Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza October 15, 2014 Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza Carrie Vaughn A Wild Cards story. The Girl in the High Tower October 14, 2014 The Girl in the High Tower Gennifer Albin A Crewel story. Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch October 8, 2014 Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch Kelly Barnhill An unconventional romance. Daughter of Necessity October 1, 2014 Daughter of Necessity Marie Brennan Tell me, O Muse, of that ingenious heroine...
From The Blog
October 14, 2014
A Category Unto Himself: The Works of China Miéville
Jared Shurin
October 10, 2014
Don’t Touch That Dial: Fall 2014 TV
Alex Brown
October 10, 2014
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell Reread: Part 1
Kate Nepveu
October 7, 2014
Shell Shock and Eldritch Horror: “Dagon”
Ruthanna Emrys and Anne M. Pillsworth
October 3, 2014
The Bloody Books of Halloween: William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist
Will Errickson
Showing posts by: Chris Lough click to see Chris Lough's profile
Thu
Oct 16 2014 2:19pm

Palpatine’s Newly Revealed First Name is More Appropriate Than You Think

Palpatine first name

Star Wars: Tarkin, the next novel in the news series of canonical Star Wars universe novels coming from Del Rey, has a casual surprise for its readers: the revelation of Emperor Palpatine’s first name.

It’s a reveal that makes you pause for a second. Don’t we already know his first name? Surely that got slipped in somewhere, in a deleted scene or an EU novel or on the back of some toy packaging. Is this really the first we’re hearing of it, more than 30 years after the character showed up?

Apparently so, according to Wookieepedia. Ladies and gentlemen and Jedi and death stick enthusiasts, say hello to Sheev Palpatine. He’ll be oppressing you for the next few decades.

[Read more]

Wed
Oct 15 2014 3:05pm

You’re Hitting Yourself. Stop Hitting Yourself! Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Face My Enemy”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2, episode 4: Face My Enemy

Welcome back to another week of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. This particular episode, “Face My Enemy,” was screened at New York Comic Con this past weekend, with a quick walk-on hello from Coulson himself, and the excitement afterwards was ELECTRIFYING! No, wait, the other thing, tepid.

I already thought it was kind of weird that they didn’t screen the forthcoming Mockingbird episode, since that was the most exciting takeaway from their SDCC panel, and after showing us a clunker like “Face My Enemy” I was even more confused. Having Agent May beat up Agent May is a really fun idea (just like it was on Alias), but they kind of forgot to write an episode around it. Why shine a spotlight on that?

[Read more]

Tue
Oct 14 2014 12:17pm

Robert Downey, Jr. Reportedly Co-Starring in Captain America 3, Marvel Phase 3 to be “Civil War”?

Robert Downey Jr Captain America 3 Marvel Civil War

Variety has reportedly scooped the plot of Captain America 3 and the blueprint for Marvel’s Phase 3 slate of movies, post-Avengers: Age of Ultron. The outlet reports that Robert Downey, Jr. has been in ongoing negotiations with Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios to star as Iron Man in Captain America 3.

No other outlets have yet independently confirmed the news, and Marvel itself has not commented on the rumor. If Variety’s report is true, this could have big ramifications on the future of Marvel movies. Spoilers and speculation ahead, folks.

What is Civil War? How does it play into the current movies and Marvel’s other plans? Let’s break this down into an FAQ.

[Read more]

Mon
Oct 13 2014 3:45pm

What Would You Like to Believe About Yourself? Doctor Who: “Mummy on the Orient Express”

Doctor Who season 8, episode 8: Mummy on the Orient Express

How do we talk about this episode, this Downton Abbey mixed with Agathie Christie mixed with steampunk mixed with monster movies that is somehow a quintessential Doctor Who episode, that is so specific to this Doctor and this companion and yet somehow a perfect overall statement on a character and show that spans more than 50 years and certainly more than 50 main characters?

“Mummy on the Orient Express” didn’t have to do to much to be an enjoyable outing in comparison to other Who adventures. (Really, with that title, it just had to be more than a warmed-over “Unicorn and the Wasp.”) It didn’t have to be the emotional, atmospheric, mystery thriller that we got, didn’t have to be an episode where we found ourselves hanging on to every word and every clue. Where by the end we felt as exhausted as Clara does on the beach, thankful for the sun in our face.

