Tor.com content by

Theresa DeLucci

Fiction and Excerpts [1]
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Fiction and Excerpts [1]

Welcome Back to the Black Lodge: Twin Peaks: The Return

Um. So… that all happened.

Where to begin unpacking the long-awaited (almost 27 years!) return of one of television’s biggest shows? There were ominous trees, corpses, familiar faces, mentions of pie, chevron floors, white horses, blonde chanteuses, and a lot of head-scratching. And screaming.

Twin Peaks has certainly returned. Was it worth the hype?

[“Is it future or is it past?…”]

Isn’t He Too Dreamy? An Ode to Twin Peaks’ Dale Cooper

Before Rust Cohle chain-smoked his way through True Detective, before Will Graham rescued his first stray on Hannibal, and before Fox Mulder made us all believe, there was one sleuth whose preternatural ability to solve a murder tinged with otherwordly implications captivated audiences around the world.

FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper was the investigator tasked with solving one of television’s most notorious crimes: the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer on Twin Peaks. Portrayed by a dashing young Kyle MacLachlan, who was by 1990 a David Lynch regular, having starred in the director’s Dune box office disaster and the proto-Twin Peaks noir hit Blue Velvet, Cooper was the perfect detective of his time.

Will the upcoming return to Twin Peaks give us a Cooper fit for our current darkest timeline? Well, that’s not Dale Cooper at all. But is it the Dale Cooper we deserve in 2017? A face of law enforcement we can no longer trust? A white knight who has been corrupted? A seeker of truth subsumed by a monstrous lie? I hate to feel so cynically, but absent any inkling of Twin Peaks‘ upcoming story, all I can do is examine Agent Cooper’s FBI dossier and speculate over a mug of coffee black as midnight on a moonless night.

[“I have no idea where this will lead us, but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange.”]

Alien 3: A Haunting Failure

You don’t hate Alien 3 as much as you think you do.

A terrible sequel, the third installment of the ’Alien’ saga created by Ridley Scott isn’t actually a terrible movie on its own. In fact, if you haven’t seen director David Fincher’s 2003 “Assembly Cut” for the DVD/Blu-Ray box set, you haven’t even really seen Alien 3. It’s a dark and nihilistic arthouse SF film with a complex, challenging female lead. No wonder it flopped as a summer blockbuster in 1992.

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It’s the End of The World As We Know It: Why You Should Be Watching HBO’s The Leftovers

The Leftovers has returned for its third and final season, and it’s some of the best television that you’re not watching.

Like The Wire and Deadwood before it, audiences weren’t quite willing to give this drama a chance, but I’m sure grateful that HBO did. But maybe The Leftovers will grow into its deserved audience when all is said and done, too. Because this final season? It’s a heart-rending, hilarious, fast-paced, mysterious, and gorgeous victory lap. I’ve seen seven of the last eight hours and I’m hoping the apocalypse won’t really come before I get to see the series finale.

The Leftovers is so good, I’m not even mad at Damon Lindelof over Lost anymore.

[“If we can’t have a sense of humor about you being the Messiah, we’re going to have a problem….”]

David Hartwell’s Last Gift to Me: Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun

I am no Severian.

Unlike the protagonist of Gene Wolfe’s seminal Book of the New Sun series, I’m not cursed with a perfect memory. But there are some moments that are too special to lose. Among those, for me, is the story of how I acquired a very special copy of The Shadow of the Torturer.

It was during the mass autographing session at the 2015 World Fantasy Con. Gene Wolfe was a guest of honor and I had stupidly forgotten my yellowed paperback of the Shadow & Claw omnibus at home. I was further distraught to learn that the dealer’s room was closed, so I couldn’t even buy another copy. I was somewhere between panic and heartbreak because Gene Wolfe just doesn’t come to conventions very often anymore and who knows if I’d ever meet him again.

[“This is the line of division…”]

Game of Thrones Live is Epic Theater for Epic TV

The hiatus is long and full of boredom as we wait for the seventh season of Game of Thrones.

Luckily, HBO, Live Nation, and Team Benioff & Weiss have given fans what is possibly the most creative, elaborate “Previously on” montage ever to help us make it to summer. With their support, show composer Ramin Djawadi has launched a 24-city North American tour featuring music from Thrones presented live with all the bells and whistles (and wildfire) a die-hard fan could want.

I was fortunate enough to attend New York City’s concert and see, for my first time ever, an arena show that really felt worthy of such a large space.

[Are you not entertained?]

Darkly Dreaming: 5 Essential Reads from Caitlín R. Kiernan

With Caitlín R. Kiernan’s new novella, Agents of Dreamland, available February 28, it seems like the perfect time to look back on the long career of one of dark fantasy’s most acclaimed authors.

To date myself and the author, Kiernan’s distinctive, razor-sharp prose has been thrilling me since about 1995, when I would obsessively refresh the GeoCities site she shared with fellow horror “Furies” Poppy Z. Brite and Christa Faust. I bought her first chapbook, Candles for Elizabeth, in my local Hot Topic. It’s probably the only thing from a ’90s-era Hot Topic that doesn’t embarrass me now.

