The Shape of My Name March 4, 2015 The Shape of My Name Nino Cipri How far can you travel to claim yourself? The Hell of It February 25, 2015 The Hell of It Peter Orullian What will he wager? Schrödinger’s Gun February 18, 2015 Schrödinger’s Gun Ray Wood Maybe in some other timeline it would have gone smooth. Acrobatic Duality February 11, 2015 Acrobatic Duality Tamara Vardomskaya The two of her are perfectly synchronized.
From The Blog
March 4, 2015
Writing Women Characters as Human Beings
Kate Elliott
March 2, 2015
A Ranking of 1980s Fantasy That Would Please Crom Himself!
Leah Schnelbach
February 27, 2015
Goodbye, Mr. Nimoy — What Spock Meant to One Geeky 12-Year-Old Girl
Emily Asher-Perrin
February 26, 2015
Introducing the Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch
Keith DeCandido
February 23, 2015
Oh No, She Didn’t: The Strong Female Character, Deconstructed
Ilana C. Myer
Showing posts by: Mari Ness click to see Mari Ness's profile
Mon
Mar 2 2015 11:00am

Not NEARLY Enough Puppies: Once Upon a Time, Darkness on the Edge of Town

Once Upon a Time Darkness at the Edge of Town

Beautiful princesses! Sexy pirates! Questionable plots! Villains pulled directly from Disney cartoons! Truly awesome evil cars! (Well, one truly awesome evil car, at least.) Yes, we’re back for the return of the fourth season of ABC’s Once Upon a Time! SPOILERS AHEAD.

[Did I mention spoilers? Because, spoilers. Lots of spoilers.]

Thu
Feb 26 2015 3:00pm

Telepaths Versus Evil Computers: The Dream Catcher

Monica Hughes The Dream CatcherIn Monica Hughes’ The Dream Catcher, fourteen year old Ruth lives in what many people would consider a utopia: ArkThree, a post-apocalyptic society of telepaths and healers who live in nearly perfect harmony, sharing work and joy alike, with almost no conflict.

If this sounds a bit, well, idealistic, or even questionable: no, it’s real. These are telepaths, who find that joining their minds together in a great Web brings them happiness and security—and that they can only merge their minds if they remain largely conflict free. Thus, a discipline of pacifism and of sharing the most unpleasant tasks, with even the leaders having to take a turn at cleaning out the latrines now and again. With plenty of leisure time.

But Ruth is unhappy.

[Just wait until she finds out about the evil computer.]

Thu
Feb 19 2015 3:00pm

You Mean Computers in Spines Aren’t A Great Idea? Devil on my Back

Monican Hughes Devil on my BackMonica Hughes’ Devil on my Back opens on a terrifying scene of five boys about to be hooked up to computers. The terror of this scene isn’t the computers, or the horrible food they are served directly before this (bad scrambled eggs and nearly inedible soy toast) but the people around them: slaves with horrible scars from surgically implanted sockets. The boys are thankful that they aren’t women who only think about worthless things.

And oh, yes, if they fail to access knowledge through their own surgically implanted sockets, their memories will be wiped and they will be turned into slaves. By page five, that happens to one of them. By page seven, another.

[This is the cheerful part!]

Thu
Feb 12 2015 5:00pm

An Increasing Hatred of Science: Space Trap

Space Trap“It’s progress,” said Frank definitively. “And you can’t stop progress.”

At a certain point in her life and career, Monica Hughes most definitely became interested in stopping progress—or at least, persuading many of us that progress was not a great idea. From exploring initial concerns of overpopulation, exploitation, and resource depletion, but maintaining hope that people could continue to find joy in such places, her novels gradually became calls to return to less technology based, smaller societies. (Often, I must add, by the happy expedient of just happening to find a nice unpopulated planet with plenty of oxygen and water and soil.) Space Trap, though focused largely on aliens, is one of her novels exploring that attitude shift.

[Also, moral questions about zoos.]

Thu
Feb 5 2015 3:00pm

Exploiting Regression: The Isis Pedlar

Monica Hughes Isis PedlarThe Isis Pedlar, the third book in Monica Hughes’ Isis trilogy, starts not on Isis as you might expect, but rather in deep space, where Irish conman Mike and his long suffering teenage daughter and partial enabler Moira are in trouble. Again. In this case fairly serious trouble: the hyperdrive on their spaceship has died, again, and Mike’s major response to this is to express faith in his daughter, which is nice, and drink. A lot. Because, of course, Irish.

Somewhat fortunately for them, Moira realizes that they are near a planet and its colony and may be able to make repairs and get supplies. Less fortunately for everyone, this planet is Isis.

[In which I scream out loud at a book while reading it. In an enraged way.]

Thu
Jan 29 2015 3:00pm

Rejecting Technology for Taboo: The Guardian of Isis

Four generations—or at least sixty years—have passed on Isis since The Keeper of the Isis Light. For the colony that mutually rejected Olwen, the Keeper, and her AI Guardian years ago, however, things have not been going all that well. The colony is still trapped in the same valley, and, probably because this is a Monica Hughes book, is starting to run short on food.

