Tor.com content by

Leah Schnelbach

Take a Journey Through the History of Stop-Motion Animation!

Filmmaker Vugar Efendi creates video essays to explore relationships between filmmakers like Stanley Kubrick and Andrej Tarkovsky, to see the ways images from art and sculpture crop up in movies, and to explore thematic elements n the work of director like Terence Malik and Alejandro Innaritu. Now Efendi has shared a montage that takes the viewer through a concise history of stop-motion animation, from silent films through the work of Tim Burton and Henry Selick.

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Do Stranger Things and Parks & Recreation Share A Universe?

Stranger Things takes place in a fictional town in Indiana.

And Parks and Recreation takes place in a fictional town in Indiana.

Town rich kid (turned mostly nice guy) Steve Harrington sports towering, Everest-like hair.

Spoiled man-child Jean-Ralphio Saperstein also rocks high hair.

When the internet turned its flaming eye on surprise Netflix hit Stranger Things, it was quick to notice these connections, and soon a rumor sprang forth that Steve Harrington was Jean-Ralphio’s dad. And now, thanks to time travel (possibly via a Delorean, since that will continue Stranger Things’ ‘80s fetish) the two have met! And if you click through you can see Steve Harrington teaching Jean-Ralphio how to shave.

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Mr. Nancy is One Swingin’ Spider in the New Retro Cover for Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys!

Three more retro Neil Gaiman covers have been unleashed upon the world! I already wrote about Robert E. McGinnis’ gorgeous new cover for American Gods, and now Gaiman has shred the next three in the new paperback series on his journal Here’s Anansi Boys, done in the style of a 1960s comic novel. I have to assume that Mr. Nancy would be pleased with hipness of this lounge scene, and Gaiman loved it so much he bought the print!

This new edition will hit stores on October 25th. Gaiman also shared the equally fantastic covers for Stardust and Neverwhere, and I’ve posted them below the cut.

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Discover the 17th-Century Science Fiction of Margaret Cavendish

Here’s a story: a young woman is kidnapped by a sailor and forced to sail away with him and a crew. The sailor ‘loves’ the woman, but she never asked to be dragged onto the boat. A storm blows up, kills the sailor and crew, and drives the boat northward. The woman finds herself alone at the North Pole, thousands of miles from family, with no crew to help her get home. But then a mysterious portal opens in front of her. Rather than face a cold and lonely death, the woman walks through, and finds herself in a strange new world where all the creatures speak, where there is only one language, pure monotheism, and absolute peace. The creatures welcome the woman as their Empress, and they all work together to make scientific discoveries.

This is the basic plot of “The Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World”, which was written by Duchess Margaret Cavendish, and published in 1666. As the intrepid archivists of Atlas Obscura have pointed out, it may be our earliest example of science fiction and it was written by a shy, lonely woman who, despite being mocked for having career aspirations, married fantasy, proto-sci-fi, and philosophical thinking 150 years before Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein.

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H.G. Wells Invented Everything You Love

H.G. Wells is considered one of the fathers of science fiction, and if you look at a brief timeline you’ll see why he’s so extraordinary:

  • 1895: The Time Machine
  • 1896: The Island of Doctor Moreau
  • 1897: The Invisible Man
  • 1898: The War of the Worlds
  • 1901: The First Men in the Moon

So basically for four consecutive years Wells got out of bed on New Year’s Day and said, “What ho! I think I’ll invent a new subgenre of scientific fiction!” And then he took some time off, only to return with a story about a moon landing. If it wasn’t for that gap at the turn of the century, he probably would have invented cyberpunk, too.

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Series: On This Day

The Great Stephen King Birthday Cinema Celebration!

I love Stephen King, as a writer, as a proclaimer of the greatness of genre literature, and, maybe most of all, as a guy. He was the first author I knew who—actually, scratch that. Stephen King was the first author I knew.

