Where the Trains Turn November 19, 2014 Where the Trains Turn Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen His imagination runs wild. The Walk November 12, 2014 The Walk Dennis Etchison Creative differences can be brutal. Where the Lost Things Are November 5, 2014 Where the Lost Things Are Rudy Rucker and Terry Bisson Everything has to wind up somewhere. A Kiss with Teeth October 29, 2014 A Kiss with Teeth Max Gladstone Happy Halloween.
From The Blog
November 28, 2014
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer is Live
Stubby the Rocket
November 21, 2014
Never Wait for a Sequel Again: 17 Standalone Fantasy Novels
Stubby the Rocket
November 18, 2014
The Hollow Crown: Shakespeare’s Histories in the Age of Netflix
Ada Palmer
November 17, 2014
In Defense of Indiana Jones, Archaeologist
Max Gladstone
November 14, 2014
An Uncut and Non-Remastered List of Star Wars Editions!
Leah Schnelbach
Showing posts by: Natalie Zutter click to see Natalie Zutter's profile
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.

[Read more]

Thu
Sep 18 2014 9:00am

Cast As Thou Wilt: Kushiel’s Dart Dream Cast

Kushiel's Dart Legacy dream cast Jacqueline CareyEarlier this summer, author Jacqueline Carey put hope in the hearts of fans of her Kushiel’s Legacy trilogy when she said that Game of Thrones had opened the door for a potential adaptation of her sexy, brilliant, fantasy series. Now, there’s no specific project in the works right now, due (somewhat ironically) to the current glut of fantasy series. But now that we know television audiences like their courtly intrigue served with a generous helping of alternate fantasy and sexposition, it’s only a matter of time.

To that end, we couldn’t resist fantasizing about who should star in the hypothetical Kushiel’s Legacy TV show—starting with book one, Kushiel’s Dart. Check out our picks for Phèdre herself, the men who love and serve her, her teacher—the “Whoremaster of Spies”—and the dangerously alluring woman whose grip she can never quite escape.

[Read more]

Mon
Aug 18 2014 12:00pm

Looking For Spice in All the Wrong Places: Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights: Crisis at Crystal Reef

Star Wars, Young Jedi Knights, Crisis at Crystal ReefIt’s time for the Very Special Episode of the Young Jedi Knight books. It is also, unfortunately, the final installment of this series. Natalie and I are going to miss looking back on these weirdly formative adventures with all of you. They were a significant part of our childhood, and a funny corner of the Star Wars universe before everything went all… dark and stormy with the New Jedi Order.

So we finish on Crisis at Crystal Reef! Jacen still looks like Jonathan Taylor Thomas on the cover (seriously, what is going on?) and we’re going to be spending some time in the spice mines of Kessel (though he won’t be smashed into anything). People will get trapped in ice caps, but emerge much sooner than Captain America or Aang did in their respective narratives.

[Read more]

Fri
Aug 15 2014 12:05pm

“Perhaps It Was Only an Echo”: The Giver

The Giver movie review Lois Lowry Jeff Bridges Brenton Thwaites Katie Holmes Meryl Streep Odeya Rush dystopia classic book vs movie

I liked the movie adaptation of Lois Lowry’s The Giver, but I didn’t love it. (Precision of language!) I was curious to see the depictions of the utopian Community, built on the safe and conflict-free notion of “sameness.” Jeff Bridges embodied the character of the Giver in a way familiar and comforting to those who grew up reading the book. Watching Jonas discover colors for the first time is a strangely emotional experience. But ultimately, the movie did not stir in me the same depth of feeling as reading that classic for the first time.

Now, let’s drop the Community syntax and actually talk about what did and didn’t work in this adaptation of the young adult classic.

[Read more]

Tue
Aug 12 2014 10:52am

This Video Perfectly Illustrates Why We Don’t Have a Female-Led Superhero Movie

female superhero pitches female-led superhero movie video parody Angelfire Alison Vingiano

Female superheroes have no problem kicking ass in ensemble movies, but when it comes to pitching their own solo ventures, they can’t stand up to rampant Hollywood sexism about what does and doesn’t sell. That’s the premise of this funny-but-also-too-real video from the web series Adventures of Angelfire. In Angelfire’s first adventure, the redheaded crimefighter tries to pitch her life story to the big studios, only to come up against more resistance than a vengeful rogues’ gallery.

[“Picture the tagline: ‘Justice is a bitch.’”]

Mon
Aug 11 2014 12:00pm

Uncle Lando’s Magical Amusement Park: Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights: Trouble on Cloud City

Star Wars: Young Jedi KnightsL Tourble on Cloud CityThe fun never ends when your adopted uncle is Lando Calrissian, as evidenced by this… wait. Wait, why does Jacen look like Jonathan Taylor Thomas on the cover of this book? Are we now obligated to watch every episode of Home Improvement? What vile scheme is this?

He really does look exactly like JTT, though. Which might make sense in terms of him being popular when this book came out. But it’s… creepy? Is Jaina based on someone too? Help us out, people.

Anyhow, that was a roundabout way of getting to the reread! Which happens to be the penultimate book, sadly. At least Uncle Lando shows up. It’s time for Trouble on Cloud City!

[Read more]

Mon
Aug 4 2014 12:00pm

Never Too Late for Your First Space Derby — Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights: Return to Ord Mantell

Star Wars Young Jedi Knights Return to Ord MantellThere was this guy in the Star Wars EU called Gallandro, who was basically their version of an Old West gunslinger type. Wait, isn’t that Boba Fett already? you may ask. Nah—they needed a more direct knock-off. Fett has a rifle so he can’t draw at high noon.

No, really, Gallandro was known for being a fast draw.

But he and Han had unfortunate run-in and Gallandro didn’t make it out alive. Don’t worry; if you know anything about the EU, you know that everyone’s got kids except Lando. (Lando should have kids. Boo.) And they’re usually girls because there aren’t enough women in Star Wars. Let’s jump into Return to Ord Mantell and find out exactly what is going on with Gallandro’s legacy.

[Read more]

Mon
Jul 28 2014 12:00pm

Life As A Plague Storehouse—Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights: The Emperor’s Plague

Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights: The Emperor's PlagueWith the advanced weaponry the Star Wars universe purports, it’s really no surprise that biological warfare would have been developed and enacted to a certain degree. So… who wants to encounter that as a teenager? You probably guessed it!

It’s the Young Jedi Knights, if you’re still guessing.

That’s right, the whole Diversity Alliance debacle will come to a head right now as the kiddies encounter The Emperor’s Plague! Which sort of sounds like the worst carnival ride ever. We will not be riding in those rusty cars any time soon.

[Read more]