Past is Prologue — X-Men: Days of Future Past

One of the best, and most influential, stories in the entire history of X-Men comics was the two-part “Days of Future Past” storyline in Uncanny X-Men #141-142 in 1981 by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. It was the pair’s swan song as collaborators, as Byrne left the title one issue later, ending one of the most impressive runs on any superhero comic.

The story—which had the X-Men from a dystopian future sending one of their own into the past to try to change history—would prove hugely influential. The characters of Cable, Bishop, Rachel Summers, Nimrod, Fitzroy, and Stryfe, among others, came from that alternate future, and the comics did many sequels.

It was also the subject of the movie that served as a sequel to both First Class and The Last Stand.

[“You sacrificed your powers so you could walk?” “I sacrificed my powers so I could sleep!”]

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

The 7 Best Non-Traditional Christmas Carol Adaptations

If I had a pet reindeer, or any kind of creature that resembled a fawn or Bambi-style animal, I’d name it Dickens. Come on. How adorable would it be to have a little pet deer named Dickens? Here Dickens! Come have a sugar cube! That’s a good little Dickens. What’s your favorite story? What’s that you say, “A Christmas Carol?” Well, I don’t feel like reading to you, because you’re a little deer, so let’s watch a movie or a TV special instead. Whatyda say? And then, as a gift to Dickens, I would have to compile a list of movie and TV adaptations of Charles Dickens’s awesome book—A Christmas Carol—and I’d want those adaptations to be somehow a little bit different from their source material, because deer like stuff that’s new.

What are the best non-traditional versions of A Christmas Carol? These.

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Xenozoic Tales is the Epic Dinosaur Movie We Deserve

Even if you want to debate the quality of Jurassic World and its sequel Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, there’s no denying the franchise is a huge hit at the box office. I imagine that other studios are thinking about getting in on the dinosaur game, too.

Execs could dust off some old projects. A few years ago there was a lot of hullaballoo about Barry Sonnenfeld and Grant Morrison teaming up on the graphic novel/movie project Dinosaurs vs. Aliens. Not to be outdone, Warner Bros. announced they were considering a movie about dinosaurs attacking LA. Not to mention that there are numerous other dinosaur stories in comics and literature, from Greg Bear’s nostalgic Dinosaur Summer to the ludicrously gory Dinosaurs Attack! and the gonzo Dinosaurs For Hire. There’s really no shortage of prehistoric tales. But there’s one I want to see more than any other.

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Best Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2018

2018 was a pretty remarkable year for diverse young adult fiction, particularly for YA by authors of color. Now, that’s not to say the publishing industry has finally balanced out on race—far from it, in fact—but what did manage to squeak through was by and large fan-frakking-tastic. This was such a quality year that it deciding on “best” was way more difficult than usual. But here it is, the full list of the best and brightest YA SFF of 2018.

What books made your list?

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Five Books With Distinct Flavors

Text has texture to me. Sentences can be saline, sweet, some beautiful combination of flavor notes; a paragraph can be a course onto itself, eliciting genuine frissons of delight. My brain decodes poetry as amuse bouche, short stories as three-course meals, and novels as sprawling examples of literary cuisine.

Synesthesia is fun.

No. Really. It is. Except when you’re talking about bad books, bad writing. Fortunately, we’re not talking about bad books, but instead about excellent books. Books that feel like they were hand-prepped by Gordon Ramsay, or whichever haute chef appeals to your own particular sensibilities.

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Destiny and Choices: Julie Dao’s Rise of the Empress Duology

In Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, the beautiful but poor Xifeng has been raised her entire life to believe she’s destined for greatness as the Empress of Feng Lu. For a woman not born into nobility, that dream seems nearly beyond reach. When a chance arises to go to the capital, Xifeng seizes it, armed with her beauty and dark magic learned from her aunt. As she learns to navigate the pit of vipers that is the imperial court, Xifeng is faced with choices that can lead to her destiny—if she’s willing to pay the price.

To talk about book two of this duology, I’ll be discussing the ending of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, so stop here if you’re looking to avoid spoilers!

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A Thin But Frosty Modern Fairy Tale: “Frosty the Snowman”

It’s one of the undeniable, inescapable rites of the season: listening to “Frosty the Snowman.”

Short of barring yourself inside the walls of your own home and never venturing out for the entire month of December, you’re almost bound to hear the annoyingly cheerful lyrics and melody. In part because it’s a secular song, and therefore deemed somewhat less likely to offend or irritate listeners—an opinion held only by those who have either never heard the song or never listened to its lyrics.

