John Boyega and Darren Criss to Lead Sci-Fi Thriller Podcast There Be Monsters

Since the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic shut down TV and film productions worldwide, with casts and crews only just beginning to return, creatives have turned to audio productions to tell their stories. There’s Big Finish’s line of Doctor Who radio plays, as well as Audible’s massive Sandman adaptation, just to name a few. Joining the mix is a new 10-part podcast from iHeartRadio starring John Boyega and Darren Criss, Deadline reports, which completed production during quarantine by sending each cast member a “Studio in a Box.” Entitled There Be Monsters, the narrative is a sci-fi thriller about tech companies that sounds like Ex Machina meets Limitless, with a side of Cronenbergian body horror.

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Eliminating Blackface Doesn’t Start By Pretending It Didn’t Happen

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A 20-something Black and Puerto Rican college student walks into a Halloween party in the late 2000s. All of a sudden, he hears the voice of a close friend from across the room. He doesn’t see their face but sees they’re wearing normal clothes.  The twenty-something Black and Puerto Rican college student walks up behind their friend and says “Who are you supposed to be?” The friend turns around—and reveals they’re wearing blackface. With a smile, the friend says to the 20-something Black and Puerto Rican college student, “I’m you.”

Unfortunately, the scenario I described is not an edgy opening bit for my future Netflix comedy special. It’s something that happened to me at a Halloween event some years ago. I hadn’t thought about that stomach-churning night until I saw a headline about 30 Rock a few weeks ago. Tina Fey, along with the show’s co-creator Robert Carlock, announced that she wanted to address the instances of blackface within the comedy series. She issued an apology and pledged to remove certain episodes from the series on various streaming platforms. Fey would make these scenes disappear. 

As I watched other creators follow Fey’s lead, the memory of that Halloween night kept haunting me like a really, really offensive ghost. And I knew why. It’s because I know something that Fey and all those creators didn’t know about addressing the pain of blackface in your past: 

Making it disappear doesn’t work. 

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Rhythm of War Read-Along Discussion: Chapters Four and Five

Welcome back to the read-along post for discussion of this week’s preview chapters of Rhythm of War! Alice and I are so excited to dig into this week’s material, and we’re so happy to have you along for the ride.

If this is your first time joining us, in the article we’ll bring up any relevant plot points or character progression notes that we feel are worthy of discussion, as well as putting in some reminders to things that you may have forgotten from previous books (or things you may never have picked up on to begin with, like the existence of the Aimians, which is pretty subtle and Easter-egg-y). Remember that the comments section is available to you for any comments you have on the chapters for this week, for everything from simple squee-ing over how much you liked something to in-depth theory-crafting. Just be respectful of others’ opinions and have fun!

[It was time for Veil to take over.]

Series: Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Read Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson: Chapters Four and Five

On November 17, 2020, The Stormlight Archive saga continues in Rhythm of War, the eagerly awaited fourth volume in Brandon Sanderson’s #1 New York Times bestselling fantasy series. is serializing the new book from now until release date! A new installment will go live every Tuesday at 9 AM ET.

Every installment is collected here in the Rhythm of War index.

Once you’re done reading, join our resident Cosmere experts for commentary on what this week’s chapters have revealed!

Want to catch up on The Stormlight Archive? Check out our Explaining The Stormlight Archive series!

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Series: Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Andre Norton Goes Gothic in The White Jade Fox

Gothic romance has a long and lively history, from Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto to the works of Ann Radcliffe and the Brontë sisters. Jane Austen did a sendup of the genre in Northanger Abbey, which tells you how popular it was at the beginning of the nineteenth century. And it kept right on going. Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca was a huge bestseller from 1938 onward, and her heirs, including Anya Seton, Victoria Holt, and Mary Stewart, carried on the tradition the way through the end of the millennium and into the next.

Andre Norton seems to have gone through a Gothic phase in the Seventies and early Eighties. The White Jade Fox (1975) ticks all the boxes. Nineteenth-century setting, orphaned heroine, epically dysfunctional family, mysterious and possibly haunted estate, it’s all there.

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Ask Not What Your Family Can Do For You — The Umbrella Academy’s Second Season Is Even Better Than Its First

After a triumphant first season, The Umbrella Academy returns to Netflix with a new story arc. Based on the various comic book miniseries by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá (who are also co-executive producers of the TV adaptation), this second season borrows bits and pieces from the comics miniseries Dallas, but mostly tells its own story.

On the one hand, it delivers pretty much the same basic beats as season one. On the other hand, the story is leaner, more coherent, better structured, and makes excellent use of all seven of the main characters.

[SPOILERS for The Umbrella Academy season two herein!]

