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 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
November 13, 2014
Why Do We Reject Love as a Powerful Force in Interstellar?
Natalie Zutter
November 11, 2014
The Well-Lit Knight Rises: How 1960s Batman Shaped Our Bat-Thoughts Forever
Ryan Britt
Showing posts by: Ryan Britt click to see Ryan Britt's profile
Mon
May 12 2014 4:00pm

Full Frontal Frankenstein: Penny Dreadful Premieres with “Night Work”

Like bad pennies always turning up, idioms are totally the most pervasive things, possibly, ever. Here’s one that frustrates me: it does what it says on the tin. I dislike this idiom because it probably reminds me of that Monty Python sketch in which I learned “tinny” words were bad, but more importantly because when used in reference to fictional narratives, it feels silly. Saying a whodunit is a whodunit or a rom-com is a rom-com is no defense (nor praise) of writing, storytelling, or creation of pop art. And yet, here is Penny Dreadful, showing up on cable and doing exactly what it says on the tin: being dreadful and doing it cheaply.

[Light spoilers for Penny Dreadful’s “Night Work”]

Mon
May 5 2014 3:00pm

Science Fiction Saves the Dictionary: The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon

Hands up now if you think lexicographers and/or their visual artist daughters make great protagonists of action-packed novels. Nobody? Okay, what about a book about slimy tech-start up young-jerkface whipper-snappers who unleash a virus on the entire world because they want to make money fast; does that sound awesome?

If I’ve lost your interest in either of the above, then you’re probably not going to like the new novel The Word Exchange. But if you’re like me and the notion of dictionary lovers as heroes and smarmy new-media guys as villains sounds great to you, then this is our book of the year.

[Read more]

Thu
May 1 2014 1:00pm

Working Class Star Wars Comics Were Something to See: Rogue Squadron

Star Wars X-Wing Rogue Sqaudron comicsTeenaged Ryan often felt it was in everyone’s best interests to let the people at Dark Horse Comics know how they were doing with the Star Wars property, and after having a letter published in the fourth issue of the original run of Shadows of the Empire—in which I complained that the dialogue from Rogue Squadron was unrealistic—I felt I had to make amends. The first issue of Rogue Squadron: The Warrior Princess published a letter from me in which I mentioned, in essence, that in terms of the portrayal of the rogues, these comics were way better.

Which is insane of course, because teenagers never know how good they have it, and I was no exception. Like the novels they were related to, the Rogue Squadron comics were an unprecedented, risky, and unique Star Wars which we all should run back and reread right now.

[Read more]

Tue
Apr 29 2014 9:00am

Star Wars, What is It Good For? The Real History of Science Fiction

Star Wars A New Hope Opening

When I was a little kid, my father enjoyed altering the famous Star Trek preamble “Space…the final frontier,” to “Space…the stuff between Ryan’s ears.” We’ll never know the illness that causes so many fathers to be sooooo hilarious all the time, and my Dad was no exception. But just like “space” meant different things to my Dad and me, it also means a lot of things to a lot of different people: a Final Frontier, a place where No One Can Hear You Scream, and also lots and lots of gas.

The latest installment of the BBC’s documentary series The Real History of Science Fiction decided to talk about space, and was about as successful as my Dad’s bad jokes, meaning the show was mostly dumb, bloated, and occasionally, a little bit charming.

[Read more]

Thu
Apr 24 2014 8:00am

The Best Star Wars Book, or the Best Star Wars Novel? Stackpole’s I, Jedi

Star Wars I Jedi Micheal Stackpole Today, I doubt anybody would let Michael A. Stackpole get away with what he did in 1998. If you were to ask me, right now in 2014, what I thought of a Star Wars novel written in the first person featuring a character who never appears in any of the novels movies, running through a plot which retcons events of beloved novels from a few years before, I’d say there’s zero market for such a book.

I, Jedi is a niche inside of a niche inside of niche, which is actually why it’s wonderful. And though it might not be the best Star Wars book of them all, it is easily the best Star Wars novel.

[Read more]

Wed
Apr 23 2014 12:00pm

Godzilla in the Mist: Rediscovering the 60th Anniversary Restoration of the Classic Film

Gojira Godzilla 1954

Right now, and for the rest of the summer, touring in select movie theatres in America is a cinematic 60th Anniversary Restoration of Ishiro Honda’s immortal monster film Gojira, or as we came to know him in the US, Godzilla. And with Bryan Cranston getting ready to do battle with the big G in the newest American reboot of Godzilla, this is the perfect time to revisit the first footprint from “the king of monsters.” And I do mean literally, because even in 1954, that footprint shows up way before the monster does.

