Useless Wings January 28, 2015 Useless Wings Cecil Castellucci Of insect dreams and breaking hearts. Damage January 21, 2015 Damage David D. Levine Concerning a spaceship's conscience. And the Burned Moths Remain January 14, 2015 And the Burned Moths Remain Benjanun Sriduangkaew Treason is a trunk of thorns. A Beautiful Accident January 7, 2015 A Beautiful Accident Peter Orullian A Sheason story.
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January 21, 2015
Don’t Touch That Dial: Midseason SFF
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Agent Carter, I Think I’m in Love
Liz Bourke
January 21, 2015
The Illogic of Fairy Tales
Genevieve Cogman
January 16, 2015
Birdman is Actually Just a Muppet Movie
Max Gladstone
January 15, 2015
What Are Your Favorite Non-Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Shows?
Stubby the Rocket
Showing posts by: mari ness click to see mari ness's profile
Mon
Jan 26 2015 12:30pm

Pirates, Poisoning and Still More Singing: Galavant Wraps Its First Season

Galavant Cast

So, it’s been a few weeks since ABC’s Galavant first marched across our screens, singing. Now that the first, short season is over, how did it do?

Well, the middle was muddled. The singing remained questionable. Many of the jokes were complete misses. But in the end, I gotta say, this show started singing its way into my heart—and not just because it finally gave me something I’ve longed to see in Downton Abbey from the very first season.

But we’ll get there.

[Pirates, monks, dungeons and tap dancing your way to a botched assassination. Mildly spoilery.]

Thu
Jan 22 2015 3:00pm

A Question of Humanity: Keeper of the Isis Light

Monica Hughes The Keeper of the Isis LightDepending upon what calendar you use, Olwen is either ten (Isis years) or sixteen (Earth years.) She thinks and remembers in Isis years, however, so let’s go with that. Despite this very young age, she actually has a fairly important, responsible job: transmitting various reports from the planet she lives on back to Earth.

She does this not because she is qualified, exactly, but because everyone else on the planet is either dead, unable to speak in words, or a not-completely trusted AI. And because, for various reasons, she can. That ability—well, strangeness, really—is what makes her The Keeper of the Isis Light.

[How much can you be changed, and still stay human? Mildly spoilery.]

Thu
Jan 15 2015 3:00pm

It’s Not Always Easy on the Moon: Earthdark

Monica Hughes EarthdarkEarthdark starts up immediately after the events of Crisis on Conshelf Ten, featuring the same first person narrator, Kepler Masterman, now edging very close to age 16. Kepler has now returned to his home on the Moon, ready to readjust back into his life and his relationship with his fiancée, Ann.

Things, however, are not that simple. The lack of gravity feels right, but everything else is frustrating and wrong. Kepler finds himself unhappy with the food, the blandness, the regulations—nearly everything, actually, constantly comparing his surroundings to better things on Earth, even after Ann sharply reminds him that in his six month stay on Earth, his intolerance of gravity meant that he didn’t see much of it.

This doesn’t help.

And even apart from culture shock, Kepler has a number of other issues to deal with: namely, spies, saboteurs, and the realization that he may not be able to trust his father.

[Also excitements with solar storms, which in the Moon environment can be deadly.]

Thu
Jan 8 2015 3:00pm

From One Problem Colony to Another: Crisis on Conshelf Ten

Crisis on Conshelf TenEnglish-Canadian author Monica Hughes is yet another author that I somehow managed to miss while growing up, despite my endless quest for more robot books. Possibly because I was reading too much Enid Blyton. It’s a pity; although Hughes could be repetitive and uneven, and wrote at least one novel that left me sputtering (not the one in this post), she also wrote some deeply thoughtful, provocative works of speculative fiction for children and young adults, works that include one of her earliest novels, Crisis on Conshelf Ten.

As with her later books, Crisis on Conshelf Ten pulls deeply from Hughes’ experience of living in multiple countries and cultures, as well as her ongoing concern with—later near obsession with—overpopulation, resource exploitation, and the environment. Fortunately, in this book, plot and character still remains paramount.

Mostly.

[Shifting between a life on the Moon and a life deep in the sea.]

Mon
Jan 5 2015 2:30pm

Silly Singing and 80s Style Medieval Training Montages: Galavant

Galavant

So, last night the ABC network tried to fill the gap left by Once Upon a Time’s winter hiatus with Galavant, a musical comedy more or less attempting to channel the best of Robin Hood: Men in Tights, The Princess Bride, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail, except on a lower budget and with generally worse singers.

How’d it go?

Let’s say, mixed.

[If you can endure until the joust scene. Mildly spoilery review below for the first two episodes.]

