Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts Is the Best Show You’ve (Probably) Never Seen

Imagine Netflix’s recommendation algorithm as a dragon dozing atop its hoard of treasures. The dragon sleeps, listlessly dreaming of new opportunities to add to its already massive collection. Beneath it, a treasure trove of content beckons, tempting knights in shining armor or crafty rogues to pilfer the gems hidden beneath it. And once in a while, the knights succeed: Squid Game, The Queen’s Gambit, The Witcher, and Tiger King all emerged from the hoard, skyrocketing to record viewership.

But for every viral hit, there’s a whole cavalcade of worthy shows that don’t break into the mainstream and find the audience they deserve. Instead, these shows are relegated to relative obscurity, lost in shadow beneath the dragon’s slumbering form.

Enter Kipo And the Age of Wonderbeasts, an animated post-apocalyptic sci-fi/fantasy hybrid that never escaped from the dragon’s cave (or at least, not yet…).

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Journeying through Literature: Silverlock by John Myers Myers

In this bi-weekly series reviewing classic science fiction and fantasy books, Alan Brown looks at the front lines and frontiers of the field; books about soldiers and spacers, scientists and engineers, explorers and adventurers. Stories full of what Shakespeare used to refer to as “alarums and excursions”: battles, chases, clashes, and the stuff of excitement.

Some authors catch your attention because of a large body of work, but there are others who instantly vault into the front ranks on the strength of a single work. For me, one of those authors is John Myers Myers, whose book Silverlock became an instant favorite. The story follows a rather unlikeable protagonist shipwrecked on an island whose inhabitants are characters from stories, literature, and legend. If the premise sounds a bit strange at first, it ends up working very well—the book is a delight from beginning to end.

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Tamsyn Muir Understood the Assignment: The Locked Tomb Series’ Expansive Exploration of Death and Grieving

I first read Gideon the Ninth in the summer of 2020, maybe a month after my dad had died suddenly and also, of course, in the middle of a deadly global pandemic. In that moment, I wasn’t actively seeking out material that reflected that part of my lived experience. Mostly, I saw “lesbians” “swords” and “memes” and thought “yes please!” Quickly, the books captured my heart and imagination. But not until later, reading, “As Yet Unsent: Cohort Intelligence Files” the bonus chapter released with the paperback edition of sequel, Harrow the Ninth, that I began to think of the series as an evolving inquiry into the nature of death and dying, what it means to be left behind. And speaking from experience, one thing is absolutely clear: Tamsyn Muir understood the fucking assignment.

Since then, I’ve bought and shelved and sworn to read so many books about death. Critically acclaimed books! Books with great reviews! Not a one has actually made it to the top of the stack. I’m not avoiding them because I worry that I won’t be able to handle reading about death. I just worry none of these books will do it justice. Losing someone, especially when you’re young and it seems like everyone else is carrying on happily with all their loved ones, or maybe just down a grandparent or two, will make you feel like a tragic hero. I felt (feel?) so special in the worst kind of way. What could Joan Didion have to say that I don’t already know?

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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Finally Has a Premiere Date — and Star Trek: Picard Is Back in March

In four months, the Enterprise flies again. Finally, Paramount+ announced the premiere date for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, the Discovery spinoff that takes place on the Enterprise prior to Captain Kirk’s era. Strange New Worlds takes to the skies on May 5th.

But first, Discovery (continuing its fourth season) returns on February 10th, and Picard‘s second season arrives March 3rd!

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Tackling All 12 Books in Terry Carr’s Third Ace Special Series

I enjoyed reading a recent essay, Molly Templeton’s “Maybe Reading Goals Are Good, Actually.” I too keep track of my goals, on my own web page (goals to make sure that I review as many women authors as men and take note of fiction by writers of color as well as works in translation). My goals work for me because they are well-defined and limited—which is what all achievable goals must be. Open-ended goals might as well be infinite and it is very difficult to reach infinity, no matter how many increments one adds to the stack.

Thus, while it’s nice to know I’ve read 393 works from my teen years at the time of writing, because that effort is open-ended, it can never produce that little endorphin rush of completion that smaller, more focused reading projects can provide.

Which brings us to Terry Carr’s Third Ace Science Fiction Specials series.

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“Let It Go” Lets Go of Being the Top Disney Animated Billboard Hit, Ceding to Encanto’s “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”

Encanto, the latest Disney animated feature about the magical Madrigal family, has been getting a lot of attention since it hit the Disney+ streaming platform. That attention is well-deserved—the movie is loving and vibrant, and features songs by Hamilton composer Lin-Manuel Miranda himself.

While all the songs are catchy numbers, one of them—“We Don’t Talk About Bruno”—has become so popular that it’s ousted Frozen’s “Let It Go” as the highest-charting song from a Disney animated movie in 26 years.

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Kate Elliott’s Servant Mage Is a Remarkable Political Drama Slipped Between Interplanar Travel and Dragon Babies

So many fantasy books imagine the downfall of a corrupt, oppressive, monarchist empire. Servant Mage, a slim novella by SFF luminary Kate Elliott, is a book that asks: What then? What happens after the revolution? What happens to the noble class when their system of power falls, when the populace is trapped in the dictatorship of the proletariat in between the past and something better?

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Archive 81 Is a Wonderfully Creepy Ode to Film Restoration

First things first: Archive 81 is fun as hell, most of the time, and reliably creepy. The writers and directors went all-in on atmosphere and mounting dread, and rely on horror to grow out of psychological terror rather than gore. There is almost no physical violence in this show? The horror plot reminded me more than anything of an old-timey 1930s haunted house movie, which is exactly what I wanted to watch over a freezing winter weekend.

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