How Hello, Rain Builds on the Magic of Nnedi Okorafor’s “Hello, Moto”

When you think of the scientist-witches who draw power from magically enhanced wigs in Nnedi Okorafor’s “Hello, Moto,” maybe you think of the arresting illustration by Jillian Tamaki that accompanies the Binti author’s short story: a Nigerian woman with a wig sparking off green magic at the ends, the hair crackling with power. But from the first images from director C.J. Obasi’s adaptation Hello, Rain, those colors are even more vibrant, the visuals even more striking; protagonist Rain and her fellow scientist-witches are literally bathed in the magic that raises them up but then tempts them to steal energy from others until they don’t even resemble humans. It’s markedly different from Okorafor’s text yet still taps into the same ideas.

In a recent interview with Shadow and Act, Obasi discusses his adaptation of Okorafor’s brief but evocative story, describing the creative liberties he took while staying true to the core of the story: “There’s a heart and a charm to Nnedi’s stories, and I don’t wanna lose that.” He also delves into what the short film has in common with Black Panther, both telling alternative African stories that he hopes will become more mainstream.

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Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Komarr, Chapters 3-5

In chapters three through five of Komarr, Bujold presents an ever-growing list of reasons why Tien Vorsoisson is a terrible person. Ekaterin’s day out with her Uncle Vorthys showcases the Vorthys family’s concern for Ekaterin’s health and happiness. It strikes them as odd that Ekaterin and Tien have had only Nikki—Barrarayan families tend to reproduce in sets of four to six. The Professora wonders why they didn’t send Nikki to a Komarran school, for the cultural experience, and worries that Ekaterin is unhappy. Auditor Vorthys probably could secure medical treatment for Nikki and safe harbor for him and his mother in short order. He doesn’t know what she needs, and Ekaterin doesn’t tell him. Why not?

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Moving Forward with The Last Jedi

There’s a saying, attributed to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, that says “you cannot step in the same river twice.” It’s a quote I’ve been thinking about a lot about since watching (and re-watching, and re-watching) The Last Jedi.

A lot has been said about the latest Star Wars film and its relationship to the past. Some people are firmly of the mindset that The Last Jedi ruined what’s come before, in terms of key elements like our understanding of the Force to the treatment of Luke Skywalker. Others say that the film marks an important pivot for the franchise as it respectfully moves away from its long, detailed history and charts a new future. Still others contend that nostalgia is a dangerous thing, and the purpose of The Last Jedi was to gleefully destroy everything that’s come before it.

[The Last Jedi is engaged in an interesting conversation with the past…]

Small Stories, Big Worlds: Why I Love Epic Stories That Stay Personal

You know when you’re reading Lord of the Rings, and you really wish the book would just let us spend some time with Rosie Cotton while she’s busy slinging ale at the Green Dragon?

Or is that just me?

Fans of science fiction and fantasy love good worldbuilding. But setting the stage by creating a magnificent new realm usually means the plot focuses on major historical arcs in said world. Once you’ve set up so much, developed all the minute detail, it makes sense to do the broad strokes and really create a mythology. How to Save the World; How to Win the War; How to Shape Reality With a Few Simple Building Blocks. They make great blockbuster film trilogies. They demand the creations of fan wikis and doorstopper guidebooks. They are the stories we take comfort in whenever the world seems a bit too claustrophobic.

[But there’s something special about the stories that start small…]

I Belong Where the People Are: Disability and The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water made me feel less human.

On the surface, there are many things to like about The Shape of Water. The main characters, the ones in the right, they are all outsiders. They are people like me. With the exception of Children of a Lesser God, it is the first time I have ever seen a disabled woman as an object of desire. It is the first time I have seen someone swear in sign in a mainstream film. It is one of the only films out there to address some of my feelings about my body or depict them on screen. Let’s be honest, Children of a Lesser God was made in 1986. That’s 31 years of film history. That’s my entire life.

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Gonzo Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles RPG Has Everything You’d Ever Want

Transdimensional Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles may very well be the greatest role-playing game sourcebook of all time. I’m not even being slightly hyperbolic. It is a book that talks about everything from dinosaurs to time travel, from wizards to parallel dimensions.

