Star Wars: The Force Awakens is in theaters only one week before Christmas, and judging from this series of photos featuring Stormtroopers assembling a Christmas tree, Kyle Shearrer and Philip Joe Shearrer, Jr. are really really into the spirit.
Fiction and Excerpts 
I tend not to be amused by nerd-rage, but I gotta give it up for Neil deGrasse Tyson and his response to someone asking him which is the better starship: The U.S.S. Enterprise from Star Trek, or the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars.
Did the original Star Wars trilogy kick off an arms race that we’ll be seeing the results of in The Force Awakens?
I am so pumped up about the new Star Wars movie that I’m having dreams about it, but even as excited as I am, I still have to admit that the villains having a “Starkiller” weapon feels absolutely silly. The name brings me back to recess on the elementary school playground, and the kind of playfully impossible escalation that occurs between children playing make believe. “I shoot my mega laser at you!” “Yeah, well, I shoot my INFINITY laser at you!”*
*This always works.
Like the Wheel of Time series itself, The Wheel of Time Companion offers rewards for those who undertake a detailed readthrough. Now that the hefty new companion volume has been in stores for a few weeks, is there a favorite amongst the details you’ve discovered?
Personally, I love maps, so I’m excited to have the progression and troops movements of The Last Battle laid out in bird’s-eye view above the Fields of Merrilor. I also tend to get lost in the minutiae of Seanchan culture, following “See also” after “See also.”
How about you?
I have read more of Ryan Britt’s writing than any other person on this planet. This makes me the most qualified person—ever—to review Ryan’s first book, a collection of essays titled Luke Skywalker Can’t Read.
I believe that Pulitzer Prize finalist Karen Russell once summarized the former Tor.com staff writer as “an uncontrolled experiment”—perhaps during a speech at the U.N. I don’t know—so it is with this in mind that you must confront Ryan and whatever lizard-person theory he is writing about this week. Be on guard, but also, be accepting of the spaghetti pile of ideas that he brings to you. The plating is unorthodox but the meal is supremely tasty. (He put cheese in it.)
Many walk away from the most perfect city ever known, but never quite on the same route.
In the recently released Plotted: A Literary Atlas, artist and author Andrew DeGraff visualizes the stories of many famous literary works into singular landscapes, charting the progression of their characters all throughout. The results are beautiful maps that enhance classic works like Hamlet, Pride and Prejudice, Invisible Man, A Wrinkle in Time, Watership Down, A Christmas Carol, among others, while standing on their own as storytelling pieces.
We were particularly taken by DeGraff’s map for the classic Ursula K. Le Guin story, “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas.”
How are the Doctor and Donna still this wonderful, years later?
Big Finish has released a small preview from their forthcoming Doctor Who audio dramas starring David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor and Catherine Tate as Donna Noble. Big Finish is renowned for bringing back previous Doctors for high quality audio dramas–they’re responsible for the entirety of the Eighth Doctors adventures–but this is the first time Tennant and Tate will reprise their roles.
Take a listen…
At first glance, it sure looks like new blockbuster Gods of Egypt is whitewashing Egyptian mythology. But now that we have a trailer, I’m not so sure. Sure, there are pyramids and desert and headdresses, but this movie looks so totally BONKERS that this vague set dressing is pretty much our only indication that this movie even takes place on the planet Earth.
Earthwashing? Is that a thing?
Anyway, take a look at the trailer below. It’s like if The Mummy and Transformers had a baby and that baby grew up to represent nothing.
Must have been an interesting sight for the folks heading home that day on the Staten Island Ferry.
JetPack Aviation’s David Mayman was spotted on November 3rd, toodling around the bay in front of the Statue of Liberty in New York City in his JETPACK because, oh right, it’s 2015 so it’s the future now.
What? I’m not joking. I would never do that to you.
It’s difficult to put into words the kind of impact Carl Sagan has had on fans of genre fiction. The combination of his enthusiasm for science education, his patience, and his outreach made him the unique man that we honor today, and if I wrote non-stop for a year I doubt I would be able to find a way to encapsulate that.
Which is when it occurred to me that I didn’t need to do that. At the 2013 New York Comic Con I was lucky enough to get to sit in on the panel for Cosmos and heard Sagan’s wife Ann Druyan and host Neil deGrasse Tyson speak of the man they loved, the man who set the example for what they were trying to accomplish. What they spoke was deeply thoughtful and brazenly passionate, and I’d like to share that with you now.
Series: On This Day
Disney unveiled a gorgeous new collection of Star Wars: The Force Awakens character posters today, but one character was suspiciously missing…
No, not Luke Skywalker…BB-8! That rolly-polly robot scamp is clearly the break-out star of The Force Awakens, and I felt it was only proper it be included in the character poster line-up. So here’s a character poster for BB-8 fans to enjoy! Check it out.
How did humanity discover how to make colors?
The quick answer is that we, even as cave-dwellers, ground up everything we could get our hands on. Comic creator of Veritable Hokum and historian Korwin Briggs recently assembled a chart that demonstrates the incredible millenniums-long process that resulted from that urge. Many of the paint colors that we take for granted today were actually difficult to come by for most of human history.
Often because the stuff we ground up to make colors was poisonous and kind of killed us!
Today in Things We’re Deeply Afraid Of: Jar-Jar Binks being inserted into Star Wars The Force Awakens.
This clever and horrifying recut of the latest trailer for The Force Awakens is brought to us by human monster Michael Murdock over at Michael Loves Movies. To be fair, it’s a really funny mash-up. But only in that way where you have to laugh at the thing you fear because otherwise you’ll just scream and scream and scream as it eats your mind.
The Jar-Jar. Let it in.
Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain were on the Charlie Rose program this past October 20th to promote their recent gothic romance movie Crimson Peak. When the subject of the genre itself came up, Hiddleston busted out a beautiful, professor-level response that gets to the very core of the appeal of gothic romance.
It also works astoundingly well inserted into his interrogation scene in Avengers.
If a female channeler can form a gateway, then they are guaranteed a life expectancy of 550 years. If they take care of themselves, that is. And swear no Oaths. Males “only” get 500 years.
The very first peek we got at The Wheel of Time Companion, out very soon now, was Robert Jordan’s explanation of how he ranked the strength of channelers, the magic users in his epic fantasy world. Although Jordan establishes a 72-level ranking for the strength for both male and female channelers, the specific rankings of the major (and not so major) characters in that scale are listed separately, in each channeler’s individual Companion entry.
There is no single chart listing every channeler within the One Power strength scale. So, with the permission of Harriet McDougal, Maria Simons, and Alan Romanczuk, the astounding authors of the Companion, we made one! And we discovered some interesting things along the way.
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