Regrets, I’ve Had a Few — Star Trek: Picard First Season Overview

In my review of the first-season finale of Picard, I used the famous Anton Chekhov metaphor about how if you hang a gun on the wall early in the story, it should be fired late in the story. While I think that metaphor remains apt, I think an even better one to discuss the first season of Picard as a whole is juggling a lot of hard-boiled eggs.

The show caught most of them, but a few fell to the ground, and a few of those shattered when they hit.

[Engage!]

Jo Walton’s Reading List: March 2020

Well, March sure was a peculiar month. I was home, and then I was home in self-isolation, which I still am. But I started the New Decameron Project with Maya Chhabra and Lauren Schiller, so I have been snowed under reading stories and writing frame bits, and also setting up online socialising things which are sanity saving (I’m still not an introvert) but take time. Also, some of the things I read this month were extremely long. So I have read only fourteen books in March, and here they are…

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Korra and Asami Will Perform a Live Reading of The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars

Korrasami stans rejoice: Korra and Asami themselves—that is, voice actors Janet Varney and Seychelle Gabriel—will be performing a live-reading of the first chapter of Turf Wars, the three-part graphic novel spin-off of The Legend of KorraThe event is organized by Dark Horse, who will stream it via their Twitch channel on Monday, April 6, at 2 pm PT.

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Blogging the Nebulas: Sarah Pinsker’s A Song for a New Day Is 2020 Captured Between Two Covers

The Nebula Awards could be described as the Academy Awards of SFF literature; they are voted on by the professional peers of the award nominees—members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. There are six nominees in the best novel category this year. Every few weeks between now and the announcement of the winner on May 30, I will be reviewing each of them and figuring their odds of taking home the prize. Welcome to Blogging the Nebulas 2020.

The Pitch

Sarah Pinsker’s A Song for a New Day is a different novel today than it was when she dreamed it up (growing from the seed of the 2015 novelette “Our Lady of the Open Road”), different than when it was published last September, than when it was nominated for the Nebula, than when I read it last week (and this review isn’t scheduled to publish until more than a week from when I am writing these words, by which point it will have changed again).

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All the New Genre Bending Books Arriving in April!

The whispers wake you from a deep sleep. It has been so quiet, but you can hear the voices growing restless. They’re yearning, they’re angry, and they’re coming for you. This month’s genre-bending releases are all about deals you can’t take back. Find out what really happens in the woods in You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce; court a man with silver skin in The Unsuitable by Molly Pohlig; and find magic in a new story collection by Madeline L’Engle, The Moment of Tenderness.

Head below for the full list of genre bending titles heading your way in April!

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Read an Excerpt From Caroline Stevermer’s The Glass Magician

New York 1905—The Vanderbilts. The Astors. The Morgans. They are the cream of society—and they own the nation on the cusp of a new century. Thalia Cutler doesn’t have any of those family connections. What she does know is stage magic and she dazzles audiences with an act that takes your breath away.

That is, until one night when a trick goes horribly awry. In surviving she discovers that she can shapeshift, and has the potential to take her place among the rich and powerful.

But first, she’ll have to learn to control that power…before the real monsters descend to feast.

A magical and romantic tale set in New York’s Gilded Age, Caroline Stevermer’s The Glass Magician is available April 7th from Tor Books—read an excerpt below!

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Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Non Sequitur”

“Non Sequitur”
Written by Brannon Braga
Directed by David Livingston
Season 2, Episode 5
Production episode 122
Original air date: September 25, 1995
Stardate: 49001

Captain’s log. Kim wakes up from a dream that includes Janeway trying to contact him on a shuttlecraft to find himself in bed in the apartment he shares in San Francisco’s Old Town neighborhood with his fiancée Libby. This confuses him, as he and Libby were not engaged when Voyager was lost—and, well, he should be on Voyager. Libby tells him the date, which is the date he thinks it is, but everything is different.

[Why does everyone say, “Relax!” when they’re about to do something terrible?]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

When Superheroes Use Finesse Rather Than Fists to Save the Day

Superman is strong enough to move entire planets with ease, but what good does his prodigious strength do against an opponent who attacks psychologically rather than physically? Dr. Manhattan possesses a host of powerful abilities, but yet in Watchmen, it’s a human who achieves what the misanthropic blue superhuman cannot. What good is Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth against someone who yields truth as a weapon and cannot be pummeled into submission?

Superheroes are dominating movies and TV shows, with no sign of slowing down. While I couldn’t be more elated to witness some of my favorite titles and characters become pop culture icons, I also want to see some variety and more depth. For instance, rather than saving a city, world or entire galaxy, what would it look like for an all-powerful superhuman to save people by communicating with them and better understanding them rather than fighting for or protecting them? To get an idea of the possibilities, here are some examples of superhumans who save individual people, all without using physical force.

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Six Perfect Episodes of MST3K to Help You Really Just Relax

Imagine this: a person stuck inside, all alone with nothing to do but watch movies (while occasionally receiving confusing and misleading reports from the people who are ostensibly in charge). That might seem to describe most people in the world right now, but it’s actually about the future. The not-too-distant future, in fact…

It is, of course, the premise of the cult TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000, the show in which robots Cambot, Gypsy, Tom Servo, and Crow T. Robot join a human host to make fun of terrible movies. Inspired by the 1972 Douglass Trumbull film Silent Running, series creator and original host Joel Hodgson created a joyful, scrappy celebration of humor and comedy in the face of loneliness and powerlessness. Even as the series changed channels, casts, and hosts over the years, that basic hopeful message remained consistent: Even in the direst situations, you can try to keep your sanity with the help of your (synthetic, if necessary) friends.

For that reason, MST3K is the ideal comfort watch for times such as these, when we’re all scared, stuck, and alone, together.

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Exploring the People of Middle-earth: Fëanor, Chief Artificer and Doomsman of the Noldor (Part 2)

In this biweekly series, we’re exploring the evolution of both major and minor figures in Tolkien’s legendarium, tracing the transformations of these characters through drafts and early manuscripts through to the finished work. This week’s installment is the second in a short series on that most infamous of Noldorin Elves: Fëanor, father of seven sons and creator of the Silmarils.

In the previous installment, we spent our time looking at the close relationships in Fëanor’s life and evaluating them in order to better understand his temperament and character. Already, we’ve seen Fëanor’s penchant for unnatural isolation, his pride, his possessiveness, and of course, his prodigious talent. His faults only increase as his skill grows.

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Saving Aerith: Life and Death in Final Fantasy VII

Narrative video games provide the perfect platform to examine narrative framing and the viewing experience. The player moves the hero character, their in-game avatar, through the game world via a series of maps, each of which is shown from a different camera angle that the player may or may not be able to change or control. These camera angles, particularly those which the player is not allowed to control, help to shape how players feel about the heroes they embody. Camera angles used in in-game cinematics play much the same role in narrative video games as they do in films, provoking emotion and awe in the audience member. When players can no longer control the game’s camera, at the moment of the cutscene, they lose the authority and autonomy they held as the player/hero and becomes merely a player/viewer.

Released in 1997, Square’s Final Fantasy VII puts players in control of Cloud Strife, a mercenary hired as a bodyguard for flower seller Aerith Gainsborough, who is wanted by the corporatocratic government entity known as Shinra, and is murdered in the final scene of the game’s first act.

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