I suppose I should start a little further back: do you know that Palladium published the TMNT game, called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness? Well they did, and while the game is built on the rickety foundation of the Palladium system, the “Bio-E” mini-system for mutating your character from everyday animal into an anthropomorphic version is incredibly elegant. Transdimensional TMNT takes the “Strangeness” part of “…and Other Strangeness” and cranks it up to eleven. The real kicker, though, is that it has perhaps the most cogent system for time travel that I’ve ever seen, period.

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“We are still Starfleet” — Star Trek Discovery‘s “The Wolf Inside”

It really does suck to be Michael Burnham.

I mean, first you had the whole thing with her parents being killed, and then she was raised on a planet that isn’t exactly kind and benevolent toward humans (or much of anybody), she got screwed out of going to Vulcan Space School, and then she got her captain and about 8000 other people killed in an incident that started a brutal war. And then she got herself assigned to a ship run by a loony with PTSD whose first officer is her former shipmate who hates her living guts.

And all of that is as nothing compared to the crap she goes through in “The Wolf Inside.” I got dinged last week for not putting up sufficient spoiler alerts, so SPOILER ALERT! LOTSA SPOILERS FOR “THE WOLF INSIDE” IN THIS POST! ABANDON ALL HOPE, YE WHO ENTER HERE!

[Do you not bow before your emperor?]

Precociousness and Telekinesis: Rereading Roald Dahl’s Matilda

Matilda, published in 1988, is one of Roald Dahl’s longest and most intricate novels for children. The story of a highly precocious little girl who slowly develops powers of telekinesis, it focuses more on issues of destiny, education and employment than his usual subjects of wordplay, terror and disgusting things, though the book still has more than one incident that will delight kids who love disgusting things more than it will adults.

Richer and more questioning than most of his other novels, it may not be entirely successful, but it offers kids, and possibly grown-ups, a lot to think about.

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When Tropes Go Bad, Australian Edition: Horses Acting Up Down Under

As we transition (in my case terribly slowly) from the time out of time that is the end of the year to plain ordinary reality, I’ve been bingeing one of my favorite television series, the Australian hit show McLeod’s Daughters. This isn’t genre, exactly, but it is horse-related, and it plays with various film tropes about horses and other livestock.

Pause here to note that this show, which aired over eight seasons beginning in 2001, was developed and written by women, and featured a group of women running a cattle station in the Australian outback. Running it well, having adventures, dealing with men both good and very bad (including rape and infidelity, but also more normal and healthy relationships—nothing non-hetero, but we take what we can get). We can only dream of such a show in the US.

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The 10 Best Comics Written by Alan Moore

Let’s talk about the best of Alan Moore’s comic book work. Looking at his career, what should we designate as the capital-b Best of the Best? What ten comics would be the ultimate incarnation of Moore’s genre-bending, highly-influential comic book scripting?

I’m glad you asked!

Here’s the All-Time Alan Moore Top 10, as determined by me, the guy who has reread all of the Alan Moore comics and written about 100,000 words on the topic. All of the Alan Moore comics are worth reading (well, maybe not all of the later Extreme or Wildstorm work, but even those have something interesting going on at times), but these are the cherries on top of the ice cream sundae that is the Alan Moore oeuvre.

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Read Binti: The Night Masquerade, Chapter 1

Binti has returned to her home planet, believing that the violence of the Meduse has been left behind. Unfortunately, although her people are peaceful on the whole, the same cannot be said for the Khoush, who fan the flames of their ancient rivalry with the Meduse.

Far from her village when the conflicts start, Binti hurries home, but anger and resentment has already claimed the lives of many close to her.

Once again it is up to Binti, and her intriguing new friend Mwinyi, to intervene—though the elders of her people do not entirely trust her motives—and try to prevent a war that could wipe out her people, once and for all.

Don’t miss this essential concluding volume in Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti trilogy: Binti: The Night Masquerade, available January 16th from Publishing.

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