A Long Spoon December 18, 2014 A Long Spoon Jonathan L. Howard A Johannes Cabal story. 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.
From The Blog
December 22, 2014
What is it Like to be a Malfoy Post-Battle of Hogwarts? Rowling Reveals All on Pottermore
Stubby the Rocket
December 18, 2014
Mistborn Fans Will Get TWO New Novels Next Year!
Tor.com
December 15, 2014
Steven Erikson: On Completing Malazan
Tor.com
December 12, 2014
When My Wife Put Her Face in a Fireball for Epic Fantasy
Brian Staveley
December 10, 2014
Even More Standalone Fantasy Fiction!
Stubby the Rocket
Showing posts by: Natalie Zutter click to see Natalie Zutter's profile
Mon
Dec 22 2014 3:00pm

Technology is the Worst Gift in Black Mirror: White Christmas

Black Mirror: White Christmas TV review Rafe Spall Jon Hamm Oona Chaplin Charlie Brooker

It’s unnervingly fitting that Black Mirror: White Christmas focuses less on societal issues (as covered in the show’s other, self-contained episodes) and more on technology and the normal people who wield it. After all, Christmas is the season of giving big, highly desired gifts to loved ones, always with the best intentions in mind. But sometimes those intentions only lead to pain. In Charlie Brooker’s dystopian British Christmas special, technological advancements meant to make our lives easier instead break down communication and dilute our sense of humanity. Brooker doesn’t even go for some futuristic tech like drones or artificial intelligence, instead extrapolating out from Google Glass and implant tech that already exists.

Through three interlocking tales and a frame story deftly handled by Jon Hamm and Rafe Spall, we learn the consequences of humans using technology to reform how we see the world and to force those closest to us into new roles or contexts. This special is supremely disturbing but necessary holiday viewing.

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Fri
Dec 19 2014 10:00am

Global Franchises, Particle Physics, and Manhattan as a Hell Dimension: The Ghostbusters 3 Movies That Could Have Been

Ghostbusters 3 alternate plots

The latest treasures from the Sony email hack include Ivan Reitman’s proposal for a Ghostbusters 3 that would reunite the original Ghostbusters as well as pave the way for the next generation. In a 2013 email to Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal, Reitman laid out the plot for what he called Ghostbusters: Alive Again. However, with Harold Ramis’ passing in 2014, this version was scrapped.

While it sounds like the strongest idea for a third installment, it’s definitely not the first. Ghostbusters 3 has stopped and started so many times since the 1990s, with at least five different versions rumored over the past 20 years. Read on for Dan Aykroyd’s multiple drafts, Reitman’s pitch, and what Ghostbusters 3 director Paul Feig is actually planning to do.

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Thu
Dec 18 2014 11:00am

Following Battlestar Galactica’s Lead: Ascension, “Night Three”

Ascension Night Three review

Going into Ascension, I assumed that it was a self-contained miniseries, not unlike the generation ship itself smoothly sailing through space toward its destination. But once we discovered the twist behind the series’ premise—which redefined everything this supposed space opera was commenting on—it also makes sense to learn that Ascension is intended as some sort of sneaky pilot, not unlike Syfy’s 2003 miniseries that spawned the new Battlestar Galactica.

Ascension’s finale forced the ship to face its gravest danger yet; saw characters usurping power in “yay!” ways and killing each other in “no what no!” ways; and upped the ante with a very different sci-fi twist that might guarantee a series pickup but could also wind up alienating future viewers. Basically, Ascension has become a hot mess of a show—but that might not be the worst thing!

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Tue
Dec 16 2014 1:50pm

Asking for Forgiveness Instead of Permission: Ascension, “Night One”

Ascension Night One TV review

In space, no one can hear you scream… Unless you’re on the Orion (that’s important—more on that later) class generation ship Ascension, which has just marked year 51 of its century-long voyage to Alpha Centauri to colonize a new planet. Launched in secret in 1963, this space ark houses 600 people and has already brought up two generations, though not without issues: The fact that the ship’s social mores are stuck in the 1960s, coupled with the younger crew members’ disillusionment with the fact that they’re grooming their successors for their new home, has created a society layered with fiercely guarded secrets and hidden violence.