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Fair Trade”

“Fair Trade”
Written by Ronald Wilkerson & Jean Louise Matthias and André Bormanis
Directed by Jesús Salvador Treviño
Season 3, Episode 13
Production episode 156
Original air date: January 8, 1997
Stardate: unknown

Captain’s log. Neelix, who apparently isn’t busy enough with being the ship’s cook and morale officer and local guide, is bugging both Tuvok and Torres about the possibility of putting in time with both security and engineering.

[What kind of medical supplies are those?]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Hannibal and Steven Universe Are the Same Show

Since Hannibal hit Netflix last month, a lot of people have been discovering it for the first time, while others are using it as a convenient excuse for a rewatch. I saw a fellow Tor co-worker refer to it as comfort television, and was started to realize I agree. This is a brilliant, difficult, graphically violent show about serial killing, but yes, watching it is relaxing.

A day later I saw a discussion about works of art that define different eras, with the poster positing that Hamilton was the defining work of the Obama era. That made me wonder about the defining works of our current era, and the more I let the question jangle through my brainmeat the more I came back to Hannibal—although the show is a few years old (originally airing 2013-15), it seems to be coming into its own now in a way it never did while it was on NBC. But the more I thought about, a second answer bobbed to the surface, and revealed a startling truth: The defining works of art of this era tell the same story, and those two works are Hannibal and Steven Universe.

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Read To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini: Chapter 8: “Out & About”

Kira Navárez dreamed of life on new worlds.

Now she’s awakened a nightmare.

During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move.

As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human.

Read To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, a brand new epic novel from New York Times bestselling author Christopher Paolini, out September 15, 2020 from Tor Books.

New chapters on every Monday.

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Series: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

Three Lessons Skyrim Taught Me About Living With PTSD

Whiterun. Alduin. Dragonborn. Skeever. At the start of 2018, those words meant nothing to me. I couldn’t have told you who the Black-Briars were or why taking an arrow in the knee was supposed to be funny. Belethor? Never heard of him.

Instead, I spent most of 2018 and the two years prior in therapy, where I was diagnosed with PTSD after living with the symptoms for over a decade. I underwent EMDR, an intensive form of psychotherapy that helps process traumatic memories. I learned what my triggers were and how to respond to them, talked about my inner child, sat in a small room and recalled some of my most painful memories.

I was enormously privileged to have the resources and time to spend on my therapy, but after focusing on it for so long I began to doubt how I could move forward. Stirring up the old waters of my memory left me hyper-vigilant and scared of what would come next. And all my old ways of coping? Well, most of them weren’t so good for me after all. I’d need to learn better ways to take care of myself moving forward. It felt like my old save file had been lost or corrupted and I was being forced to start over as a level-one character with nothing but the tunic on my back and a dragon bearing down overhead.

I needed a Hadvar to lead me through the caves. I needed to escape.

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Announcing the 2020 Hugo Award Winners

The winners of the 2020 Hugo Awards have been announced at CoNZealand! You can read the full list below. Winners for the 2020 Hugo Awards and the 1945 Retrospective Hugo Awards appear in bold.

The Awards were presented on August 1, 2020 at a ceremony at the 78th World Science Fiction Convention in New Zealand, which was entirely virtual due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Nominations for the 2020 and 1945 Hugo Awards were submitted by the members of CoNZealand, the 78th Worldcon, and Dublin 2019: An Irish Worldcon. 1,584 people submitted 27,033 nominations for the 2020 Hugo Awards, and 120 people submitted 1,677 nominations for the 1945 Retrospective Hugo Awards.

Congrats to the finalists and winners!

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Walk Beneath the Canopy of 8 Fictional Forests

Give me your Fangorns and your Lothloriens, your Green Hearts and your Elvandars. Evoke your Haunted Forest Beyond the Wall complete with creepy weirwoods, your Steddings and your Avendesoras. Send me pleasant dreams about Totoro’s Japanese Camphor and the Forest Spirit’s kodama-filled canopy. Or, y’know, tree cities full of Wookiees instead of elves. I will take them all!

Forests in speculative fiction novels have a special place in my heart. Especially tree-cities.

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Worldcon 2022 Will Take Place in Chicago

The 80th World Science Fiction Convention will officially take place in Chicago, Illinois. The city overwhelmingly won the site selection poll with a count of 517 total votes, beating out Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, which garnered 33. This means Worldcon attendees in 2022 will gather at the Hyatt Regency for Chicon 8, featuring guests of honor including author Charles de Lint and artist Floyd Norman, as well as toastmasters Charlie Jane Anders and Annalee Newitz.

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