[Read more]

Mon
Apr 21 2014 2:00pm

Robots for Dummies? The Real History of Science Fiction

Terminator Robots

Everyone loves Arthur C. Clarke’s wonderful aphorism that “any sufficiently evolved technology is indistinguishable from magic.” It’s such a good description of how science, and its application—technology—can be so grossly misunderstood and reduced, while simultaneously be awe-inspiring. Hell, Natalie Portman even quoted the line in Thor.

But what about the cousin of science and technology: science fiction? Can we handily attach a pithy, Arthur C. Clarke-style aphorism to SF, too? Well, after viewing the first episode of The Real History of Science Fiction, the new serial documentary from the BBC this weekend, I think we can. But it’s not pretty. Ready? Here it is: Any sufficiently popularized science fiction can be made indistinguishable from bullshit.

[Read more]

Mon
Apr 21 2014 12:00pm

Transcendence: Resistance to Johnny Depp is Futile!

Transcendence Johnny Depp

I waited until the movie theatre lights were turned on after Transcendence ended with the hope that a secret post-credit sequence would reveal this movie to be a surprise prequel to either the impending rebooted-Battlestar Galactica, a movie version of Doctor Who, or even another new Star Trek. This isn’t to say I was offended by the derivative premises of Transcendence at all, instead, like the A.I. version of Dr. Castor (Johnny Depp) himself, I wanted the movie to expand outward and take over other movies!

Artfully unpacked, the film offers a classic (and suddenly urgent) science fiction question: when consciousness exceeds particular established mores, at what point do we freak out? Or to put it another way: when does an all-powerful computer brain cease to be benevolent?

[Read more]

Thu
Apr 17 2014 10:00am

When Being Rogue Isn’t Rogue Enough: X-Wing #4 The Bacta War

Star Wars X-Wing The Bacta War Michael A StackpoleThough he wanted to love it, an old friend of mine grew irritated with the N64 version of Rogue Squadron because after getting bombarded with unseen TIE Fighter missiles, he threw up his hands saying the game was “way too hard.” For him, a Nintendo Star Wars experience should be more like the films: fun, with action and adventure that’s easy to experience and quick to digest.

And because Rogue Squadron (the entity) exists in that 1996 video game and also in this 1997 novel, my friend’s frustration might be the most perfect metaphor for how to think about the X-Wing novels. They’re fun, and chocked full of great Star Wars stuff, but after a while, they start to seem like a lot of hard work.

[Read more]

Thu
Apr 10 2014 10:00am

Go Ahead, Touch Wedge’s Face! X-Wing #3: The Krytos Trap

In the first half of X-Wing: The Krytos Trap, Wedge Antilles, the commander of Rogue Squadron, hails a cab, goes to a hanger bay, and gets his faced touched by an insect-man. If there is anything better to be reading right now, I’d like you to really think about the case you’re making. For all you aspiring writers out there, the next time you’re in a workshop talking about someone’s story or poem or essay, you might want to ask them if they’ve considered putting a scene in there where an insect-man delicately touches someone’s face. It’s just a suggestion.

The Krytos Trap is my favorite of these books so far. I originally read these when they were new and I was between 13 and 14-years-old. Rereading them as an adult (non-insect) person and professional writer, I’ve got to say, wow, these books sure knew how to have fun.

[Read more]

Mon
Apr 7 2014 2:30pm

Aliens Don’t Eat Chocolate Cake: Under the Skin and the Science Fiction Art Film

In my favorite scene in Jonathan Glazer’s new thriller/satire/science fiction film—Under the Skin—Scarlett Johansson’s unnamed protagonist (she had a name in the novel!) tries to eat a piece of chocolate cake in a crappy restaurant and nearly chokes. Every head in the place turns to look at her like she’s a crazy person, but in fact, she’s just an alien and can’t eat cake, or really anything. This, I’m guessing is the split on how most viewers will regard the relative quality of this movie: you’re either the “regular” people staring in disbelief, or you’re the alien wondering what the hell is wrong with everyone.

[Read more]

Thu
Apr 3 2014 9:00am

Out of the Cockpit and Into the Black Sun: X-Wing #2 Wedge’s Gamble

I really like the contemporary remake of Ocean’s 11 and its various sequels because I like complicated schemes with lots of moving parts which only make sense in a certain fictional context.

The second Michael A. Stackpole book in the X-Wing series is very much like one of those movies, and if you picture George Clooney as Wedge Antilles, Brad Pitt and Tycho Celchu and Matt Damon as Corran Horn, it really, really works. The Rogues are up for covert action and this time, they’re letting some scum and villainy run amok!

[Read More]

Thu
Mar 27 2014 8:30am

Even More Kids on the Playground: X-Wing #1 Rogue Squadron

Star Wars X-Wing Rogue Squadron When children played Star Wars in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s it wasn’t as fun to pretend to be Luke Skywalker as you might think. By the end of the movies, Luke is kind of detached, to the point of being almost anti-social, and when you’re in a big gaggle of kids wishing you were in that galaxy far, far away, an easier, vaguer surrogate seems missing.

