content by

Leah Schnelbach

Push the Button, Patton!

We have (another) Mad! In a wonderful merging of my theory and the AV Club’s, that last “Patton Oswalt-shaped” silhouette on the MST3K Kickstarter page has indeed been filled with Patton Oswalt…but he’s going to be TV’s Frank’s son! Or, to call him by his proper moniker: TV’s Son of TV’s Frank!

Will he bubble over with Frank-esque enthusiasm? Or will he be sullen, forced to follow in his old man’s henchman footsteps?

[Will he share his father’s love of Squanto?]

Syfy’s Childhood’s End Updates a Classic to Ask Big Questions

Childhood’s End is coming to Syfy as a three-night event beginning December 14th and starring Mike Vogel, Charles Dance, and Colm Meaney. I was fortunate enough to see an early screening of the first episode, and I’ve tried to gather a few non-spoilery thoughts about it, as well as a few of the highlights from the panel that followed the screening. While I found it a little choppy at times, I thought this opening episode set up an intriguing premise that will be compelling for those who haven’t read the book, as well Arthur C. Clarke fans who have wanted to see this story brought to the screen. Check out our non-spoiler review!

[Would you trust an alien who sounded like Charles Dance?]

C.S. Lewis: Moral Fantasist

C.S. Lewis had three different lives professionally. He was an academic, a medievalist who taught at both Oxford and Cambridge and published extensively in his field. (His book Allegory of Love still considered a classic). He was also a Christian Apologist and lay-theologian, with works like Mere Christianity, Miracles, and The Screwtape Letters exploring faith and doubt. Finally, the career that made him famous and became his lasting legacy was that of a fantasy and science fiction author. His Chronicles of Narnia are classics of children’s literature, and have sparked devotion and serious exploration from authors like Philip Pullman, Neil Gaiman, and Lev Grossman.

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Series: On This Day

Frederik Pohl Made Doing Literally Everything Look Easy

Frederik Pohl was one of those people who seem to make up the constellations of science fiction, a man who seemed to live five or six different lives in the time most of us only live one.

He was born in 1919, and his family travelled constantly in his early childhood, before his family settled in Brooklyn. He co-founded The Futurians, and belonged to that group as well as the Young Communist League during the 1930s. He left the Communists in 1939, joined the Army in 1943, and remained a sci-fi fan throughout. After World War II he worked as a writer, editor, and SF literary agent. He was married five times and had four children. He did, almost literally, everything.

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The Man in the High Castle: Worldbuilding, Reality, and You

In addition to Netflix’s Jessica Jones, I also bingewatched Amazon Studios’ The Man in the High Castle over this past weekend. This experience was interesting, as it represented the twin poles of current geek culture—two wildly different, equally complex takes on fantastical universes. Where Jessica Jones is deeply personal, dealing with intimate trauma and healing, The Man in the High Castle is an inventive, heady look at politics, that uses an alternate history to ask questions about society and humanity as a whole.

[This was quite a weekend.]

Blood and Piss: Jessica Jones and The Loss of Control

Much has been made of the sexuality in Jessica Jones. It’s true, Jessica and Luke Cage are Marvel’s poster children for enthusiastic (repeated, loud) consent, and Trish Walker gets to be the first Marvel heroine to have a guy go down on her onscreen. But one interesting thing is that in all the talk of how raw and realistic the sex scenes are, they are also shockingly dry. There is no fluid, there isn’t even much sweat, there are no stained sheets or post-coital showers. I have an idea about this…I think it’s that Jessica Jones, for various brilliant reasons, has focused all its attention on a different liquid entirely. I’ll have to ask you all to go with me into a fairly uncomfortable area, because we’re going to have to talk about piss.

But wait, let me back up.

[Beware of: spoilers for all of Jessica Jones; the ending of Daredevil Season 1; a graphic discussion of bodily function.]

[Seriously, it gets pretty graphic.]

MST3K Has Gained a New Mad Scientist!

We have a Mad! Yesterday, Joel Hodgson officially announced that Felicia Day would be joining the new MST3K as a Mad Scientist named Kinga Forrester, which makes her Dr. Clayton Forrester’s daughter, which raises a whole lot of questions I am not planning to ask. But a new Mad! Plus, we have new voices for Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot, Baron Vaughn and Hampton Yount. Both are stand-ups who were recommended to Hodgson by new host, Jonah Ray. So, there remains but one shadowy outline to fill! And while the AV Club said that this outline was, and I quote, “Patton Oswalt-shaped” I would like to put forward that it is also a bit TV’s Frank-shaped, no? Look at that fluffy hair! Could it be? Will the new MST3K turn its crank to Frank? Head over to the Kickstarter to see Hodgson welcome Felicia Day into the fold.

Helpful Writing Advice from Charlie Jane Anders for NaNoWriMo, and Beyond!

