How Animorphs and ReBoot Used Cheesiness to Get Away With Telling Important Stories of Trauma

Even today, even in the era of mainstream geekdom and publicly embracing guilty pleasures, I still cannot recommend two formative pieces of genre work from my childhood (the mid-’90s to early ’00s) without caveats. One was the first book series that I committed to with unabashed zeal, buying new installments monthly and absorbing myself in its world (nay, universe) for half a decade. The other was the TV series that first brought me online reading and then writing fanfiction; it was also my first lesson in the exhilaration-followed-by-disappointment of seeing a beloved series come back from cancellation not-quite-right. Animorphs and ReBoot shaped me as a fan and a writer; they were the first places where I learned how to make your characters grow with their audience, and how to depict war and its indelible consequences.

They are also cheesy as all get-out, with their ’90s-tastic Photoshop morphing book covers and CGI characters rapid-fire riffing on pop culture. But it was this unapologetically cartoonish packaging that made both series brilliant Trojan horses of a sort, ferrying impressively dark tales of trauma and recovery they might not have otherwise gotten away with.

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The Chosen Children of Portal Fantasies

Let’s talk about doors for a moment, you and I.

Let’s talk about the power of something closed, whether or not it’s been forbidden; the mystery of the trapdoor that leads up into the attic, the powerful draw of the locked hatch that leads down into the cellar, the irresistible temptation of someone else’s fridge or medicine cabinet. We want to know what’s on the other side—and I don’t mean we want to be told. We want to see. We want to look with our own eyes, and know that no one can take that looking away from us. People are curious. It’s one of our defining characteristics. We want to know.

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Reading The Ruin of Kings: Chapter 9

Hello,! Enjoying yourself this fine December Tuesday? Heard your 11111th rendition of Jingle Bells yet? Ready to murder something yet? Well, don’t do that; instead, come read about something that has nothing to do with Christmas or holidays or bells whatsoever—this blog! I am here for you, my peeps.

This blog series will be covering the first 17 chapters of the forthcoming novel The Ruin of Kings, first of a five-book series by Jenn Lyons. Previous entries can be found here in the series index.

Today’s post will be covering Chapter 9, “Souls and Stones”, which is available for your reading delectation right here.

Read it? Great! Then click on to find out what I thought!

[“Hello, salt!” “Hello, pepper!” = Seasons’ Greetings!]

Series: The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons: Chapter 9

Debut author Jenn Lyons has created one of the funniest, most engrossing new epic fantasy novels of the 21st century in The Ruin of Kings. An eyebrow-raising cross between the intricacy of Brandon Sanderson’s worldbuilding and the snark of Patrick Rothfuss.

Which is why is releasing one or two chapters per week, leading all the way up to the book’s release on February 5th, 2019!

Not only that, but our resident Wheel of Time expert Leigh Butler will be reading along and reacting with you. So when you’re done with this week’s chapter, head on over to Reading The Ruin of Kings for some fresh commentary.

Our journey continues…

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Series: The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

Reading the Wheel of Time: Many Worlds, One Fate in Robert Jordan’s The Great Hunt (Part 20)

Welcome to Week Twenty of my read of The Great Hunt. This post means that the installment for The Great Hunt is now as long as the one for The Eye of the World was, and we still have a lot left to cover! Somehow I get the feeling this is a trend that will only continue as the Read does.

There is a lot of really interesting world building in Chapters 36 and 37; we learn a little more about the Ogier and about the Machin Shin, and through Rand’s experience of the other worlds, we get to see a view of this one that neither he nor we have quite had yet. We also learn some more about what happens to a man who can channel, and that there are other effects besides just losing their mind. And it’s not pretty.

[Flicker flicker flicker flicker.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Get Into the Holiday Spirit With This Heartwarming The LEGO Movie 2 Short

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part won’t hit theaters until February, when we’re deep into winter’s bitter chill, but here’s a cute little short to tide you over and help you go into the holidays with peace and goodwill. “Emmet’s Holiday Party” has everyone’s favorite normal special guy bringing cheer to Apocalypseburg despite Wyldstyle’s brooding about the impending Duplo threat. That cheer includes a tree dressed by Wonder Woman’s lasso, Green Lantern’s lights, Unikitty’s rainbow puke, and Batman in an ugly Christmas sweater.

Honestly, we would watch an entire LEGO Movie holiday special.

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Saving a World with The Sioux Spaceman

I opened this book with trepidation, fearing it would be another misfire in the mode of The Defiant Agents. The cover copy of the edition I have is not encouraging. “…He alone, because of his Indian blood, had the key…”

Ouch. No.