Far worse, apparently in reaction to the events in the previous book, the colonists have deliberately gone backwards. They’ve discarded technology (including rather important elements like water gauges to track just how high the lake is getting), turned Guardian and Olwen into mythological figures to be worshipped instead of approached for technological assistance, discarded literacy, and added elements like “taboo” and sexism. I knew rejecting Olwen was going to be a bad thing, but this bad? Harsh.

See what your meddling led to, Guardian of Isis?

[A sequel that doesn’t quite live up to its introduction. Spoilery.]

Mon
Jan 26 2015 12:30pm

Pirates, Poisoning and Still More Singing: Galavant Wraps Its First Season

Galavant Cast

So, it’s been a few weeks since ABC’s Galavant first marched across our screens, singing. Now that the first, short season is over, how did it do?

Well, the middle was muddled. The singing remained questionable. Many of the jokes were complete misses. But in the end, I gotta say, this show started singing its way into my heart—and not just because it finally gave me something I’ve longed to see in Downton Abbey from the very first season.

But we’ll get there.

[Pirates, monks, dungeons and tap dancing your way to a botched assassination. Mildly spoilery.]

Thu
Jan 22 2015 3:00pm

A Question of Humanity: Keeper of the Isis Light

Monica Hughes The Keeper of the Isis LightDepending upon what calendar you use, Olwen is either ten (Isis years) or sixteen (Earth years.) She thinks and remembers in Isis years, however, so let’s go with that. Despite this very young age, she actually has a fairly important, responsible job: transmitting various reports from the planet she lives on back to Earth.

She does this not because she is qualified, exactly, but because everyone else on the planet is either dead, unable to speak in words, or a not-completely trusted AI. And because, for various reasons, she can. That ability—well, strangeness, really—is what makes her The Keeper of the Isis Light.

[How much can you be changed, and still stay human? Mildly spoilery.]

Thu
Jan 15 2015 3:00pm

It’s Not Always Easy on the Moon: Earthdark

Monica Hughes EarthdarkEarthdark starts up immediately after the events of Crisis on Conshelf Ten, featuring the same first person narrator, Kepler Masterman, now edging very close to age 16. Kepler has now returned to his home on the Moon, ready to readjust back into his life and his relationship with his fiancée, Ann.

Things, however, are not that simple. The lack of gravity feels right, but everything else is frustrating and wrong. Kepler finds himself unhappy with the food, the blandness, the regulations—nearly everything, actually, constantly comparing his surroundings to better things on Earth, even after Ann sharply reminds him that in his six month stay on Earth, his intolerance of gravity meant that he didn’t see much of it.

This doesn’t help.

And even apart from culture shock, Kepler has a number of other issues to deal with: namely, spies, saboteurs, and the realization that he may not be able to trust his father.

[Also excitements with solar storms, which in the Moon environment can be deadly.]

Thu
Jan 8 2015 3:00pm

From One Problem Colony to Another: Crisis on Conshelf Ten

Crisis on Conshelf TenEnglish-Canadian author Monica Hughes is yet another author that I somehow managed to miss while growing up, despite my endless quest for more robot books. Possibly because I was reading too much Enid Blyton. It’s a pity; although Hughes could be repetitive and uneven, and wrote at least one novel that left me sputtering (not the one in this post), she also wrote some deeply thoughtful, provocative works of speculative fiction for children and young adults, works that include one of her earliest novels, Crisis on Conshelf Ten.

As with her later books, Crisis on Conshelf Ten pulls deeply from Hughes’ experience of living in multiple countries and cultures, as well as her ongoing concern with—later near obsession with—overpopulation, resource exploitation, and the environment. Fortunately, in this book, plot and character still remains paramount.

Mostly.

[Shifting between a life on the Moon and a life deep in the sea.]

Mon
Jan 5 2015 2:30pm

Silly Singing and 80s Style Medieval Training Montages: Galavant

Galavant

So, last night the ABC network tried to fill the gap left by Once Upon a Time’s winter hiatus with Galavant, a musical comedy more or less attempting to channel the best of Robin Hood: Men in Tights, The Princess Bride, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail, except on a lower budget and with generally worse singers.

How’d it go?

Let’s say, mixed.

[If you can endure until the joust scene. Mildly spoilery review below for the first two episodes.]

Thu
Jan 1 2015 2:00pm

Extending the Political Satire of Gulliver’s Travels: Mistress Masham’s Repose

Some scholars have suggested that Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels is—ahem!—nothing but a bitter satire on Human Politicks and the Despicable Ways of Human Nature. Others, such as the Learned Scholar T. H. White, perhaps best known for bringing us the True History of King Arthur and His Issues With Metal Objects Most Unaccountably Left in Stones, know better, and have Continued Researching some of the Remarkable People and Their Animals Encountered by Gulliver.

In Mistress Masham’s Repose, the Most Learned Mr. T. H. White takes the time to share his most Recent Researches with us, letting us know the eventual fate of that Most Remarkable Race, the Lilliputians.

[Look, the entire freaking book is like that.]

