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 28, 2014
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer is Live
Stubby the Rocket
November 21, 2014
Never Wait for a Sequel Again: 17 Standalone Fantasy Novels
Stubby the Rocket
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
Showing posts by: ryan britt click to see ryan britt's profile
Thu
Nov 20 2014 9:00am

Are Slowed-Down Songs in Movie Trailers Getting Played-Out?

No strings on me

There’s much to love about the last few trailers for Avengers: Age of Ultron, but is the use of “I’ve Got No Strings” from Pinocchio really all that great? Slowed down-familiar songs being used “eerily” in movie trailers are becoming an epidemic, threatening to replace the oppressive single-note BRAAAM noise-fad which found its inception in the trailers for, well, Inception in 2010. And while those brassy-slams were bad, are these slowed-down creepy songs any better?

[Read more]

Mon
Nov 17 2014 12:45pm

The Harbinger of Fun: Celebrating the Work of Glen A. Larson

Glen A. LarsonOver the weekend, television producer, writer, and behind-the-scenes pop culture taste-maker Glen A. Larson passed away at 77. His surviving legacy is largely his impressive contributions to television. From Knight Rider, to Magnum P.I., to The Six Million Dollar Man to Buck Rogers In the 25th Century, and most famously; Battlestar Galactica, Larson produced and created a serious swath of television candy that we’ve been hooked on for decades.

[Read more]

Tue
Nov 11 2014 9:00am

The Well-Lit Knight Rises: How 1960s Batman Shaped Our Bat-Thoughts Forever

1960s Batman Adam West

Loving 1960s Batman TV show sometimes seems like counter-intuitive nostalgia. We tend to praise it as camp, or kitsch, while buying into the assumption that it somehow got Batman “wrong” by portraying the character and themes in terms of comedy, rather than the brooding drama it’s “supposed” to be. But with the long-awaited release of the entire series on DVD/Blu-ray this week, it’s time to recognize that Batman and its intentionally zany zap-pow tone is so much smarter than you remember. And even if you don’t think of Adam West’s most famous character as “real Batman,” I’d argue that West’s Batman set the bar for the way all of us think about any and every on-screen version of The Dark Knight since...

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Tue
Nov 11 2014 7:00am

Listen, Kurt Vonnegut Changed Your Life

Today would have been the 92nd birthday of beloved author Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Throughout his career as a writer and a human being, Vonnegut shouldered many labels: sci-fi writer, satirist, humorist, humanist, political activist, and cranky old man. Luckily for us, he was all of those things and more.

But best of all, Kurt Vonnegut was a man who reminded us that our primary function on Earth is to “fart around, and don’t let anyone tell you any different.”

[Read more]

Mon
Nov 10 2014 12:30pm

Stephen Hawking Biopic The Theory of Everything Is a Guiltless Pleasure

The Theory of Everything movie

If this year’s Oscar-bait films are any indication, the thing to do next year will be to play a black hole. For now, the big movies are content with talking about black holes a lot—McConaughey and company in the epic Interstellar—or more conventionally down-to-Earth; Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones in the Stephen Hawking/Jane Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything.

If you’re a science fiction fan or science enthusiast, you might assume (like I did) that The Theory of Everything is a saccharine, manipulative tear-jerker of the Lifetime original movie ilk, and you’re probably not wrong. Which is exactly why you should see it.

[Read more]

Fri
Nov 7 2014 10:00am

Is it Even Possible for Star Wars: Rebels to Feel Like Real Star Wars?

Star Wars: Rebels

Is the new Disney cartoon show Star Wars: Rebels more than a Star Wars cartoon? Is it worth your time, and why does that one guy have a little soul-patch beard? For answers to these questions and more, here’s a look at the first five episodes of Rebels, and what they say about why we care about tie-in media and the rising interest in Star Wars thanks to the forthcoming sequels.

[Read more]

Wed
Oct 29 2014 12:30pm

Has Tom Hanks Written a Cautionary SF Story? On “Alan Bean Plus Four”

Alan Bean Plus Four Tom HanksSuper-famous non-writers who turn to writing for fun are undeniably irrating to the rest of us. We might love William Shatner in science fiction circles, but that doesn’t mean we’re crazy about his TekWar books or his fanfic-y Star Trek novels.

