| Science fiction. Fantasy. The universe. And related subjects.

Deep Sky Trailer Lets Us Gawk at the Sheer Enormity of Outer Space

Space is cool! And big. And, until NASA launched the James Webb Space Telescope (or just JWST, to its friends) into the sky, a place we knew little about.

We still know not nearly enough about space, frankly, but as Michelle Williams excellently points out in a trailer for Deep Sky, the upcoming IMAX documentary about JWST, a telescope is a time machine, and this telescope can see back thirteen billion years.

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Pack Up the Family and Head Off to Space: The Rolling Stones by Robert A. Heinlein

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.

Robert Heinlein dipped his toes into many genres over the course of his long career, and The Rolling Stones is the closest he ever got to writing a sitcom. That’s why I avoided reading it when I first came across the book in my youth—I couldn’t imagine who would want to read the adventures of Leave it to Beaver in space, and I couldn’t get past the basic premise of a family buying a used spaceship and knocking around the solar system. But when I finally decided to read all the Heinlein juveniles, I found the Stone family to be good company, and discovered that I had been missing out on a fun and entertaining tale…

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“We still haven’t scratched the tip of the iceberg”: Music Supervisor Maggie Phillips Talks About Our Flag Means Death

Our Flag Means Death is special. From creating a surrealist version of the Golden Age of Piracy, to centering a later-in-life coming-out story, to including people or many races, gender identities, abilities, and cool freaking hairstyles, to moving production for season two from LA to New Zealand in order to highlight the beauty of the land, Lord of the Rings-Style, and build a majority Kiwi crew. It’s makes our pop cultural heart swell to see a production being so intentional with its decisions.

But nowhere is that intentionality more apparent than in OFMD’s music. More than just fun, jokey needledrops, each song in Season One acts as a counterpoint to the action, adding emotion and depth to what becomes a surprising queer love story. A lot of the credit for the show’s unique tone can go to Music Supervisor Maggie Phillips and her team. Leah Schnelbach recently got to speak with Maggie about baroque pop, “The Beautiful Ones”, making “the non-obvious choice”, and—the long-awaited SEASON TWO.

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Get to Know the Vikings in Five Non-Fiction Books

Vikings have been enjoying the spotlight in recent years—as I’ve previously discussed in a couple of articles focused on retellings of the Norse myths and novels inspired by the sagas, we’re seeing everything from full-blown fantasy with loose Viking-esque trappings to historically grounded fiction on both page and screen, all with connections to the milieu and mythos of the old Northlands. With so many depictions of kings, queens, gods, goddesses, adventurers, raiders, warriors, sorcerers, witches, valkyries, shield-maidens, and berserkers out there, it’d be fair to wonder which ones have made an honest effort at accurate representations and which ones have felt a little less constrained by an urge to conform to the known history and belief systems of the people in question.

This article isn’t an assessment of the inconsistent reliance on the existing factual knowledge base about Vikings in the world of entertainment. Rather, it’s intended as a kind of starter kit for anyone who’s enjoyed any of the various Viking-themed offerings in recent years and who might like to gain a better understanding of who these people really were, how they lived, and what they believed (and what we in the present day actually know and don’t know about all of that).

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“Not Much Choice”: Disability and Monstrosity in the Alien Franchise

In 1973, Chicago became the last major city to repeal its so-called “Ugly Law,” which barred people with visible disabilities from public spaces. Only six years later, Ridley Scott’s Alien was released, though it would be a hefty forty-two more until I watched it for the first time. I was a few months shy of eighteen when I did; a young adult trying to save up for college by working in “unskilled” labor that pushed my body beyond its limits. I spent most of my time then loathing my body for not being physically able to take as many shifts as everyone else around me, but it never made work any easier.

That was my state of mind when I first met Ellen Ripley.

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Sometimes, Working From Home Can Be Dangerous

Generally, working from home is great. But there are a few jobs—just a few—where doing your job in your pajamas might have unexpected consequences. Take the role of “editor on gruesome horror film,” for example. Perhaps you’re just toiling away one morning, putting together the sound effects for a scene in an upcoming movie, minding your own business. But when your neighbors hear a lot of screaming coming from an unassuming abode, they might draw some incorrect conclusions.

