Romance, Zombies, and Magic: K-Dramas for SFF Fans

Did you watch Squid Game?

Millions did, and discovered K-drama for the first time. The appeal is understandable: a (usually) short season which gives viewers a solid chunk of story doled out in weekly installments. Then it’s on to the next story, which will likely be vastly different from the last. Because K-drama doesn’t just offer operatically bloody anti-capitalist adventures: there’s truly something for everyone. Suspensful murder mystery? Check. Office politics? Check. Tender rom-com? Check. Gorgeously realized historical court drama? Check and check. And then there’s my favorite, science-fiction and fantasy.

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The Mandalorian Returns In Just Three Months

Though The Book of Boba Fett certainly felt like The Mandalorian season 2.5, we technically haven’t seen Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) in his own show for a full two years—not since a certain Jedi showed up with an offer to train a certain tiny green friend.

All that’s behind us after Boba Fett, but there’s still the matter of the Darksaber, the entire troubled planet of Mandalore, Din’s cult-like upbringing, oh, you know, just some small stuff for him to deal with. And now we know when that story will start: The Mandalorian’s third season premieres on March 1, 2023.

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Five SF Stories About Ghost Ships

If there is one constant in the history of seafaring, it is that from time to time ships misplace their entire complement of crew and passengers, which leaves the empty vessel to drift unattended. This is a perfectly natural process. One should never hesitate to board and salvage one of these mysteriously empty craft. After all, it’s not as if whatever happened to the previous occupants will affect you!

This is as true for starships as it is for sea vessels, as these five works will show.

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Not All Is Well In Space in the Trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

SPACE OTTER! SPACE OTTER!

Sorry, were we supposed to be enthused about Star Lord? There is a SPACE OTTER in this trailer. The rest of the gang’s all here—sort of—but there is one little shot of Rocket (Bradley Cooper) hugging a space otter, and that’s clearly the most important thing about the somewhat belated return of the Guardians of the Galaxy.

I’m not dragging them for being late, mind you. This is the first thing anyone says here: “We were gone for quite a while.”

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Indy’s Back in the Brand New Trailer for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny!

New Indiana Jones trailer klaxon! Indy’s back in a new adventure called Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny—which could mean any number of things!

Coming along for the ride are a few new villains, at least one old friend, and a new character in the form of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Helena. It looks like maybe she’ll be handing any action sequences Harrison Ford declines.

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Subtle Hauntings, Subtle Homage: Erika T. Wurth’s White Horse

What does it mean to have a great location in a work of fiction? If you’re writing something tinged with the supernatural, it can give that fiction a sense of veracity, a lived-in quality that’s magnified even more when the arcane or uncanny elements show up. Part of the appeal for me of Gene Wolfe’s Peace or Free Live Free is the way the settings of those novels feel almost tactile as I’m making my way through their pages. The same could be said for adrienne maree brown’s Grievers, which offered a rich sense of what it’s like for its characters every day—making the more speculative elements of that book even more deeply felt.

That’s also the case in Erika T. Wurth’s White Horse, which plays its supernatural elements very close to the vest and uses them sparingly.

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Yes, Guillermo del Toro Still Wants to Make At the Mountains of Madness, Perhaps in Stop-Animation Form?

Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro is clearly pushing his own campaign to make an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness. We already knew that he got to the test footage stage of an adaptation a decade ago, with Universal ultimately canning the project. Del Toro also tried to make the film once more in 2017 after the success of The Shape of Water but got nowhere.

The director still hasn’t given up, however, and after the critical success of his stop-animation feature, Pinocchio, he’s pushing to make a Mountains of Madness adaptation once more, this time (maybe?) in stop animation as well.

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Welcome to Nightmare Hall: The Silent Scream, Monster, and The Vampire’s Kiss

R.L. Stine’s Fear Street is the best-known of the ‘90s teen horror series, but it wasn’t the only one. Diane Hoh’s Nightmare Hall is a 29-book series chronicling the dark history and inexplicable goings-on at Salem University. Hoh’s series followed the kids of ‘90s teen horror beyond graduation as they ventured into the great wide world, where they usually discovered a whole new set of horrors. The cover design of the Nightmare Hall books featured a window cut-out in the cover, through which the bookstore browser could get a tantalizingly incomplete peek at the horrors that lay within, with a second, inner cover providing further visual clues—a dead body, a lurking monster—without giving away the novel’s mystery. 

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Meet the Maximals in the Trailer for Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

They’re robots; of course their franchise never dies. After an uncountable number of Michael Bay Transformers movies, the robot series is headed off in a new direction. And it’s historical fiction, too! By which I mean it’s set in the ’90s. (Hey, it worked for Captain Marvel.)

And this trailer wastes no time in getting to its point: Say hello to the beast-transforming Maximals and their leader, Optimus Primal (voiced by Ron Perlman).

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Can Any Book Truly Be Timeless?

Last week I went to see a band, which is a fairly normal occurrence for me. It wasn’t just any show, though; it was a date on a 30th anniversary tour, a celebration of a record that came out decades ago.

It did not feel particularly celebratory. But it did feel specific. The Lemonheads’ It’s a Shame About Ray is an album from the early ’90s, made at that specific time, riddled—to those who listened to it both then and now—with potholes of nostalgia, splashes of memory. I can’t hear it without hearing the echoes of when I first heard it.

But it’s not timeless. I’m not sure music can be timeless; it’s ephemeral and visceral at once, subject to the recording tools of its day, bent and shaped by so many forces and talents and skills and feelings that it almost can’t not be of a moment.

Can the same be said of books?

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How Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris Planted the Seeds for Future Cosmere Goodness

Every Sanderson fan has an origin story—we’re like superheroes in that way. Some of us come to Sanderson via brute force, recommendations from friends wearing us down until we accept our fate. Others enjoy a more roundabout path, stumbling into the Cosmere by complete accident. No matter the method, Sanderson’s work often finds its way to fantasy-obsessed readers, catapulting the books to a spot on our favorite shelves. And everyone’s experience differs, thanks to the author’s frankly impressive portfolio.

I took the roundabout way. After buying my wife the first Mistborn trilogy as a gift, I ended up reading them first (don’t worry, I got her many other presents that I didn’t commandeer for myself). Enamored, I began devouring Brandon Sanderson’s work, making 2021 the year of the Sanderlanche. To date, I’ve logged Mistborn era one, Mistborn era two (The Wax and Wayne Cycle), The Way of Kings, Elantris, and (as of this writing) about 10% of Warbreaker.

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