Where the Trains Turn November 19, 2014 Where the Trains Turn Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen His imagination runs wild. The Walk November 12, 2014 The Walk Dennis Etchison Creative differences can be brutal. Where the Lost Things Are November 5, 2014 Where the Lost Things Are Rudy Rucker and Terry Bisson Everything has to wind up somewhere. A Kiss with Teeth October 29, 2014 A Kiss with Teeth Max Gladstone Happy Halloween.
From The Blog
November 18, 2014
The Hollow Crown: Shakespeare’s Histories in the Age of Netflix
Ada Palmer
November 17, 2014
In Defense of Indiana Jones, Archaeologist
Max Gladstone
November 14, 2014
An Uncut and Non-Remastered List of Star Wars Editions!
Leah Schnelbach
November 13, 2014
Why Do We Reject Love as a Powerful Force in Interstellar?
Natalie Zutter
November 11, 2014
The Well-Lit Knight Rises: How 1960s Batman Shaped Our Bat-Thoughts Forever
Ryan Britt
Showing posts by: chris lough click to see chris lough's profile
Wed
Nov 19 2014 3:00pm

We Could Be Happy Underground. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “The Things We Bury”

Agents of SHIELD The Things We Bury

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. really pulled one over on me in this week’s episode “The Things We Bury.” With all the back and forth drama between Coulson’s mental state, Talbot and his haircut, Skye’s SkyeDad, the alien writing, the Divinery Obelisk, Hydra, Fitz’s recovery, Ward vs Ward, Mockingbird and Hance Lunter... I didn’t focus so much on Daniel Whitehall.

It’s not like the show has been hiding how weird Whitehall is, even. He was there in the season’s very first episode, hassling Our Agent Carter and being perpetually ageless, and he’s been masterminding Hydra’s efforts since then. Obviously something is up with him, it’s just that he’s so quiet in comparison to everyone else.

Now, though...now...don’t you just want him to die?

[Read more]

Wed
Nov 12 2014 2:55pm

Cool Train Set. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “The Writing on the Wall”

Agents of SHIELD: The Writing on the Wall

I feel like we’re becoming better friends every week, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and I, and I’m going to be sad when Agent Carter steps in and I don’t get to witness the beefy rasslin’ and SkyeShoving that a new episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. promises.

“The Writing on the Wall,” while winning no points on originality of title, wins ALL the points for being a captivating episode of this show that wraps up the ongoing “alien writing” subplot. This season, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has become unafraid to pull the trigger on the many what-ifs floating around our characters, and it’s made them all the more exciting to watch. What if Simmons gets found out by Hydra? What if Ward escapes? What if Skye meets her SkyeDad? And what if...the alien writing finally drives Coulson crazy?

[Let’s get into it]

Wed
Nov 12 2014 10:00am

I Want Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens to Get Rid of the Force

Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens

Star Wars Episode VII has a title—The Force Awakens—now and it feels so weird to be reading about and speculating on a new Star Wars movie. Even as titles and plot details and set pictures leak out, it still doesn’t feel like it’s really happening.

[And until now that has prevented me from daring to speculate on its story]

Mon
Nov 10 2014 10:00am

To Explore is to Take Care of Us All: Interstellar

Interstellar

Once Interstellar came to an end and the lot of us walked back out into the light of the world, I wondered: what was the rest of the audience thinking at that moment? My own head was ringing with mono-syllabic exclamations stretching to infinity. I was happy. I was bursting. I was still there in the world of the film.

But I am an easy catch for this film. I adore astronomy and identify heavily with those who seek to bridge the chasm of awareness between the forces of the heavens and our day to day lives. Interstellar is a reinforcement of those desires, a widening of the bridge, but I would argue that I am in the minority in that regard. For most of the audience, Interstellar will be the first inkling they have that understanding space and overcoming the obstacles of travel within it is vital to our well-being here on Earth.

Was this the case? What were they thinking right now?

[Read more]

Sun
Nov 9 2014 8:00am

Carl Sagan Lived His Life Believing Science Belonged to All of Us

Carl SaganIt’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.

