“An aching siren song” — Jade Song’s Chlorine

From the moment that four-year-old Ren Yu receives a book of mermaid folklore from her mother, she’s captivated—but not by any “G-rated” fairytale or sanitized Disney romance. Instead, she pores over darker legends, of the Chinese goddess Nüwa, who created humankind out of yellow clay to sate her loneliness; of the Passamaquoddy mermaids, who transformed into water snakes to mock and elude the discipline of moralist men. Then, three years later, when at swim team tryouts, Ren dives into the pool under the despotic gaze of coach Jim, she finds herself unwittingly plunged into the unique problematics that the figure of the mermaid poses—neither human nor monster, captured nor free. Both powerful and used.

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Black Panther Director Ryan Coogler Is Reportedly Tackling The X-Files

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson’s Mulder and Scully from the original run of The X-Files (pictured above) hold a special place in many a fan’s heart. And while they’ve reprised their characters in two movies and, most recently, in two new seasons, these newer installments were decidedly less well-received.

There’s a chance, however, that we might get new projects in the X-Files universe, and one of them may be backed by Ryan Coogler, the writer-director of both Black Panther films as well as the director of the first Creed movie.

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Can a Calgarian Suspend Disbelief During The Last of Us?

Welcome to Close Reads! In this series, Leah Schnelbach and guest authors dig into the tiny, weird moments of pop culture—from books to theme songs to viral internet hits—that have burrowed into our minds, found rent-stabilized apartments, started community gardens, and refused to be forced out by corporate interests. This time out, Jaclyn Adomeit watches The Last of Us through a very particular lens—that of a resident of the show’s filming location, Alberta, Canada.

I’ve eagerly anticipated HBO’s adaptation of The Last of Us for nearly two years. Not because, like so many others, I played the game—because the show was filmed in and around my neighbourhood and province from July 2021 to June 2022. I got to see the film sets! I got to recognize buildings and shops and alleyways on screen! This must happen all the time to viewers in New York, but as a gal from Alberta, Canada, I was exceptionally not used to it. In 2021 and 2022, I spent many days walking my dog past production crews, and lingering with the sneaky hope of catching a glimpse.

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Looking For Your Next Favorite Writer? Don’t Myth Out on Robert Asprin

Imagine a series of novels—twenty or so, let’s say. They are sword-and-sorcery high fantasy involving alternate dimensions, monsters, magic, kings and queens, intrigue, danger, and lots of action. The two main characters have much the same chemistry as Sam and Dean Winchester, Aziraphale and Crowley, or Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, and the other characters are just as fun, funny, and engaging. The books have puntastic titles like Hit or Myth, Myth Directions, and M.Y.T.H. Inc. Link. Best of all, they’re funny. God, are they funny! Sounds like a literary property over which Netflix, Hulu—heck, all the streaming services should be fighting over, right?

Sadly, to my knowledge, there’s been nary a scuffle. Not a set-to. Not a tiff. The streamers aren’t even giving each other stink-eye over the rights to this series, Robert Asprin’s Myth Adventures, which began in 1978. (Before Good Omens. Before Discworld. Before Hitchhiker’s Guide.) In fact, the only person writing humorous fantasy back then was Piers Anthony, who grew up in Vermont but was born in England.

Come to think of it, the authors of the other books I just mentioned—Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams—are all English as well. Did Robert Asprin, who was born in Michigan and lived for many years in New Orleans, invent American comic fantasy?

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Reading The Wheel of Time: New Black Ajah Hunters are Born and Rand Takes a Bath in Robert Jordan’s A Crown of Swords (Part 18)

This week in Reading The Wheel of Time, things go badly for Elaida, and, in a pleasant surprise, look up a little for Rand. Also, we meet some cool new Aes Sedai. Onward for Chapters 32 and 33 of A Crown of Swords.

[I’d say she is as pretty as you, but how can you compare two sunrises?]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

M3GAN Disrupts What Kids Need Toys to Do

In 1990, Jason was a helicopter. His teacher, Vivian Gussin Paley, wrote about it in her book The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter. Each day, Jason would come into nursery school and build an airport around him—tall walls made out of large blocks. He’d hide behind the walls, and, at frequent intervals, emerge making loud Brrrrroooooom-ing engine noises. He was the helicopter, but would also have toys of flying machines accompany him as if to bold the story he was telling. It didn’t matter, notes Paley, what stories Jason’s classmates were trying to tell, or what games they were engaged in. His existence as a helicopter was unstoppable and solitary. Paley, being an experienced teacher, tried to integrate Jason into the rest of the class, knowing that pro-social behavior is a valuable skill to teach toddlers. Her success came not just from her students, but her classroom toys. By connecting the stories students told using their toys and their selves, Paley managed to craft a learning environment that needed not just a helicopter, but Jason’s helicopter. Over time, Jason slowly found himself more and more a key part of his group, on his own terms.

Because ultimately it wasn’t that Jason wanted to be a helicopter. It was that he didn’t want to be lonely.

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Biosphere Trailer Sees Mark Duplass and Sterling K. Brown Losing It as the Last People On Earth

What if it’s the end of the world and you’re stuck with your best friend in an environmentally controlled biosphere where things get more than a little weird? That’s the premise of Biosphere,  a movie starring Mark Duplass (The Morning Show) and Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us, Black Panther) that features two best buds going stir-crazy while they concoct some… surprising ways to keep humanity going.

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Careening Through (Sur)reality: Wild Massive by Scotto Moore

A good half of Scotto Moore’s Wild Massive is set in technomagical amusement parks, which aptly supply all the metaphors that spring to mind for describing this novel. Moore’s sophomore novel is not just a roller coaster, it’s a roller coaster that becomes a tilt-a-whirl that becomes bumper cars that become a haunted house that becomes a drop tower. This parallel is no accident. Wild Massive is a self-referential book fascinated by meta-narrative—of course its structure mimics its internal landscape.

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