Burnt Sugar December 10, 2014 Burnt Sugar Lish McBride Everyone knows about gingerbread houses. Father Christmas: A Wonder Tale of the North December 9, 2014 Father Christmas: A Wonder Tale of the North Charles Vess Happy Holidays from Tor.com Skin in the Game December 3, 2014 Skin in the Game Sabrina Vourvoulias Some monsters learn how to pass. Where the Trains Turn November 19, 2014 Where the Trains Turn Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen His imagination runs wild.
From The Blog
December 9, 2014
The Eleventh Doctor’s Legacy Was Loss and Failure
Emily Asher-Perrin
December 9, 2014
Tor.com Reviewers’ Choice: The Best Books of 2014
Tor.com
December 8, 2014
How Fast is the Millennium Falcon? A Thought Experiment.
Chris Lough
December 8, 2014
Tiamat’s Terrain: Tales of the Marvellous and News of the Strange
Alex Mangles
December 4, 2014
Potential Spoiler Leak for Star Wars: The Force Awakens Reveals Awesome Details
Emily Asher-Perrin
Showing posts by: Alex Brown click to see Alex Brown's profile
Mon
Dec 1 2014 3:00pm

Pull List: Batgirl and Thor

DC’s New 52 reboot in 2011 was much needed, somewhat successful, and totally controversial. Women creators dropped from 12% to a depressing 1% (as of August 2014, that number is under 10% between the Big Two). Catwoman, Starfire, Voodoo, and Harley Quinn were way oversexualized. And then there was Batgirl. Barbara Gordon was thankfully spared the worst aspects of the New 52, by which I mean she wasn’t tarted up in a black and yellow bikini with Liefeld-esque accent pouches. Three years later, a new writer and artist have taken over the title and breathed new life into Batgirl.

A week before Batgirl dropped, Marvel launched their newest series aimed at young women: Thor. Yes, in the 2014 Marvel comics universe, Captain Marvel is a woman, Ms. Marvel is Pakistani-American, Captain America and Ultimate Spider-Man are Black, and Thor is a woman (with really unfortunate boob-plate armor). Quite a few characters have taken over the mantle of Thor over the years, but this time it’s for real. For now, anyway.

So, we have two old titles with two new personalities. How do they stack up? And, more importantly, should you buy? Oh, hell yes.

[“Quick, say something badass.”]

Mon
Dec 1 2014 12:00pm

The Walking Dead, S5 E8: “Coda”

The Walking Dead: Coda

And thus ends the midseason finale, not with a bang but with a whimper. This season had such a great start, but ended on a scattered, half-baked note. I don’t know what happened in the writers room the days they broke “Crossed” and “Coda,” but whatever it was it couldn’t have been good. The last two eps were way off the mark, tonally, character-wise, plot-wise, everything. Thematically I liked what both had to say, but the means by which the writers chose to express those themes was underwhelming at best.

[“I get it now.”]

Mon
Nov 24 2014 11:00am

The Walking Dead, S5 E7: “Crossed”

The Walking Dead Crossed

The end is nigh and all the pieces are moving into place. In seasons past, an episode like this would’ve triggered an entire post railing against yet another time-killing episode. Now, however, episodes like this work well. It’s one thing to understand that sometimes you have to spend time setting the table and another when you realize it’s only happening because the people in the kitchen don’t know what they’re doing and are delaying the inevitable as long as possible. “Crossed” is functional but endearing, and if nothing else, at least we got to see Tara’s face light up as she played with that yo-yo.

[“So, what’s next on the agenda?”]

Mon
Nov 17 2014 10:00am

The Walking Dead, S5 E6: “Consumed”

“Consumed” is another solid entry in a strong season, due in large part to being 42 minutes of two of the show’s best actors doing some quality work. The episode fills in what happened after Daryl and Carol drove off after the car with the white cross but before the former returns to the church with an unknown companion (dollars to donuts, it’s Noah). It’s also chockablock with flashbacks to Carol’s major subplots from season 4.

[“I don’t think we get to save people anymore.”]

