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Natalie Zutter

“Now I’m Awake”: Watch the Full-Length Trailer for The Handmaid’s Tale

“I was asleep before. That’s how we let it happen. When they slaughtered Congress, we didn’t wake up. When they blamed terrorists and suspended the Constitution, we didn’t wake up then, either. Now I’m awake.” If the first few teasers for Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale chilled you for the vaguely ominous images from Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, then the first full-length trailer, which tracks the events that led to the Republic of Gilead and the lives of the Handmaids, will grip you the way the Handmaids clasp one another in preparation for their duties to the Commanders and Wives of Gilead.

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Rereading The Handmaid’s Tale: Parts XIII-XIV

For all that we have lived the Handmaids’ bizarre, horrifying existence for the past three-quarters of this novel, now we come to “these red events, like explosions, on streets otherwise decorous and matronly and somnambulent”—the true demonstrations of Gilead’s power over its people. This week, Offred is tempted away from Ofglen’s rebellion and toward the life she’s begun to make for herself… until she attends a Salvaging and a Particicution.

The index to the Handmaid’s Tale reread can be found here! As this is a reread, there will be spoilers for the rest of the book, as well as speculation about the TV series.

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Series: Rereading The Handmaid’s Tale

Rereading The Handmaid’s Tale: Parts XI-XII

In this day and age, women try to raise each other up through mentorships, networking groups, alumni connections. In Gilead, it’s through dangerous bargains that feel more like power plays, vague orders from shadowy resistances, and offers to come work in brothels (and that’s the best option). But woven throughout these interactions is the dark, sharp memory of betrayal by someone you don’t even know. This week, Offred does her duty at a Prayvaganza and steals away to Jezebel’s; she affirms her daughter’s existence through a Polaroid and learns her mother’s fate through a secondary source. But at least that source is Moira.

The index to the Handmaid’s Tale reread can be found here! As this is a reread, there will be spoilers for the rest of the book, as well as speculation about the TV series.

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Series: Rereading The Handmaid’s Tale

Rereading The Handmaid’s Tale: Parts IX-X

May(day) leads to June (a secret name) turns into summer, filled with ripeness and temptation. Inside the Commander’s household, Offred becomes a mistress; outside of it, she becomes a confidante and grows this much closer to the supposed resistance. Just as Offred begins to understand why the Commander has singled her out, we readers rediscover how the Republic of Gilead rose to power in the first place. All it took was the punch of a button.

The index to the Handmaid’s Tale reread can be found here! As this is a reread, there will be spoilers for the rest of the book, as well as speculation about the TV series.

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Series: Rereading The Handmaid’s Tale

Supergirl Meets Alien Immigration Issues with Human Decency

Supergirl does not pretend that having a female president solves all of the world’s problems. Regardless of their morality, female superheroes and villains are still branded with the moniker of “nasty woman” by their detractors; and in this week’s episode, “Exodus,” a member of the 1% decides to round up and forcibly deport National City’s alien immigrant population in order to make a “better world” for her children and other people who look like them.

Despite giving us solidly genre thrills through trips to distant alien moons and rogue cyborgs, the most chilling visual from Supergirl yet came in this week’s episode: a family’s carefree singalong to Bruno Mars, the kind of thing you’d see go viral, interrupted by a squad of black cars snatching these people out of their lives.

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Rereading The Handmaid’s Tale: Parts VII-VIII

Ofwarren fulfills her purpose on the Birth Day, the kind of day that is hoped for by all of Gilead and that brings the Handmaids together to help bring new life into the Republic. Later, Offred finds herself in a completely unexpected—and incredibly illicit—situation alone with the Commander, as he asks for something ridiculous and demands something illegal.

The index to the Handmaid’s Tale reread can be found here! As this is a reread, there will be spoilers for the rest of the book, as well as speculation about the TV series.

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Series: Rereading The Handmaid’s Tale

Family Is Complicated: Supergirl, “Homecoming”

Jeremiah Danvers returns! …But there’s something off about him. Maybe it’s his hand, impacted by nerve damage, that he doesn’t seem so sad about, or his insistence that he can pick up everything—his job, his marriage, his relationship to his kids—as if 15 years haven’t passed. Perhaps it’s his sudden talk of a nuclear fusion bomb (which, like Colonel Mustard’s, turns out to be a red herring), or his push to restore his top-secret DEO access as soon as possible. At any rate, his homecoming creates a fault line right down the middle of the Danvers family, with Alex and Kara opposed on how to welcome back dear old dad.

