A Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Proposed Trade-Offs for the Overhaul of the Barricade July 30, 2014 A Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Proposed Trade-Offs for the Overhaul of the Barricade John Chu Fighting Turbulence requires sacrifices. The Colonel July 29, 2014 The Colonel Peter Watts The hives are sleeping giants. <em>To Eternity</em> July 24, 2014 To Eternity Wesley Allsbrook and Barrie Potter If all things were normal, Stuart would be considered quite a catch. Brisk Money July 23, 2014 Brisk Money Adam Christopher It's hard out there for a robotic detective.
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Showing posts by: Ryan Britt click to see Ryan Britt's profile
Dec 16 2013 8:00am

Celebrating Arthur C. Clarke’s Odyssey

Today we mark what would have been the 96th birthday of the great Arthur C. Clarke. Often credited with making fantastic predictions in his science fiction that actually came true, Clarke is among the most recognized and celebrated authors of the previous century. Perhaps the hardest of “hard science fiction” writers, Clarke was the authority on futurism and concepts both mind-bending and fascinatingly plausible. Known best for the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey and the epic film of the same name, Arthur C. Clarke is probably the writer most responsible for making futuristic space travel look realistic in our mind’s eye.

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Dec 9 2013 3:00pm

Liev Schreiber Searches For, Then Murders Originality in The Last Days on Mars

Is Liev Schreiber cursed? No matter how likeable the actor is, it seems he’s always stuck in some weird soulless movie which makes you wish he could escape and find his way into a better movie. This makes his new film—The Last Days on Mars—a fitting metaphor for his career: soulless space zombies (analogs for terrible films) try to kill poor Liev, while he endures anxiety-inducing flashbacks to a mistake he made on a space station (the rest of his career) before the film began. What’s frustrating about The Last Days on Mars? Well, sadly, it’s not that it could have been good. With a script like this, there’s no way it even orbits the planet “good.” Instead, what’s rough about the Last Days on Mars, is you keep wishing it was actually worse.

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Nov 29 2013 10:00am

Happy Birthday, Madeleine L’Engle!

Today marks the birthday of an author who forever changed the way we feel about time travel, alternate dimensions, and dark and stormy nights. Madeleine L’Engle was born on November 29th in New York City and started writing almost right away. Her first story was composed at age 8, and she went on to pen a universe of novels, poems, and non-fiction throughout her amazing and inspirational career.

L’Engle is probably best remembered by science fiction fans and children throughout the world for A Wrinkle in Time and its many sequels in both the Kairos and Chronos series. These books set an impossibly imaginative standard for children’s fantasy adventure books. In A Wrinkle in Time, L’Engle appropriated the opening line “It was a dark and stormy night” from an 1830 novel Paul Clifford by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. But truly, in the same way Sherlock Holmes hijacked “the game’s afoot!” from Shakespeare, “a dark and stormy night” now completely belongs to A Wrinkle in Time. Whether you’re a little kid or a grown-up cynical reader, that opening line tells you one thing: get ready!

Madeline L’Engle was a deeply spiritual writer who effortlessly blended her faith with her science fiction. Perhaps her greatest gift to us was the mainstreaming of The Tesseract, or more simply: the wrinkle in time. When Mrs. Who explains the concept to Meg, the latter gets very excited about her newfound comprehension of this awesome spacetime warp: “I got it!” Meg says. “For just a moment I got it! I can’t possibly explain it now, but there for a second, I saw it!” This is how readers of Madeline L’Engle will always feel. We glimpse these beautiful adventures in our mind’s eye, but to fully explain their brilliance is almost impossible.


This post originally ran on November 29, 2012

Nov 22 2013 12:00pm

The Most Horrifying is Yet to Come! 5 Insane Cliffhangers from the 1960s Batman

Batman Adam West

“Same bat-time, same bat-channel” is so firmly implanted into the cultural storehouse of catchphrases for a very good reason. The two-part cliffhanger format of the 1960s Batman is a big part (along with how it’s perfect in every way) of why this kitschy show worked. But even serious Batman fans might not be aware of some of the more ridiculous methods of doom super villains cooked up throughout the years...

[Bat traps]

Nov 18 2013 5:00pm

Why Skyfall Part Deux Might Really Become Thunderball: Reloaded

Life Magazine Thunderball Sean Connery James BondIf you tell strangers in a bar that Kim Basinger was in a James Bond film, most will be shocked, and not just because after three rum and cokes you’re randomly talking about Kim Basinger. (Again!) Instead, the confusion comes because poor Kim occupies a quasi-fake 1983 James Bond movie called Never Say Never Again, which, outside of Highlander 2, is the saddest Sean Connery performance in our dimension. (Though somehow directed by Irving Kershner!) Never Say Never Again is also randomly a remake of the “real” James Bond film Thunderball, and came into existence because a guy named Kevin McClory kind of owned aspects of the story, and 007, too. Over several decades, an epic legal battle between McClory and MGM was waged, which as of just last week has been seemingly, finally, resolved. Thunderball is now totally owned by the “legit” James Bond studio, MGM.

