Oscar Isaac Will Play Mitchell Hundred in the Film Adaptation of Ex Machina

Once again, Oscar Isaac will be the star of a film called Ex MachinaOr rather, this time, Oscar Isaac will be starring in a film based on a work called Ex Machina, whose name was changed for the adaptation, presumably to avoid confusion about which Oscar Isaac-starring Ex Machina filmgoers are talking about at any given time.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Oscar Isaac will be playing superhero-turned-politician Mitchell Hundred in The Great Machine, the film adaptation of Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris’ comic book series of a different name. He’ll also be producing the film, THR reports, alongside his manager and producer Jason Spire.

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Comin’ Straight From the Underground: Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi

It’s fitting that Tochi Onyebuchi’s first adult novella, Riot Baby, comes out the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The roots of activists like MLK run deep through the story, not the sugar-coated, hand-holding, civil rights Santa Claus version the majority likes to champion but the impassioned preacher who wrote fiery words decrying those who stood in the way of progress. Onyebuchi’s story is a clarion call for action and an indictment of pacifism. And it’s a damn good story, too.

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The Gideon the Ninth Reread: Chapters 1 and 2

Hello, my little sacks of bones, and welcome to the start of the Gideon the Ninth reread! I’m your host, Regina Phalange, and over the next few months, I’ll be walking you through Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir from beginning to end, in preparation for the release of Harrow the Ninth, the second book in the Locked Room trilogy!

Today, I’ll be covering chapters one and two, and heads up: there will be more spoilers than the Youtube comments of a Star Wars movie trailer. So if you haven’t read the book yet, you might want to bone up on your reading first.

Okay, now buckle your seatbelts, strap on your helmets, and keep all ulnas and femurs inside the vehicle, because here we go!

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Series: Gideon the Ninth Reread

“Where in your affidavit does it say you’re Black?”: Why Worldbuilding Can’t Neglect Race

“Where in your affidavit does it say you’re Black?”

I was on the witness stand, and opposing counsel had on a red tie. Suit jacket was either black or a dark enough blue that it might as well have been black. Pants either matched or were khakis. The details are a little fuzzy in my memory; I remember the essence of the kid rather than his specifics. But he was white and his tie was red. And it was too long.

There was a window to my right. Early afternoon sunlight gilded the desks behind which sat his clones. My representation was on the far side of the room.

“Where in your affidavit does it say you’re Black?”

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Jared Harris Says He Is Not Playing Doctor Octopus in Morbius

When the first teaser trailer for Morbius dropped last week, two Spider-Man-related Easter Eggs instantly caught our eye. But it looks like some fans have seized on a third detail—Jared Harris’ brief appearance as a seemingly innocuous childhood friend—to fuel a theory that the actor is secretly playing Doctor Octopus.

As exciting as that sounds, it’s very much not the case. Speaking to Variety at the 2020 SAG Awards, the actor completely debunked the rumors while nevertheless praising fans for their spidey senses.

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A Collaborative Effort: Andre Norton’s Return to Quag Keep

For the most part I’ve been reading and rereading Andre Norton’s solo novels. She wrote so many, and there are still quite a few left to go. Once in a while however I’ll pick up one of her collaborations, to round out a series or to satisfy my curiosity about what she intended to happen next.

Quag Keep has a typical abrupt Norton closing, and it’s typically open-ended as well. The adventure is finished but the adventurers from our world are still trapped in the world of the game. There are clear pointers toward a sequel, but Norton never got around to finishing it.

Jean Rabe’s posthumous collaboration answers quite a few of my questions about What Next.

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What Makes an Adaptation “Good” or “Bad”?

