Cold Wind April 16, 2014 Cold Wind Nicola Griffith Old ways can outlast their usefulness. What Mario Scietto Says April 15, 2014 What Mario Scietto Says Emmy Laybourne An original Monument 14 story. Something Going Around April 9, 2014 Something Going Around Harry Turtledove A tale of love and parasites. The Devil in America April 2, 2014 The Devil in America Kai Ashante Wilson The gold in her pockets is burning a hole.
From The Blog
April 13, 2014
Game of Thrones, Season 4, Episode 2: “The Lion and the Rose”
Theresa DeLucci
April 11, 2014
This Week’s Game-Changing Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Was Exactly The Problem With The Show
Thom Dunn
April 8, 2014
Let’s Completely Reimagine Battlestar Galactica! Again. This Time as A Movie!
Emily Asher-Perrin
April 4, 2014
The Age of Heroes is Here. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Chris Lough
April 3, 2014
A Spoonful of Music Makes the Nanny: Disney’s Mary Poppins
Mari Ness
Showing posts by: thom dunn click to see thom dunn's profile
Fri
Apr 11 2014 2:00pm

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. posterAs the credits rolled on Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier, I turned to my friend and said, “That movie was everything that I’ve wanted Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to be.” But despite what the producers might think, it wasn’t because of the marquee names and big explosive action scenes. I was talking about the espionage, the intrigue and excitement of plainclothes heroes digging deeper and deeper into a conspiracy and trying to do what's objectively “right” in an increasingly complicated world. 

Fortunately, this week’s game-changing episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. got me pretty excited. Unfortunately, that’s also the problem with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and why I fear it’s doomed to fail. (*spoilers for the show and Captain America: The Winter Soldier* to follow, obviously)

[Read more]

Fri
Mar 7 2014 11:00am

Terminator Arnold SchwarzeneggerRumor has it that the upcoming Terminator: Genesis film will pull a similar hybrid-soft-reboot trick as JJ Abrams’ recent Star Trek films, in order to simultaneously exist in tandem with the rest of The Terminator franchise, while also establishing a clean slate for itself from which to launch a new series of films. Allegedly, this new Terminator film will revisit several key moments from T1 and T2. But at some point, somewhere, something will go awry and create a parallel tangent universe that enables the story to continue free of the restraints of the established continuity.

That’s all good and well, except for the part where that completely contradicts the established rules of time travel in The Terminator universe.

[Read More]

Thu
Nov 14 2013 12:00pm

The Geek's Guide to Dating Eric SmithThere are plenty of criticisms that can be justly leveraged against dating / self-help books as a genre. And yet, people continue write them, because people continue to buy them, because people are always looking for that one little trick to success that no one else has ever figured out—except, of course, for this author of the book, who purports to believe that his/her generic-at-best or sociopathically-manipulative-at-worst book is, in fact, that end-all-be-all answer that everyone has been looking, and that only s/he is brilliant enough to have discovered.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that, by comparison, The Geek’s Guide To Dating by Eric Smith is the worst dating/self-help book ever written because it is so genuinely delightful without being at all presumptuous. In fact, it’s so spot-on and utterly enjoyable that I think it should be up there with Dune, The Lord of the Rings, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as required reading for geekdom.

[Read More]

Wed
Nov 13 2013 5:00pm

Kurt Vonnegut Make Up Your MindKurt Vonnegut would have turned 91 this week and is surprisingly still producing new work, despite the fact that he passed away in 2007. His “newest” play, Kurt Vonnegut’s Make Up Your Mind (that’s the full official title), is currently receiving its world premiere with SpeakEasy Stage Company in Boston. The play tells the story of Roland Stackhouse, proprietor of Make Up Your Mind, Inc., a company which helps indecisive people, well, make up their minds. It’s a very Vonnegutian high concept that recalls the absurdity of Harrison Bergeron.

Vonnegut himself even benefitted in a way from his own fictional services (which would not be beyond the realm of possibility in a Kurt Vonnegut story): he actually wrote eleven different versions of the play from the late 1980s to early 1990s, and couldn’t quite make up his mind about which one he liked, or which one to further revise. And so all eleven versions were locked in a drawer in the hope that someday, he would decide—and now six years after his death, they are finally seeing the light of day.

