The Bittersweet Hug of TJ Klune’s Under the Whispering Door

Those who’ve read Klune’s other works know that his stories are full of heart. His latest work, Under the Whispering Door, also has heart, but differs from his previous works; it’s a story about grief, a tale suffused with love but also tinged with sadness.

That’s not to say the story is a tragic one. It’s still uplifting, but it hurts at times, the very definition of bittersweet. Those coming to the story expecting something similar to his last adult novel, The House in the Cerulean Sea, will find something different here. Where Cerulean Sea is like a friend giving you a warm fuzzy hug, Under the Whispering Door is a friend hugging you while you’re in the middle of a cathartic cry.

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Meet Katrina, the Violin Prodigy in Ryka Aoki’s Light From Uncommon Stars

The lives of three women—Katrina, Shizuka, and Lan—become entangled by chance and fate in Ryka Aoki’s Light From Uncommon Stars, a defiantly joyful adventure publishing September 28th with Tor Books. From the author:

Katrina is my favorite character because although she is a young trans woman fleeing trauma and abuse, she still yearns to find a way to express who she is, and the music she contains. She may deny herself, and even sell herself to survive, but she is always aware of her music, and she has never lost the hope that her music will guide her home.

We’re thrilled to share an excerpt below—meet Katrina, and check back later this week for additional excerpts!

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David Lynch’s Dune Kept Science Fiction Cinema Strange

Welcome to Close Reads! In this series, Leah Schnelbach and guest authors will dig into the tiny, weird moments of pop culture—from books to theme songs to a single television episode—that have burrowed into our minds, found rent-stabilized apartments, started community gardens, and refused to be forced out by corporate interests.

Everyone knows that David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation of Dune is bad. Hell, this film—dubbed “worst movie of the year” by Roger Ebert—was such a disaster it basically drove Lynch from mainstream films. It’s one of SFF’s most famous flops. A disaster. So please believe me that I’m not trolling or looking for a controversial “hot take” when I say that Lynch’s Dune is one of my all-time favorite science fiction films, and perhaps the SF movie that influenced me more than any other.

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Series: Close Reads

Seven Things I Want to See in a Quantum Leap Reboot

Reboots, expansions, and continuations are everywhere these days on television. In recent years, genre properties from Mystery Science Theater 3000 to Star Trek have made small-screen comebacks, and now there’s news of another a sci-fi classic returning: Quantum Leap!

Theorizing that a Quantum Leap reboot could once again tackle social issues and provide hours of thought-provoking television, while also providing nostalgia-trips for the Millennial generation, Leah Schnelbach stepped into this article… and wrote a list of things she’d like to see in a new Quantum Leap.

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A Time Traveler’s Work Is Never Done, So Quantum Leap May Get Rebooted

Not for the first time, we’re thinking about what a Quantum Leap reboot might look like—but this time we’re talking about it because of star Scott Bakula, who told Bob Saget (on Saget’s podcast) that “significant conversations” are happening about a new version of the series.

Bakula also noted that he’s not sure what the state of the rights to the show are. So maybe this will never happen. But maybe it will.

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Reading The Wheel of Time: Moiraine Makes a Run for It in Robert Jordan’s New Spring (Part 8)

Welcome back friends to our read of New Spring, here on Reading The Wheel of Time. Last week I suggested that we would cover Chapters 14 and 15, but I had so much to say about Moiraine and the White Tower that we’re only going to get through Chapter 14, which is called “Changes,” which means I’ve had the David Bowie song stuck in my head for the last few days.

Oh, and I normally try not to use the words “read” and “time” too frequently, since they seem to come up a lot. Today I thought I’d lean in and see what the opposite intention looks like, which unfortunately didn’t come out as amusingly as I had hoped. But I’m feeling a bit punchy today, so that is the energy I’m going to be bringing to my recap and analysis. Let’s do this!

