Watch the First Trailer for James Gunn’s Superhero Horror Movie Brightburn

Imagine you’re Martha and Jonathan Kent, and Kal-El’s ship crashes into your backyard—the universe answering your dreams for a child. So you bury the ship in the barn, raise this otherworldly visitor as your human son, and all is well until Clark begins manifesting powers. Except instead of doing good and growing up into a beloved icon to protect America and the world… he acts a bit more like Damien from The Omen.

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Looking Up, Looking Down — Star Trek’s “The Brightest Star”

One of the hallmarks of Star Trek from the very beginning was to have at least one alien character who provides a non-human perspective on things. It started, naturally, with Spock on the original series, and also includes Worf on The Next Generation (and to a lesser extent, Troi and Data), Tuvok, Neelix, Kes, and Seven of Nine (and to a lesser extent, Torres) on Voyager, T’Pol on Enterprise, and more than half the cast of Deep Space Nine.

On Discovery, that role has gone to Saru, who has in one season vaulted himself into the upper echelons of great Trek characters. His compassion, his intellect, his unique perspective as a prey animal, all combine to make him a most compelling character.

So it’s just a pity that this focus on him doesn’t really work.

[Look down every now and then — there’s beauty there, as well…]

QUILTBAG+ Speculative Classics: Nearly Roadkill by Caitlin Sullivan and Kate Bornstein

Nearly Roadkill: An Infobahn Erotic Adventure by Caitlin Sullivan and Kate Bornstein is a novel that is not widely known today; at the time I’m writing this column it has only six reviews on Goodreads. In some ways this is understandable. Published in 1998, Nearly Roadkill is a cyberpunk adventure and erotic romance set in a future so near, it is in many aspects indistinguishable from the late 1990s. But if we can get past the technical details of an almost entirely text-only internet, where the term “website” still needs to be laboriously explained, we find some of the most groundbreaking discussions about gender and sexuality in speculative fiction—discussions that are still just as powerful as when they were written.

This is no accident: Nearly Roadkill is, as far as I’m aware, the first speculative fiction novel with trans characters (co-)written by a trans author.

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Can Gormenghast Become the Next Game of Thrones?

Gormenghast Castle is hidden. When Titus Groan, the Earl of Gormenghast, finally escapes, he is shocked to find that no one has ever heard of it. The walls of his ancestral home that stretch for miles; the jagged towers and crumbling courtyards, the endless corridors, staircases, and attics, the weirdos and cutthroats who live there—it all goes unseen by the outside world. Whatever happens there happens in shadow and obscurity.

But all that might soon change. The Gormenghast books, in this moment of dragon queens and sword swingers, seem poised for a long overdue resurgence. November 17th marked the fiftieth anniversary of author Mervyn Peake’s death. That means his dark fantasy trilogy (Titus Groan, Gormenghast, and Titus Alone) is headed into the public domain this year, while a potential TV adaptation is swirling about, with Neil Gaiman and other notables attached.

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Heeere’s Ghidorah in the Latest Godzilla: King of the Monsters Footage

Update: We mistakenly identified this as an entirely new trailer when it was just the first trailer with some added footage. We’ve updated accordingly and will post when the real second trailer is released.

The latest footage from Godzilla: King of the Monsters continues to be lyrical and weirdly affecting, establishing that humans are the real monsters and the mythological titans must save us from ourselves. Including Godzilla, of course, but also King Ghidorah, who gets the big (albeit grainy, so not the top image) reveal in this trailer.

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8 Post-Snap Questions We Have About Avengers: Endgame

Okay, so we all care about what’s happening to our super friends in Avengers: Endgame, but you know who else we care about? All the normal people who were hanging around doing normal stuff when Thanos’s Snappening happened—you know, like the Avengers: Infinity War post-credits scene barely scratched the surface of showing. This wouldn’t be the first story that saw a world forced to reckon with a sudden and massive population culling, but you wouldn’t know it from the first trailer. Considering how brilliantly series like The Leftovers and Y: The Last Man addressed these kinds of worldbuilding details, we can’t help but we curious about what happens in this universe.