Wed
Dec 24 2014 10:00am

All I Want For Christmas is an Evil Snowman: Christmas Tales of Terror

Christmas Tales of Terror Christ PriestleyBy now, it’s safe to say that some of you might be harboring certain, shall we say, thoughts about the holiday season, and especially Christmas. Irritated thoughts. Cynical thoughts. Angry thoughts. Even—dare I say it—horrified thoughts.

If so, you might be in the mood for Chris Priestley’s Christmas Tales of Terror, where all kinds of terrible, nasty, awful things happen to adorable and not so adorable children on Christmas.

Also, ghosts.

[And, naturally, an evil snowman powered by BLOOD because why not? Spoilers.]

Thu
Dec 18 2014 3:00pm

When Ghosts Want You in a Small Town: Gallows Hill

Gallows Hill Lois DuncanGetting spare cash in high school can be difficult, especially if you live in a relatively small town with very few available after school jobs, and you are living with a single, unemployed mother.

So it’s probably not too surprising that Sarah Zoltanne reluctantly agrees to work with her not-particularly-well liked, probably-soon-to-be stepsister Kyra and Kyra’s boyfriend Eric in a fake fortune telling business. Only one small, small problem: as it turns out, Sarah can sometimes see the real future. And that’s terrifying for a lot of people, including Sarah, and might even lead everyone to Gallows Hill.

[Plus, for no real apparent reasons, the Salem Witches are going to get involved. Very spoilery.]

Mon
Dec 15 2014 2:00pm

Flying Hats and Marching Brooms: Once Upon a Time, “Heroes and Villains”

Once Upon a Time Heroes and Villains

Villains! Heroes! Trickery! Princesses! Pirates! Surprisingly Powerful Hats! Yep, time once again for ABC’s Once Upon a Time, as the fall season draws to a close with “Heroes and Villains.” Which has to do—SHOCKER AHEAD—with Heroes and Villains.

[This means an evil yet adorable dalmatian could be showing up. JUST SAYING.]

Thu
Dec 11 2014 3:00pm

It’s the Social Security Numbers That Get You: Locked in Time

Lois Duncan Locked in TimeNore is still trying to recover from the unexpected death of her mother when she receives still more shocking news: her father has just remarried, and is planning to spend the summer with his new wife and their two children in their old plantation home in Louisiana. He invites Nore to stay, partly because, now that the school year is out, Nore has nowhere else to go, but also because he wants Nore to get to know their new family. Nore is angry and uncertain at best—especially after she meets her new stepmother, Lisette, and gets a distinct sense of DEATH DOOM DEATH.

Which is particularly odd since, as it will soon become clear, Lisette’s major issue isn’t death, but rather that she’s Locked in Time.

[Which creates all kinds of issues with Social Security numbers.]

Mon
Dec 8 2014 2:00pm

Evil Is More Fun: Once Upon A Time, “Shattered Sight”

Once Upon a Time Shattered Sight

Curses! Giant ice walls with the potential to cause a lot of flooding issues! Sexy pirates! Beautiful princesses! Random comic book product placements! Over the top costumes! A strange fascination with Mickey Mouse’s Hat! Yes, it’s time once again for ABC’s Once Upon a Time, with “Shattered Sight.”

[Storybrooke goes evil, and it’s surprisingly fun. And full of spoilers below.]

Thu
Dec 4 2014 3:00pm

Psychic Responsiblity: The Third Eye

The Third Eye Lois DuncanKaren doesn’t want to be different, but she is. Every once in awhile, she knows things, or has visions. And when she has a vision of a lost boy trapped in the trunk of a car—a boy that she was supposed to be supervising—others start to realize it too. Which leads to a cop asking for her assistance in a missing child’s case—and publicity she really doesn’t like.

Which, I guess, is one of the major negatives with having The Third Eye.

[You might not see the spoilers hiding under the cut, but they are there.]

Mon
Dec 1 2014 5:00pm

The Importance of Protective Eyewear: Once Upon a Time, “Fall”

Once Upon a Time Fall

Beautiful princesses! Sexy pirates! True Love! Truly Unconvincing Love! Shattered mirrors! Blatant product placements! Yes, it’s time once again to gather around and snark about ABC’s Once Upon a Time, because, let’s face it, after what this show did to actual eyeballs this episode, we all need it.

[Assuming your eyes are still working after that, they will see major spoilers after the cut.]

Fri
Nov 28 2014 12:00pm

Evil Astral Twins: Stranger With My Face

One horrible day, Laurie Stratton comes down with one of those awful 24-hour bugs.  (Or is it?)  This means that she has to, gasp, cancel going to a party, which since she’s only seventeen, and still on fairly uncertain terms with her hot, popular, new boyfriend, seriously sucks.

Still, she figures that everything will be all right—until, that is, her annoying friends tell her that if she didn’t want to come to the party, she should have just said so, instead of going to the beach. Where they certainly saw her, even if Laurie knows—knows—she was sick in bed at the time. And the idea, she thinks, of A Stranger With My Face is just, well, ridiculous.

Right?

[When evil twins start mastering astral projection.]