Wed
Nov 12 2014 5:00pm

Supernatural: A Single Man Tear

Previously on Supernatural: Demon!Dean is dispatched as quickly as he arrived, Sam ruins all my fun by being so quintessentially Sam, Crowley gets dumped and doesn’t care for it, and Cas has the world’s most boring romance. Also: a wonderful, fantastic, awesome musical.

[“We got work to do.”]

Mon
Nov 10 2014 11:00am

The Walking Dead, S5 E5: “Self Help”

The road to D.C. is paved with good intentions. While Rick and co. were getting their boring on at Hershel’s farm and eking out a life for themselves in a prison, Abraham, Rosita, and half a dozen others were dragging Eugene from Texas to Georgia on a mission to save the world. They fought for Eugene, and died for him. He was Abraham’s saving grace, literally; they crashed into each other’s lives just as Abraham was about to eat a bullet after losing his family to walkers. He couldn’t save them, but he could protect Eugene. Glenn and Maggie seem to be mostly just going along for the ride. Who knows what Rosita’s motivations are other than what the hell else would she be doing instead, which puts her more in line with Glenn and Maggie than Abraham. And Tara is with them because she’ll go where ever Glenn and Maggie go until she feels she’s atoned for her Governor-related sins.

In “Self Help,” the setbacks and obstacles pile up until they become insurmountable. After the bus crashes a mere 15 miles from the church, the group seeks refuge in a forgotten bookstore. Abraham reinjures himself, but it’s manageable. A little midnight nookie and good night’s sleep patches them all up just enough to keep rolling along. That is, until the fire truck craps out and releases walkers from the fire station. Fate doubles down when the truck stops a few miles down the line, then plays its winning hand with what looks like hundreds of walkers festering in an abandoned cattle ranch along the main highway. Trouble is, Abraham doesn’t know when to call it quits. The rest follow him through everything until they reach their breaking point when he tries to force them through the horde of walkers. And then the world comes crashing down.

[“I have a very important mission.”]

Mon
Nov 3 2014 11:00am

The Walking Dead, S5 E4: “Slabtown”

The Walking Dead recap season 5 episode 4 Slabtown

Remember Beth? Blonde, young adult, sings a lot, tougher than she looks? Maggie’s only surviving family member? You know, the girl who kicked it with Daryl after the prison last season? Everyone else has forgotten all about her. Even Maggie’s basically over her, with nary an attempt at even pretending to try to track her down.

Well, turns out the group who kidnapped her wasn’t a crazy Christian cult like I assumed, but a crazy group of survivors holed up in a hospital. They live by a code of compromise, if by “compromise” you mean “endless cycle of inescapable, soul-crushing debt.” The more she gets to know the hospital, the less she wants to stay, and with the help of a confidante they make a break for it. He escapes, she gets dragged back, and then just as the episode comes to a close comes the real kicker...

[“No one’s comin’!”]

Wed
Oct 29 2014 1:00pm

Pull List: Joe Hill’s Wraith: Welcome to Christmasland

It’s almost Halloween, which means the Brown household is in the middle of its annual Joe Hill October (Joetober? Octohill?) Celebration. Between consuming Wraith, Horns the movie, and Horns the book for Tor.com, I’ve also spent my lunch breaks at work binging on his ebook short stories.

At this point, most of you should be at least passingly familiar with Joe Hill, but to quickly sum up, he’s a masterful writer of horror fiction who has also spread his talents into graphic novels. For this special Halloween edition of Pull List, we’re talking Wraith: Welcome to Christmasland, but I also highly recommend The Cape (no, not the TV show Abed was obsessed with) and, of course, the excellent Locke & Key.

[“We’re on our way to Christmasland!”]

Mon
Oct 27 2014 8:30am

The Walking Dead, S5 E3: “Four Walls and a Roof”

The Walking Dead season five episode 3: Four Walls and a Roof

If you were a fan of Gareth and the cannibals, well, too bad for you. “Four Walls and a Roof” wasted no time in getting straight to the action. The ep was grim and quick, and didn’t stick the landing quite as well as it should have. But at least it wasn’t terrible or meh. Rather than dwell on the bad, let’s take the late, great Bob’s advice and look for the good.

[“It could’ve been us.”]