Thu
Jan 1 2015 2:00pm

Extending the Political Satire of Gulliver’s Travels: Mistress Masham’s Repose

Some scholars have suggested that Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels is—ahem!—nothing but a bitter satire on Human Politicks and the Despicable Ways of Human Nature. Others, such as the Learned Scholar T. H. White, perhaps best known for bringing us the True History of King Arthur and His Issues With Metal Objects Most Unaccountably Left in Stones, know better, and have Continued Researching some of the Remarkable People and Their Animals Encountered by Gulliver.

In Mistress Masham’s Repose, the Most Learned Mr. T. H. White takes the time to share his most Recent Researches with us, letting us know the eventual fate of that Most Remarkable Race, the Lilliputians.

[Look, the entire freaking book is like that.]

Wed
Dec 24 2014 10:00am

All I Want For Christmas is an Evil Snowman: Christmas Tales of Terror

Christmas Tales of Terror Christ PriestleyBy now, it’s safe to say that some of you might be harboring certain, shall we say, thoughts about the holiday season, and especially Christmas. Irritated thoughts. Cynical thoughts. Angry thoughts. Even—dare I say it—horrified thoughts.

If so, you might be in the mood for Chris Priestley’s Christmas Tales of Terror, where all kinds of terrible, nasty, awful things happen to adorable and not so adorable children on Christmas.

Also, ghosts.

[And, naturally, an evil snowman powered by BLOOD because why not? Spoilers.]

Thu
Dec 18 2014 3:00pm

When Ghosts Want You in a Small Town: Gallows Hill

Gallows Hill Lois DuncanGetting spare cash in high school can be difficult, especially if you live in a relatively small town with very few available after school jobs, and you are living with a single, unemployed mother.

So it’s probably not too surprising that Sarah Zoltanne reluctantly agrees to work with her not-particularly-well liked, probably-soon-to-be stepsister Kyra and Kyra’s boyfriend Eric in a fake fortune telling business. Only one small, small problem: as it turns out, Sarah can sometimes see the real future. And that’s terrifying for a lot of people, including Sarah, and might even lead everyone to Gallows Hill.

[Plus, for no real apparent reasons, the Salem Witches are going to get involved. Very spoilery.]

Mon
Dec 15 2014 2:00pm

Flying Hats and Marching Brooms: Once Upon a Time, “Heroes and Villains”

Once Upon a Time Heroes and Villains

Villains! Heroes! Trickery! Princesses! Pirates! Surprisingly Powerful Hats! Yep, time once again for ABC’s Once Upon a Time, as the fall season draws to a close with “Heroes and Villains.” Which has to do—SHOCKER AHEAD—with Heroes and Villains.

[This means an evil yet adorable dalmatian could be showing up. JUST SAYING.]

Thu
Dec 11 2014 3:00pm

It’s the Social Security Numbers That Get You: Locked in Time

Lois Duncan Locked in TimeNore is still trying to recover from the unexpected death of her mother when she receives still more shocking news: her father has just remarried, and is planning to spend the summer with his new wife and their two children in their old plantation home in Louisiana. He invites Nore to stay, partly because, now that the school year is out, Nore has nowhere else to go, but also because he wants Nore to get to know their new family. Nore is angry and uncertain at best—especially after she meets her new stepmother, Lisette, and gets a distinct sense of DEATH DOOM DEATH.

Which is particularly odd since, as it will soon become clear, Lisette’s major issue isn’t death, but rather that she’s Locked in Time.

[Which creates all kinds of issues with Social Security numbers.]

Mon
Dec 8 2014 2:00pm

Evil Is More Fun: Once Upon A Time, “Shattered Sight”

Once Upon a Time Shattered Sight

Curses! Giant ice walls with the potential to cause a lot of flooding issues! Sexy pirates! Beautiful princesses! Random comic book product placements! Over the top costumes! A strange fascination with Mickey Mouse’s Hat! Yes, it’s time once again for ABC’s Once Upon a Time, with “Shattered Sight.”

[Storybrooke goes evil, and it’s surprisingly fun. And full of spoilers below.]

Thu
Dec 4 2014 3:00pm

Psychic Responsiblity: The Third Eye

The Third Eye Lois DuncanKaren doesn’t want to be different, but she is. Every once in awhile, she knows things, or has visions. And when she has a vision of a lost boy trapped in the trunk of a car—a boy that she was supposed to be supervising—others start to realize it too. Which leads to a cop asking for her assistance in a missing child’s case—and publicity she really doesn’t like.

Which, I guess, is one of the major negatives with having The Third Eye.

[You might not see the spoilers hiding under the cut, but they are there.]

Mon
Dec 1 2014 5:00pm

The Importance of Protective Eyewear: Once Upon a Time, “Fall”

Once Upon a Time Fall

Beautiful princesses! Sexy pirates! True Love! Truly Unconvincing Love! Shattered mirrors! Blatant product placements! Yes, it’s time once again to gather around and snark about ABC’s Once Upon a Time, because, let’s face it, after what this show did to actual eyeballs this episode, we all need it.

[Assuming your eyes are still working after that, they will see major spoilers after the cut.]

