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.
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The Well-Lit Knight Rises: How 1960s Batman Shaped Our Bat-Thoughts Forever
Ryan Britt
Nov 27 2013 1:00pm

Learning Empathy From Robots: How MST3K Explained My Parents

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Thanksgiving marathon

This week marks a milestone for all of humanity—Sunday was the 25th anniversary of the first broadcast of Mystery Science Theater 3000. The first ever episode, “The Green Slime” was shown on a small Minneapolis cable-access channel called KTMA on November 24, 1988. This is also the 22nd anniversary of the Turkey Day Marathon, which aired annually on Comedy Central from 1991 until 1995, and which will be returning this year! Joel Hodgson is curating an online marathon that will be available this Thursday starting at noon Eastern Time.

[In the not-too-distant past]

Oct 10 2013 11:30am

A Home Away From Home: The Mouse Deer Kingdom by Chiew-Siah Tei

The Mouse Deer Kingdom Chiew-Siah Tei

Home is where the heart is, so if you have no home, what happens to your heart?

This is a question Chai Mingzhi will ask himself again and again over the course of the nearly forty years The Mouse Deer Kingdom chronicles. “A run-away official from the Qing Court, which had supported the anti-foreigner rebels” during the turn-of-the-century Boxer Rebellion, Chai uses the last tatters of his imperial influence to help his family and closest friends escape to the Malay Peninsula.

At the outset of Chiew-Siah Tei’s long-awaited second novel, the travellers trade everything that is theirs to pay for passage on Captain Cochrane’s cargo ship, but nothing in Chai’s life comes easily, and the journey to Malacca is no exception. As gathering storms lay waste to a vessel never intended to carry passengers, we have, however, an opportunity to meet the Mingzhis.

[Read More]

Oct 1 2013 10:00am

Sleeps With Monsters: Writing Families in the Future

About a year ago, I was reading an anthology that collected almost fifty science fiction stories, a high percentage of which were recently published. Some offered exciting, thought-provoking ideas of the future. Many did not: the far-future felt like today, IN SPAAACE.

This failure of the imagination is one I encounter too often, and it can happen in many ways. The one I want to talk about is the depiction of families: namely, that they are almost always families of one man and one women—straight, cisgender—with a child or two.

Families across Earth exist in great variation, from extensive kinship networks to only a few relationships, connected by genetics or choice. People of all sexualities and genders join together in twos, threes, or more. Family-strong friendships, auntie networks, global families... The ways we live together are endless.

[But that’s not the case in science fiction. At least not yet.]

May 21 2013 1:30pm

Short Fiction Spotlight: The Family Fantastic

Short Fiction Spotlight The Family Fantastic

Welcome back to the Short Fiction Spotlight, a weekly column co-curated by myself and the inestimable Brit Mandelo, and dedicated to doing exactly what it says in the header: shining a light on the some of the best and most relevant fiction of the aforementioned form.

Last time I directed the Short Fiction Spotlight, we discussed two terrific novelettes in which image was everything. Both were nominated for a Nebula. By now, the winners of that award—and all the others on the roster, obviously—will have been announced, and much as I might have liked to look at those this week, these columns aren’t researched, written, submitted, formatted and edited all on the morning of.

So what I thought I’d do, in the spirit of keeping the Nebula news alive a little longer, was turn to a pair of tales whose authors were honoured in 2012 instead. To wit, we’ll touch on “What We Found” by Geoff Ryman in short order, but let’s begin this edition of the Short Fiction Spotlight with a review of “The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu.

[Read more]

May 3 2010 4:48pm

Tor Story Podcast 020 - “Firstborn” by Brandon Sanderson

Dennison stepped into the hologram, walking until he stood directly behind his ships. There were about two dozen of them—not a large force, by Fleet standards, but bigger than he deserved. He glanced to the side. Non-commissioned aides and lesser officers had paused in their duties, eyes turned toward their youthful commander. Though they offered no obvious disrespect, Dennison could see their true feelings in their eyes. They did not expect him to win.

Well, Dennison thought, wouldn’t want to disappoint the good folks.

We have another archived story for you this week:  “Firstborn” by Brandon Sanderson.

[Dinner with Father after the cut]

Sep 1 2009 1:34pm

Star Trek Re-Watch: “Amok Time”

“Amok Time”
Written by Theodore Sturgeon
Directed by Joseph Pevney

Season 2, Episode 1
Production episode: 2x05
Original air date: September 15, 1967
Star date: 3372.7

Mission summary
Something’s wrong with Spock! At least that’s what Dr. McCoy thinks, since Spock hasn’t eaten in three days and he’s a little edgy. Captain Kirk assumes his first officer is just being moody again, even after Spock throws a bowl of plomeek soup at Nurse Chapel. But then the Vulcan requests a leave of absence to visit his home planet, which definitely demands explanation.

Spock claims Chapel deserved mistreatment for being nice enough to bring him homemade soup that he didn’t ask for, but Kirk couldn’t care less about his misogynistic opinions, he’s more interested in the request for shore leave: “In all the years that I’ve known you, you’ve never asked for a leave of any sort. In fact, you’ve refused them.” Spock won’t share his reasons, but it seems pretty important and he obviously needs a vacation. The usually controlled Vulcan can’t even keep his hands steady. Kirk finally agrees to divert the Enterprise from its mission to Altair 6.

[Spock probably just needs a way to relieve some stress...]

Jul 14 2009 4:36pm

Star Trek Re-Watch: “Operation—Annihilate!”

Written by Steven W. Carabatsos
Directed by Herschel Daugherty

Season 1, Episode 29
Production episode: 1x 29
Original air date: April 13, 1967
Star date: 3287.2

Mission summary
Disaster seems to have visited another Earth colony just ahead of the Enterprise, this time on the planet Deneva, which lies on a path of “mass insanity” that has destroyed three other civilizations in the system in the past two hundred years. While they try to contact Deneva, sensors pick up one of its vessels intentionally heading straight for the sun. The Enterprise pursues it and opens a hailing frequency, urging the pilot, who may or may not be named Icarus, to turn back. As with the planet itself, there’s no response until they receive a transmission shortly before the smaller vessel burns up: “I did it. It’s finally gone. I’m free! I’m—” The Enterprise sets course for Deneva, Kirk more anxious than ever to make contact. Dr. McCoy, demonstrating his blunt bedside manner, comments: “Jim, your brother Sam and his family, aren’t they stationed on this planet?”

[That’s nothing compared to what the doctor pulls later...]