[“...he believed that science belonged to all of us...”]

Sat
Nov 8 2014 10:00pm

In the End, No One Gets What They Want. Doctor Who: “Death in Heaven”

Doctor Who: Death in Heaven

Since its rebirth, Doctor Who has made regular use of the bittersweet finale, always mindful to stab you in the front just as its patting you on the back. Huge, as in sizably huge, threats tend to demand great emotional sacrifice in kind. We can’t save the world without losing Rose, the Master, the Ponds, or even a Doctor or two.

The Eleventh Doctor’s reign flipped that formula, reveling in victory, saving everyone with a speech and a smirk, and demonstrating that getting backed into a corner just made the Doctor all that more clever. This was a man who, before he departed, even figured out a way to undo his greatest sacrifice.

With the first season of the Twelfth Doctor now concluded, we can say with certainty that sacrifice is once again a companion on his journey. But there is no joy in “Death in Heaven”s return to the bittersweet. Because there’s nothing sweet for us to take away.

[Read more]

Wed
Oct 29 2014 2:00pm

We Have to Save Belgium! Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “A Fractured House”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: A Fractured House

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is really on a roll this season and “A Fractured House” continues this in fine form, widening the scope of the conflict against Hydra in a way that feels realistic and yet epic. Both organizations take a bold step out of the shadows in this episode, re-entering the world stage and taking their war public. S.H.I.E.L.D. pulls a victory out of this, but it’s not much of one. Hydra has become too effective a villain to be truly defeated.

[Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “A Fractured House”]

Wed
Oct 29 2014 10:15am

19 Strange Things Hiding in The World of Ice and Fire

The World of Ice and FireThe World of Ice and Fire history compendium is out this week and true to the nature of the fantasy series that birthed it, it is a massive and massively detailed read. Tie-in books can often be cynical cash-ins: repeating information that is readily available, or asserting non-canonical facts within a shared universe, or charging a ridiculous amount of money for a shoddily written and shoddily illustrated product. But AWOIAF avoids all of these aspects of tie-in books, containing a novel’s worth of material from series author George R. R. Martin, supplemented and fact-checked by Westeros.org heads Elio Garcia, Jr. and Linda Antonsson.

While there is some repetition, most of the material is brand new, offering new details for known peoples and lands and including tons of material about the lands at the edge of the map (and then some).

It’s also a gorgeous piece of work and you can see why the author and publisher needed extra time to work on it. Nearly every page is illustrated, from simple pencil and ink portraits in the margins to enormous painted spreads. There are a variety of styles on display, but they’re all consistently high quality and give you a very real sense of what it was like to inhabit this strange, strange world.

And it is strange. Hiding in this heavy tome are some interesting details about the world and characters of A Song of Ice and Fire, including what may be a look at the future of the series.

[Read more]

Sun
Oct 26 2014 12:33pm

The Power of Trees Compels You! Doctor Who: “In the Forest of the Night”

Doctor Who: In The Forest of the Night

Once upon a time there was an episode of Doctor Who written by a prolific and praised author of children’s books. This episode took its title from a famous poem by William Blake and was the Tyger the solar flare and the Lamb the ignorance of humanity in attempting to defoliate the trees? Or was the Tyger the actual tiger we saw briefly? Or perhaps it was Clara’s selfishly exploratory nature and how it decided that children are boring and watching a solar flare from a TARDIS is better (because it is)?

Hush, child, the episode said. You are thinking about this too hard. This is a fairy tale, laid over you as a blanket and woven of the dreams that come to you in between the borders of fantasy and reality. You may idolize this Doctor for attempting the same ferocity of thought as you, but even his immortal hand or eye cannot frame this fearful symmetry.

[Read more]

Wed
Oct 22 2014 2:00pm

Who’s Your Daddy? Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “A Hen in the Wolf House”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 2, episode 5: Hen in the Wolf House

Yeah! Now this is how you do an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.! Whip those plotlines around like a meth-addled Simon Belmont, tangle them up, introduce a Marvel superhero, and convey the emotional conflict from last week more potently in two brief scenes than you did in the entirety of last week’s ignorable episode. “A Hen in the Wolf House” was a lean, energetic installment that moved a ton of plotlines forward while giving almost everyone a moment to shine. And it didn’t even have to include the vampire cow!

