The Wrong Kind of Retro — Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “All Those Who Wander”

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. I’ve absolutely adored Strange New Worlds this season, and while it hasn’t been perfect, it’s been fun, and I was willing to forgive such indulgences as the dress-up episode and the space-pirate episode because they were enjoyable. Maybe they were cheesy, but the day was carried by how much fun the cast and production staff had with the dopey tropes.

This week, though, the tropes are all tired, the clichés are irritating as hell, and we lose more than one character.

[It is better to leave than to be the one left behind…]

An Adaptation of Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London Series Is In the Works (Again)

Television adaptation is a wacky game; so many books are optioned, never to see the glowing light of a TV screen. In 2019, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost were set to adapt Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London into a series, but the project never came to fruition. Now, though, it has another shot. Variety reports that Pure Fiction Television and Unnecessary Logo—a production company Aaronovitch himself has created—is set to adapt the series. And they’re not stopping with the nine novels; Variety notes “the deal includes Aaronovitch’s short stories, novellas, and graphic novels.”

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Ms. Marvel Gives Love a Good Name in “Time and Again”

This week’s Ms. Marvel was written by Fatimah Asghar and directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy! “Time and Again” takes us back to India in the 1940s, and gives us a time loop that is such a great payoff emotionally that I’m not even gonna worry about the logistics.

Plus? We’re getting one of Ammi’s glamour shots from the 1980s. This episode is full of riches.

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Waste of Time — Timecop and Timecop: The Berlin Decision

From August 2017 – January 2020, Keith R.A. DeCandido took a weekly look at every live-action movie based on a superhero comic that had been made to date in the weekly Great Superhero Movie Rewatch. He has been revisiting the feature every six months or so to look back at the new releases in the previous half-year, as well as a few he missed the first time through. After doing two 1970s gems, It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman! and Mandrake, we continue this week with the two Timecop movies before getting into the newer stuff.

Dark Horse Comics has two track records of note in its time being one of the bigger tiny fish that live in the shadow of the Big Two of comics-dom, Marvel and DC. One is their use of anthology series, including Dark Horse Presents and Dark Horse Comics, as a launching pad for storylines. (Sin City, Concrete, and several other of their hit comics got started in DHP.) The other is their relationship with the film industry, which has produced several films we’ve seen in this rewatch: Barb Wire, The Mask, Mystery Men, the Hellboy movies, Sin City, R.I.P.D.

Timecop checks both those boxes.

[Look, don’t expect to be my chief of staff if my slamming your face into the side of my car is gonna turn you into a sniveling worm…]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

Our Recent Past Is No Fun at All For Amazon’s Time-Traveling Paper Girls

Time travel and the ’80s? No, it’s not a return to Russian Doll‘s second season, or a Stranger Things spinoff. This is Paper Girls, Amazon’s new series based on the comics by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang, and it looks excellent. There are nigh-inevitable Stand By Me and Goonies vibes here, but there’s also so much more going on, including a flustered Ali Wong, an ominous pink sky, and the terrifying robots of the future. (You know, the surveillance ones people already have in their houses.)

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5 Fantasy Villains You Love to Hate

Some villains are truly terrible, awful people you wish would hurry up and be thwarted so that they can get off the page and you never have to see them again. But my favorite villains are the ones that command the stage; the ones who you can’t help but love even though they’re technically the bad guys. If you’re looking for a great villain, here are a few of my recent fantasy favorites!

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Series: Five Books About…

Forty Years Later, What Makes John Carpenter’s The Thing So Effing Scary?

Some masterpieces of cinema are simply doomed at the box office and destined to be savaged by critics. Very often the culprit is bad timing, or a weak marketing effort, or internal disputes at the studio. All three of those played a role in the brutal reception that greeted John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), which is today recognized as one of the most effective, shocking, and suspenseful horror movies of all time.

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A Needed Twist on Cyberpunk: The City Inside by Samit Basu

The best spec fic/cyberpunk writing is often less wikipedian and more of a wave—an artful sprinkling of jargon and worldbuilding that’s just familiar enough for a reader to recognize the near-future rhythm of a different reality. It’s less about constant, flat exposition and more about the right vibes to hint at what flavor of -topia we’re dealing with. In the case of The City Inside, it’s everything everywhere all at once, treading both familiar speculative ground, yet somehow making the topics that fuel our present-day paranoia—omniscient apps, social media as a service, the disintegrating borders between flesh and digital—fresh and new.

Samit Basu’s latest novel is a masterclass in smart, human-driven science fiction, told with delectable wit and gorgeous, visually-driven prose. He does an effortless job at leading the reader by the nose through an extrapolated, tech-gilded version of New Delhi—one based from existing social and political forces that endanger India’s most vulnerable and marginalized populations including dalits and Muslims.

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Ms. Marvel Takes Us to Karachi in “Seeing Red”

This week Ms. Marvel takes us to Karachi! “Seeing Red” was directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, and written by Sabir Pirzada and A. C. Bradley & Matthew Chauncey from a story by Pirzada. This episode was a bit cluttered for my taste, but the action sequences were fun, and the show is still so grounded in character that I’m happy to go with it.

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As Unpredictable as Humans: I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

In this bi-weekly series reviewing classic science fiction and fantasy books, Alan Brown looks at the front lines and frontiers of the field; books about soldiers and spacers, scientists and engineers, explorers and adventurers. Stories full of what Shakespeare used to refer to as “alarums and excursions”: battles, chases, clashes, and the stuff of excitement.

Today, I’m revisiting a classic collection of tales from one of the giants of the science fiction field, Isaac Asimov. As a writer, Asimov loved coming up with a good puzzle or conundrum that required a solution, and some of his best known works address the creation of machines whose operation was guided by logic. Despite their logical nature, however, the robots in the stories included in I, Robot prove to be just as unpredictable as humans, giving the characters plenty of mysteries to grapple with

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Power in the Blood: True Religion and Transformation in C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces

I’ve been reflecting on Till We Have Faces and all the different things we could discuss. There’s more to say about Greek philosophy and how it’s reflected in the book, and about the Christian symbolism and nature of myth that Lewis smuggled in, or about the constant dualities which become, over and over, unifications. But I’m afraid we’d end up with more words than the book has itself, so I’ve decided to limit myself to two more articles. In two weeks, we’ll explore how Lewis’ views of women shifted and changed over the years, and how this book is, in many ways, a rebuttal to his own previous views.

But first, this week we’re going to talk about an underlying theme of Till We Have Faces: Lewis’ thoughts about how a true religion must function.

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A Master Class in Writing Horses: Horse by Geraldine Brooks

In one of those happy coincidences that often befall the writer-by-trade, while I was pondering the nature of the racehorse and the psychology of the stallion, I happened across a review of a new book that looked as if it would focus on both themes. Geraldine Brooks’ Horse is the work of a famously meticulous researcher who is also a devoted horse person. And it shows.

I did not know anything about the author when I read the book, except that this is far from her first novel, and she’s won a Pulitzer Prize. Therefore I expected some of what I got: highly polished prose, visibly topical characters and themes, and a familiar device of literary novels, the interweaving of a carefully described past with a present that explicitly reflects it.

What I also got was an engrossing read, with twists and turns that left me breathless. Wild coincidences and bizarre connections that actually, historically happened. And a deep, true knowledge of and love for horses.

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