Ascension is an ambitious miniseries from Syfy, as the network is struggling to launch its own science-fiction epics to challenge the other genre programs currently commanding viewership on other networks. The series was originally going to air over the course of six weeks, but the Powers That Be have smartly condensed it into a three-night event. That’s an especially keen choice since “Night One” ends with a massive twist that will determine how you view the rest of the show. As we can’t ignore the twist when discussing the show, watch out for spoilers later on in this review.

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Wed
Dec 10 2014 12:00pm

We Need a Kink in Our Stories: BDSM Characters in Your Favorite Genre Fiction

Farscape, Scorpius, John Crichton

Look at a beloved genre TV show, movie, or comic book. Is there simmering sexual tension marked by shifting power and the exchange of control? Do the characters strut around in leather corsets and wield whips? Does someone get tied up? You’re looking at BDSM (variously standing for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism) at play. Which really doesn’t come as a surprise, because geeks are kinky as all get out.

Older, more conservative narratives would have us believe that people who engage in BDSM are somehow wrong or depraved. But the sheer presence of kinky characters across so many stories—whether hiding in children’s shows as jokes for the parents, or in the case of Farscape’s Scorpius, hiding in plain sight—simply proves how universal the notion of power exchange is.

Remember your safe words, ’cause it’s time to meet our favorite fictional kinksters!

[Read more]

Wed
Dec 3 2014 10:00am

Why We Shouldn’t Reboot ReBoot

ReBoot The Guardian Code logo information Rainmaker Entertainment

If you had told 13-year-old Natalie that her beloved CGI animated series ReBoot would be returning to television screens for its 20th anniversary, her squees would have been heard out in space. Now, that revival seems to be a reality: After several false starts, Rainmaker Entertainment has released the logo and some information for ReBoot: The Guardian Code, a modern continuation of the series after the last new episodes were released in 2001.

But as an adult who will always cherish my memories of the series, and who owes most of my attitudes about fandom to my time spent online with fellow Bootnicks, I wish people would just leave ReBoot alone.

[Read more]

Mon
Dec 1 2014 9:00am

Songs That Did (and Didn’t) Work in Genre Movies and TV

Seal Kiss From a Rose Batman Forever

An animated girl-power narrative undermines its entire message with a cringingly cheesy soundtrack. A way-modern band shatters the illusion of a period film. Two superheroes decide to consummate their relationship in-costume, only for the mournful strains of Leonard Cohen to completely kill the mood. Music choice is everything, but especially in genre stories where you have a specific world and tone to match.

Many unsuitable songs are shoehorned into genre movies and television series, the worst ones coming off so anathema to the scene being set that they make viewers say “huh?” Below, we list songs that did that for us, but we also list instances where the music paired with a movie absolutely kills it. Relive the greatness and badness of these songs! (And add your own!)

[Read more]

Wed
Nov 19 2014 10:00am

The Time Traveler’s Wife Provides the Perfect Way to Rewrite Your Favorite Pairing in Fanfic

The Time Traveler's Wife fanfiction crossovers Supernatural Sherlock Star Trek The Vampire Diaries

A funny thing happened the other day when I decided, on a whim, to look up The Time Traveler’s Wife fanfiction. It’s one of my favorite books, and while there are several years to wait until Audrey Niffenegger writes the sequel, I figured I would bide my time by revisiting Clare and Henry in their out-of-order time-spanning romance.

Except, at least half of the fanfics tagged with “The Time Traveler’s Wife” on Archive of Our Own aren’t from the world of TTTW. They just use the book’s structure to retell the love stories of Kirk/Spock, Sherlock/John, Dean/Castiel, and more.

