The Hell of It February 25, 2015 The Hell of It Peter Orullian What will he wager? Schrödinger’s Gun February 18, 2015 Schrödinger’s Gun Ray Wood Maybe in some other timeline it would have gone smooth. Acrobatic Duality February 11, 2015 Acrobatic Duality Tamara Vardomskaya The two of her are perfectly synchronized. The Language of Knives February 4, 2015 The Language of Knives Haralambi Markov They share the rites of death, and grief.
From The Blog
March 2, 2015
A Ranking of 1980s Fantasy That Would Please Crom Himself!
Leah Schnelbach
February 27, 2015
Goodbye, Mr. Nimoy — What Spock Meant to One Geeky 12-Year-Old Girl
Emily Asher-Perrin
February 26, 2015
Introducing the Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch
Keith DeCandido
February 23, 2015
Oh No, She Didn’t: The Strong Female Character, Deconstructed
Ilana C. Myer
February 20, 2015
Evil Eighties: The Paperback Horrors of Lisa Tuttle
Grady Hendrix
Showing posts by: chris lough click to see chris lough's profile
Feb 25 2015 3:00pm

I Know My Value. Agent Carter: “Valediction”

Agent Carter: Valediction

I’m having a hard time remembering the first 30 minutes or so of the Agent Carter finale “Valediction.” The really gripping stuff, the takedown of Faustus and Dottie and the showdown between Peggy and Captain America’s emotional shadow doesn’t happen until near the end, and until that happens the show isn’t so much about Agent Carter as it is about Agent Carter’s Friend Howard.

How did we get here? Let us re-select the episode on Hulu and part the veil of time.

[Read more]

Feb 18 2015 3:00pm

Everyone Believes in Peggy Carter: Agent Carter, “Snafu”

Agent Carter: Snafu

“Snafu” has two big jobs this week: Get Peggy Carter out of that interrogation room in one piece, and set up whatever needs to be set up for next week’s rollicking finale. But first, we must stand witness to the powers of Dr. Ivchenko, War Hypnotist. You see, during World War II he realized his constant repetition of the word “focus” allowed him to do amazing things, like turning the sawing-off of a man’s leg into a pleasant chess game. How this led to a desire to topple Western society, we don’t know. (Maybe he wants to saw off the leg…of capitalism?) But hey, Agent Carter filmed the scene, so it has to go somewhere.

Anyway, on to the more cognizant bits of the episode.

[Read more]

Feb 18 2015 12:00pm

A Humble Six-Season Outline For a Legend of Zelda Netflix Series

The Legend of Zelda TV show

I am so into the news of a possible live-action Legend of Zelda series produced by Netflix. I don’t care that dramatized video games are historically a mess or that the Variety article hints that Netflix is really just looking to twist it into something Game of Thrones-y. I reject these precedents and approaches (especially since a Game of Thrones-style Zelda brings to mind the words “Tingle” and “incest”) and assert the following six-season structure for a Zelda TV show. Let’s do this.

[Read more. Or don’t. Who cares. It’s not like this is real.]

Feb 11 2015 3:00pm

I Believe in Peggy Carter. Agent Carter: “A Sin to Err”

Agent Carter: A Sin to Err

No time for introspection, you guys. Peggy’s on the run in “A Sin to Err”! And Jarvis is on the case. And Leviathan is pulling the stakes out of the SSR’s tent. Agent Carter continues to be more fun than a depiction of a woman who is disrespected by her co-workers and whose boyfriend is buried under ice ought to be.

[Read more]

Feb 4 2015 3:00pm

The Danger in Underestimating the Women Around You. Agent Carter: “The Iron Ceiling”

Agent Carter: The Iron Ceiling

I appreciate a TV show that goes to great lengths to explain why we’re about to see little girls stabbing people.

This week, Agent Carter starts by moonlighting as The Dottie Show, opening in the 1930s at the Russian School For Girls Who Are Killing You and showing the indoctrinational and educational process for the vacant-souled assassins that we know as Dottie and, eventually, Black Widow. It’s the absolute creepiest sequence, one that is unflinchingly committed to the brutality that it’s depicting. It’s so strong, in fact, that I think it overwhelms this week’s main story: Peggy reuniting with the Howling Commandos and kicking ass.