Fortunately, while there are definitely elements of its time—in this case, 1960—the novel itself is a lively and enjoyable adventure. The racial determinism is relatively low-key, and the take on colonialism is surprisingly self-aware. This is no Defiant Agents (thank god). It reminds me much more of the Beast Master books.

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Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, Chapters 15 and 16

In this segment of Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, the Dowager Lady Vorpatril is hosting a dinner party for her son’s in-laws who have just arrived from Earth. It’s been just over six months since this blog last discussed a dinner party. Lady Alys is much better at them than her nephew, but the evening is not without its dangers.

Ivan’s unscheduled morning meeting with Admiral Desplaines and an ImpSec agent has made it clear that Ivan’s personal life has a great many political implications. His in-laws—previously thought to be deceased—are a matter of significant concern to ImpSec. There is some question about whether Ivan should be relieved of duty until the situation is resolved. Ivan deploys his Vor-ish dignity to reject this calumny. It’s not entirely clear to me how ImpSec chooses to follow up. Did they involve themselves in the dinner party through any of the three ImpSec operatives who attended, or did they pursue other avenues of investigation? I suppose they could have done both.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Amazon Studios to Produce Deadtown and Launch Superhero Universe from Catherynne M. Valente’s The Refrigerator Monologues

The Refrigerator Monologues, Catherynne M. Valente’s brilliant mashup of the intimate confessions of The Vagina Monologues with a scathing commentary on comic books’ tendency to fridge superhero wives/girlfriends/sidekicks, is being adapted for television. Amazon Studios will produce Deadtown, a pilot that will in turn establish what Deadline describes as “an original superhero universe set in the modern era with an underlying theme of female empowerment.” Shauna Cross (Whip It, If I Stay, What to Expect When You’re Expecting) will write the pilot.

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Did Short Treks’ “The Brightest Star” Violate the Prime Directive?

The latest installment in the mini-anthology series Short Treks —“The Brightest Star”—is the first of these new stories not to take place on the starship Discovery, but, so far, it’s probably the installment that will be the most satisfying for hardcore fans. Not only do we find out how and why Mr. Saru joined Starfleet, there’s also a huge surprise cameo from a very familiar character at the very end of the episode. But the actions of that person, particularly in relation to Saru’s species, will bring up a very old Trekkie question: was the Prime Directive violated here?

[Huge spoilers ahead!]

See Charlie Jane Anders on Tour for The City in the Middle of the Night!

“If you control our sleep, then you can own our dreams… And from there, it’s easy to control our entire lives.”

January is a dying planet—divided between a permanently frozen darkness on one side, and blazing endless sunshine on the other. Humanity clings to life, spread across two archaic cities built in the sliver of habitable dusk.

But life inside the cities is just as dangerous as the uninhabitable wastelands outside.

Sophie, a student and reluctant revolutionary, is supposed to be dead, after being exiled into the night. Saved only by forming an unusual bond with the enigmatic beasts who roam the ice, Sophie vows to stay hidden from the world, hoping she can heal.

But fate has other plans—and Sophie’s ensuing odyssey and the ragtag family she finds will change the entire world.

The City in the Middle of the Night is available February 12 from Tor Books, and Charlie Jane Anders is going on tour! Check out the full list of dates and venues below.

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Titans Clash in the New Godzilla: King of the Monsters Trailer

“So, you’d want to make Godzilla our pet?”
“No. We would be his.”

The new trailer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters has that excellent exchange, plus the promised look at each of the legendary titans—some who will help save humanity, some who could wipe us out unless Godzilla agrees to protect us as if we were man’s—er, monster’s best friend.

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Watch the First Trailer for James Gunn’s Superhero Horror Movie Brightburn

Imagine you’re Martha and Jonathan Kent, and Kal-El’s ship crashes into your backyard—the universe answering your dreams for a child. So you bury the ship in the barn, raise this otherworldly visitor as your human son, and all is well until Clark begins manifesting powers. Except instead of doing good and growing up into a beloved icon to protect America and the world… he acts a bit more like Damien from The Omen.

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Looking Up, Looking Down — Star Trek’s “The Brightest Star”

One of the hallmarks of Star Trek from the very beginning was to have at least one alien character who provides a non-human perspective on things. It started, naturally, with Spock on the original series, and also includes Worf on The Next Generation (and to a lesser extent, Troi and Data), Tuvok, Neelix, Kes, and Seven of Nine (and to a lesser extent, Torres) on Voyager, T’Pol on Enterprise, and more than half the cast of Deep Space Nine.

On Discovery, that role has gone to Saru, who has in one season vaulted himself into the upper echelons of great Trek characters. His compassion, his intellect, his unique perspective as a prey animal, all combine to make him a most compelling character.

So it’s just a pity that this focus on him doesn’t really work.

[Look down every now and then — there’s beauty there, as well…]

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