[Read more. Spoilers for the episode ahead.]

Fri
Oct 10 2014 2:12pm

We Came This Close to a Doctor Who Musical

Arthur Darvill New York Comic Con Doctor Who Musical

If you have an opportunity to stick around for an Arthur Darvill spotlight anywhere, do so. What was billed as a Q&A turned immediately into a one-hour impromptu stand-up session by the ceaselessly funny Darvill, formerly known in my heart as Rory Pond from Doctor Who and now just known as Arthur F’in’ Darvill.

While the audience and I shared this dream of humanity, Darvill let slip that the camaraderie between him, Karen Gillan, and Matt Smith almost resulted in a Doctor Who musical, jokingly but not jokingly titled It’s Bigger On The Inside.

[Then he sang some of it for us.]

Thu
Oct 9 2014 5:20pm

“If Everyone Had a Little More Hodor in Them it Would be a Nicer World.” Hodor & Podrick NYCC Highlights

Hodor Kristian Nairn Podrick Daniel Portman New York Comic Con 2014

Hodor and Podrick wouldn’t be a bad idea for a Game of Thrones TV spin-off sitcom, at least if Kristian Nairn and Daniel Portman’s joyous presence at this year’s New York Comic Con is any indication. The two actors held court with Wikia Director of Programming Eric Moro, Game of Thrones Wikia founder and series expert Adam Whitehead, and Wikia Marvel and DC Database founder Jamie at the Game of Thrones fan forum panel.

Read some highlights from their banter at the panel, including which Marvel heroes they would be, and how what this world needs now is Hodor, sweet Hodor.

[Read more]

Wed
Oct 8 2014 3:00pm

Who’s That Girl? Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Making Friends and Influencing People”

Agents of SHIELD season 2 episode 3: Making Friends and Influencing People

“Making Friends and Influencing People” is my favorite episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season two so far. Last season’s run-out from the events of The Winter Soldier saw the show dedicated to fleshing out its heroes and setting them at cross-purposes in order to make them stand out better. (Always a challenge when your ensemble dresses in black and spends the majority of their time in shadowy nondescript settings.) It also used a big flashy threat to focus them into action.

That focus and flash is gone but the enemy isn’t and the show seems to be putting a great deal of thought into how to grow this season's threat in the same manner it grew the main characters last season. In essence, how do you keep Hydra interesting when you’ve already seen them do nutty things on TV and in the movies?

[Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Making Friends and Influencing People”]

Wed
Oct 1 2014 3:00pm

No Sleep Till Ever. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Heavy is the Head”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2, episode 2: Heavy is the Head

“Heavy is the Head” is essentially the part 2 to the season’s premiere episode “Shadows” and while the plot is mostly concerned with mopping up the mess from the events of the premiere, during its quieter moments it builds a flickering tension in regards to Coulson’s new role as the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Last season saw him progressing to a more open approach with his team, to where you could feasibly see him thinking of them as his teammates rather than his subordinates. Now that his vista is greatly expanded, he’s forced to think of them as subordinates once more, and that could edge Coulson out of a show that’s meant to be centered around him.

[Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Heavy is the Head”]

Mon
Sep 29 2014 4:30pm

Some Things You Can’t Get From a Man in a Blue Box. Doctor Who: “The Caretaker”

Doctor Who season 8, episode 6: The Caretaker

If Clara takes care of the Doctor, who takes care of Clara?

You notice it in the way the Doctor suddenly sees Courtney Wood as real when she proudly touts that she’s a “Disruptive Influence.” You know it in the way Clara and the Doctor now casually joke about how she’s his conscience. And once Danny Pink meets the Doctor and discovers the other half of Clara’s life, you see it in the choice he has to make. This is who Clara is, Danny, and if your life with her is to go forward then you don’t have to be a soldier, but you do have to be a caretaker.