Fri
Oct 24 2014 9:00am

Between Two Evils: Horns

Horns Daniel Radcliffe

I’ve got to be one of the few Millennials who formed no opinion of Daniel Radcliffe during his Harry Potter years. I never had any interest in the books, and although I know I’ve seen the first HP movie, I couldn’t even begin to guess at what happened (something about owls and Maggie Smith?). It wasn’t until The Woman in Black that I really discovered him for the talent he is. It was a fairly meh horror flick that at least tried to be excellent rather than just settling for lazy scare tactics. But Radcliffe himself was impressive, an anchor in a sea of mediocre dialogue and stellar production design. He blew me away again as Allen Ginsberg in Kill Your Darlings. Kid’s got some serious acting chops.

Needless to say, I was thrilled to bits to hear he was cast as Ig Perrish in Alexandre Aja’s adaptation of Joe Hill’s Horns (not least of which was because it meant Shia LeBeouf was no longer up for the part). Horns is my favorite thing Hill’s ever crafted, and one of my favorite books in general. With the death of the Locke & Key TV show, I was more eager than ever for a Hill adaptation, particularly one with Radcliffe in the titular role.

[“...you just have to pick the sin you can live with.”]

Thu
Oct 23 2014 1:00pm

Devil in a Blue Dress: Horns by Joe Hill

Joe Hill HornsI have Amanda Palmer to thank for my discovery of Joe Hill. About five years ago, she blogged about a “kind gentleman” and a friend of Neil Gaiman who brought her beer in the janitor’s closet at a concert venue she was playing at in Portland, Maine. As an ardent AFP+NFG acolyte,  that same afternoon I checked out every Joe Hill work from my local library, which, at the time was 20th Century Ghosts and Heart-Shaped Box.

I fell madly in love almost immediately, and by the time Horns came out the following spring, neither Hell nor high water could keep me from seeing him read on his book tour. I even still have the light-up horns he passed out as party favors. So when I was asked if I wanted to review Horns the book and Horns the movie, I jumped at the chance so fast I practically lit my email on fire.

[“Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name”]

Mon
Oct 20 2014 9:30am

The Walking Dead, S5 E2: “Strangers”

To the surprise of no one, The Walking Dead continues to shatter its own ratings records, with more than 17 million people tuning in for the premiere, or over 22 million counting the live + same day. But to the surprise of at least this reviewer, the show continued its great quality streak. While the premiere was its usual action and gore-packed self, the second episode was a little quieter, a little calmer, and a little more pensive.

TWD really has only two speeds: EVERYTHING HAPPENS ALL AT ONCE or not much happens at all. The key to making the show work is not letting busy episodes overflow to the point where none of it means anything since the audience doesn’t have time to digest any of it, and having interesting enough characters to prevent the slow pace from dulling into a snooze fest of cliched dialogue and nonsense. The premiere and last night’s “Strangers” successfully avoided the pitfalls their predecessors succumbed to, which has me hopeful for the future while simultaneously waiting for the other shoe to drop.

[“YOU’LL BURN FOR THIS”]

Mon
Oct 13 2014 9:30am

The Walking Dead Season 5 Premiere: “No Sanctuary”

The Walking Dead No Sanctuary

When we last left our depressive band of post-apocalyptic survivors, Rick and the gang were trapped in the cannibal capital of the South, a new crew joined up with the supposed key to solving the zombie infection, and Beth was still kidnapped by mystery villains.

Last season was definitely better than previous installments, but was uneven in many troubling ways. What should have been a tight, explosive season turned into a sprawling two half-seasons of wheel-spinning and ill-conceived plots. Paring down the group and splintering them into unusual factions was mostly successful, and helped spice up some previously uninteresting characters. And the introduction of Terminus and the crazy Christian cult made for a high-energy cliffhanger that should provide enough of a jolt to keep the tension going throughout the new season.

[“You’re either the butcher or the cattle.”]

Fri
Oct 10 2014 9:00am

Don’t Touch That Dial: Fall 2014 TV

Fall 2014 television

Welcome back to “Don’t Touch That Dial,” a seasonal series in which I, your friendly neighborhood television addict, break down some of the shows screaming for your attention. I already told you what’s new this fall, so now we’re diving a little deeper. In this very special episode we’re covering an immortal medical examiner (Forever), a shady attorney (How to Get Away with Murder), and sexy stalkers sexily stalking sexy stalkers (Stalker).

