’s hot lava, the Noah’s Ark of Bumju, Naga, Pabu and some sky bison & flying lemurs, and Korra back in Water Tribe duds.

[Read More]

Tue
Nov 11 2014 2:30pm

Kuvira Ascendant: The Legend of Korra, “Battle of Zaofu”

Avatar Legend of Korra Battle of Zaofu

The real winner of last week’s episode of The Legend of Korra was Zhu Li, making the winner of this week’s episode is fair turn about: Varrick! The absence of his much-needed assistant has made his heart grow three sizes. The other big winner in this episode is Kuvira, which means—you guessed it—that everybody else from Korra to Suyin is a loser. Varrick and Bolin are the only non-losers, and while I’m proud of those two disasters for somehow managing to evade trouble—Varrick, above all else, has a knack for that—I don’t quite know if “winning” sums up Bolin’s rather desperate situation. I think “not losing” just about covers it.

[Read More]

Mon
Nov 3 2014 12:30pm

Zhu Li Does the Thing on The Legend of Korra’s “Enemy at the Gates”

Legend of Korra Enemy at the Gates

This episode of The Legend of Korra, “Enemy at the Gates,” is a nice beat in the tale. It isn’t rushed to get to the bang-pow-smash ’em up bits, but it isn’t treading water, either. After last episode’s healing, Korra is ready to get back into the story, and this episode eases her in, gives us a wiser Korra trying to take the high road, while forces work around her escalating the conflict.

The main story happens out of Korra’s sight, as Bolin and Varrick figure out that Kuvira might not be all that benevolent a dictator after all, and have an all out mecha brawl escaping. So okay, maybe a little whammo-biff-sock brawling, after all... plus Asami Sato, solo, sorting out her life all on her own. So much for friends!

[Read More]

Mon
Oct 27 2014 2:30pm

“Your grandpa was a real pain in my butt!” The Legend of Korra: “The Calling”

The Legend of Korra: The Calling

Great news everybody: the sad times on The Legend of Korra are over! Well, for now, anyway. Thanks to the Amazing Airbending Kids setting out last episode, and thanks to Toph playing Iroh and, ultimately, thanks to Korra. I was glad to see the “recovery story” take a sideways turn in the second episode and become its own weird story about Korra seeking for answers, for help, for her own path. I appreciated that but I’m pretty much always glad for a gloomy plotline to wrap up in television. Now it has.

I wish Toph could be telling this story— “...and Sokka fell in a hole.”— but you’ve got yours truly instead. Alright! Korra learned important lessons! She overcame her own conflicts! Now let’s get out of this swamp and have Korra go solve some external conflicts. In sweet glorious bending battle and what have you.

[Read on]

Mon
Oct 20 2014 2:00pm

Kuvira Always Gets What She Wants: The Legend of Korra’s “The Coronation”

Legend of Korra The Coronation

The politics in The Legend of Korra are getting down to brass tacks. It’s hard not to see Kuvira as a net positive. There is no reason whatsoever to support the royal dynasty. Heck, as far as I’m concerned, there was every reason to support its overthrow. An actual caste system, an apartheid of rings that is so culturally ingrained that even the mall in Republic City’s “Little Ba Sing Se” is segregated by class. A powerful secret police, kidnapping and press-gangs. Propaganda and cruel whim and extortion. I’m with Bolin on this one.

I think Kuvira should hold an election—why wouldn’t she, she’s beloved—and then just claim authority thus. President Raiko sets a precedent for it. Then there you go. We should be so lucky: I kind of want to see Bolin succeed at keeping her on the strait and narrow...even as tensions increase.

[Read More]

Mon
Oct 13 2014 10:30am

The Non-Linear Hero’s Quest: The Legend of Korra, “Korra Alone”

Legend of Korra Korra Alone

Well this episode of The Legend of Korra was a lovely treat, and not just because we saw you-know-who. You might think it strange to call an episode that focuses entirely on Korra’s painful physical rehabilitation and distressingly empathizable post-traumatic stress disorder a “treat,” but “Korra Alone” really was.

What I didn’t want was a whining, emo, “feels” episode. I’ve sort of had my fill of them for a bit, not that they don’t have their due time. I was hoping for, at best, a recovering montage. What I got was something like I was talking about when I discussed Kuvira last week: neither one option nor the other, but a new, third path. We got Korra on her own self-motivated Hero’s Quest. She’s neither sulking nor recuperating: she’s proactive.

[Read More]

Mon
Oct 6 2014 1:15pm

Whatever Happened to Avatar Korra? The Legend of Korra Returns!

Avatar Legend of Korra After All These Years

For someone who happens to have a show named after her, Korra sure doesn’t get much screen time in the premiere of the new season of The Legend of Korra! Doesn’t bother me none, personally; I’ve always like the without-the-Doctor Doctor Who episodes, myself. Still, can I tell you something? I’m well ready for this depressing plot line to come to an end already. Really, I hope the whole recovery story arc runs on an accelerated track. I’ve had enough emo Korra in this series; I’m ready for no-holds-barred, cage-match, all-or-nothing Korra to come back.