[Read More]

Fri
Sep 13 2013 10:00am

X FactorSince its inception in 2005, Peter David’s X-Factor has been one of the most consistently entertaining and engaging superhero stories on the stands, even if it never achieved the same commercial success as Marvel’s other mutant titles. But now, after eight years, 120+ issues, and one GLAAD award, the adventures of Multiple Man and his zany detective agency consisting of D-List X-Men characters, has finally come to an end with issue #262 (comics re-numbering blah blah blah, don’t ask), and though we’re sad to see them go, we’re looking back with fond memories of our times together. And perhaps as we reflect, some of you may come to a better understanding of our affections for this quirky comic that could.

[Read More]

Tue
Sep 10 2013 10:00am

Joss Whedon the Avengers Captain America shield

Joss Whedon is brilliant. He is awesome. In my personal opinion, he is the second greatest storyteller in the history of the Western world. He is a master of giving audiences what they need, not what they want, and succeeds in creating poignant, provocative stories with memorable characters and worlds that connect with the human experience on primal levels. And judging by the commercial struggles of some of his work, he’s been admirably uncompromising in this pursuit. Even when he’s not quite perfect, there’s always some small shred of genius shining through his ambitions. People can be overly and unnecessarily critical with an artist of his caliber—look at the initial reaction to Dollhouse—but I have remained steadfast in my nearly unflinching faith in his abilities.

And I am utterly terrified for Marvel’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

[Read More]

Fri
Sep 6 2013 11:00am

BatwomanAnother day, another comic book controversy that gets twisted around and misinterpreted to satisfy sensationalist news headlines. For those unaware, artist/writer JH Williams III made a somewhat public exit from DC Comics, where he was writing the ongoing Batwoman series (he had previously done the art on the series as well). In a blog post, Williams cited editorial interference as the motivating factor, and unfortunately, he is not the first creator since DC’s “New52” relaunch who has publicly departed from the company after airing similar grievances. Williams mentions several storylines that he had been working on over the last two years that were allegedly cut short or changed at the last minute by the fickle editorial department, and among these points were a new origin story for Killer Croc and Batwoman’s marriage to her fiancé, Maggie Sawyer.

The small but vocal crowd of Killer Croc enthusiasts affected by this news were overpowered by the headlines accusing DC Comics of homophobic censorship. But while the socio-political implications of DC’s editorial decisions are certainly not positive, Williams has been very clear that the issue of gay marriage did not factor at all into the decision. I’m inclined to believe him because the mainstream comics industry in general does not appear to oppose gay marriage. They’re just anti-marriage, period.

[Read more]

Wed
Sep 4 2013 11:00am

Much has been written about the so-called “Water Cooler” shows, the television programs that everybody’s talking about, that everyone wants to be caught up so that they can be a part of the conversation around the metaphorical water cooler in the break room at work (more commonly known today as “The Internet”). Twin Peaks is often cited as one of the first big examples of this. More recently, shows like Doctor Who, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and Breaking Bad have also dominated the conversation, with GIF-sets and spoilers and thinkpieces exploding all across the internet. Let’s stop for a moment and take a look at those titles again: do you notice anything in common between them? For the most part, it’s the fantastical, the speculative and science fictional shows that get people talking these days. And it’s not just your traditional sci-fi/fantasy fans (read: people like you and me) who are into it, either. I’m certainly not the first to notice this zeitgeist of mainstream acceptance for the genre stories that we’ve all been vouching for for years.

And then there’s this chemistry teacher who makes himself overlord of a meth empire—with a distinct lack of robots, swords, or other genre weirdness. But we talk about it just the same. But why don’t we think about Breaking Bad as a genre story?

[Some spoilers ahead]

Tue
Sep 3 2013 10:00am

SHIELD Logo

With the premiere of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on the horizon, we’re all naturally excited, and I got to thinking about the things I’d like to see over the course of what (hopefully) is the show’s long and luxurious life.

SHIELD has a rich history within the Marvel Universe—even though the few SHIELD-centric comic book series have all been short-lived—so there are a lot of interesting personalities, plots, set pieces, and ideas that could find new life on the television series. Here are ten characters* that we’d like to see on the small screen, and how their roles could enhance the espionage thrills of the show and deepen the connection to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

[Read More]

Fri
Mar 15 2013 10:00am

Irish Vampires Buffy Twilight Dracula Being Human Angel Ireland Preacher Cassidy Bram StokerNowadays, when you mention “vampires,” people tend to think of sparkly teens or pasty-faced creeps in collared capes moaning “I vant to suck your blood” in some generic Eastern European accent. While those might be the most iconic images of the bloodsucker zeitgeist, they’re not necessarily the best. Bram Stoker’s Dracula may have defined the vampire for the modern era, but although we associate the story with Transylvania, we tend to forget that Stoker* himself was actually born in Clontarf, County Dublin, which lends further credence to a simple truth: all the best vampires are Irish.**