Fri
Nov 28 2014 12:00pm

Evil Astral Twins: Stranger With My Face

One horrible day, Laurie Stratton comes down with one of those awful 24-hour bugs.  (Or is it?)  This means that she has to, gasp, cancel going to a party, which since she’s only seventeen, and still on fairly uncertain terms with her hot, popular, new boyfriend, seriously sucks.

Still, she figures that everything will be all right—until, that is, her annoying friends tell her that if she didn’t want to come to the party, she should have just said so, instead of going to the beach. Where they certainly saw her, even if Laurie knows—knows—she was sick in bed at the time. And the idea, she thinks, of A Stranger With My Face is just, well, ridiculous.

Right?

[When evil twins start mastering astral projection.]

Thu
Nov 20 2014 3:00pm

When the Internet Doesn’t Work With Your 1970s Plot: Down a Dark Hall

From the moment she arrives at the school, Kit Gordy is aware that something is wrong. No, more than wrong—outright evil. These claims could, I suppose, be dismissed as usual teenage angst. But as it turns out, Kit is quite right: The building, the school, and its purpose are all quite, quite evil.

That isn't actually the disturbing part of reading Lois Duncan's Down a Dark Hall (1974/2011) today.

[When updating your book for the Internet age causes all kinds of contrived plot problems in a book that already had contrived plot problems.]

Mon
Nov 17 2014 2:00pm

Freezing Powers: Once Upon a Time, “The Snow Queen” and “Smash the Mirror”

Once Upon a Time

Princesses! Pirates! Orphans! Thieves! Elegant yet snowy residences! Periodic reminders of the joys of comic books! A number of otherwise somewhat sensible people chasing after Mickey Mouse’s hat! Yes, it’s time once again to chat about ABC’s Once Upon A Time.

Disclaimer before the cut: When I announced that I would be missing one episode (last week’s “The Snow Queen”) because of the World Fantasy Convention, I was not aware that the very next episode would be a two hour episode (this week’s “Smash the Mirror”), meaning that this post is both a bit long yet less detailed than usual. You have been warned.

[In which Our Heroes and Villains still inexplicably refuse to just jet down to Disney World to solve their Hat Problem.]

Thu
Nov 13 2014 3:00pm

Rewriting After Three Decades: A Gift of Magic

A Gift of MagicLois Duncan’s A Gift of Magic is a revised 2012 edition of her 1971 novel of the same title. But instead of simply updating the book to reflect current computer, internet and cell phone usage (something she did for other reissues of her older novels), Duncan used this opportunity to make some fairly significant changes to the original text, changing not just the names of a few characters, but their ages.

The result is a switch from a book which, to be honest, I can barely remember in its original form (“Oh, yeah, the one with the psychic dancer, right?” Spoiler—WRONG.) to a stronger work.

[A dancer who isn’t psychic, her twin who is, and a sideplot of please do not ever do this in Gulf of Mexico waters, thanks.]

Thu
Nov 6 2014 3:00pm

Overcoming Silence: The Trumpet of the Swan

Trumpet of the Swan EB White

“...if I have to go to the ends of the earth to find a trumpet for our young son, I shall find it at last and bring it home to Louis.”

“Well, if I may make a suggestion,” said his wife, “don’t go to the ends of the earth, go to Billings, Montana. It’s nearer.”

Like Stuart Little and, to a much lesser extent, Wilbur the Pig, Louis the Trumpeter Swan has been born with a disability: unlike other Trumpeter Swans, he is mute. This, his mother notes wisely, is not a huge issue in his early years, especially since Louis has certain advantages: he may be mute, but he is also faster and stronger than other swans. As he ages, however, this becomes a problem: without a voice, he can’t communicate.

And so, he and his father turn to other solutions, including The Trumpet of the Swan.

[Also, slate scribbling.]

Mon
Nov 3 2014 3:30pm

Rock Trolls and Captain Guyliner: Once Upon a Time, Family Business

Once Upon a Time Family Business

True Love! Pirates! Trolls! Characters who almost never change outfits! Pointless quests! Hunts for hats! And some absolutely fabulous sets, darlings! Yes, it’s time once again for ABC’s Once Upon a Time, with “Family Business.”

[Chilly and spoilery below the cut.]

Thu
Oct 30 2014 2:00pm

Let’s Ruin Some Childhoods: Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte's Web EB White

It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.

E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web is the story of two unlikely friends: a pig saved from early slaughter only to find himself being fattened up for Christmas, and a rather remarkable spider with a gift for spinning words. Also, a very mean rat, a wise old sheep, a goose very focused on her eggs, a determined girl, a bit where a lot of people fall down in the mud, and a Ferris wheel. Warm, funny, wonderful—at least, that’s how I remembered it.

And then someone on Twitter had to spoil all of these happy childhood memories in one tweet.

[Her tweet, and this post, are both very spoilery.]