I think Korra’s ready, too. She’s brawl-bending, putting her in the underdog role that Bolin and Mako were in as pro-benders in season one, and they’re the authority figures with government ties; how the tables have turned. We’ve had three years of lapsed time, so I think it is possible. Plus...perfect opportunity for Korra to be taken under Toph’s wing as a mentor, just sayin’.

[Read More]

Mon
Aug 25 2014 12:00pm

The Legend of Korra Season Finale: “Enter the Void” and “Venom of the Red Lotus”

Avatar The Legend of Korra

So you want a big, two-part, smash ’em up finale? The Legend of Korra delivers and still leaves enough room for a bittersweet not-with-a-bang-but-with-a-whimper capstone. I’m left thoughtful in the wake of everything that happens; in a lot of ways, this feels like the spiritual sequel to the end of Book Two in Avatar: the Last Airbender, and the preponderance of crystal and gurus makes me think that’s quite intentional. As the same time, these episodes intensely channel the series finale of “Sozin’s Comet,” but with the clever conceit of a role reversal. Here the nimble, evasive airbender is the villain, and the one soaring around on jets of flame is the Avatar.

Book Three of The Legend of Korra has been great, not just in comparison to the first two seasons but on its own, and it concludes here. It’ll all end in tears, but what kind of tears?

[Read More]

Mon
Aug 18 2014 2:00pm

Is The Legend of Korra’s “The Ultimatum” the End of the Line?

Avatar Legend of Korra Ultimatum

Let’s not everyone freak out at once. Just last episode we talked about the knife edge of doubt that an “all-ages” show like The Legend of Korra has been able to walk when it comes to violence. The Earth Queen’s demise could have been the Earth Queen’s defeat until the burden of context clues pushed it over. Heck, this episode we see a number of seemingly fatal falls turn out to be misdirection, on all sides, so I guess my point is: all we can do is speculate about the ultimate fate of one of our favorite characters.

One thing I’ve said this entire season is that the stakes and the tension are high; it feels like anything can happen. I’m hoping the fallout from this recent turn of events is more of a melancholy sad, with more of an “Appa’s Lost Days” feel to the consequences than what the worst case scenario could be. Enough of all of this vague spoiler-free mummery; let’s talk brass tacks, below the cut.

[Read More]

Tue
Aug 12 2014 3:00pm

No Kings, No Masters in The Legend of Korra’s “Long Live the Queen”

Avatar Legend of Korra Long Live the Queen

Well, The Legend of Korra continues to be amazing. Like, old-school, top of its game, Avatar the Last Airbender good, that’s what I’m talking about. Zaheer...ah, I’ll sing his praises as this season’s villain enough later on in the post, no need to start now. Asami, sure, I’ve been asking for more Asami and now I’ve got it. Basically at this point I’m starting to get a little cocky—can I just ask for anything and get it? Stock in Cabbage Corporation? I never got that Koh the Face-Stealer cameo I was hoping for from the Book of Air with Amon or from the Book of Spirits’...well, spirits. Maybe I’ll be in luck next week; at this point, anything seems possible. I’m very excited about this show right now, and I really hope the “digital transition” is going well. If there was ever a time to proselytize a show to show the number-crunchers and bean-counters what’s what, it’s now.

[Read More]

Mon
Aug 4 2014 1:30pm

The Legend of Korra’s “Stakeout” Yields Answers to Big Questions.

Avatar the Legend of Korra Stakeout

This episode of The Legend of Korra gives us what we’ve been waiting for—a glimpse into the inner workings of Zaheer and his “Red Lotus” gang. I’m going to unpack that and sort through what we learn about our antagonists a-plenty, but that isn’t all we get, not by a long shot.

Last week I’d said we’d seen almost every kind of specialized bending, except the plantbending of the swamp folk. Well, now we’ve seen the Mos Eisley of the sandbenders, so check one more off the list. The desert seems “painted,” more brightly colored than the one where Sokka went cactus-juice crazy, but it still vibes Tattooine, right down to spirits being denied access to a saloon the way droids might be kicked out of a cantina. All this casual discrimination and political oppression! Almost makes you wish someone would do something about it, doesn’t it?

[Read More]

Mon
Jul 28 2014 12:30pm

The Legend of Korra Goes Digital: “The Terror Within”

Avatar Legend of Korra

It’s sad that we have to wait to discuss “The Terror Within”—one of the tensest episodes to date, bringing back the sense of real menace that Amon had—in order to talk about how the sausage gets made, but we should. There is an elephant koi in the room: Nickelodeon has decided not to air the rest of The Legend of Korra and instead will make the remaining episodes available online. I know, I’d rather talk about how we finally get to see an all-out battle between Zaheer and his team of what fans are calling the “Red Lotus Society” versus Team Avatar and the Metal Clan, but we need to discuss the nuts and bolts of how we’re going to be able to see the stories, while we’re at it. I mentioned I was worried last week, but it was too little, too late. At least the episode we actually did get was excellent, right?

