A Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Proposed Trade-Offs for the Overhaul of the Barricade July 30, 2014 A Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Proposed Trade-Offs for the Overhaul of the Barricade John Chu Fighting Turbulence requires sacrifices. The Colonel July 29, 2014 The Colonel Peter Watts The hives are sleeping giants. <em>To Eternity</em> July 24, 2014 To Eternity Wesley Allsbrook and Barrie Potter If all things were normal, Stuart would be considered quite a catch. Brisk Money July 23, 2014 Brisk Money Adam Christopher It's hard out there for a robotic detective.
From The Blog
July 29, 2014
Introduction to the H. P. Lovecraft Reread
Ruthanna Emrys and Anne M. Pillsworth
July 25, 2014
Huge New Cast and Bloopers. Highlights from the San Diego Comic Con Game of Thrones Panel
Chris Lough
July 22, 2014
What Makes Chinese Science Fiction Chinese?
Xia Jia
July 22, 2014
Everything I Learned from the Buffy Rewatch
Alyx Dellamonica
July 21, 2014
If This is the Plot for Star Wars: Episode VII, I Will Be Sad
Emily Asher-Perrin
Showing posts by: Chris Lough click to see Chris Lough's profile
Apr 30 2014 2:40pm

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Grievance. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Nothing Personal”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 1, episode 20: Nothing Personal

This week’s episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “Nothing Personal,” or as I like to call it “Let’s See How Skye Gets Out Of This One,” is a middle of the road affair, but a necessary one all the same. With the panic of Hydra beginning to fade, the series was bound to need a pause for breath before plunging into the season finale.

In a roundabout way, “Nothing Personal” makes a point of having our agents earn that pause, both emotionally and physically. As opposed to the cliffhangers of the last few episodes, this episode peters out with the agents hanging out glumly by the pool in a crappy L.A. motel. It’s a credit to the show that, as a viewer, you just want to cuddle up with them.

[Read more]

Apr 23 2014 3:00pm

Too Much Love Will Kill You: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “The Only Light in the Darkness”

Agents of SHIELD season 1, episode 19: The Only Light in the Darkness

As supervillain powers go, “turning off the lights without having to get out of bed” is dubious. You can jazz it up like this week’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode did and claim that what Blackout is really doing is absorbing energy, but that still means your villain’s greatest weakness is A Bunch of Flashlights. Thanks for the takedown, trick-or-treating group of kids! We’ll call you next time he escapes.

If this was earlier on in the season, I feel like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would have tried to hang its entire episode on this monster chase in an attempt to dazzle the viewer with the concept alone. It’s a sign of the continued growth of the show that “The Only Light in the Darkness” now pushes that to the margins in favor of spending its time with our non-super-powered—but more interesting by the week!—team of agents.

[Read more]

Apr 16 2014 3:00pm

It’s Not Given, But Discovered. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Providence”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 1, episode 18: Providence

“Providence,” this week’s episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., is what it looks like to see a new show commit to itself. No more jumping-on point or one-off episodes for viewers this season. The rollercoaster is no longer boarding, you’re either familiar with the show or not.

This isn’t a bad thing for any show to do, and the embrace of serialization seems to be making Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. downright playful. (This might also be because the show doesn’t have to wait for Captain America: The Winter Soldier anymore. Thom Dunn expertly points out the crumminess about that.) And although we seem destined to bonk around in the Marvel Universe toy box until the end of the season, “Providence” provides hints that we may be seeing more of a transformation than a serialization.

(Spoilers ahead for Captain America: The Winter Soldier.)

[Read more]

Apr 10 2014 11:45am

I Just Lost Hours Reading This Geological History of Westeros

Game of Thrones geological history of Westeros

The Stanford geologists at Generation Anthropocene are my new favorite people. They recently assembled a presentation that extrapolates from clues in the books how the continent of Westeros in A Song of Ice and Fire / Game of Thrones came to be formed, from the salt flats of Dorne to the granite of Winterfell, and it is an exceptionally clever work that breathes new color into George R. R. Martin’s world.

They also nail down precisely how big the planet is—an attempt I made myself last year with less precise methods—figure out where the tectonic plates are, find missing volcanoes, and discover a period in the planet’s history where winter thoroughly won the fight.

Check out the full thing here. Don't fret over not knowing anything about geology. The writing in the presentation presents everything very clearly and concisely, allowing anyone to follow the progression of Westeros from southern hemispheric lump to its jagged current-day self. Here’s hoping they publish an update that folds Essos and the Known World into the mix!

Apr 9 2014 3:35pm

A Twist Saved is a Twist Earned. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Turn, Turn, Turn”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 1 episode 17 recap: Turn, Turn, Turn

Spoiler warning: This episode is a direct response to the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. There will be immediate spoilers for the movie. Go see the movie it’s really good.