So is it possible to take seriously a science fiction story written by Tom Hanks that was just published in The New Yorker? Here’s what happens when we try.

[Read more]

Tue
Oct 28 2014 9:00am

Fairy Tale No More: Doctor Who is a Science Fiction Show Again

Doctor Who science fiction

If Doctor Who was like the psychic paper used by the Doctor—meaning we would only see the show we wanted to see—what would it look like? From seasons five through seven, it might have been superficially close to exactly what we thought we wanted: the adventures of a romantic, dazzling, fairy tale hero who is handsome, quirky, and a snappy-dresser. But now, the Doctor is grumpy and the stories he inhabits are more screwed up, because this season the show has gotten real by ditching fairy tales in favor of moodier science fiction.

[Read more]

Tue
Oct 14 2014 9:00am

Vampire Powers, On! Dracula Untold

Dracula Untold review

If Universal is building a new Marvel-style multi-film-universe for monsters, then it’s a little bit of a bummer that there’s no unifying Nick Fury character waltzing out from the shadows, slow-clapping, to commend the latest Dracula on the excellent use of his vampire powers. I waited and hoped for such a post-credits sequence in Dracula Untold, but it never came.

This doesn’t mean the movie was bad, because if turning Dracula into a superhero is something that sounds cool to you, then this movie totally nails it.

[Read more]

Fri
Oct 10 2014 9:45am

“Bring Something New Every Day” — Adam West at NYCC

Frustrating a certain variety of Bat-fans among us, it’s been nearly impossible, for years, to get your hands on all the original 1960’s Batman episodes at the same-Bat-time. But next month, the entire series will finally be made available on Blu-Ray/DVD, and it’s been given a Bat-makeover! Don’t worry, Adam West hasn’t been digitally replaced by Christian Bale (seriously though, someone do that, NOW) but the episodes have been remastered for HD-viewing. When he presented this new Blu-Ray set to adoring fans at New York Comic Con this Thursday, Adam West noticed that he “never looked lovelier.”

[Read more]

Fri
Oct 3 2014 1:00pm

Worth the Risk: Lemony Snicket’s Shouldn’t You Be in School?

If melancholy can actually be cured with books, Lemony Snicket is the prescription you want. But just as real inocculations often contain strains of the virus you’re fighting, Snicket books contain weird faux-melancholia which come through as not-so-secret messages of hope.

The latest book in All the Wrong Questions is titled Shouldn’t You Be in School?, but the real question is: how subversive can a book be before it’s actually just really sweet?

[Spoiler-Free Review]

Thu
Sep 25 2014 11:15am

The Aliens from Alien Won’t Be in Prometheus 2 (And That’s Okay!)

Prometheus 2 xenomorph

If you’re still upset about 2012’s Prometheus not quite-being-the-Alien-prequel you’d hoped for, this news might not help much. Direct from director Ridley Scott, the sequel to Prometheus will not contain the xenomorph aliens from the film Alien, which started this whole thing to begin with.

But maybe that’s okay?

[Read more]

Wed
Sep 17 2014 9:00am

How Goldfinger Bound Sci-Fi to James Bond

Goldfinger James Bond

When Q (Desmond Llewelyn) tells James Bond (Sean Connery) about his new car being equipped with an ejector seat, Bond is incredulous. “Ejector sh-eat! You’re joking!” Q isn’t, and 1964’s Goldfinger wasn’t messing around either. The first Bond blockbuster, released 50 years ago this week, was when the whole 007 jamboree permanently became a series of pseudo sci-fi flicks.

[Read more]

Mon
Sep 8 2014 12:00pm

This is Not Nancy: Watching “The Man Trap” As Your First Star Trek Ever Is Bonkers

Some prissy dude with a dorky bowl haircut repeatedly punches a creepy middle-aged lady in the face right before she pushes him into a pile of books while some other older dude watches and another guy screams a scream which seems like it’s supposed to be a fake scream. It’s not a David Lynch movie; it’s the first aired episode of Star Trek, ever, and if it were everyone’s first exposure to Star Trek today, then, honestly, no one would like Star Trek.

