800 Panicked Questions We Have About Spider-Man No Longer Being in the MCU

New York’s friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is leaving the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

As reported by Deadline, Sony and Disney have failed to reach new agreement terms after months of negotiations and have essentially nixed producer Kevin Feige and Marvel’s involvement from further Spider-Man films.

So we just have a few questions, the first one being How dare you?

[Read more]

Sleeps With Monsters: Books That Spark Joy

Last column out, I mentioned that I woke up one day to discover I hated every book I read. Shortly afterwards, I made a resolution, at least for now, to only read books that—to borrow a phrase—”sparked joy” and left me feeling delighted with my experience of the narrative. (Or at the very least, pleased.) This has had the beneficial effect of removing a significant number of volumes from my to-be-read shelf.

And increasing my pleasure in reading significantly.

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Series: Sleeps With Monsters

Just Out of Sight: Echoes, Edited by Ellen Datlow

“I don’t believe in ghosts, but I love ghost stories,” opens esteemed editor Ellen Datlow in her introduction to Echoes. The anthology’s central focus is the ‘ghost story’ but within that framework it ranges wide, across the world and through the decades, from familial dramas to wartime haunts and more. Echoes is an absolute behemoth of an anthology, with all pieces minus three reprints original to the book.

That makes for roughly seven hundred pages of never-seen-before spooky stories by writers ranging the gamut from Nathan Ballingrud to A. C. Wise, Stephen Graham Jones to Indrapamit Das, and so on. Stories are set in India, in Britain, in the US. Some are ghost stories with science fictional settings, others purely fantastical, others still realist—but there’s always the creeping dread, a specter at the corner of the story’s vision. The sheer volume of work Datlow has collected in Echoes fills out the nooks and crannies of the theme with gusto.

[A review.]

Long-Distance Hikers Love Fantasy

Take away the Ents, the Nazgûl, the Orcs, and all those pesky battles and Elven deliberations from The Lord of the Rings, and really what you have is a series about one very epic hike. But how epic is it? Well, it depends on who you ask. Tallying up how many miles it took for Frodo and Sam to get to Mount Doom is a popular past-time for LOTR fans, and if you visit New Zealand, where Peter Jackson’s trilogy was filmed, there are plenty of hiking tours designed to put you in the Hobbitses’ foot-steps.

The Venn Diagram of Tolkien-lovers and hiking fans doesn’t end there. As it turns out, there’s a whole sub-culture of thru-hikers—those who hike long-distance trails end-to-end—who are also huge fantasy readers.

[Read more]

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch Extra: What We Left Behind

We hereby present this review of the documentary What We Left Behind in the same format as “The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch” by the same author that ran on this site from 2013-2015, and a similar format to the current “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Reread” of the post-finale DS9 fiction.

What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Deep Space Nine
Directed by Ira Steven Behr
Original release date: May 13, 2019
Stardate: n/a

Station log. Ira Steven Behr, the show-runner of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine for most of its run, gets together a massive number of people involved with the show to talk about it on the occasion of the show’s conclusion happening twenty years ago.

[If people aren’t bothered by it or don’t like it, then you’re doing something wrong…]

Series: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch

From the Two Rivers: Casting and Race in The Wheel of Time

“It’s about my story, isn’t it? That’s what this is all about. He didn’t want to publish my story. And we all know why—because my hero is a colored man.”
—Benny Russell, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, “Far Beyond the Stars”

“Momma! There’s a black lady on TV and she ain’t no maid!”
—Caryn Elaine Johnson, age 10, watching Star Trek in 1966, 16 years before becoming Whoopi Goldberg

Last week the producers of Amazon’s Wheel of Time television adaptation announced the cast for what can reasonably be called the show’s main protagonists, insofar as a 15-book series with over 2000 named characters and 147 unique point of view characters has main protagonists. In the books, the five characters announced today serve as the reader’s eyes for over 40% of the action, whether counting by words or by POVs. These characters matter—they are among the most famous characters in all of Western fantasy, with over 80 million copies of the Wheel of Time novels sold in the past thirty years.

Three of the five actors are of African ancestry or are Aboriginal Australian.

The announcement has sent shock waves across much of the fandom, and for an important reason: it serves as explicit rejection of an implicit promise made a very long time ago.