It might help a little to realize that it’s also a fairy tale.

A fairy tale with outright murder in some versions, but we’ll get to that.

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A Love Letter to Murderbots, Hamster Princesses, and Other Cute Reads

Sometimes, when you blog about fiction, people say things to you that are inexplicable—things like, “I hated the winged horse,” or “I wanted to set this book on fire.” That’s fine, really. Cool story. Is there more to it? Did Satan give you something when you handed over your soul?

I have strong literary preferences of my own. For example, I prefer that people’s psychic companion animals not comment on their sex lives. And it really bothers me when time travel stories try to explain the underlying science involved by treating time like matter, and yet don’t tear the universe apart—either your time travel is hand-wavy and doesn’t really need an explanation or you have to deal with the laws of physics. Some of my opinions are controversial. There are lots of people who don’t like psychic cats, or happily-ever-after endings. And again, that’s fine! Many things are a matter of taste. But I’ll be honest—I think those people are missing out.

So I’m giving in to the urge to recommend the things I love: You should read cute stuff.

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The Speculative Worlds of William Shakespeare

There’s a weird moment near the end of Shakespeare’s most realist and domestic comedy, The Merry Wives of Windsor, when the plot to expose Falstaff’s failed sexual exploits gets all “Midsummer Nights” dreamy. Suddenly, there’s an enchanted oak tree which is haunted by fairies and a monstrous figure of Herne the Hunter. It’s all a kind of prank at Falstaff’s expense, of course, but it hinges on the fat knight thinking it’s real, and for a few minutes the play feels like its moved into an entirely different genre. The reality of Windsor’s small town doings gives way to the stuff of Puck, Oberon and Titania. It’s as if Shakespeare has gotten frustrated by the mundane, prosaic world of the play and needs to find a little whimsy, even if he will finally pull the rug out from under the fairies and show that it’s all just boys with tapers and costumes.

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Oathbringer Reread: Interlude Five—Taravangian

Calling all conspiracy theorists! You’re wanted on the Oathbringer Reread this week! We have secret societies, deception among the leadership, calls for murder, charges of idiocy… Yes, if you couldn’t tell, we have a Taravangian interlude this week. Join in to figure out what he’s up to—or at least what he thinks he’s up to.

[Light and truth. Save what he could. Abandon the rest.]

Series: Oathbringer Reread

We Want to Join Spider-Man’s Book Club!

Are you seeing Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse this weekend? (You should, because if the opening half hour shown at New York Comic-Con is any indication, this will be The Greatest Spider-Movie.) We’re even more excited for the film than before, because we’ve just learned just learned that Miles Morales’ first big screen adventure contains a fabulous literary Easter egg: a new fictional book by Black Leopard, Red Wolf author Marlon James!

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Just Being Nosy: China Miéville’s “Details”

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading China Miéville’s “Details,” first published in 2002 in John Pelan and Benjamin Adams’ The Children of Cthulhu. Spoilers ahead.

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Series: The Lovecraft Reread

Tom Holland and Chris Pratt to Play Elf Brothers in New Disney•Pixar Fantasy Adventure Onward

Disney•Pixar has announced Onward, a new animated adventure starring Star-Lord and Peter Parker Chris Pratt and Tom Holland as elf brothers searching for lost magic in a “suburban fantasy” world. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Octavia Spencer also star. While Toy Story 4 comes out in June of 2019, ahead of Onward’s 2020 release, this is Pixar Animation’s next original/non-sequel story since 2017’s Coco.

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The Trouble with Terraforming

My foray through Lois McMaster Bujold’s backlist on my site—a foray nowhere near as detailed as Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer’s ongoing reread—reached Komarr recently. One of the elements of the setting impressed me: Bujold’s handling of the centuries-long effort to terraform the planet.

Terraforming is, of course, the hypothesized art of converting an uninhabitable rock into a habitable world. Jack Williamson coined the term in his Seetee-related short story, “Collision Orbit”, published under the pen name Will Stewart in the July, 1942 issue of Astounding Magazine. While Williamson invokes non-existent super-science in order to make the task seem doable, he probably felt confident that terraforming would someday make sense. In the short run, we have seen humans shaping the Earth. In the long run—well, Earth was once an anoxic wasteland. Eons of life shaped it into a habitable planet. Williamson suspected that humans could imitate that process elsewhere…and make it happen in centuries rather than eons. Perhaps in even less time!

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