[Long goodbyes would have turned to tears, and she could not risk that..]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Beauty Inspired by Horror: Creating Jewelry for Cassandra Khaw’s Nothing But Blackened Teeth

In the publishing industry, we see all kinds of swag created for books, from enamel pins to tote bags, art, custom teas, and more. But Cassandra Khaw, author of Nothing but Blackened Teeth (October 19, Nightfire) wanted to do something different to celebrate their book. This necklace was designed by Sofia Ajram, founder of Sofia Akia jewelry in collaboration with Khaw. We chatted with both of them to find out more about the process!

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Howard Shore Is Reportedly Joining Amazon’s Lord of the Rings Series

Ever since Amazon announced that it would produce a series set in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth, a big question that’s hung over the production has been how well it will line up with the existing adaptations of the classic novels. Peter Jackson’s New Zealand-shot films have undoubtedly cemented the image of Middle-earth in the minds of many viewers, and the studio has filmed its first season in the country, which should provide some visual continuity for viewers.

Jackson isn’t involved in the series, although he did take some meetings with Amazon, but the studio has apparently courted another major figure who helped define the series: Howard Shore, the composer who produced the scores for all of Jackson’s Middle-earth-set films.

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Magical World Building: Cazadora by Romina Garber

For her whole life, Manu has lived as an undocumented person, first as an Argentinian immigrant in Miami and now as the “illegal” child of a human and a Septimus (a magical person). Her werewolf father wants to protect her from his people just as her human mother wants to protect Manu from hers. After the events of the first book, Manu goes on the lam with her Septimus friends, Tiago, a lobizón (a male werewolf) and Manu’s crush, Cata and Saysa, brujas (female witches) who are also secret girlfriends. They race to keep ahead of the Cazadores (basically, a cross between the cops and ICE, but with magic) who want to kill Manu for violating the laws of their portal world of Kerana.

Along the way, the teens meet non-compliant Septimus living on the fringe or hiding in plain sight who all have their own reasons for wanting to break down the walls of their oppressive society. But do they want to dismantle the system or simply reform it? The former would allow Manu to live freely and openly, while the latter would consign her to second class citizenship, with no rights and no say in her life. How much are her friends and new allies willing to risk for Manu? For the betterment of their people? All Manu wants is to finally have a home where she can be herself without fear. In Cazadora, that may be a dream beyond her grasp.

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Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Workforce, Part I”

“Workforce” (Part 1)
Written by Kenneth Biller & Bryan Fuller
Directed by Allan Kroeker
Season 7, Episode 16
Production episode 262
Original air date: February 21, 2001
Stardate: 54584.3

Captain’s log. We open on Quarra in a large industrial complex, where we see Janeway reporting for her first day at a new job, monitoring the primary reactor coils. She was also late, as she boarded the wrong transport. Her new supervisor is understanding—it’s easy for newcomers to get lost—and sets her up at her work station.

[This isn’t right! We don’t belong here!]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

When a Bus Fight Is More Than a Bus Fight: Shang-Chi’s Cinematic Roots

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is known for borrowing a dash of flavor from other films or genres. Captain America: Winter Soldier draws some of its feel from the paranoid political thrillers of the 1970s. The MCU Spider-Man movies take some cues from the teen comedies of John Hughes. The Ant-Mans (Ant-Men?) pilfer from various capers. Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 is a Shane Black movie. They aren’t exact copies, but the influences are there if you look for them.

It’s unavoidable that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings would emulate the forms of martial arts cinema, and more overtly than the spiritual kung-fu movie Doctor Strange. What I found interesting was the mix of martial arts subgenres at play. There’s Jackie Chan-inflected Hong Kong action, nods to period kung-fu movies of the 70s and 80s, wuxia romance, and blockbuster fantasy that wouldn’t be out of place in Tsui Hark’s filmography.

At times, Shang-Chi feels likes a history of movie watching for Asian-American kids of a certain age.

[Major Shang-Chi spoilers below]

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