[Doctor Who: “The Caretaker”]

Wed
Sep 24 2014 3:30pm

Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Went Well At All. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Shadows”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2 episode 1: Shadows

Is this love? Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I think this might be love. If you keep this up it will almost certainly be love and we will leave New York City and buy a house in Long Island that we hate forever.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back and telling stories about a world where men absorb asphalt for kicks and Coulson wonders what the hell to even do about that. Except this time...this time...Coulson’s got it under control. He’s had months to cobble a new S.H.I.E.L.D. together and he and SkyeBangs, the Skye with the bangs, May, and the rest are so good at their jobs they don’t even talk to Coulson they’ve just got this handled, okay?

[Oh expectations]

Mon
Sep 22 2014 1:00pm

Lock In and the Vacuum That Gender Creates

Lock In John Scalzi gender

John Scalzi’s near-future thriller Lock In throws out plenty of larger issues to consider in regards to robotics technology: where the consciousness truly sits, the civil and legal rights of non-human humans, the definitions of disability, and how current societal expectations of class and wealth affect these issues. What may not become immediately apparent to the reader, even after finishing the book, is what Lock In has to say about how the fluidity of gender would evolve in a world where one can exist separately from one's body.

By virtue of being a procedural thriller, Lock In is a quick read, and it’s easy to miss this aspect of the book, especially because the reason it is notable is primarily due to its absence. We see the main character, FBI detective Chris Shane, in a variety of mechanical bodies, avatars, and briefly in the flesh. We are given a multitude of perspectives with which to define Chris.

Spoilers ahead for Lock In. Make sure you've read the book before proceeding.

[Read more]

Sat
Sep 13 2014 10:00pm

If You Want a Monster to Hunt, You’ll Get It. Doctor Who: “Listen”

Doctor Who season 8, episode 4: Listen

We just saw one of the greatest episodes of Doctor Who, or one of its worst. And I can’t decide where “Listen” ultimately falls.

It’s an uneven episode of television, juxtaposing tense and imaginative scenes against long, drowsy passages of banal writing. Its ending is magnificent, managing to shock while tying together the emotional journeys of all the characters involved. But it also feels like cheating. Like we didn’t quite earn the peek behind the curtain that we got.

“Listen” is impactful, that’s for sure. But I need to parse these mixed feelings about the episode, as I suspect their origins are grown from being a viewer who is perhaps too familiar with the subject matter. I’d like to end this analysis on a positive note, so we’ll start by getting the bad bits out of the way.

[Doctor Who: “Listen”]

Sat
Aug 30 2014 10:00pm

Locked in a Room With His Greatest Enemy. Doctor Who: “Into the Dalek”

Doctor Who Into the Dalek Peter Capaldi

If you want to find out who the Doctor really is then lock him in a room with his greatest enemy: the Daleks.

This has been one of the few truths of Doctor Who as a show, even more so after its return in 2005 and the introduction of the Time War plot establishing that the Doctor sacrificed his own people to rid the universe of the Daleks once and for all. As an unyielding trickster, the Doctor thrills in subverting the universe’s expectations and inspiring others to do the same. This trait is embedded deeply in the Doctor’s fictional history. He’s not going to bow to the constraints of Time Lord society, he’s going to steal a TARDIS and get the hell out of there. He’s not [whatever his Gallifreyan birthname is], he’s the Doctor. Just the Doctor. And you can’t force him do anything he doesn’t want to do.

Unless you’re the Daleks.

[Doctor Who: “Into the Dalek.” Spoilers ahead.]

Wed
Aug 27 2014 12:53pm

Oh Crap, Shadows That Eat People are Real and They’ve Been Protecting Our Books For Centuries

Vashta Nerada Doctor Who

No, you’re overreacting.

So, a few years ago Steven Moffat introduced a monster to Doctor Who called the Vashta Nerada who were basically a cloud of microscopic carnivores and who you could only tell were around because suddenly you had an extra shadow and oh crap they’re going to eat you they ARE eating you and there’s nothing you can do.

We find out that these critters actually live in books because their natural habitat is trees and book paper and oh look, this guy over at Scientific American is pointing out that there are REAL animals on Earth who are basically this annnnd they’re scorpions. Book scorpions.