[Read more]

Thu
Nov 13 2014 9:00am

Why Do We Reject Love as a Powerful Force in Interstellar?

Interstellar love speech

While some of the characters in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar grapple with the concept of quantifying and manipulating gravity, others posit that even when understanding of the physical forces of the universe fail you, love remains greater than everything else. Anne Hathaway’s character Dr. Amelia Brand says as much, in the movie’s most polarizing speech:

Love isn’t something we invented. It’s observable, powerful, it has to mean something... Love is the one thing we’re capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space.

Various outlets are deriding Brand’s second-act exhortation as “hippy,” (sic) “goofy,” and “preposterous.” Some blame Hathaway’s delivery, while others think that making Interstellar about love just as much as it’s about time, space, and gravity was a huge misstep on the Nolans’ part.

But why do we have such an adverse reaction on the concept of love as a force in science fiction?

[Read more]

Mon
Nov 10 2014 2:00pm

Who Could Star in a Modern Being John Malkovich Remake?

Being John Malkovich modern remake who could star Benedict Cumberbatch Tilda Swinton

Spike Jonze’s Being John Malkovich is the kind of movie that’s somehow both timeless and grounded in the period in which it was made. When it comes to the focus of the movie, it’s so late-’90s/early-’00s: the absurd, existentialist angst of a puppeteer who works on a half-floor at his dead-end job, only to discover a portal into a well-known actor’s mind, and then fulfills his dreams of total control. Not to mention the lighting, costumes, and complete lack of Internet. And yet, the notion of inhabiting a celebrity’s body has grown even more alluring with the explosion of social media—the kind of prescience for which Splitsider praises the movie.

Charlie Kaufmann wrote the screenplay for Malkovich specifically. Even when he was offered the chance—including by Malkovich himself—to fund the movie with a different lead, he stuck tight to this idea. Interestingly, he couldn’t even really explain why at the time:

It’s hard to explain, but I thought it was funny, but not jokey. Because [John Malkovich] is a serious actor, he is a great actor, but there is something odd about him and there is something behind his eyes that you can’t see. And I thought that was a good person for this.

Splitsider interprets this as Malkovich being so vague that the movie’s characters don’t even actually care about details of his life. They just care that he’s someone else.

If you were to remake Being John Malkovich today with another celebrity’s name in the title, you wouldn’t be able to rely on that same vagueness. We now have access to all the disgusting trivialities of a star’s life so that there’s little to no mystery... and we still want in. That existentialist drive still exists, and it’s gotten even more meta.

[Is there a modern-day actor who can keep up with this kind of role?]

Thu
Nov 6 2014 4:00pm

NaNoWriMo Success Stories to Keep You Writing!

NaNoWriMo success stories National Novel Writing MonthOn November 1, National Novel Writing Month kicked off its 16th year of wonderful, terrifying, inspirational marathon writing! As a NaNoWriMo participant, you have a month to write 50,000 words—just writing, no editing or backtracking—while you’re cheered on by fellow writers both online and at in-person “write-ins.”

For some, simply hitting 50K is enough. But others take the post-NaNo time to revise their novels—and many NaNo-ers have actually seen their work published. And it’s not just unknowns: In recent years, more and more mainstream authors have revealed that they used the month of November to get started on what would become their bestsellers. What if we told you that a beloved book about fanfiction, a creepy circus story, and a radical retelling of Cinderella all started out as NaNo projects?

[Read more]

Mon
Oct 20 2014 1:00pm

Let’s Speculate About That Star Wars: Episode VII Concept Art

Star Wars Episode VII leaked concept art

Recently a huge batch of alleged Star Wars: Episode VII concept art was found hiding in plain sight in an ImageShack album. Though no one from Disney or Lucasfilm has commented either denying or verifying the images, we’ve got several reasons to believe that they’re real.