I recognized the names of children’s authors, and some of the bigger pulpy adult authors that my parents read (my mother was a huge Dick Francis fan, and our house had the requisite copies of Clan of the Cave Bear and Shogun) but King was the first author I saw being interviewed on TV. He was the only author I knew who wrote introductions to his own books, and I got a real sense of him as a person form reading them. Later, when I read Danse Macabre and On Writing, I discovered that he could carry that conversational, regular-guy writing style through an entire book, and the more I write myself, the more impressed I am. I think what really came through, more so even than in his fiction, was his weird, dark sense of humor.

It is in this spirit that I present to you, oh my brothers and sisters and neithers and others, a Stephen King Movie Moment Retrospective.

[Including the second-funniest moment in Maximum Overdrive.]

Series: On This Day

Alyssa Wong, Alice Sola Kim, Cat Valente, and Seth Dickinson Discuss Diversity in Science Fiction

The Brooklyn Book Festival hosted some fantastic authors on Sunday, but possibly the most literal application of the term could be applied to “Not So Generic: Diversity in Science Fiction”, which featured authors Alyssa Wong, Alice Sola Kim, Cat Valente, and Seth Dickinson. Despite being held late in a packed day of programming, the room was filled with an enthusiastic crowd.

The moderator, The Center for Fiction’s Rosie Clarke, opened the panel with a quote from N.K. Jemisin’s Hugo Acceptance speech: “What makes a story good is skill, and audacity, and the ability to consider the future clearly rather than through the foggy lenses of nostalgia and privilege.” This set the stage for a fascinating conversation about SFF’s unique ability to explore complicated social issues.

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I’m Mr. MeeSeeks! 3D Print Me!

Do you need to take a couple swings off your golf game? Or maybe just open a really sticky jar of mayonnaise? Well now you can do both of those things with much less physical effort, because you can 3D print a Mr. Meeseeks to help you! That’s right, 3D Print Guy has embodied the spirit of Mr. Meeseekses everywhere by putting together this helpful guide, as well as all the files you’ll need to make two different versions of the short-lived magical beings.

As we learned from their appearances on Rick & Morty, Mr. Meeseeks isn’t supposed to be with us forever, so understand that by doing this you’re perverting the Laws of Nature.

[Probably not God’s laws, though. I assume God steers clear of Rick & Morty.]

The Year’s Best Alternate Histories Take Us to Timelines Dark and Bright

I think we can all agree that this year, so far, has been an emotional roller coaster—with global politics more fraught than ever, numerous natural disasters beating us down, and celebrities dropping like flies, it’s easy to wish for an alternate 2016 in which, say, a very-much alive David Bowie and Prince are elected global co-rulers, and their only mandate is a 200% increase in World Glitter Output. Your perfect world scenario may differ slightly, but I suspect not by much…

It seems this “what if…?” mentality has seeped into the literary zeitgeist, as 2016 has delivered a mighty crop of alternate histories—below, I’ve gathered some of this year’s most thought-provoking titles for your perusal! From Nisi Shawl’s steampunk haven in the Congo to Lavie Tidhar’s noir-inspired fascist London, these books cover a diverse array of timelines and possible paths.

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Do Not Run Away From this Serious Recut of Monty Python and the Holy Grail!

Several of us at Tor.com were just talking about how there are maybe too many Arthurian adaptations out there, but then this one popped up. And this, my friends, is the Arthurian adaptation we need. The Pythonists at Cinefix have recut Monty Python and the Holy Grail into a serious, surprisingly bloody action movie, and it’s amazing.

[Flesh wounds everywhere.]

This Soviet Ray Bradbury Cartoon Will Haunt Your Dreams

Melville House Books provides several services to humanity: not only do they publish lovely books, and create awesome Bartleby-quoting swag, they also maintain a blog that achieves a perfect mix of cool news and snark. They recently found two cartoons based on Ray Bradbury short stories, directed by Nazim Tulyakhodzhayev for the Uzbekfilm studio. The film is an adaptation of “There Will Come Soft Rains”, the saddest, sweetest robot house story you’re ever likely to read, and you can (and should!) watch it below.

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