[Read more]

Thu
Aug 28 2014 9:00am

Darth Vader is Kind of a Time Traveler

Even though Han never leaps through a donut-shaped pulsating portal, Luke doesn’t twirl a cool hourglass necklace around, and Leia never hits 88 mph in a Delorean; time travel might still exist in one specific way in the Star Wars galaxy. Clairvoyance—that wonderful ability to see or sense the future—totally does exist, and in three specific incidents impacts the plots of the films. And if you can send messages into the past from the future, then clairvoyance (or precognition) in Star Wars suddenly becomes a timey-wimey plot device that (kind of?) brings balance to the Force.

[Read more]

Wed
Aug 27 2014 9:00am

Mary Poppins is a Wizard Who Literally Sings Her Spells

Mary Poppins

Some might say science fiction or fantasy is inaccessible because the settings are unrealistic or the characters exhibit extraordinary or magical abilities. And yet, alternate realities in which people, creatures, and sometimes inanimate objects break into song are totally mainstream. Musicals like West Side Story or The Sound of Music might not qualify as fantasy just for existing in these singing-heavy dimensions, but what about when there’s overt magic involved too?

The film version of Mary Poppins is lousy with magical singing, by which I mean singing that is actually magic-inducing. She’s casting spells in a bizarro dimension using only the power of her perfectly on-key voice. No, really.

[Read more]

Tue
Aug 12 2014 12:00pm

You’ve Got to Hide Your Feelings Away: Why We Buy Into Emotional Dystopias

This weekend, Lois Lowry’s old-school YA novel The Giver arrives in the form of a big-deal movie complete with Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges, the latter of whom is definitely not playing the Dude, but rather the title character. He’s the Giver, who, in this future dystopia, hangs onto all the relevant information that makes life interesting while everyone else has a boring, colorless, almost emotionless life.

In hit-you-over-the-head allegorical dystopian sci-fi, the repression of emotions and basic regulation of thoughts comes up a lot. But do these styles of dystopias actually make narrative and logistical sense, or are they only allegorical? Further, does their own self-importance make them ironically oppressive?

[Read more]

Tue
Aug 12 2014 8:30am

Adieu, Fillory! Here’s What Happened in The Magician’s Land

Lev Grossman Magicians trilogy

Last week, Lev Grossman concluded his fantasy trilogy—The Magicians—in totally epic style. It turns out, not only is the magical land of Fillory real in these books, but in our world too, thus making all the Magicians books retroactively works of autobiography, complete with a meta-“LEV GROSSMAN” character who becomes Fillory’s narrator.

PSYCH. No. But pretty much ALL THE COOL STUFF happened in The Magician’s Land. If you’re a fan of this sly, brilliant series, here’s a guide to what went down in its final installment.

[Read more]

Mon
Aug 4 2014 9:00am

Please Love This Thing You’ve Never Heard Of: The History of Sci-Fi Hype

Even at seventeen years-old, I thought it was weird how many people were doing the camp-out thing for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace while sitting in an inflatable Darth Maul chair they bought at Target. Sure, Maul looked cool in the movie trailer, but I didn’t know he was cool yet. (And to be fair, that particular cool jury is still out.) This weekend, Guardians of the Galaxy opened, and depending on what feelings you’re hooked on, it’s been stamped a certified genre classic. But it was also specifically and meticulously pruned to get us all excited, well before it opened. And in the history of sci-fi and fantasy movies, why do we so often believe the hype?

[Read more]

Tue
Jul 29 2014 12:11pm

Holy Nostalgia! Harlan Ellison Wrote an Episode for Adam West’s Batman

Adam West Batman Harlan Ellison

If you’re a fan of alternate universes that specifically relate to pop culture, then you know Harlan Ellison is a very important figure when asking the question “what if?” From Star Trek, to I, Robot, to the infamous “Starlost,” Ellison’s filmed projects are sometimes equally as famous as his unfilmed ones. Now it turns out that Ellison wrote an episode for the light-hearted 1960s Adam West Batman that would have introduced Two-Face and…Clint Eastwood?

[Na na na na na…Ellison!]