[Give me all the Forever/HtGAwM crossover fanfic you have.]

Wed
Oct 8 2014 4:00pm

The Warm Glowing Warming Glow: Fall 2014 TV

Summer 2014 television preview

After the wild success of the Sopranos, cable—particularly premium cable—became the wellspring of quality television. Plenty of lower tier cable networks like TNT and USA churned out their own middling and formulaic comedic dramas to pass the time in between sitcom reruns and years-old movies, but HBO and Showtime more than made up for it. In recent years, even those oft-ignored lower cable channels became harder to pass up. FX (and now FXX) took massive gambles on Louie, Wilfred, and Terriers and mostly won, AMC knocked it out of the part with Mad Men and The Walking Dead, and Starz shocked just about everyone with Outlander.

[“Television! Teacher, mother, secret lover.”]

Wed
Oct 8 2014 1:20pm

Supernatural Season 10 Premiere: “Black”

Supernatural Black

It’s no secret that I’m a huge Supernatural fan. In fact, my relationship with Supernatural is remarkably similar to how I feel about Doctor Who. Both shows came to me through the magic of the internet - YouTube for DW, Tumblr for the Winchesters. I fell in love hard and fast, and my life was irrevocably altered.

And, like DW, the last few seasons of Supernatural have been a bit of a bear to get through. Seasons 6 and 7 were stuck trying to work around the brick walls put up by Eric Kripke at the end of season 5, and the last two seasons were faltered attempts to kickstart new mythologies. Fortunately, no matter what ludicrous insanity the writers hurl on the screen, the core of the show - Sam and Dean Winchester, and, to a lesser extent, Castiel and Crowley - are interesting enough to keep the show afloat.

[“I’m going to save my brother, and then I’m going to kill you dead.”]

Wed
Oct 1 2014 9:00am

Pull List: Lumberjanes

From the first page of the first issue, I knew Lumberjanes was going to be my new favorite thing. All the girls are awesome—I absolutely adore Mal, probably more than is healthy—the story is easy but engaging, and the dialogue is sharp, cheerful, and pleasantly down to earth. But it wasn’t until page 9 that I fell in love.

The girls use famous/important women as interjections, and on that page Molly referenced a woman who has been my hero since I was a little girl: Bessie “Queen Bess” Coleman. She was the first African American person of any gender to have an international license, and the first Black female pilot in the world, and it’s a rare day when I encounter someone who not only knows of her but treats her with the respect she deserves. This is probably going to be less review and more love letter, because there’s just so much greatness bundled up in such a little comic.

[“What the junk?!”]

Mon
Sep 29 2014 12:30pm

Outlander’s Mid-Season Finale: “Both Sides Now”

Outlander was one of those shows I had high hopes for, but more than a few reservations about. Plenty of shows have burst through the gate in a cloud of thrilling excitement only to stumble the rest of the season until a rallying finale (I’m looking at you, The Walking Dead). Could Starz, a channel not exactly known for its subtlety and depth, continue to balance the male and female perspectives without pandering or objectifying? Could Ronald D. Moore smooth out Diana Gabaldon’s clunkier subplots while still branching out and making something wholly new?

[“Last I was here, I was Claire Randall. Then Claire Beauchamp. Then Claire Fraser.”]

Wed
Sep 17 2014 1:00pm

Aloha HawaiiCon!

HawaiiCon

This past weekend was the first ever HawaiiCon. I was one of the 199 Kickstarter backers last year, and was excited for the chance to attend. In all, the new con had about 700 attendees (including guests and comps), with the split between Hawaiians and mainlanders about 50/50. Although the Kickstarter hailed it as a science and SFF con with a Hawaiian twist, and touted its authors, celebrities, and comic book artists, the con really ended up being roughly 60% hard science, 30% SF, and the rest a sundry mix.

[“The Science, Sci-Fi and Fantasy Convention with Aloha!”]

Wed
Sep 10 2014 4:00pm

Teen Wolf: Evolution

Teen Wolf

Previously on Teen Wolf: Everything happens all at once, nothing is satisfactorily explained, and all hell breaks loose.

[“What the hell is so special about Scott McCall?”]