Although in the end, both stories ask the same question of its characters: How much danger are you putting yourself in by underestimating the women around you?

[Read more]

Jan 28 2015 3:00pm

Why is Howard Stark’s Moustache So Sad? Agent Carter: “The Blitzkrieg Button”

Agent Carter: The Blitzkrieg Button

You know those pictures of TV writing rooms where there are index cards on a huge corkboard, each card representing an important moment (or scene) in the overall season? Last night’s episode of Agent Carter, “The Blitzkrieg Button” felt like all the cards that were left over after the series had been planned out. You got your Peggy Remembers Howard is a Jerk card, you got your SSR Reacts to Krzeminski’s Death card, you got your Dottie Blows Her Cover card.

Piled together, this doesn’t quite make a story, so Agent Carter also throws the Stan Lee Cameo card at us and one of the writers sneaks in a Captain America is Jesus Maybe card in hopes that we won’t notice. Something’s gotta fill that episode 4 slot!

[Read more]

Jan 14 2015 3:00pm

Earn Loyalty and Live. Agent Carter: “Time and Tide”

Agent Carter: Time and Tide

Peggy Carter’s fellow agent Krzeminski is a loser. His outward slovenliness hides no buried treasure of wit or deductive acumen. You get the impression that Krzeminski was good once, perhaps before the war, because how else do you find yourself on the SSR? But not now. Now he’s a joke to his co-workers and a talentless grunt in the eyes of his boss. Even Peggy, the agreed-upon office outcast, just ignores him.

Peggy Carter’s fellow sleuth Jarvis is a winner. His impeccable visage supports a sharp tongue and a noble heart. His capability is so honed and selfless that it saves lives, his wife’s paramount among them. When the SSR interrogates him in “Time and Tide” they don’t lay a finger on him, and he eventually declares their questioning over and strides confidently out of the room. Peggy, our agreed-upon protagonist, comes to find the same heroism in Jarvis that she saw in Captain America.

So why is it Krzeminski that I’m thinking about after the end of the latest episode of Agent Carter?

[Read more]

Jan 7 2015 5:00pm

Can We Talk About How Great Agent Carter Was?

Marvel's Agent Carter

One of the many reasons that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is so beloved is that its movies tend to provide heart-warming secondary characters in addition to its marquee heroes—characters that the movies aren’t quite about—resulting in a desire from the viewer to learn more about them, which adds appeal to the next marquee movie which they feature in.

Agent Coulson was the first and most powerful instance of this in the MCU, and we saw Joss Whedon utilize the audience’s fondness for him with devastating effect in Avengers. Rhodey was another, Rocket was even more so, and Falcon was as well, but aside from them and Coulson, the character MCU fans have probably wanted to learn the fate of with the greatest urgency was Agent Peggy Carter, left behind after the first Captain America film.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier eventually filled us in on her fate (again with devastating effect) but now we get to see the decades that became between those Captain America movies, the decades that consist of Peggy’s entire life. And it makes her eventual fate all the more painful, because if the first two episodes of Agent Carter are any indication, learning about Peggy’s post-Cap life is an experience of sheer delight.

[“I remember when I used to strap a chair to my ass and take a walk around the neighborhood.”]

Dec 25 2014 10:20pm

This is the Story of Your Life. Doctor Who: “Last Christmas”

Doctor Who: Last Christmas

Santa Claus becomes a character of surprising dramatic potential when you place him under the Doctor’s perspective. No longer is he a face beaming ruddily out at you from the insincere aisles of a department store. On Doctor Who he becomes a seat of judgment, qualified to tally the sins of a being that few in the universe could conceptualize, let alone consider objectively. He knows who’s been naughty and nice, so where does the Doctor stand in that estimation? (Which Doctor are we talking about? When?) Beyond the ability to truly put our Time Lord on trial, Santa Claus also represents an equal to the Doctor. Both are creatures of myth who defy the laws of their universe with regularity and as such they are both uniquely able to discuss the burdens of their loftiness with each other.