So, with director Sam Mendes coming back for a sequel to Skyfall, could MGM’s recent Thunderball acquisition mean Daniel Craig’s James Bond is headed back underwater?

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Nov 11 2013 4:30pm

Time Travel, Actually? Richard Curtis’s About Time

Richard Curtis About Time Rachel McAdams Domhnall Gleeson

Silently weeping while watching one of the films of Richard Curtis doesn’t make you a sap, loser, or hopeless romantic; it makes you human. While the carbon copies of his overly sugary work (read: Garry Marshall’s New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, et al.) are totally insulting to a normal person and should only be watched while drinking Mountain Dew spiked with Captain Morgan and eating a bag of Cheetos, real-deal rom-coms like Love Actually, or Four Weddings & a Funeral demand to move you to tears of feel-good joy. It’s not an option with these movies. You. Will. Cry. So, does Richard Curtis’s latest—About Time—accomplish the same moments of laugh-out-loud chortles coupled with involuntary sobs?

Of course the answer is yes, but I’m not really sure why, nor do I know what the movie is really about.

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Nov 11 2013 9:30am

Listen, Kurt Vonnegut Changed Your Life

Today would have been the 91st birthday of beloved author Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Throughout his career as a writer and a human being, Vonnegut shouldered many labels: sci-fi writer, satirist, humorist, humanist, political activist, and cranky old man. Luckily for us, he was all of those things and more. But best of all, Kurt Vonnegut was a man who reminded us that our primary function on Earth is to “fart around, and don’t let anyone tell you any different.”

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Oct 23 2013 9:30am

Was Doctor Who’s “Vincent and the Doctor” Cribbed From This 1964 Short Story?

Some days, before boarding the subway, I like to grab an old book from my shelf that I’ve never read, and randomly open it to any odd page. Last week, it was a dog-eared Ace paperback called World’s Best Science Fiction 1965, which contained a bunch of great science fiction stories published in the previous year. The story I opened to was called “A Niche in Time” by William F. Temple. As I began reading, I gasped. Was a time traveler visiting Vincent Van Gogh and was it reminding me very much of the 2010 Doctor Who episode “Vincent and the Doctor?” In the words of the tenth Doctor…OH YES!

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Oct 21 2013 12:00pm

Living on the Starship Enterprise Would Actually Be Depressing as Shit

Even though Star Trek was on a notable roll of excellence in the early 90s, nobody told the playground bullies. Being made fun of for constantly talking about Star Trek isn’t something I’m bitter about at all, mostly because, in the end, I proved to be an early adopter of what everyone would soon realize is possibly the greatest thing EVER.

But, I still remember a few teary moments when I wanted to be beamed up by Scotty, Chief O’Brien, or whoever-was-running the beaming on Deep Space Nine—and that’s because I wanted to escape and be accepted and nurtured by all the nice Star Trek people. And even as an adult, I still have teary moments, and occasionally find myself wordlessly whispering that I want to be “beamed up,” to be saved from it all.

Until the terrible epiphany hit me recently. Actually living on the Enterprise would be really depressing.

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Oct 15 2013 4:00pm

Lemony Snicket’s When Did You See Her Last? as Pleasantly Confounding as Ever

There’s a very real chance that the Lemony Snicket books are too smart for their own good. If you can detect every single literary allusion contained in any of Snicket’s book, but specifically in When Did You See Her Last? then I want to meet you! Smarts and friendship are still the real currency of the Snicket universe and the latest in the new series both continues the mysteries and adventures laid out by the previous volume, while still managing to be its own stand-alone romp.

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Oct 1 2013 9:30am

Ursula K. Le Guin Encourages Stealing, Went to High School With Philip K. Dick

Ursula Le Guin

Being effortlessly wise is a quality we generally associate with mystics, gurus, and people called The Dude. But if you’ve had a chance to hear what Ursula Le Guin has to say about genre writing, writing in general, or just the act of being a person in the world, you’ll feel like you’ve found your guru.

The latest issue of The Paris Review contains a fantastic interview with Le Guin, conducted by the author John Wray. A fan of genre literature and an equally big fan of Le Guin herself, Wray seemed to Socratically draw out some gems from Le Guin. Here are some highlights:

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Sep 25 2013 5:00pm

Original Sin: The Complex Irony of Frankenstein and Its Impact

If a child dressed as Dr. Frankenstein for Halloween or Purim, all the other children would label that costume “mad scientist.” The recognizable thing about the story of Frankenstein is its Frankenstein-ness, not the actual book itself. Like the creature of the novel, it’s as though Mary Shelley’s awesome book became a problem all on its own. Why has it been banned in the past? Probably because of a very specific misreading of the book. But the weird thing about this book is how even people who would never think of banning it are wrong about it, too!