That is, until the secret lives of Rebel pilots opened up to fans via the games, comics, and novels. And Michael A. Stackpole nailed every little fan’s desire with the first X-Wing book, because after reading this, you didn’t really want to be Luke Skywalker; you would settle to just join Rogue Squadron.

[Read more]

Tue
Mar 25 2014 11:15am

Have Severed Robot Head, Will Travel: 5 Ways a Prometheus Sequel Could Work

20th Century Fox has announced that an “untitled Ridley Scott project” is set for release in March 2016, and The Wrap reports that multiple sources have confirmed it will be a follow-up to Scott’s ambitious sci-fi movie Prometheus. But considering everything that happens by the end of Prometheus, what would that sequel actually be about?

Here are five plot directions the sequel could take. Obviously spoilers for Prometheus and all the Alien movies ahead!

[Read More]

Thu
Mar 20 2014 9:00am

7 Credible Ways The Incredibles 2 Could Work

Yesterday, news broke that Brad Bird and Pixar will develop a sequel to the beloved Pixar superhero/super family movie; The Incredibles. Despite its popularity and genuine heart, this Pixar film never got a sequel, owing largely to creator/director Brad Bird’s fear of not being able to live-up to the quality of the first story.

So, it’s been 10 years since we’ve seen the family Parr and their super-friends (Like Frozone!) in action. But was it better to leave a good thing alone? No! The Parrs are the best Pixar thing ever and a sequel would be amazing. Here’s seven totally reasonable directions a sequel could take.

[Read More]

Tue
Mar 11 2014 9:00am

Harry Potter 3 is a Better Alfonso Cuarón Movie than Gravity

Deservedly cleaning up at the Academy Awards and elsewhere, Gravity is a correctly praised film. Its compelling heart-pounding narrative drive is as relentless as the tone of the film is comfortingly sweet. If you haven’t seen it, you should, and in IMAX 3D and nowhere else. I loved the movie a lot and get pissed by those who dismiss it and/or snub its real-life inspirations.

And yet. I can’t help but feel that this is not Cuarón’s best film, in an all-around-kind of way. If Gravity is some kind of enraged dementor hovering in to deliver the death kiss, then my patronus here is definitely Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban. Or as I like to call it: a more watchable, better written, more complex and multi-layered film than Gravity in (almost!) every single way.

[Read more]

Mon
Mar 3 2014 1:20pm

What the Oscars Didn’t Talk About When They Talked About Gravity

Gravity Oscars

Clocking in with a running time on par with one of the Hobbit films, last night’s 86th Academy Awards was a fairly short affair, considering its epic (bloated?) length and pacing in previous years. Though less overt geeky references were made by this year’s host—Ellen DeGeneres—than Seth McFarlane last year, the former brought some class and wit the latter sadly squandered. It was a good, watchable, pleasant Oscar night. Except for one thing: Hollywood doesn’t seem interested in thanking any of the real heroes who travel in space.

[Read more]

Wed
Feb 26 2014 4:20pm

Adam Driver Cast as the Star Wars Episode VII Villain

Adam Driver Star Wars villain

As if the casting of Jesse Eisenberg as a younger (maybe social media savvy-er?) Lex Luthor wasn’t enough for you, now you’ve got the latest in surprise villain casting: according to Variety, Adam Driver of Girls and Inside Llewyn Davis is in “final talks” to play the brand new villain in the Star Wars Episode VII and probably beyond.

[You should be so happy Adam Driver is about to break down the Star Wars door]

Thu
Feb 20 2014 11:40am

The Tick-Tock Man Cometh, But Should He?

Shocking no one, the near-centuries old bromance between Babylon 5 creator and all-around-pop-culture-influencer, J. Michael Straczynski and the tempestuous Harlan Ellison has resulted in a movie option for the (probably) most famous Ellison short story, ever. But, now that JMS is being allowed to pitch a movie version of “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Tick-Tock Man,” should we take it seriously? Will this SF classic ever really get turned into a film? More importantly, should it be?

[Read more]

Mon
Feb 17 2014 2:00pm

Lady Sybil Trapped in Weird Colin Farrell Zombie Movie Called Winter’s Tale

Talking to strangers is totally fine, especially if those strangers are amnesiac Colin Farrells. With a friendly and dopily disarming gaze, Colin made us believe he was a brainwashed victim in 2012’s Total Recall. Now in 2014’s romantic zombie comedy—Winter’s Tale—he plays a totally convincing angel-zombie, who also isn’t sure what his name is or if he’s any good at robbing people. Here, Farrell with the help of Jessica Brown Findlay (Lady Sybil) brings home the most romantic Valentine’s Day message of all: Will Smith is Satan!

[Spoilers Ahead]