What Is Your Damage, Mars?: The Honeys by Ryan La Sala

It was the middle of the night when Mars’ twin sister Caroline snuck home from the prestigious Aspen Conservancy Summer Academy and tried to kill him. Although her death certificate gives their family cover from public scrutiny, Mars knows something else was going on. And it all goes back to the Honeys, a group of girls who used the privileges of Aspen to claw their way up and are now at the top of the Aspen social hierarchy. They live at the far edge of the property in their own luxurious cabin where they tend to a sprawling apiary. Years before, Mars fled camp after the bullying he suffered due to being genderfluid hit a breaking point. Now, to solve the mystery of what happened to Caroline, he must return to Aspen and play the part of a boy.

Once he gets to camp, settling in with the boys proves harder than Mars realized. The camp director attaches her nephew to Mars as a friend/spy, a relationship that gets ever more complicated as their connection deepens. The boys find ways to punish Mars, and the more they ostracize him the more he sheds “boy” for his true self. It’s the Honeys who see him for who he is. Soon, teens start going missing and turning up dead. Blank spaces and false memories crowd into Mars’ mind. No one is who they seem, including Mars. Something or someone is after him the way they were after Caroline, and if he doesn’t figure it out soon, he may suffer her same fate.

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You Have Another Chance to Catch Two-Hour Andor Trailer Rogue One in Theaters

Yeah, I know, I know, Andor is a prequel to Rogue One, which is itself a prequel to Star Wars, I know. But you also know the reason Rogue One is getting a theatrical re-release is to remind us who the heck Cassian Andor is and why we might want to get invested in the terrible things he did for the Rebellion.

There are reasons to get excited for this re-release, though: You can watch Rogue One—which has the prettiest space battles of just about any Star War*—in IMAX! And with sneak-peek Andor footage!

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The Joy that Kills, The Joy that Saves: Our Flag Means Death’s Mary Bonnet is Her Own Masterpiece

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, Maya Gittelman looks at the lives of two widows—one the protagonist of a classic story by Kate Chopin, the other…Mary Bonnet.

“Free! Body and soul free!” 

So whispers Mrs. Mallard in Kate Chopin’s 1894 very short “The Story of An Hour” upon the revelation of her husband’s sudden death. Grief and shock come first. And then the fact of it sets in. The way the world has cracked open. As a widow, she at last has the right to her own life. She did her duty of wifehood, no one can fault her for the freedom that comes next:

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Series: Close Reads

Mentioning Everything Twice: Samuel R. Delany’s Tales of Nevèrÿon

Tales of Nevèrÿon (1979) is a wonderful mosaic novel, Delany at his best.

It was published in 1979, but because of the vagaries of British publishing I didn’t see it until 1988, and I had to check the date twice because it feels to me to belong a decade later. It’s interesting to consider that this book was written (1979!) so early in the first boom of fantasy as a marketing genre—Terry Carr, seeing the success of The Lord of the Rings had deliberately published Terry Brooks’ The Sword of Shannara in 1977 to capitalize on the idea of fantasy trilogies, and suddenly fantasy out of nowhere was a big thing.

Before 1977 it’s fair to say that fantasy was a genre written by oddballs (up to and including Tolkien) or for children, but then between 1977 and 1980 fantasy for adults became huge, bigger than science fiction, selling in huge numbers to an eager public. And this fantasy explosion took a little longer in Britain which is probably why this book didn’t make it to teenage me until a decade after its original US publication. Because Delany too was writing fantasy—but of course, his wasn’t like the fantasy everyone else was writing.

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The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Has a Double Episode Premiere — That Might Not Arrive When You Expect

Amazon’s release schedule is occasionally a little confusing. Shows have airdates, but episodes arrive before them? Okay! Sure! Why not! And the just-released airing schedule for their Second Age saga, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, is even more confusing than usual. The epic series will have a double episode premiere, but despite Prime Video announcing more than a year ago that it will arrive on September 2nd… that’s not entirely accurate, depending on where you are.