[Read More]

Wed
Jun 11 2014 7:00am

Morning Roundup: Uncle Luke has Found a New Padawan!

Mark Hamill is breaking out his lightsaber moves for Episode VII! Check out that awesome stance, and the beginnings of what we’re sure will be an epic beard! And, in a terrifying example of corporate synergy, he’s... training Mickey? Mickey seems to lack the necessary intensity to make a proper Jedi....

Morning Roundup must tear its eyes from this extraordinary image to present you with Avatar casting, Snowpiercer details, and Sleepy Hollow news!

[Plus some haunting mail arrives from a small town that is not what it seems.]

Mon
May 12 2014 7:00am

Morning Roundup: How Does She Even Find the Gas Cap?

Ricardo Ramirez gives us an impatient Wonder Woman! On first glance, you might think that she’s just annoyed that her jet needs so much fuel, but we think she’s actually thinking about how long she’s been waiting for her solo movie...

Morning Roundup welcomes you into the week with great news about the Family Storm, less-great news about Star Trek, and really terrible news for anyone who thought “unobtanium” was the dumbest concept they’d ever heard in their lives, and wondered, repeatedly, aloud, how the hell anything about Avatar made it past the first draft of the script.

[On a happier note, you can now visit the Temple of Time!]

Tue
Apr 29 2014 9:00am

Star Wars, What is It Good For? The Real History of Science Fiction

Star Wars A New Hope Opening

When I was a little kid, my father enjoyed altering the famous Star Trek preamble “Space…the final frontier,” to “Space…the stuff between Ryan’s ears.” We’ll never know the illness that causes so many fathers to be sooooo hilarious all the time, and my Dad was no exception. But just like “space” meant different things to my Dad and me, it also means a lot of things to a lot of different people: a Final Frontier, a place where No One Can Hear You Scream, and also lots and lots of gas.

The latest installment of the BBC’s documentary series The Real History of Science Fiction decided to talk about space, and was about as successful as my Dad’s bad jokes, meaning the show was mostly dumb, bloated, and occasionally, a little bit charming.

[Read more]

Wed
Oct 16 2013 10:00am

Filmmaking Visionaries: The Top Ten Writer-Directors

Gravity

Watching Gravity in IMAX 3D this weekend, I was struck by the audacity of Alfonso Cuarón. From the precise attention to zero-gravity physics to the heart-pounding interplay of noise and silence, this movie wasn’t simply written—it was authored, from start to finish, by a visionary. In the film world, such adepts are known as “auteurs”—creatives who don’t simply write or direct a film but conjure the entire thing wholesale. While only a small number of projects are made this way, they include some of the most successful and beloved movies.

[Read More]

Mon
Oct 14 2013 4:30pm

A Night Time Stroll Through Pandora With the Family

Avatar theme park

The Japan Disney D23 Expo recently revealed how the Avatar theme park is coming together, complete with concept art and 3-D models. Watch a video of it here.

[via Coming Soon]

Fri
Jun 28 2013 4:15pm

Nathan Fillion Gives Us Permission to Fly Serenity (er, on GPS)

Nathan Fillion TARDIS Serenity GPS Garmin

Are you driving this summer? Perhaps you’re bored with normal GPS navigation images, and you’d like to make your roadtrip a little more epic? The site Geeks are Sexy used one of the images provided by Garmin Heaven, and turned their car into a TARDIS! You can do almost anything with your car’s avatar, like converting it into, um, Avatar, or the Millennium Falcon, a Cylon ship, two different Batmobiles, a lightcycle, or even Wall-E and Eve. (We must decry their deplorable lack of rocketships, however.)

[And it’s all thanks to Nathan Fillion]

Tue
Sep 18 2012 8:00am

Morning Roundup: The Star Wars Anime We Deserve

This fan-made Star Wars Anime video comes from animator Otaking 77077 who is also responsible for the Doctor Who Anime video. Another fan put the Sleigh Bells song “Born to Lose” with it, which just makes it pretty rockin’. Why a Star Wars cartoon can’t actually be like this is beyond us.

Your daily squadron of offsite links includes the following highlights:

  1. Is Doctor Who literally getting darker? (Like, the lights are lowering?)
  2. First look at Catching Fire set pics.
  3. Geeky Downton Abbey connections.

[Read more]

Tue
Sep 11 2012 8:00am

Morning Roundup: Curiosity Takes a Picture of Itself

It looks like the Mars rover Curiosity has joined the Facebook/camera phone generation by taking a picture of itself. We’re thankful there’s no way for the rover to do the dreaded “duck face.” [News via Boing Boing]

Your offsite links are just as awesome, but not as self-centered.

Highlights include:

  1. The Moff leaves Twitter!
  2. Walter Koenig is all over the news.
  3. A Tron dance that must be seen to be believed.

[Read more]