As many (many) hot takes in various media outlets have proclaimed: adaptations are all the rage. Of course, adaptations have been around since the earliest days of moving pictures—and have always varied wildly in quality and success. For every Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, there’s a Legend of Earthsea or a Queen of the Damned. And even the ones considered successful often have their fair share of unsatisfied fans. What is it about transforming a written work into a film (or miniseries, television show, etc.) that gets us so excited (or so worried)? It’s easy to guess why studios love adapting; having an existing, successful script and built-in audience is certainly an advantage. Considering how often hardcore fans are disappointed in the big-screen iteration of their beloved source material—and casual viewers couldn’t care less—I often wonder what keeps bringing us back for more. Is it simply curiosity, the tantalizing prospect of seeing what we’ve only imagined?

What kind of magic do you need to make a good adaptation? What even is a “good” adaptation? Is it a faithful reproduction of the source? Does it use the material as a springboard to create something different? Is it a blueprint, or is it an outline? When is a novel/story/comic the complete basis of a film or TV adaptation, and when is it just inspiration? Does it matter when you experience the original vs. the adapted version? I wish I had the space or the time to dive into these questions with the depth they deserve. For now, however, I’m hoping to scratch the surface a bit with a rather specific test case.

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5 Books That Leave You With Hope for Humanity

I gotta admit—I really struggle with dark, morally gray stories with heavy, bleak endings. I have to ration those kinds of books, limiting myself to one every 4 or 6 months. Most of it is because of depression, my constant shadow—past experience tells me that I’ll take on all those heavy emotions, and it’ll make for a pretty unpleasant week or so afterward. The rest? Personal preference for the shinier side of life.

Don’t get me wrong, I do think darker stories are important, especially as a way of processing trauma and addressing big issues. And hell, some people just like them! That’s cool. You do you. For me, though, I want to leave a book feeling like the world isn’t so bad, like there’s hope for us all if we can just keep going. And so, this list was born!

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Series: Five Books About…

Voices: An Ode to Black Science-Fiction & Fantasy Writers

In recent years there has been an uptick, if not an actual surge, of the works by fantasy writers of color finally, deservedly, entering the mainstream. These stories are as broad and wide sweeping as the culture itself. From The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton and Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, to N.K. Jemison’s The Fifth Season. Beautiful novels with intricate, fully imagined, complicated characters and worlds.

But, our voices have always been here, in the background, creating stories. Martin Delany, the first African American to attend Harvard Medical school, is credited with writing what is considered the first book of fantasy by a person of color: Blake or the Huts of America in 1857, the story of an escaped slave who travels throughout the Americas, and Cuba in a quest to unite all Blacks against slavery. Imperium in Imperio in 1899 by Sutton Griggs tells the story of two men involved in a secret organization dedicated to eliminating injustice and creating an independent black state inside of Texas. Even the famed civil rights activist, author, and historian W.E.B. DuBois wrote a piece of science fiction called The Comet, about a post-apocalyptic New York, where the only survivors, and hope for the human race, are a working class black man and a wealthy white woman.

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Oddballs vs. Graboids: Celebrating 30 Years of Tremors

When it comes to creature features—the horror subgenre built around monstrous beasts and the spectacular havoc they tend to wreak—two decades stand out. The atomic anxiety of the 1950s gave birth to classics such as Godzilla, as well as generating future Mystery Science Theater 3000 fare like The Crawling Eye. Then, as the conservative revival of the 1980s took hold in the U.S., filmmakers critiqued the movement and resulting cultural shifts via darker, more cynical features such as David Cronenberg’s The Fly and John Carpenter’s The Thing. 

Although praised less rarely, the 1990s also saw its fair share of films that share significant DNA with classic creature features, from Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster Jurassic Park to the Renny Harlin schlock favorite Deep Blue Sea. Unlike their predecessors, however, these movies were often upbeat and fun, escapist films that celebrated the strangeness of the monster instead of the vileness of humanity. In these movies, man is rarely the true monster. 

No movie signaled this change in approach better than Tremors, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this month. With its impressive practical monster effects and cast of small-town oddballs, Tremors changed the direction of creature features to something wackier and more fun, but no less interesting.

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