[But obviously I’m glad it did.]

Thu
Oct 16 2014 1:19pm

Palpatine’s Newly Revealed First Name is More Appropriate Than You Think

Palpatine first name

Star Wars: Tarkin, the next novel in the news series of canonical Star Wars universe novels coming from Del Rey, has a casual surprise for its readers: the revelation of Emperor Palpatine’s first name.

It’s a reveal that makes you pause for a second. Don’t we already know his first name? Surely that got slipped in somewhere, in a deleted scene or an EU novel or on the back of some toy packaging. Is this really the first we’re hearing of it, more than 30 years after the character showed up?

Apparently so, according to Wookieepedia. Ladies and gentlemen and Jedi and death stick enthusiasts, say hello to Sheev Palpatine. He’ll be oppressing you for the next few decades.

[Read more]

Wed
Oct 15 2014 2:05pm

You’re Hitting Yourself. Stop Hitting Yourself! Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Face My Enemy”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2, episode 4: Face My Enemy

Welcome back to another week of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. This particular episode, “Face My Enemy,” was screened at New York Comic Con this past weekend, with a quick walk-on hello from Coulson himself, and the excitement afterwards was ELECTRIFYING! No, wait, the other thing, tepid.

I already thought it was kind of weird that they didn’t screen the forthcoming Mockingbird episode, since that was the most exciting takeaway from their SDCC panel, and after showing us a clunker like “Face My Enemy” I was even more confused. Having Agent May beat up Agent May is a really fun idea (just like it was on Alias), but they kind of forgot to write an episode around it. Why shine a spotlight on that?

[Read more]

Tue
Oct 14 2014 11:17am

Robert Downey, Jr. Reportedly Co-Starring in Captain America 3, Marvel Phase 3 to be “Civil War”?

Robert Downey Jr Captain America 3 Marvel Civil War

Variety has reportedly scooped the plot of Captain America 3 and the blueprint for Marvel’s Phase 3 slate of movies, post-Avengers: Age of Ultron. The outlet reports that Robert Downey, Jr. has been in ongoing negotiations with Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios to star as Iron Man in Captain America 3.

No other outlets have yet independently confirmed the news, and Marvel itself has not commented on the rumor. If Variety’s report is true, this could have big ramifications on the future of Marvel movies. Spoilers and speculation ahead, folks.

What is Civil War? How does it play into the current movies and Marvel’s other plans? Let’s break this down into an FAQ.

[Read more]

Mon
Oct 13 2014 2:45pm

What Would You Like to Believe About Yourself? Doctor Who: “Mummy on the Orient Express”

Doctor Who season 8, episode 8: Mummy on the Orient Express

How do we talk about this episode, this Downton Abbey mixed with Agathie Christie mixed with steampunk mixed with monster movies that is somehow a quintessential Doctor Who episode, that is so specific to this Doctor and this companion and yet somehow a perfect overall statement on a character and show that spans more than 50 years and certainly more than 50 main characters?

“Mummy on the Orient Express” didn’t have to do to much to be an enjoyable outing in comparison to other Who adventures. (Really, with that title, it just had to be more than a warmed-over “Unicorn and the Wasp.”) It didn’t have to be the emotional, atmospheric, mystery thriller that we got, didn’t have to be an episode where we found ourselves hanging on to every word and every clue. Where by the end we felt as exhausted as Clara does on the beach, thankful for the sun in our face.

[Read more. Spoilers for the episode ahead.]

Fri
Oct 10 2014 1:12pm

We Came This Close to a Doctor Who Musical

Arthur Darvill New York Comic Con Doctor Who Musical

If you have an opportunity to stick around for an Arthur Darvill spotlight anywhere, do so. What was billed as a Q&A turned immediately into a one-hour impromptu stand-up session by the ceaselessly funny Darvill, formerly known in my heart as Rory Pond from Doctor Who and now just known as Arthur F’in’ Darvill.