BOOM! I feel like so many of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s weaknesses were directly addressed in last night’s episode. There were twists! And turns! Turns! Turns! And nary a crappy Deathlok costume in sight.

Which means I get to talk about all the things I liked, because the episode was pretty much non-stop Things To Like.

[In which the Clairvoyant turns out to be pretty good at seeing things coming]

Apr 8 2014 4:30pm

I Seriously Doubt Kate Mulgrew Believes the Sun Revolves Around the Earth

Kate Mulgrew Captain Janeway Star Trek

Hey, guess what? Kate Mulgrew took a voice-over gig that has turned out to be narration for a documentary made by a Holocaust-denier that is titled The Principle, which claims that the sun revolves around the Earth. So now we know, for sure, that the Captain Kathryn Janeway that we (sort of) grew up with believes something that was disproved hundreds of years ago.

[Or, more likely, she doesn’t]

Apr 4 2014 2:15pm

The Age of Heroes is Here. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: Winter Soldier Bucky

Note: This review is spoiler-free, with a separate section below for spoilers. There will be a warning before the spoilers begin. The comments will also contain spoilers.

If you’ve read any other reviews of Captain America: The Winter Soldier then you’ve essentially been told everything you need to know. 1.) It’s a must-see if you’re invested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 2.) Even if you’re not, it’s still a lot of fun. Did you see Iron Man 3 or Thor: The Dark World? Whatever reaction you had to those movies is what you’ll have to Winter Soldier.

[Read more]

Apr 2 2014 3:20pm

One Hand Washes the Other. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “The End of the Beginning"

Agents of SHIELD season 1, episode 16: The Beginning of the End recap

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. show runners Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen recently gave an interview to The Hollywood Reporter that leads off with a warning that people watching the show shouldn’t expect a Marvel movie every week. The warning seems a bit misguided. We’re not disappointed in the lack of superpowered characters or derring do—Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has provided that in abundance, really—it’s more that the show hasn’t demonstrated that it has a grip on how to fully explore the characters and world that it has inherited.

This week’s episode “The End of the Beginning” is a solid response to that. It’s not a Marvel movie (although one character does leave to go be in a Marvel movie) but the episode utilizes the world that the show has hurriedly built this season in nicely varied and exciting ways. The show is finally beginning to cohere.

[Read more]

Mar 24 2014 4:00pm

That Galaxy is Shooting Lasers. The Science of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey Episode 3: “When Knowledge Conquered Fear”

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey episode 3 science Isaac Newton

Want to know more about the Really Cool Things behind the science and history revealed in this week’s episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey? This must be the place!

This week we’ll dig deeper into episode 3, “When Knowledge Conquered Fear” and look at the constellations of Middle-earth, galaxies that SHOOT LASERS, how awesome-not-awesome Isaac Newton was, and the galactic cataclysm pinwheeling towards us right now.

[Read more]

Mar 24 2014 12:00pm

Who Actually Deserves to Win the Game of Thrones...After Season 3?

Game of Thrones iron throne who deserves to win

When you play the game of thrones, so goes the saying, you win or you die. Mostly you die.

While we root for the characters that we want to see take the throne, the show and the books have gone to great lengths to show us the kind of ruler each candidate might be, should they emerge triumphant. We might want Daenerys to take the crown, but would she actually make a good ruler of Westeros?

[Who actually deserves to win the game of thrones?]

Mar 24 2014 10:00am

This is Indeed a Disturbing Universe. Muppets Most Wanted

Muppets Most Wanted movie review

Straight away I can tell you that I enjoyed Muppets Most Wanted far more than 2011’s revival The Muppets, but the reasons for that comprise a movie that is probably not what High Disney, Lord of All may have preferred film director James Bobin and writer Nicholas Stoller present to an audience of children.

Though as a member of the other portion of the audience being courted—nostalgists, basically—I found the film’s antagonistic creepiness and lack of sentiment pretty amazing.

[“You can quit being a Muppet?”]

Mar 19 2014 11:00am

SUPER CORN! The Science of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey Episode 2: “Some of the Things That Molecules Do”

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey episode 2: Some of the Things That Molecules Do

As a mostly educational program Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey is meant to inspire a sense of wonder in its viewers, regardless of their background, along with a desire to explore the worlds around them in the same curious manner as host Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Ship of the Imagination.

Towards that end, instead of simply recapping and reviewing each episode, I’ll be assembling a list of Really Cool Things behind the science. Want to learn more about what you saw in the program? Come this way!

This week we’ll dig deeper into episode 2, “Some of the Things That Molecules Do” and meet some adorable foxes, raise an eyebrow at What We’ve Done To Corn, and see a map of Titan that could double as an epic fantasy world.