Born in Dublin, Kiernan spent most of her childhood in Alabama before authoring ten novels, numerous graphic novels, and over two hundred short stories, flash pieces, and novellas. Her work combines a heavy dose of Southern gothic tradition with Lovecraftian otherworldliness and an appreciation for the scientific and the erotic in equal measure.

These five choices were very difficult to narrow down—particularly when there are so many short story collections to choose from—and are presented in order by publication date.

[Trilobites, imps, and monster-slayers…]

Westworld Season 1, Episode 10: “The Bicameral Mind”

I’m tempted to just post a picture of Bender and “KILL ALL HUMANS” here.

But in the spirit of good discussion, I say “KILL ALL HUMANS” because they are all terrible. Except for Felix, who is, ironically enough, a terrible human, but when that’s said by an android, it’s the highest of compliments.

Exit music and major spoilers for an entertaining first season.

[“The maze isn’t meant for you…”]

Westworld Season 1, Episode 9: “The Well-Tempered Clavier”

Does it sound like bragging to say “I knew it!” when another well-publicized internet theory is proven correct on Westworld? I think we’re all viewing the show quite a few clicks ahead of the characters.

But other characters are made interesting by the tantalizing little we know about them. Does it make sense that we don’t even know the Man in Black’s name by now? Observant viewers guessed it about three episodes ago.

But I can’t blame showrunners for doubting the ability of their audiences to piece facts together or to do a little extra digging to get their info. Certainly not in this new “post-truth” world, anyway. But for the core audience that does go the extra, immersive mile, getting to say “I told you so,” seems a bit unfulfilling. Give me characters over conspiracies.

[“Never place your trust in us. We’re only human.”]

Westworld Season 1, Episode 8 “Trace Decay”

“The blogger stays up far too late trying to parse what happened on tonight’s episode of Westworld,” says Maeve as she strolls through Sweetwater writing her own stories.

Ah, if only we could all write our own narratives so easily. Or is that something creepy only Ford would desire? I’m not quite decided, but I do know that Anthony Hopkins is wonderful at playing so many different flavors of villainy.

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I’ll See You in 25 Years: The Secret History of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost

Okay, so Laura Palmer’s prophecy to FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper was a year or two off, but we are definitely returning to the town of Twin Peaks and all of the Lynchian weirdness that surrounds it. Showtime’s Twin Peaks revival is set to air in Spring 2017 and co-creator Mark Frost’s gorgeous new novel is just the thing to get fans of the show—both OG and Netflix-generation—putting their heads together and theorizing about the fates of their favorite characters.

Frost’s book is almost everything a hardcore Peaks fan could want. Compiled as a “found” dossier with notes-within-margin-notes, new photographs, autopsy reports, book excerpts, newspaper clippings, and even a menu for the Double R diner, I really can’t state enough how physically lovely this book is (and appreciate what a nightmare it must have been for the production department to get in on deadline.)

The only thing it doesn’t—and can’t—contain is pretty much any new information that might be covered in the forthcoming TV show. Showtime’s filled with more secrets than a murdered high school girl. So instead of looking forward, we must look back. And we must look… up? Because The Secret History of Twin Peaks has an actual X-file at its center.

[“How’s Annie? How’s Annie?” We still don’t know!]

Westworld Season 1, Episode 6 “The Adversary”

Lines are definitely drawn in the sand tonight as enemies from within and outside of the park make their presence—if not their full intentions—known. I’m fully aboard the Westworld train now, through hostile Indian country, Confederado battlegrounds, and straight on ’til my final destination: conspiracy message boards on Reddit.

My black cowboy hat is lined with tinfoil.

I’d like to wrap some characters up in tinfoil, too, for their own protection. Delos doesn’t seem like the best fit for employees that are naive. But, like many a workplace, the dumb ones sure seem to emerge unscathed from a literal corporate pissing contest.

[Fake plastic trees and fake plastic cowboys…]

Westworld Season 1, Episode 5: “Contrapasso”

Have you heard the one about the Man in Black and a robot walking into a bar?

The big punchline is that it doesn’t end with someone getting murdered. The same can’t be said for a lot of other hosts on Westworld tonight. Rebels and soldiers, thieves, Maeve again. But no one stays dead for long. Sometimes they come back, in surprising new ways.

But nothing was quite as satisfying as watching Logan get punched in the face. Finally.

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We Tried The New Tim Burton-Themed Bar in NYC

Three brave souls from the Tor Books/Tor.com offices stumbled into the cool autumn air. Their destination? Beetle House, a Tim Burton themed bar and restaurant in Manhattan, stuffed between a few swanky cocktail bars in the East Village. They had a mission—to see if this bar could live up to their haunting, semi-wistful, melancholy dreams.

This is Halloween, folks. Let’s see how the night unfolds….

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