[Read more]

Mon
Mar 11 2013 2:00pm

Doctor Who Superman Man of Steel TARDIS Same Character David TennantThe last survivor of an extinct intelligent alien race arrives on Earth and almost immediately finds himself enamored of the endlessly complex, less-evolved-but-still-so-admirably-hopeful denizens of the planet, and vows to dedicate his life to protecting them, allowing them to thrive and finally live up to their true potential as a species. Wait, who was I talking about again? Oh yeah, Superman...right? Or—wait, no, The Doctor? No, definitely Superman. I think. Man, I could have sworn that it was The Doctor...

But really, what’s the difference?

[Read more]

Fri
Feb 8 2013 3:30pm

“A change in formatting—from Normal to Bold, for instance—indicates a change in universe.”

Sff Onstage: Nick Payne's Constellations

So begins the script for Constellations, a play by Nick Payne which received its world premiere last winter at London’s Royal Court Theatre. The play tells the story—or perhaps, more accurately, stories—of Marianne, a quantum physicist, and Roland, a bee-keeper, and their love (or perhaps not) across the multiverse. In one 65-minute act, we experience every possible iteration of their relationship—they meet at a party when Roland is still in a relationship, and just out of a really serious relationship, and married, and single; and their first date goes horribly, and pretty well, and also just kind of fizzles, and they sleep together for the first time, and they don’t but they continue to date; and so on. Every possibility plays out in front of us.

As Marianne explains on at least one version of one of their first date:

“Every choice, every decision you’ve ever and never made exists in an unimaginably vast ensemble of parallel universes […] Let’s say that ours really is the only universe that exists. There’s only one unique me and one unique you. If that were true, then there could only ever really be one choice. But if every possible future exists, then the decisions we do and don’t make will determine which of these futures we actually end up experiencing.”

[Read more]

Wed
Feb 6 2013 2:00pm

Nick Fury and the Top 10 Toys of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Back in 1965, Marvel Comics decided to capitalize on the popularity of spy stories such as Danger Man, Man From U.N.C.L.E., and James Bond, and turned their grizzled WWII foot soldier Nick Fury into a one-eyed badass super spy and situated him as the new head of S.H.I.E.L.D. (which then stood for Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law-Enforcement Division but has since come to stand for any other number of things, depending on the medium). Now as much as I would love to write a million words gushing over the trippy ’60s brilliance of Jim Steranko’s run on Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., we’re here to talk about much more important things: crazy spy gadgets.

[Read more]

Fri
Jan 4 2013 12:00pm

Flowers for The Lawnmower ManThe first time I saw The Lawnmower Man was at my friend’s birthday party when I was about 10 years old. We were all pretty obsessed with the Super Nintendo video game inspired by the movie, and my friend’s mom was cool enough to not only let us all watch a rated R film, but it was also a sleepover where she rented a whole bunch of video game consoles for us to play on all night—including the topically relevant but sadly short-lived Virtual Boy. I’m pretty sure that was the first and only time that any of us actually played Virtual Boy, but whether that’s because the movie made us all terrified of virtual reality, or because the headpiece-goggle-console thing was incredibly uncomfortable to play, I can’t recall. But I do remember that it was pretty much the coolest movie ever, and virtual reality was totally awesome and it was going to change everything ‘cause it was so cool. Plus, the SNES video game had these neat VR scenes where you got to enter “virtual reality” even though it was still technically 16-bit graphics on a TV screen.

[Read more]

Wed
Jan 2 2013 11:00am

In the wake of the big “Marvel NOW!” relaunch, Marvel Comics’ resident mad genius Jonathan Hickman has taken over the reigns of Avengers—you remember, those guys from that movie?—and its sister (brother?) book, New Avengers. First exploding onto the comic book scene with The Nightly News in 2008 (which he both wrote and did the artwork for), Jonathan Hickman quickly established himself as a unique creative force, melding elements of infographics and epic poetry into his elaborate stories, with beautifully rendered charts and obsessively systematic plot complications. But there’s something about Hickman’s voice as a writer that stands out, an incredibly distinct pattern that I’ve noticed in his work that goes against many of the traditional rules of dramatic storytelling—or at least, the rules as I’ve learned them, according to Aristotle’s Poetics.