For one, you can no longer access the album. If you caught a glimpse, you would’ve seen that the images are gorgeous, but don’t give too much away—excellent speculation fodder. For another, several pieces of art match set photos we’ve already glimped, including the Greenwood Hangar we think is standing in for a Yavin 4 base, the AT-AT foot above, and several pieces starring newcomer Daisy Ridley. If these pieces are fake, someone went to a lot of trouble to craft them.

So, assuming these are real... let’s get speculating on what they tell us about the new trilogy!

[Read more]

Mon
Oct 20 2014 11:00am

Snow White: The Blankest Slate of Them All

Snow White reimaginings The Sleeper and the Spindle

The Internet is abuzz over Neil Gaiman's newest children's book, The Sleeper and the Spindle, in which “a sort-of Snow White” rescues “an almost Sleeping Beauty” from her enchanted sleep with a kiss. Yet that boundary-busting kiss is just the bookend to an adventure that sees the raven-haired Snow trading her wedding dress for chain mail and racing through tunnels to get to the imprisoned Princess.

Sounds pretty rad, right? Well, it's not pop culture's first instance of Ready-for-Action Snow White—not by far. Mirror, mirror, on the wall, why is Snow White the most reimagined of them all? Because, when you boil it down, she has no personality—you can project anything you want onto her.

[Read more]

Tue
Oct 14 2014 10:15am

From Plot Devices to Normal People: Transgender Themes in Comics at NYCC

NYCC Transgender Issues in Comics panel Charles Battersby Gail Simone

At New York Comic-Con’s panel Secret Identities: Transgender Themes in Comic Books, Batgirl writer Gail Simone related a conversation with another comics creator who said that (paraphrased) “you’ll know we’re ‘there’ [regarding diversity] when we have a transgender character on the cover of a comic book.” While the industry hasn’t quite hit that level of visibility, it’s well on its way with panels like this one at NYCC (and a similar one at SDCC, also featuring Simone, which filled the convention’s largest room).

Moderating NYCC’s panel was Charles Battersby, a playwright and journalist who also runs Press XY, a website examining trans issues in gaming. Other panelists included Morgan Boecher, author and artist of the semi-autobiographical webcomic What’s Normal Anyway?, about his FTM (female-to-male) transition; and P. Kristen Enos, a cisgender lesbian LGBTQ activist and author.

The panel discussed the history of transgender characters in comics, from offensive plot devices to someone as normal as your roommate. They also discussed how to avoid tokenizing such characters, and offered recommendations for characters so that trans readers can see themselves reflected in comic books.

[Read more]

Tue
Oct 14 2014 8:15am

“Believe the Victim” and Other Anti-Harassment Guidelines We Learned From NYCC’s #YesAllGeeks Panel

NYCC #YesAllGeeks harassment panel

In recent years, harassment at conventions has become more visible due to a combination of factors including increased conversation over social media and cons more prominently displaying harassment policies. (You can read New York Comic-Con’s new harassment policy, co-written by The Mary Sue.) Twenty-five percent of women at cons have reported being sexually harassed, while 8% of con attendees of all genders have reported being groped, assaulted, or raped at the events. (More statistics here.)

At #YesAllGeeks: Let’s Talk About Harassment in Fandom, one of NYCC’s several panels emphasizing diversity and empathy, panelists discussed the contributing factors toward harassment at cons, and how to call it out.

[Read more]

Fri
Oct 10 2014 12:40pm

Danny Strong, Frank Barbiere, and Ales Kot on Writing for Big Studios and Comics vs. Independents

New York Super Week Nerdist Writers Panel Danny Strong Frank Barbiere Ales Kot

At first glance, the three panelists on New York Super Week’s special edition of the Nerdist Writers Panel podcast seem to exist in very separate worlds. Actor-turned-screenwriter Danny Strong, who got his start with the HBO political movies Recount and Game Change, is now adapting the third Hunger Games book, Mockingjay, for the big screen. Frank Barbiere’s Image Comics series Five Ghosts is the weirdest mash-up of historical and fictional figures. And Ales Kot has been all over Marvel’s recent comic series, including Secret Avengers and Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier (out now).