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Reading The Wheel of Time: Leaning on the Knife in Robert Jordan’s Lord of Chaos (Part 28)

This week in Reading The Wheel of Time, we travel to Ebou Dar by way of Elayne being kind of insufferable to Mat, and then we get there and Elayne and Nynaeve get a chance to practice being real Aes Sedai, despite Vandene and Adeleas’s opinions on the matter. I think I’m really going to enjoy the visit to Ebou Dar… but I’m not sure our heroes are. Let’s start with our recap of Chapters 47 and 48.

[Men gave women a knife when they married, asking her to use it to kill him if he displeased her.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Navigating Middle-earth Before the Bending of the Seas

How on earth did the Númenóreans become such good mariners?

“Above all arts,” says the Akallabêth, the Men of Númenor “nourished ship-building and sea-craft, and they became mariners whose like shall never be again since the world was diminished; and voyaging upon the wide seas was the chief feat and adventure of their hardy men in the gallant days of their youth.” With the exception of the Undying Lands, travel to which was banned, the Dúnedain traversed the Sundering Sea and beyond: “from the darkness of the North to the heats of the South, and beyond the South to the Nether Darkness; and they came even into the inner seas, and sailed about Middle-earth and glimpsed from their high prows the Gates of Morning in the East.” In other words: they got around.

To travel the world like that doesn’t just require hardy seafarers and ships, it requires skilled navigation. And that’s where the problem is. Before the Changing of the World that destroyed Númenor bent the seas and made the world round, the world—Arda—was flat. And if you know enough about maps, navigation, or mucking about with boats, you know that will have serious implications for navigation.

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Five SFF Stories About Hermits, Recluses, and Loners

I recently reread a classic Canadian thriller and the second thing that struck me about it was the fact that the protagonist’s coping mechanism for escaping disaster—complete isolation—failed so abjectly.

This is far from the only piece of fiction to explore isolation. Consider these five works from the previous millennium.

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Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Vanishing Point”

“Vanishing Point”
Written by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
Directed by David Straiton
Season 2, Episode 10
Production episode 036
Original air date: November 27, 2002
Date: unknown

Captain’s star log. Tucker and Sato are checking out ruins on a planet, but a diamagnetic storm is moving in faster than expected, so they have to risk taking the transporter. Tucker beams up first at Sato’s insistence, as she doesn’t want to beam up until she knows Tucker made it through safely.

Sato feels out of sorts after her first time through the transporter, and Archer gives her the rest of the day off. She’s the subject of some good-natured teasing in the mess hall, with Reed, Tucker, and Mayweather telling her the story of Cyrus Ramsey, who was lost in an early transporter test and who is now the subject of dozens of ghost stories. Sato has never heard of Ramsey, and is sorry to have heard of him now.

[That’s a pretty big jigsaw puzzle…]

Series: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch

Guillermo del Toro Offers a Peek Into His Cabinet of Curiosities

“Each of the episodes has a whole world,” Guillermo del Toro says in the new teaser for Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, the upcoming Netflix anthology series that boasts an astonishing lineup of directors, writers, and performers. This trailer isn’t so much a look at the show itself as a glimpse into its backstory: why del Toro wanted to make it, what he wants to say, and how cool (and horrifying) the practical effects look.

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The Sandman’s Standout Episode Is a Great Work of Adaptation

There’s a lot of pressure on the (hopefully) first season of The Sandman. The show had to cover the first two major arcs of an iconic comics series, introduce dozens of new characters, and multiple fantasy realms, all while finding a consistent tone in a story that starts as a series of episodic chapters before turning epic, and starts as horror before turning into fantasy. (They also had to ditch a bunch of DC Comics continuity.) And, just as the comics had to do back in the ‘80s, the show needed to find a way to keep people invested after the bloody meatgrinder of John Dee’s visit to the 24-hour diner.

In the comics run, Issue #8, “The Sound of Her Wings”, is when The Sandman becomes The Sandman. It reestablishes the story’s theme, gives us new empathy for Dream, and introduces Dream’s sister, Death. It’s also a nigh-perfect issue, a compact jewel of a story that feels enormous. So in the midst of the pressure to get The Sandman as a whole right, the episode that adapted “The Sound of Her Wings” needed to capture a certain spirit to lead viewers onto solid ground, and send them off into the second half of the season.

I think Episode Six does this beautifully well, and it does it through tiny choices in adaptation.

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