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Five Actors Who Almost Played Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings

Oh, Viggo. Truly, you are the only Aragorn for us. Er, the only Strider. Only Elessar. Whatever.

Viggo Mortensen did a few things with his character that transcended typical actorly dedication; he only used his heavy steel sword on set, rather than the lighter aluminum ones built for stunts (and the stunt guys had the bruises to prove it). He was prone to dragging the sword around everywhere, and got stopped by the cops when he was spotted carrying it in public. He asked for more of his lines to be written in elvish. He once kicked a helmet so hard that he broke his toes, but still stayed in character for the take.

It’s pretty well-known that his casting in Lord of the Rings occurred late in the game, after they had already started shooting, but do you know the other names that were considered? Because they’re mostly big-deal picks, and imagining any one of them in the role leads to a strange alternate reality.

[So let’s imagine them…]

When Your Day Job Is Your Dream Job

If there’s anything cooler and geekier than writing science fiction, it’s designing games. I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve been able to do both during the course of my career—I’ve published thirteen novels and over a hundred game products. While I’m probably best known in game circles for my work on the Dungeons & Dragons game and the Forgotten Realms world, there’s one game that is especially near and dear to my heart: Axis & Allies Naval Miniatures.

So here’s the story of how I got to make my favorite game.

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Curiouser and Curiouser Retellings of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Snacks that make you shrink (or grow gigantic), mad tea parties, murderous croquet: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a bonkers enough story on its own that it’s impressive to see the ways in which so many authors have been able to retell it.

In these thrillers and pastiches and history lessons, Alice Liddell is a princess on the run, a mad inmate, or only a tangential part of the story; some retellings focus on other citizens of Wonderland, from the maligned White Rabbit to the misunderstood Queen of Hearts. No matter which of the many ways into Wonderland these writers choose, the stories are as enticing as a bottle that says DRINK ME.

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“Peace was never an option”—X-Men: First Class

In one year, the Uncanny X-Men creative team of Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum managed two retcons of the character of Magneto that changed everything we knew about the character—the year in question being 1982, two decades after the character was introduced in Uncanny X-Men #1 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

The first was to establish in issue #150 that Magneto was a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Eleven issues later, a flashback issue showed that Magneto and Professor Charles Xavier actually met for the first time before Xavier founded the X-Men, and were dear friends before becoming arch-enemies. When the X-Men were adapted to the screen in 2000, that backstory was the spine of the film, and the plan after X-Men Origins: Wolverine was to do a similar movie for Magneto.

That didn’t quite happen, and we got X-Men: First Class instead…

[“Are you sure we can’t shave your head?” “Don’t touch my hair.”]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

6 Mysteries to Ponder After You’ve Finished George R. R. Martin’s Fire & Blood

There are a number of unexpected open mysteries present within Fire & Blood, George R. R. Martin’s fictional history of the Targaryen reign of Westeros, many of them ripe for theorizing upon. Considering that the book chronicles events 300 years before the main Song of Ice and Fire novels, it’s a pleasant surprise to find any surprises at all within the text, let alone some that may actually have some bearing on the story within the main series.

Here are 6 mysteries that caught our attention here in the Tor dot office. (Along with some theories, of course!)

Spoilers for Fire & Blood ahead.

Content Warning: Brief discussion of suicide.

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Tired of Series? Try These 10 Standalone Fantasy Novels

Fantasy fiction is best known for its giant, door-stopping series that come in trilogies or longer. Of course, not everyone wants to embark on a ten-book project. And even if you love series, sometimes it’s nice to read a standalone story that provides a satisfying resolution within a single book. With that in mind, I’ve set out to provide a list of ten fantasy stories that have all the thrills of a series but stand alone as a single volume.

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