[Read more]

Mar 19 2014 8:45am

Marvel Studios Gives Us a First Look at Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers: Age of Ultron concept art Scarlet With Elizabeth Olsen

In place of last night’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., ABC aired Marvel Studios: Assembling a Universe, a hour-long informercial laying out for the casual viewer the next steps for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Along with the Ant-Man test footage leaked last year, the special gave us a quick look at Guardians of the Galaxy and some exciting concept art for 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, including our first look at Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and...well, you’ll see!

[Avengers: Age of Ultron sneak peek. Spoilers ahead.]

Mar 17 2014 12:00pm

Marvel’s Next Cinematic Experiment is Hiding in the Guardians of the Galaxy Trailer

Guardians of the Galaxy Infinity Gauntlet

The first trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy, the dark horse of the Avengers Cinematic Universe is so much fun! (OOGA CHAKA OOGA OOGA) For those unfamiliar with the Guardians of the Galaxy comic book—and that’s most of us as the comics were never popular enough to stave off cancellation—the movie represents a quirky new direction for the Avengers universe, one only hinted at through the delightfully batty Thor films.

But for those who are familiar with Marvel’s cosmos line of books in the 1980s, 90s, and 2000s, the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer is hiding a lot of clues about a larger struggle that will consume the Marvel movies after Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Read on for a layman’s guide to Guardians of the Galaxy. (Warning! Spoilers ahead for pretty much every Marvel movie that has come out, plus some for Guardians of the Galaxy and one for Avengers: Age of Ultron.)

[What’s hiding in the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer]

Mar 14 2014 7:00am

Einstein Was the Luckiest Science Fiction Writer Ever

It’s not hard to idolize Albert Einstein on his pi day birthday, or any day. The man is responsible for the general and special theories of relativity, a cornerstone of physics and a way of understanding our universe that has proven so consistently reliable that it is probably the closest humanity will ever get to a decisive cosmic capital-T Truth. He’s the scientist you first learn about when you are introduced to the very concept of science. Mere decades after his death, his name is synonymous with the term “genius.” Even if you don’t know who Einstein is, you’ve still heard the term “Einstein.”

And how he came to that point is by exploring the world in exactly the same way we do when we write or talk about science fiction and fantasy.

[Read more]

Mar 12 2014 5:00pm

Gender Flail. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Yes Men”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 1, episode 15 "Yes Men" recap

Last night’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode “Yes Men” saw the world of Asgard intersect once more with our puny Midgardian pebble and the results were catastrophic, although probably not in the way viewers had hoped they would be. The fill-in-the-blanks plot was a parade of missed opportunities, one of which was particularly egregious, and what resulted was one of the lowest points in the show’s struggling first season. Let’s recap where it went wrong.

[Read more]

Mar 11 2014 2:10pm

What Do You Do With a Plot “Problem” Like Daenerys?

Daenerys and her dragons Game of Thrones season 4

Depending on how far along you are with Game of Thrones you may not know that Theon Greyjoy’s storyline in season 3 doesn’t actually occur in A Storm of Swords, the Song of Ice and Fire book that seasons 3 and 4 of the shows are based upon.

[Note: This article will be referencing events from Game of Thrones season 4 and the ensuing books. Spoilers ahead for the whole series, basically.]

[Read more]

Mar 10 2014 4:00pm

Ending the Tyranny of Knowledge. Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

Cosmos A Spacetime Odyssey

It’s funny; I didn’t expect to be the wrong audience for Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.

I love space. It’s vast and full of dramatic extremes and it contains every story there is to tell. All you have to do is get me in the right mood (re: brunch) and I’ll relay how we could build a warp drive right now if we only had a type of matter that doesn’t exist, or how disappointed I’ll be if we don’t find evidence before I die of an exoplanet actively harboring life.

To be sure, Neil deGrasse Tyson’s renewed Cosmos mini-series conveys that same awe and excitement clearly and gorgeously. But its debut episode “Standing Up In the Milky Way” certainly made me feel alone in the universe, in ways both intended and not.

[Comes a time to step aside]

Mar 5 2014 6:00pm

See You at Skye Fall. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “T.A.H.I.T.I.”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. recap of season 1 episode 14 T.A.H.I.T.I.

That was the weirdest Dr. Manhattan reference ever.

Although ostensibly about saving Skye’s life, “T.A.H.I.T.I.” circles the show back around to the mystery behind Coulson’s resurrection, diving deeper into the tangled world of S.H.I.E.L.D.

[Read more]

Feb 13 2014 10:00am

Pay For the Robot, Stay For the Insane Supporting Cast. RoboCop

RoboCop 2014 movie review

Good news! The future is hilarious.

In some ways, the 2014 RoboCop reboot is better and more vibrant than you would expect. There’s a self-aware quality to the story and its actors that is absolutely key to making its setting, America and Detroit in the year 2028, fully believable. Even 14 years away, this is a not-too-distant future that you can readily imagine RoboCop emerging into, with all the benefits and drawbacks that this entails.

At the same time, you can’t take RoboCop too seriously.

[Robo-phobics, all of you!]