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Sep 18 2013 12:30pm

Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam is The Hunger Games for Grown-Ups

MaddAddam Margaret Atwood

Dystopian fiction might seem hot now thanks to The Hunger Games, Divergent, and other post-some-kind-of-cataclysm tales, but the subgenre is far more complex than a simple trend. And while Margaret Atwood doesn’t want you to call her a science fiction writer, she has been showing humanity how to get down in the muck of it for a good portion of her career. With the release of MaddAddam, Atwood is wrapping up a trilogy of sorts which began with 2003’s Oryx and Crake. What makes Maddadam and its previous installments so unique though is the way Atwood treats dystopia not just as a metaphor but as a real, complex, and ultimately human event.

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Sep 6 2013 11:30am

A.C. Crispin, 1950-2013

A.C. Crispin passed away obituaryFollowing a heartfelt announcement to her fans, beloved SFF author Ann Carol Crispin passed away today, succumbing to a long battle with cancer. Sensing she was nearing the end, Crispin posted on her Facebook page on September 3rd, saying “I’ve been hesitant to make this post, but it’s time…” A former vice-president of SFWA and a cofounder of the watchdog group Writer Beware, Crispin was admired for her prowess in the business of writing as well as the art of storytelling. She was 63.

[Read more]

Sep 4 2013 10:00am

Forget Odds Vs. Evens: Bad Star Trek Movies Can Be Detected By Their Subtitle

In Simon Pegg’s brilliant sitcom Spaced his character Tim declares certain things he knows to be universally true including the acknowledged fact that “every odd-numbered Star Trek movie is shite.” And yet, Star Trek (2009) was technically the eleventh Star Trek film, and Into Darkness the twelfth. And like post-Phantom Menace trauma, it’s probably taken too long to admit this, but Into Darkness was complete and utter shite.

So, the odds versus evens of Star Trek films certainly no longer applies, but maybe never has. Instead, look at the subtitle, and you’ll know everything!

[Read more]

Sep 2 2013 12:00pm

Austenland is Secretly a Tribute to Philip K. Dick

Austenland Philip K. Dick

Most Philip K. Dick stories feature loners who get themselves into conspiracy situations seemingly, at first, for no reason. Such was my experience with the new Jane Austen-inspired/Keri Russell literary rom-com, Austenland, which purports to feature a plucky young woman immersing herself in a faux Jane Austen-style summer camp.

Except she, and the audience, are really inside some kind of Battlestar Galactica/Philip K. Dick pastiche.

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Aug 30 2013 9:00am

The 10 Funniest Lines in all of Star Wars (According to Me)

Discussing Jungian archetypes and the Joseph Campbell hero arc might be a fun way for a lot of people to talk about Star Wars. But these broad strokes aren’t all there is to why people love Star Wars so much. One element I always find missing from the “why do we love Star Wars so much?” conversation is humor. When making jokes about dicey material, we’ll often ask the question “too soon?” But if everything was a long time ago in a galaxy, far, far away, then it’s never too soon!

Here are the ten funniest lines in all the Star Wars films, according to me.

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Aug 23 2013 11:00am

Harlan Ellison’s 7 Against Chaos Is Your Next Grumpy Superhero Team-Up

Harlan Ellison 7 Against ChaosWhen I told a poet friend of mine I was reading a new Harlan Ellison graphic novel, she raised an eyebrow and said, “I respect that,” and then, “he’s still writing?” The idea that a new Harlan Ellison graphic novel exists, much less could be relevant, is a damn dubious. Though he is one of the pioneers of New Wave SF, Harlan Ellison hasn’t been new for awhile and “probably is the most contentious person now walking the Earth.”

That last tidbit isn’t slander, as it comes straight from Ellison’s bio on the dust jacket of 7 Against Chaos, the new graphic novel from Ellison and artist Paul Chadwick (and Ken Steacy). And like Ellison himself, there’s something both angry and original about what’s contained within. It’s also totally engrossing.

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Aug 19 2013 5:00pm

Kick-Ass 2 Doesn’t Have a Conscience (and What That Says About America...)

Kick-Ass 2

In the first 45 minutes of Kick-Ass 2, Mindy Macready—AKA Hit-Girl—(Chloë Grace Moretz) is embroiled in a cartoonish, Mean Girls-style sleepover. The teenage Queen Bee forces Mindy to do “girly things” which includes watching a fictional music video from a fictional boy band, “Union J.” But wait, is Hit-Girl really getting hot and bothered by this? Is this a joke?

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Aug 12 2013 9:00am

5 Reasons Why Han Solo is the Most Realistic Person in Star Wars

Han Solo Princess Leia Empire Strikes Back

Essayist Ashley Cardiff makes an astute observation about Star Wars in her new book Night Terrors. In an essay titled “Nightmares,” she points out how, as children, we go from loving Luke Skywalker to loving Han Solo. Cardiff writes:

“But right about 10 or so, I started thinking Han Solo was the more charming and interesting of the two. This is because Luke represents chastity and virtue while Han Solo represents cock.”

Yes! We love Han Solo because he is sexy, but we think Han’s pervasive appeal might be even more interesting than that. The real reason Han Solo is so well loved is because he’s a very realistic character, way more realistic in fact than anyone else in all the films. Here’s why.

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