But while talking at Housing Works Bookstore about learning to write for specific mediums and the failures that got them where they are now, the three were able to share anecdotes about the difference between writing for a large movie studio or comics publisher, as opposed to more independent projects.

[Read more]

Fri
Oct 10 2014 11:15am

The Mary Sue at NYCC: Don’t Write What You Know, Fight It!

The Mary Sue Fight What You Know panel NYCC 2014

In their first of three New York Comic-Con panels, The Mary Sue exhorted their audience to resist the old adage of “write what you know.” Editor-at-Large Susana Polo quoted Nikki Giovanni when explaining the impetus for their panel, Fight What You Know:

Writers don’t write from experience, although many are hesitant to admit that they don’t… If you wrote from experience, you’d get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy.

Admitting that writing something that’s not your experience is scary, is a great place to start. Asking for tips? Even better. The panelists—including one of the co-writers of the new Batgirl and a Buffy alum—laid out the steps that every writer should go through to make sure your work is diverse and empathetic.

[Read more]

Wed
Oct 8 2014 11:30am

John Scalzi Wins at the Filthy, Hilarious Night of Watchmen Erotica from ShipwreckNY

ShipwreckNY Watchmen

“If there’s anyone [in comics] who needs to get laid,” Shipwreck organizer Amy Stephenson told the huge crowd at The Bell House last night, “it’s these morose characters.” She was talking, of course, about the cast of Alan Moore’s masked-hero graphic novel Watchmen. The fact that it’s New York Super Week only makes it more fitting that Shipwreck chose Watchmen around which to craft a night of erotic fanfiction that was just as dark and dirty as Moore’s book.

It was Lock In author John Scalzi who took home the dubious honor of first place with his inventive look into the mind of Rorschach’s psychiatrist Dr. Malcolm Long. But the path to Scalzi’s win was incredibly entertaining, as Welcome to Night Vale’s Cecil Baldwin read the stories aloud to cheers, incredulous laughter, and more than a few shocked gasps.

[“Caw! Caw!”]

Mon
Oct 6 2014 11:00am

Twilight Will Live on Through Short Film Fanfic for Facebook

Twilight short films Facebook

Twilight is coming back. Sort of. Only two years after Breaking Dawn, Part 2 brought us the weirdest mash-up of non-starter epic battle and creepy baby/werewolf love affair (it’s only been two years?) Lionsgate and Stephenie Meyer are teaming up to make a slew of new Twilight-inspired short films. The twist is that these short films will be created by five aspiring female directors. So, basically fanfiction. Oh, and the films are premiering on Facebook.

That’s a lot to take in, so let’s break this down point by point. Hold on tight, spider monkeys.

[Read more]

Fri
Sep 19 2014 11:00am

“WCKD is Good,” But The Maze Runner is Bad

The Maze Runner movie review

What does The Maze Runner want to be? At first glance it seems like a dystopian update of Lord of the Flies, with its society of adolescent males fending for themselves in a (fabricated) wilderness. But it lacks that book’s balls. Is the titular maze, which the boys must navigate to find their way out, supposed to be an elevated response to The Hunger Games’ arena? Because Catching Fire raised those stakes with their tick-tock-it’s-a-clock arena. Is this a futuristic tale of torturing training scrappy little smarties because they’re our future, à la Divergent? Because let me tell you now, you won’t be invested enough in this film to care what kind of future the stars are supposed to be saving.

This dystopian world (based on James Dashner’s book of the same name) is too jumbled to retain any sense of structure—ironic, for a story about a maze penning in the protagonists. Many narrative elements from Dashner’s series are lost in translation, making for a movie that seems to suffer from an identity crisis.

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