While the audience and I shared this dream of humanity, Darvill let slip that the camaraderie between him, Karen Gillan, and Matt Smith almost resulted in a Doctor Who musical, jokingly but not jokingly titled It’s Bigger On The Inside.

[Then he sang some of it for us.]

Thu
Oct 9 2014 4:20pm

“If Everyone Had a Little More Hodor in Them it Would be a Nicer World.” Hodor & Podrick NYCC Highlights

Hodor Kristian Nairn Podrick Daniel Portman New York Comic Con 2014

Hodor and Podrick wouldn’t be a bad idea for a Game of Thrones TV spin-off sitcom, at least if Kristian Nairn and Daniel Portman’s joyous presence at this year’s New York Comic Con is any indication. The two actors held court with Wikia Director of Programming Eric Moro, Game of Thrones Wikia founder and series expert Adam Whitehead, and Wikia Marvel and DC Database founder Jamie at the Game of Thrones fan forum panel.

Read some highlights from their banter at the panel, including which Marvel heroes they would be, and how what this world needs now is Hodor, sweet Hodor.

[Read more]

Wed
Oct 8 2014 2:00pm

Who’s That Girl? Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Making Friends and Influencing People”

Agents of SHIELD season 2 episode 3: Making Friends and Influencing People

“Making Friends and Influencing People” is my favorite episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season two so far. Last season’s run-out from the events of The Winter Soldier saw the show dedicated to fleshing out its heroes and setting them at cross-purposes in order to make them stand out better. (Always a challenge when your ensemble dresses in black and spends the majority of their time in shadowy nondescript settings.) It also used a big flashy threat to focus them into action.

That focus and flash is gone but the enemy isn’t and the show seems to be putting a great deal of thought into how to grow this season's threat in the same manner it grew the main characters last season. In essence, how do you keep Hydra interesting when you’ve already seen them do nutty things on TV and in the movies?

[Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Making Friends and Influencing People”]

Wed
Oct 1 2014 2:00pm

No Sleep Till Ever. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Heavy is the Head”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2, episode 2: Heavy is the Head

“Heavy is the Head” is essentially the part 2 to the season’s premiere episode “Shadows” and while the plot is mostly concerned with mopping up the mess from the events of the premiere, during its quieter moments it builds a flickering tension in regards to Coulson’s new role as the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Last season saw him progressing to a more open approach with his team, to where you could feasibly see him thinking of them as his teammates rather than his subordinates. Now that his vista is greatly expanded, he’s forced to think of them as subordinates once more, and that could edge Coulson out of a show that’s meant to be centered around him.

[Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Heavy is the Head”]

Mon
Sep 29 2014 3:30pm

Some Things You Can’t Get From a Man in a Blue Box. Doctor Who: “The Caretaker”

Doctor Who season 8, episode 6: The Caretaker

If Clara takes care of the Doctor, who takes care of Clara?

You notice it in the way the Doctor suddenly sees Courtney Wood as real when she proudly touts that she’s a “Disruptive Influence.” You know it in the way Clara and the Doctor now casually joke about how she’s his conscience. And once Danny Pink meets the Doctor and discovers the other half of Clara’s life, you see it in the choice he has to make. This is who Clara is, Danny, and if your life with her is to go forward then you don’t have to be a soldier, but you do have to be a caretaker.

[Doctor Who: “The Caretaker”]

Wed
Sep 24 2014 2:30pm

Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Went Well At All. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Shadows”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2 episode 1: Shadows

Is this love? Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I think this might be love. If you keep this up it will almost certainly be love and we will leave New York City and buy a house in Long Island that we hate forever.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back and telling stories about a world where men absorb asphalt for kicks and Coulson wonders what the hell to even do about that. Except this time...this time...Coulson’s got it under control. He’s had months to cobble a new S.H.I.E.L.D. together and he and SkyeBangs, the Skye with the bangs, May, and the rest are so good at their jobs they don’t even talk to Coulson they’ve just got this handled, okay?

[Oh expectations]