The Last of Us Part II: The Best of Us

After a journey nearly as arduous as anything its characters faced in the apocalypse, Naughty Dog’s sequel to 2013’s stellar, heart-rending horror thriller The Last of Us launched to a different, more hostile world than that in which it debuted. As it did everywhere else, COVID-19 waylaid plans and shifted on-sale dates, but the biggest source of frustration for the award-winning studio was a major story leak that spread all over the internet in April.

As a big fan of the first game who was skeptical of the need for a follow-up, I spent the last four weeks avoiding gaming Twitter and Reddit as much as possible, which still did little to actually stop me from doomscrolling social media in the midst of a very real pandemic and time of historic civil unrest. So, basically, I was a giant ball of anxiety before my copy of one of the most distressing games I’ve ever played even arrived at my home—but I went in clean.

[“Oh my god, did I kill Tofu?!”]

Someone Put the Blade Runner Soundtrack Over Fireworks Footage in LA

We’re still a long ways away from the cyberpunk dystopia of Blade Runner, but a long pan over the Los Angeles skyline this July 4th might have you thinking otherwise. As many outlets have pointed out, fireworks (or least people’s complaints about them) have gone way up this year, culminating in a spectacular conflagration on Saturday. When KTLA happened to capture it all via aerial footage, all it took was a title-card, an iconic score by Vangelis, and some editing magic to transform our Los Angeles into a neon-drenched playground for the Tyrell Corporation.

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Read To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini: Chapter 4: “Anguish”

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

Persian Legends and Their Western Counterparts

As someone who has long loved fairy tales and mythology, I’ve always found it both interesting and kind of magical the way similar characters, themes, and motifs appear in the stories of different cultures throughout the world. Whether these similarities show up because of cross-cultural interactions or out of sheer coincidence, certain themes seem to be so universal to humanity that they take root in many times and places. Maybe there are some stories we all need to tell to help us make sense of this world we live in.

While poring over Persian myths and legends for my upcoming novel, Girl, Serpent, Thorn, I was always delightfully surprised whenever I came across a story that sounded familiar to me from my western upbringing. While I don’t have the expertise to speak to exactly how these stories found their way from one culture to another, or whether any of these stories were directly influenced by each other, I hope you’ll join me in marveling at the way some stories speak to and create common threads in all of us.

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Ned Ryerson Himself Says a Groundhog Day TV Series Is in the Works

There’s about to be a lot more Groundhog Day to watch over…and over…and over again. Appearing on The Production Meeting Podcast, Stephen Tobolowsky—who played Ned! Ryerson! aka Needlenose Ned aka Ned the Head—revealed that he’s said yes to reprising his role in a TV adaptation of Harold Ramis’ iconic 1993 film.

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A Knight’s Tale Is the Best Medieval Movie (No, Really)

If you followed the Medieval Matters column, you know that I enjoy teaching folks about the history of the real Middle Ages by pointing out the real issues with the reel Middle Ages.

This often leads to the misconceptions that I don’t “get” that many movies are meant to be “just fantasy” or that I hate most medieval movies. To such keen criticisms, I would reply that I totally get that fantasies aren’t meant to be historically accurate (though they clearly utilize that history and, fantasy or not, “teach” audiences about it), and oh my god I totally enjoy most medieval movies.

No. Scratch that. I adore most medieval movies—even the ones that cause me to roll my eyes at their historical inaccuracies.

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The Striking Style of SFF Artist Galen Dara

“As a kid I cut my drawing teeth on fabulous winged beasts, magical weaponry and figures in outlandish costumes,” said Hugo Award-winning artist Galen Dara, whose clients include 47 North, Fantasy Flight Games, and Fireside Magazine. “The fantastical was always my wheelhouse. As a reader I value speculative fiction’s ability to be both delightful escapism and searing social commentary.”

Watching Dara’s career blossom has been one of the most delightful benefits of being a part of the SFF fan community over the past several years. She first gained popularity as a fan artist, producing vivid SFF art unlike anything else. In 2013, Dara won the Hugo Award for “Best Fan Artist.” Since then, she’s been nominated for several other high profile awards, including a couple more Hugos, the Chesleys, and the World Fantasy Award (which she won in 2016). Except now she’s competing among professionals instead of fans. It’s safe to say that Dara’s arrived.

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Terry Pratchett Book Club: The Colour of Magic, Part III

Welcome back to the Terry Pratchett Book Club! Today seems like a good day to put on your favorite tunes, knit a hat, do a mundane chore that doesn’t depress you, and pick up books that you like!

With that in mind, let’s push on to the next section of our reading party, “The Lure of the Wyrm”.

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Series: Terry Pratchett Book Club

A Brief History of the Megastructure in Science Fiction

I was recently reminded of the golden age of megastructure stories. As this is not yet commonly accepted genre shorthand, perhaps a definition is in order.

Megastructures are not necessarily simple. In fact, most of them have rather sophisticated infrastructure working away off-stage preventing the story from being a Giant Agglomeration of Useless Scrap story. What they definitely are is large. To be a megastructure, the object needs to be world-sized, at least the volume of a moon and preferably much larger. Megastructures are also artificial. Some…well, one that I can think of but probably there are others…skirt the issue by being living artifacts but even there, they exist because some being took steps to bring them into existence.

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Five Books With Criminals Who Save the Day

Good guys are traditionally the ones who come to the rescue and save the day, but more and more—in both film and fiction novels—we’re seeing the opposite. Villains and criminals who decide to put their evil quests and troubled morals to the side, and fight for a bigger cause.

These villains show us the best and worst sides of ourselves: the fact that we can make mistakes, be selfish, take wrong turns and fail to get everything right the first time. But they also show us that one bad decision—or even a series of bad decisions—doesn’t define us. That it’s never too late to change, make amends and learn from our mistakes.

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