Doctor Who’s 2014 Christmas episode “Last Christmas” does not grapple with these facets of the Doctor directly. How could it? We are only human, as is Clara, and we can only imagine what it is like to be someone who can shift the very winds of fate itself. We can only create boundary-defying television shows like Doctor Who and depict the Doctor and Santa Claus as we think they would act and the only tool we have to shape this televised reality is our belief. These stories are only as real as we want them to be.

[Read more]

Dec 10 2014 3:00pm

A Bicycle Built For You, But Not You. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “What They Become”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: What They Become

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season two has been a high-energy experience, progressing from jaw-dropper to jaw-dropper, deepening its characters, and having fun with the complexity that the Marvel Cinematic Universe naturally generates. Where we are by its mid-season finale, “What They Become,” feels far more mature than where we were in the season premiere “Shadows,” and that’s quite a trick to pull off in only ten episodes.

It’s thanks to the consistent quality of these episodes that “What They Become” can be forgiven for being so. very. boring. The mid-season finale certainly had some exciting moments and developments, but they were a puzzling exception to an episode that, despite a lot of fighting and interpersonal drama, came off flat.

[Read more]

Dec 8 2014 10:00am

How Fast is the Millennium Falcon? A Thought Experiment.

how fast Millennium Falcon

So how fast is the Millennium Falcon’s hyperdrive, anyway?

We know—unlike Obi-Wan Kenobi, seriously wizard don’t you read SmugglerFeed?—that this is the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. But we also know that a parsec is a measure of distance, and since Han doesn’t specify how long it took the Falcon to make this sub-12 parsec shortcut, we don’t actually get an idea as to how fast the ship can go.

Oh, but she’ll do “.5 past light speed” which...doesn’t tell us much either. Obviously ships in the Star Wars galaxy can go faster than light speed otherwise there’d be no movie, but how fast is .5 on their hyperdrive scales in terms of light years traversed per day?

[Read more]

Dec 3 2014 3:00pm

Feelings and How to Destroy Them. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “...Ye Who Enter Here”

Agents of SHIELD: Ye Who Enter Here

After the high energy conclusion of the previous episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen in “...Ye Who Enter Here.” I mean, I did wait, because Thanksgiving, but that just heightened my anticipation for the events to come.

Which means that I’m expecting great things from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. once more. “Abandon all hope ye who enter here” would have been an eye-rollingly appropriate commentary on the quality of this show earlier this year, but not anymore. Now I can’t wait to see how Coulson and his Scrappies affect the Marvel universe. The promise that a Marvel television spin-off starring Phil Coulson once represented has been restored.

[Read more]

Nov 26 2014 10:00am

7 Things I Want to See Happen in Jurassic World

Jurassic World Chris Pratt

I was going to give Jurassic World a pass. I really was. But, you know, it’s one thing to imagine being able to deny the glory of a dinosaur and another to actually watch dinosaurs galloping across fields in that trailer. Suddenly I’m screaming “I want that!” and apologizing to all of my co-workers. (Again.) Dinosaurs are just cool and I can’t explain why and now suddenly here they are again. I want to go to Jurassic World, the park. I want to watch the big snappysaurus eat a shark while I marnch on a $14 raptor-shaped rice krispie treat. (IRONY.) I want to have an apatosaurus look at me dismissively for a moment before going back to slurping in the river. I want to yell “You shouldn’t be!” at a stegosaurus.

I’ll get what I want, probably. Judging from the trailer, Jurassic World the movie looks pretty capable of showing me the small and large wonders of Jurassic World, the park. But here’s what I want to see in Jurassic World, the movie. (Or as we laymen like to call it, Jurassic World: The Park: The Movie.)

[Read more]

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,’t you just want him to die?

[Read more]

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]

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]

Nov 10 2014 10:00am

To Explore is to Take Care of Us All: 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]

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...”]

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]

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”]