Enhancing the Diversity of the Community: Hilary Mantel’s Beyond Black (Part 6)

Welcome back to Reading the Weird, in which we get girl cooties all over weird fiction, cosmic horror, and Lovecraftiana—from its historical roots through its most recent branches.

This week, we continue Hilary Mantel’s Beyond Black with Chapter 7. The novel was first published in 2005. Spoilers ahead!

[“The world beyond the glass is the world of masculine action…”]

Series: Reading the Weird

I’m Sorry, But Super Mario Bros. Is Actually a Great Movie

There’s only one real problem with the 1993 Super Mario Bros. movie: its name.

I saw this so-called video game adaptation for the first time in mid-90s, shortly after it came out on video. My memory of it was of a mind-bogglingly weird movie that had nothing to do with the game, made no sense, and was a beautiful train wreck of a thing. Rewatching it as an adult, I expected to have the same reaction and was looking forward to enjoying what was certainly a movie that’s so bad, it’s good.

But taking another look at Super Mario Bros. turned out to be so surprising that it bordered on horrifying. Luigi just said something funny. I laughed at it. This dinosaur-themed dystopia looks really cool. I don’t understand. Why isn’t this a bad movie? That’s the trick to Super Mario Bros. If you’re not intent on it being about a video game, it becomes an engaging, well-acted (mostly), fascinating, original story. And it pulls this off almost completely by accident.

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Five SFF Sports I Would Try in a Heartbeat

My favorite fantasy worlds tend to be jam-packed with fascinating nuggets of worldbuilding , details that help to flesh out the setting and give us a better sense of the places and societies in which the story unfolds. Sports and games, in particular, can contribute to our understanding of the culture of a fantasy or sci-fi world, even if they aren’t central to the narrative. These pastimes—whether played for fun or for much higher stakes—bring the structure of competition into magical and futuristic worlds, and hell, I just wanna give them a go!

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Wes Anderson Welcomes You to Asteroid City

Every so often, Wes Anderson gives us SFF folks a reason to talk about him—and Asteroid City is certainly one of those times. Set in a fictional American town in which a whole host of characters find themselves at a dramatic moment, it’s also a movie with an alien. Maybe? Maybe there’s not an alien? Maybe it’s a metaphor? Look, it’s just a trailer; you’re going to have to decide some things for yourself.

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Five Books About Magical Teachers and Mentors

Fantasy abounds with daring young people who study magic on their own, expanding their grasp with bold experiments into fields they only poorly understand. Fantasy also abounds with sensible young people who, perhaps observing the scorch marks left behind by daring autodidacts, have found experienced elders to guide them past dangers of which novices are unaware.

Sometimes the students make do with a single mentor. Sometimes an entire educational institution is available. Sometimes the students chose their mentor. Sometimes the mentor chooses them. As these five works show, this seemingly simple arrangement lends itself to a wide variety of tales.

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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and Lower Decks Have Both Been Renewed for Another Season

These journeys aren’t ending anytime soon. While Star Trek: Discovery has just one more season to fly, the rest of Paramount’s Starfleet of shows show no signs of slowing: Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has been renewed for a third season, and Star Trek: Lower Decks for a fifth.

What’s more, both shows return to Paramount Plus this summer! The second season of Strange New Worlds arrives June 15th; the fourth season of Lower Decks hasn’t got a specific date yet.

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Author Nana Kwame Adjei Brenyah on Tour for Chain-Gang All-Stars

Two top women gladiators fight for their freedom within a depraved private prison system not so far-removed from America’s own in Chain-Gang All-Stars, the hotly-anticipated debut novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Friday Black.

This spring, join author Nana Kwame Adjei Brenyah on a coast-to-coast tour—check out the full list of dates below!

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