That, basically, is what happened to Saw X editor Steve Forn, whose neighbors called the cops.

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6 Dark Academia Books With Angry Heroines

Right now we’re in a golden age of dark academia. But what exactly is this evocative—and apparently provocative—subgenre?

Dark academia books are usually set in an idealized world of higher education, and the key is in the atmosphere. It’s old libraries swirled with dust motes, cable-knit sweaters and tweed blazers, crunchy autumn leaves and steaming pots of tea, pretentious professors, and all the glorious messiness of being out in the world on your own for the first time.

For me, though, a true dark academia book is not just about the aesthetic. The best dark academia books contain an inextricable link between the plot and academia itself; for example, a murderer or a monster or another mythological figure whose motivations can only be understood through ancient texts and late-night study sessions. What the students learn during their classes should be integral to overcoming whatever obstacles they face.

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The Director of The Toxic Avenger Was Given Larger Budget to Shoot Something Incredibly Gross

There’s a new Toxic Avenger film coming our way, provided that some distributor is brave enough to take it on. The movie has already played at Fantastic Fest, however, and director Macon Blair (I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, The Florida Project) has been interviewed about his upcoming feature, including how he made one particularly grotesque moment happen.

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Let No One Will Save You Invade Your Horror-Loving Heart

No One Will Save You is a breath of fresh air. Or maybe more accurately: a blast of light from an alien ship, shining right in your face at 3:00 in the morning. As I’ve written before on this site, nothing scares me. Things upset me occasionally, sure, but I never feel genuine fear during a movie.

And I didn’t really get scared during this one… but I did lean forward at a couple key moments.

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Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Daedalus”

Written by Ken LaZebnik & Michael Bryant
Directed by David Straiton
Season 4, Episode 10
Production episode 086
Original air date: January 14, 2005
Date: unknown

Captain’s star log. Enterprise is hosting Emory Erickson, the inventor of the transporter, who wants to test a new long-range, sub-quantum transporter in a barren region of space. The Ericksons and Archers are old friends, and this is a nice reunion for the captain as Erickson and his daughter Danica are beamed on board.

Tucker is particularly thrilled, as Erickson is one of his heroes, and the two get to work together on the transporter.

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Series: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch

Getting Lost in Space Is Absolutely No Fun in Scavengers Reign

Alien planets: just never a place you want to end up. Maybe there are dinosaurs. Maybe there are, uh, Aliens. And maybe something super weird is happening and no one knows what or why and then there’s body horror, too? That appears to be the premise of Scavengers Reign, a new animated series coming from Max, and I say “appears to be” because this teaser is all vibes: image after image of things that don’t quite make sense and definitely don’t connect. But it’s interesting!

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There’s a New Toxic Avenger In Town

Our first look at the new Toxic Avenger—a remake of the 1984 cult film—comes in the form of a kitschy news report, which feels entirely appropriate. “The freaky folk hero” remains at large, says one reporter in this mashup of pretend-news-coverage, in which interviewees say all kinds of wacky stuff about the guy who’s out there doing some vigilante justice. “He looks like a fucked-up hot dog!” says one voice. One impression is a potato with a scrawled-on face.

You never actually see the face of said Avenger in this short peek—just Peter Dinklage looming in a doorway. But you certainly get the gist.

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Mortal and Immortal (Mer)Folk: Poul Anderson’s The Merman’s Children

I first read the component parts of this novel when it was new, or nearly so, in sections, in Lin Carter’s Flashing Swords Anthologies. I still own the paperback of the collected stories, which were published as a novel in 1979.

Poul Anderson was one of my favorites then, for both science fiction and fantasy. He was impressively prolific and could pretty much do it all, from space opera to swords and sorcery, and he was a solid hand at historical fantasy, too. His novella, “The Queen of Air and Darkness,” showed me how fantasy and science fiction could combine into a seamless and lyrical whole. I loved The Broken Sword and The High Crusade and Fire Time.

The Merman’s Children wasn’t one of my great favorites, but some of it came back to me as I reread it. Supposedly it’s based on a Danish ballad, Agnete and the Merman, and not on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. And yet it’s interesting to see how they seem to set up a dialogue on the one theme that persistently gets dropped from adaptations of Andersen: the question of merfolk and immortal souls.

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