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Rereading The Handmaid’s Tale: Parts V-VI

The moon is full and it is time for the Ceremony. Or at least, the first part of the Ceremony, which is waiting on the Commander. While these sections take place entirely in the Commander’s household, we learn a lot about the women (and one man) who depend on this powerful man for their survival. While Serena Joy awaits the monthly ritual with dread and tears, Offred retreats inside herself, to recall a very different household: Luke and their daughter, as they attempted to flee the country.

The index to the Handmaid’s Tale reread can be found here! Remember that because this is a reread, there will be spoilers for the rest of the book, as well as speculation about the TV series.

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Series: Rereading The Handmaid’s Tale

Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind: Supergirl, “Mr. and Mrs. Mxyzptlk”

Due to what I can only guess was some sort of scheduling snafu, Supergirl aired its Valentine’s Day episode almost a week after the holiday. So, right as we’ve all finished our boxes of half-price chocolate and thrown out dried flowers, here’s an episode to bring back all the butterfly-inducing, infuriating, and heartwarming things about love: rooms full of roses, reliving a bittersweet Valentine’s dance, and a not-so-secret admirer.

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Rereading The Handmaid’s Tale: Parts III-IV

Now that we’ve been introduced to the Republic of Gilead… how do you survive? Just as Offred explores her room (her room) in sections, so do we begin to fill in the edges of her life as a Handmaid: witnessing a funeral for an Econowife’s child even as the Econowives look down on their red-smocked rivals; the daily walks and monthly doctor’s visit both threaded with whispers of sedition; and a surprise, as the Commander seems to be poking around her room. She would like to believe the story she is telling, but will continue to speak it regardless of whether she does or not.

The index to the Handmaid’s Tale reread can be found here! Remember that because this is a reread, there will be spoilers for the rest of the book, as well as speculation about the TV series.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading The Handmaid’s Tale

She Said, She Said: Supergirl, “Luthors”

I remember watching the Smallville pilot in high school and thinking what a “great twist” it was for the creators to make Clark Kent and Lex Luthor friends—what delicious opportunity for them to grow close before their destinies would necessarily put them on opposite sides. But there’s something very different to how Supergirl treads that ground with Kara Danvers and Lena Luthor. For one, knowing next to nothing about Lena’s history in comic book canon, their interactions are lacking in any dramatic irony for me. But what really makes it different is that they’re both young women: It’s not that they’re water and oil, as Clark and Lex were, but instead that their friendship contains a measure of solidarity.

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What’s the Value of Romance in Sci-Fi & Fantasy?

I still experience a visceral shiver when I remember the passage from Tamora Pierce’s In the Hand of the Goddess, in which Alanna of Trebond, dressing up as a “proper” lady on her birthday, runs into Prince Jonathan in the palace gardens. Seeing her not as his squire Alan but as a woman in feminine trappings, he plays with the laces on her bodice, and Alanna is overtaken with a heady need, a self-described giddiness that’s almost as strong (almost) as her desire to continue living as a man in order to earn her knighthood. I read that book twenty years ago, when I was nearly a decade younger than Alanna, yet this moment remains as fresh as when I first came across it. The same goes for the moment when George Cooper, King of Thieves, catches “Alan” with her hands full and steals a kiss, trading it for the promise of accepting her however she wants him. Or when both men profess their love for her and offer her very different futures—one of which would supplement her life as a lady knight, the other which would eclipse it—and her response is to flee to the desert to clear her head.

The Song of the Lioness’ main draw is easily the girl-disguises-herself-as-boy-to-train-as-a-knight plot. Yet as a gawky preteen with glasses, braces, and frizzy hair, there was no way I would summon any of Alanna’s chutzpah—but her romantic entanglements? Those grounded both the fantastical setting and Alanna herself, making her a relatable heroine.

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8 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Books Sexier Than Fifty Shades

Please enjoy this encore post celebrating all things kinky SFF, originally published February 2015.

Fifty Shades of Grey opens this weekend, with many audiences worried that the movie will repeat the mistakes of the book in depicting an unrealistic, unhealthy BDSM relationship. But it doesn’t have to be this way—after all, sci-fi and fantasy authors have written believable power exchanges and sexual agency into their books and comics for decades. Instead of headdesking over Christian and Ana once again, pick up these books by Samuel R. Delany, Octavia E. Butler, Matt Fraction, and more.

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Marvel’s Runaways Casts The Pride

Last week, Marvel Studios announced the cast for its television adaptation of Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphonse’s Runaways: the six teenagers who discover that their parents are supervillains and who harness their parents’ technology to become superheroes. But you can’t have the Runaways without The Pride! Marvel shared five of the six couples (including a familiar face from Buffy and Angel) who harness time travel, alien technology, and magic to secure their children a place in paradise—and who have no problem hunting down their progeny (with the help of a mole) once they turn against them.

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