[Read more]

Fri
Nov 2 2012 12:00pm

Ex Machina and the Great Political Machine of Brian K. Vaughan

“And this his majesty will think we have reason to expect when he reflects that he is no more than the chief officer of the people, appointed by the laws, and circumscribed with definite powers, to assist in working the great machine of government erected for their use, and consequently subject to their superintendence.” - Thomas Jefferson

What if a superhero became the Mayor of New York City? That’s the central question at the heart of Brian K. Vaughan’s 50-issue maxi-series Ex Machina with artist Tony Harris, which tells the story of Mitchell Hundred, a former civil engineer who gains the ability to communicate with machines in a freak accident and is later elected to office after saving the second tower from going down on 9/11 (the series is very clearly set in an alternate reality, a detail which is integral to the plot). The series follows Hundred’s four years in office, and while it does feature plenty of superheroics in flashbacks to Hundred’s time as “The Great Machine” as well as the ongoing mystery of his powers, the central focus of the story is on Hundred’s career as a politician, and the trials and tribulations that he faces as the governing figure of the largest city in America.

[Read more. Spoilers ahead for a good chunk of the series.]

Tue
Oct 30 2012 6:00pm

In SFF Onstage, we’ll be exploring the roots and representations of science fiction and fantasy elements in plays throughout history, focusing of the scripts and literature of the theatre, rather than specific productions or performances.

SFF Onstage: Rossum’s Universal RobotsI’ll be totally honest with you: I had never actually heard of, much less read, RUR until I watched Joss Whedon’s kind-of-a-mess-but-totally-underappreciated Dollhouse. In the second season episode “Getting Closer,” Clyde 2.0 explains that the Rossum Corporation took their name from some obscure play. As a playwright who also works for one of the largest regional theaters in the country, this came as a surprise to me. A quick search lead me to Karel Capek’s RUR, or “Rossum’s Universal Robots.” The play had its premiere in Prague in 1921, and allegedly introduced the word “robot” into the vernacular (although words such as “automaton” and “android” had previously been used). It was also the first piece of science fiction television ever broadcast, in a 35-minute made-for-TV adaptation on the BBC in 1938.

[Read more]

Wed
Oct 10 2012 4:00pm

How Grant Morrison’s 7-Year Batman Epic is Becoming the Ultimate Definition of Batman

Beginning in 2006, acclaimed comic scribe/chaos magician/occasional fictional character Grant Morrison embarked on an epic and ambitious Batman story that would take nearly seven years across several different comic book titles to complete. As with much of Morrison’s work, his extended run on Batman was full of several recurring motifs, but perhaps the most interesting throughline in this story has been the constant presence of Bat-analogs – wannabes and replacements, heroes who, by will or requirement, have attempted to become the Dark Knight themselves, and villains who have aspired to supplant him. Morrison uses this device to deconstruct the identity of the Dark Knight and explore precisely what it is that makes Bruce Wayne tick. What does he have that other heroes don’t? Why does this man of all people get to be the Batman?

[Read more]

Thu
Sep 20 2012 1:00pm

With the Republican and Democratic National Conventions now behind us, we are officially thrust into the tumultuous midsts of the Presidential election season. For the next few weeks, it will consume our timelines, newsfeeds, hearts, and minds.

Or, maybe not. But either way, I think we can all agree that what we really need right now more than anything right is a man—or woman—who will stand up for us. Someone who represents our vision of America as it’s truly meant to be. Someone who can plant the seeds that will blossom into the luscious political fields of our dreams. Someone who will stomp out all remaining opposition and rule the galaxy with an iron fist. Someone we can believe in.

And so, without any further ado, I present you with my top 10 alternative choices for the 2012 U.S. Presidential election. What’s that? Oh, who cares that they’re all fictional. So is the rest of politics.

[Read more]

Tue
May 8 2012 2:00pm

“Superman or Batman?” is the Red Sox vs. Yankees of the comic book world, a vicious rivalry between fans that has carried on for decades, with no end in sight. Both sides have their valid arguments, and both sides tend to feel pretty adamantly about whichever side of the issue they fall on (keeping it within the DC family, I guess that makes Blue Beetle the Mets). Personally, I’ve always been Team Batman. Dark, brooding, badass billionaire who used his vast resources to become pretty much the perfect the human specimen, a fact which he uses to wage a never ending war on crime? That beats a stuffy alien Boy Scout in red underoos with a matching cape any day. Superman’s a great archetype for deconstructing (and even that’s been overdone), but what fun is he on his own? There’s no dramatic tension when your protagonist is perfect and indestructible. Whereas other superheroes might fear for their loved ones should their secret identities be publicly revealed, Superman has a freaking ice fortress. Lois is in danger? I think she’s safe there. Problem solved!

[Read more]