[BOOK SCORPIONS, PEOPLE]

Wed
Aug 20 2014 10:00am

Rentable You: John Scalzi’s Lock In and the Terror Hiding in its Future

John Scalzi Lock In

Amongst the shoot-outs, robot fights, and political intrigue of John Scalzi’s new novel Lock In (yes, there are robot fights!) is the looming sense that even though this near-future is intimately comparable to modern day we are nevertheless seeing our initial lurch towards a truly science fiction society. A key worldbuilding aspect of Lock In’s future is the presence of hardware and software that can be installed within a person, thereby allowing them to extend their awareness into robots. Did your robot just get hit by a truck? Good thing you had the pain turned down and the auto-disconnect toggled on.

But this awareness goes both ways, and one of the squirrellier aspects of the capital-F FUTURE that Lock In explores are the beginnings of a world where you can be shoved out of your own mind. Where the last barrier of privacy is breached and you become rewritten.

[Read more]

Thu
Aug 14 2014 11:30am

Peter Capaldi is the Doctor and You Should Be Worried. Doctor Who: “Deep Breath”

Doctor Who Deep Breath Peter Capaldi

By the end of “Deep Breath,” Peter Capaldi’s debut episode as the Doctor, you’re not going to know how to feel about the Doctor anymore. But that’s alright. Sort of. Because neither does he.

Capaldi’s casting as the Doctor made waves when it was announced in August 2013. The actor is a known quantity, utterly unafraid of depicting the rough edges of humanity, and a simultaneously inspired and insane choice for such a beloved character as the Doctor. As viewers we have become accustomed to the frivolity of Matt Smith and David Tennant, and the emergence of Capaldi in the role hinted at a dramatic shift away from Doctor Who’s lighter tone. Perhaps too much of a dramatic shift?

[Non-spoiler review of Doctor Who “Deep Breath”]

Mon
Aug 11 2014 4:15pm

Did Will Arnett Hide an Arrested Development Reference in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

Arrested Development easter egg Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie isn’t at its best when making pop culture references but it seems that Will Arnett still managed to sneak in a cheeky Arrested Development reference for eagle-eyed malcontents such as myself. Some spoilers ahead.

[The Arrested Development easter egg in TMNT]

Mon
Aug 11 2014 1:15pm

There is No Joy Left For You Here. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014

When I was 11 I got into a fight with a kid down the street over accusations that I broke one of his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toys. I don’t remember if I did. I might have? The only thing I can legitimately recall is that we combined our toys, and that I was jealous that he had an April O’Neil and the turtle van, of which I had neither. His name was also Chris. We never hung out after that. He had a last name that included a biblical part of the body and middle school was going to do him no favors in that regard so he was probably already choosing his friends carefully.

[This is what it’s like to accept ninja turtles into your life]

Fri
Aug 8 2014 11:49am

The Mayor From Portlandia Revealed as Skye’s Father On Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Kyle MacLachlan Agents of SHIELD Mayor Portlandia

Some people, not me, are reporting that Kyle MacLachlan has joined the cast of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as Skye’s eventually-to-be-revealed father, which is a twist that I really did not see coming. I mean, I always suspected that Twin Peaks and Portlandia didn’t quite exist in our world but I had no idea that they were technically part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The proof is below.

[Kyle MacLachlan joins Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.]

Tue
Aug 5 2014 7:00am

If Neil Armstrong Can Be the First to Land on a New World, So Can You

Neil Armstrong. Art by David A. JohnsonHistory remembers the now-departed Neil Armstrong fondly for being the first man to set foot on the moon. And it should. That first step was the culmination of millions of years of human exploration and ingenuity, taking us from the trees to an entirely new world. The importance of that can’t be overstated.

When we imagine taking a step this large as a species, it’s difficult not to imagine the person leading the way as being larger than life, of possessing exceptional qualities that allowed them to break through to this new frontier. They are our hero, our catalyst, something we can focus on and examine and emulate order to better ourselves.

Neil Armstrong is a particularly refreshing idol in this regard because there’s nothing particularly exceptional about him. Well...that’s not entirely true. He tended to crash planes. A lot.

[There’s more to this story]