Are you tackling National Novel Writing Month, and just hitting the point where it feels like November is at least 8 months long? If so, I have some excellent writing tips that will hopefully do more than ease your pain—they’ll make you eager to get back to the keyboard again. Last year, I gathered up some of my favorite pieces of advice from Charlie Jane Anders (EIC of io9, of some great short stories here on, and the author of the forthcoming novel All the Birds in the Sky.), and now I’ve found even more excellent ideas from her Writing Advice column!

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The Man in the High Castle is a Tense and Chilling Look at a Dark Timeline

I must begin this review with a confession: I’ve never read The Man in the High Castle. I’ve meant to; I’ve owned copy since college, and I’ve taken it off the shelf a dozen times… but the truth is, I’ve been too afraid of the alternate history it creates to let it into my head. So when I went to a New York Comic-Con screening of the pilot and second episode for Frank Spotnitz’ adaptation, I was nervous. It turned out this was justified: the world depicted in the show is harsh, brutal, and deeply horrifying. In a day when I watched the pilot for the new The X-Files miniseries (damn good!) and the pilot for Jessica Jones (Holy. Shit.) The Man in the High Castle easily held its own with an unbearably tense story, shot through with enough humanity and hope that I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

[Spoiler-free review of episodes one and two]

A Definitive Ranking of Every MST3K Short

Since the return of MST3K is a lock at this point (and some classic episodes are coming out on Rifftrax, too!) my fellow MSTies are going to be faced with a daunting task: we need a way to indoctrinate our non-MSTie friends. Compared to most cult-inspiring TV shows, MST3K is a shambling beast. They’re all two hours long! And you have to navigate which host to go with, whether TV’s Frank is there, Corbett vs. Beaulieu… it gets complicated. The best way I’ve found to avoid all of those issues is to show people the shorts. They’re quick, the hosts don’t matter as much, and they’re so deeply weird that they make for a pure, concentrated does of MST3K. To that end, I have compiled a definitive wholly subjective ranking of almost every short!

[Remember, it takes more than “boing” to make a marriage.]

Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace Issues Forth from the Gates of Hell

We learned something spectacular from The Toast! As of right now, you can watch every single episode (well, to be fair, there are only six) of the Greatest Television Show of All Time on youtube. And what is the Greatest Television Show of All Time, you ask? Why, it’s Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, and if you’re not familiar with it, click through.

[Darkplace Darkplace Darkplace Darkplace!]

Constantine is a Terrible Hellblazer Adaption, But a Damned Good Modern Noir

When Constantine briefly shone on NBC, one refrain was that no matter how bumpy the series’ run was, at least it wasn’t the Keanu Reeves version. But really, on re-watching 2005’s Constantine, I found it works—for all the reasons it shouldn’t. The fact that the actors were all given scripts that varied wildly in tone? Shouldn’t have worked. Casting Gavin Rossdale? Shouldn’t have worked. The costuming? OK, the costuming all works perfectly—Gabriel and Balthazar have both matched their socks to their ties! And the pocket squares… I can’t even think about the pocket squares.

But the biggest way Constantine works is by using Hellblazer as a jumping-off point, rather than a stone-carved outline to be slavishly followed. In doing so, it creates a moody piece of modern, metaphysical noir.

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Sandman: Overture Add New Dimensions to the World of Dream

With Sandman: Overture, Neil Gaiman returned to the world of the Sandman for the first time since Endless Nights. He gives us the prequel to Preludes and Nocturnes, and tells us the story of what Morpheus was doing right before he was captured by Roderick Burgess. How could such a powerful entity be snared by a cut-rate Aleister Crowley? When he spoke to Junot Diaz on Monday, Gaiman said that he didn’t want to add anything to Sandman that would make it “less.” Now that the series is complete, I can say that Overture certainly doesn’t lessen anything—instead it adds depths and nuances to the larger Sandman arc that are startling, terrible, and heartbreaking.

It’s not an easy read, but it might be a necessary one.

[Every choice matters.]

What Neil Gaiman and Junot Diaz Talk About When They Talk About Sandman: Overture

Neil Gaiman talked with Junot Diaz about Sandman Overture, diversity in comics, and MYTH. It was a lively conversation, followed by a touching ukelele birthday tribute from Amanda Palmer. You can watch a recording of the entire event below, but if you’re pressed for time, I’ve rounded up a few of the highlights.

[Yes, Neil Gaiman’s dreams are as weird as you’d imagine.]

It’s a Turkey Day Miracle! MST3K Is Returning!

Joel Hodgson is rebooting Mystery Science Theater 3000! At last, after fifteen years of other riffing entities filling the MST3K-shaped void in all of our souls, the show that put Comedy Central on the map, helped define nascent internet arguments, and probably made a lot of our childhoods more bearable, will finally come back to us. But of course, with a show that was always so much about putting the power in the hands of the audience, Hodgson is counting on fans to revitalize the SOL!

[In the not too distant future!]