[Read more]

Rick and Morty and Nihilism: Why We Embrace A Show That Cares About Nothing

When I decided to major in English, my parents thought I might use this highly versatile degree to pursue law or medicine. Little did they know that I’d end up applying that (much too) expensive education to analyzing a television show about a drunken, sociopathic mad scientist with a flying space car. Rick and Morty, created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon, is pretty much an instant cult classic. Kayla Cobb calls it “a never-ending fart joke wrapped around a studied look into nihilism,” and personally I think she hits the nail on the head with that description. There are probably a thousand different philosophical lenses through which you could study this show and never get bored. And probably someone who is better versed in philosophy should do just that (because yes please!)

The best I can do is follow my own layman’s curiosity down the rabbit hole. What exactly is it about this show’s gleeful nihilism that appeals to so many fans, the vast majority of which would not consider themselves nihilists in any sense of the word? The draw of the show is strong for Millennials in particular, which is odd, since we’re the ones who obsess over Queer Eye’s unbridled optimism, Marie Kondo’s blissful joy, and Steven Universe’s wide-eyed hopefulness in equal measure. In a society enamored by the concept of self (self-care, self-responsibility, self-love), what is so fascinating about a fantasy world that revolves around the destruction of any sense of individual importance? As Morty so succinctly tells his sister, “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die…Come watch TV.”

[Read more]

The Echo Chamber Sweepstakes!

A Silicon Valley scandal sets off a chain of dystopian events in this topical and twist-laden thriller about virtual heists, social media, and second chances. The Echo Chamber by Rhett J. Evans is out now from Permuted Press – and we want to send you a copy!

Mike is a Silicon Valley wunderkind who stood idly by while his company launched an addicting social media platform that made the world take a turn for the worse.

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What’s Next for this Year’s Hugo Award Winners

What can readers expect next from the winners of the 2019 Hugo Awards?

Since 1953, the Hugo Awards have honored notable authors who’ve written excellent works in the fields of science fiction and fantasy, as voted on by the members of each year’s World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon). The list of Hugo nominees and winners also communicates the stories that we as readers were excited about in the previous year, and it looks like there’s a lot yet to come from this year’s roster of Hugo winners!

[Read more]

Reading the Wheel of Time: Death, Love, and Fate in Robert Jordan’s The Shadow Rising (Part 1)

Hello hello, and welcome back to Reading the Wheel of Time. This week is the very first week of the fourth book in the series, The Shadow Rising, and I am tremendously excited about it. Chapter one manages to hit a really good stride where it simultaneously repeats all the information readers might need to be reminded of since they read The Dragon Reborn, but also gives us lots of new information in each section. The narrative is tight and exciting, and it serves as a pretty good reminder of everything I love about the series so far.

The title of chapter one is “Seeds of Shadow” and it is so long that I had to break this post up into two and I am sorry but everything in the Min and Amyrlin section seemed so important and I had to cover it all. So this week will be “Min and the Amyrlin” and next week will be “What All of Rand’s Enemies Are Up To.”

But before that, we gotta have another beginning that isn’t the Beginning, and another wind springing up somewhere because that’s how these books roll.

[Read more]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Redditor Finds Rare 1st Edition Copy of The Fellowship of The Ring…in a Doritos Box

Thrifters and used-book nerds alike can appreciate the reward of digging through piles of items to find one very special, very precious piece. That’s what happened to one Reddit user, who volunteers at St. Helena’s hospice in the U.K., after digging through a Doritos box full of donated books finding, not Doritos, but a first edition of The Fellowship of the Ring.

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SFF Horse Breeds: Paso and Paso

Sometimes with animal breeds, people get confused. Two breeds will have very similar names and come from similar parts of the world, but aficionados will tell you that they really are not alike at all.

In dogs, that happens with Corgis. A Corgi is, in Welsh, a dwarf dog. The Pembroke is much better known—the Queen’s dogs, after all. The Cardigan is much rarer and less famous, and mostly it’s known as “the one with the tail.” They’re both short, up-eared Welsh herding dogs, but they’re separate breeds. Not related that closely at all.

In horse breeds, a similar thing happens with the Paso Fino and the Peruvian Paso. They’re both descended from Spanish imports into the Americas. They’re both smallish horses, they’re both lively and full of brio but also calm and cooperative, and most distinctive of all, they’re both gaited. [Read more]

The Future of Another Timeline Sweepstakes!

From Annalee Newitz, founding editor of io9, comes a story of time travel, murder, and the lengths we’ll go to protect the ones we love. The Future of Another Timeline is out on September 24 – and we want to send you a copy!

1992: After a confrontation at a riot grrl concert, seventeen-year-old Beth finds herself in a car with her friend’s abusive boyfriend dead in the backseat, agreeing to help her friends hide the body. This murder sets Beth and her friends on a path of escalating violence and vengeance as they realize many other young women in the world need protecting too.

[Read more]

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