The Roger Corman Tour of Puerto Rico: Watching Last Woman on Earth

When I learned of exploitation film director Roger Corman’s Last Woman on Earth, part of his “Puerto Rico trilogy” (a trio of films shot in Puerto Rico in 1960) I knew I had to watch it. A post-apocalyptic film from The Pope of Pop Cinema set in 1960s Puerto Rico? Yes please! I wanted to see if he captured the island I remember from my childhood. But then I thought: why not watch it when we were actually in Puerto Rico? To that end, I packed the DVD with the overly sexualized image from the original poster on the front securely in my luggage. On movie night my husband and I went all out, popping corn, projecting the film on the white wall of my uncle Esteban’s beach condo as if we were at a drive-in.

It was quite the experience watching this science fiction movie shot not far from where we sat, with the sound of the ocean in stereo from out the windows and from the computer’s speakers. But it wasn’t until later that the poignancy of watching this particular film at this point in history hit us.

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Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Deadlock”

“Deadlock”
Written by Brannon Braga
Directed by David Livingston
Season 2, Episode 21
Production episode 137
Original air date: March 18, 1996
Stardate: 49548.7

Captain’s log. While helping Neelix with some repairs in the mess hall, Wildman goes into labor. (Why a xenobiologist is fixing tech in the mess hall is left as an exercise for the viewer.) The labor goes on for quite some time. While the crew on the bridge waits expectantly, they discover a Vidiian ship nearby. Not in any great rush to have their organs harvested, they go around the Vidiians through a plasma drift.

[Home is wherever you happen to be.]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Five Lessons from the Star Trek Mirror Universe That We Need Now More Than Ever

Some days, it feels like we’re living in an alternate reality. It’s like we’ve slipped through some mysterious portal and ended up in a world where powerful governments fumble pandemic responses. A world where demagogues make moral arguments that place profits over people. A world more cruel than the one we thought we knew.

Alternate realities have always been constant in genre storytelling, from Thomas More’s Utopia to the DC Universe’s Earth 3. These stories let us examine our fundamental beliefs in a new and unfamiliar context, to test the character of our heroes in radically different situations. For that reason, the Mirror Universe of the Star Trek franchise remains one of the most compelling alternate reality conceits.

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Rumor Time: Disney+ Turning Kingdom Hearts Into a TV Show

It’s the fever dream of gamers the world over: Kingdom Hearts, the game and manga series that gleefully wrecks through every fictional boundary, may come to television. According to IGN, several entertainment journalists have tweeted out tips about a series based on Square Enix’s hit video game that’s reportedly in the works at Disney+.

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Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: All Good Things Must Come to an End

The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are back for one final season. During the previous season, the team beat back a monster that consumed planets, only to have the alien race called Chronicoms target the Earth for disrupting the space-time continuum. The team found themselves shifted in time to New York City in 1931, and now it’s up to Mack, Yo-Yo, May, Fitz, Simmons, Deke, Daisy, and a robotic version of Coulson to save the world one more time. There are hints that their travels during the season will take them to different time periods, and their mission will be intertwined with the origins and history of S.H.I.E.L.D. itself. It looks like we are in for a season filled with action, guest stars, and more than a little fan service!

[Only Agents who are cleared to observe SPOILERS should proceed beyond this point! You have been warned!]

Henry Cavill Is Reportedly In Talks to Reprise His Role as Superman in the DC Extended Universe

We might soon be seeing a lot more Superman in more ways than one. On Wednesday, Deadline reported that Henry Cavill is in talks to don the cape at least one more time for an unspecified DC Extended Universe project. The outlet’s unnamed sources say he won’t be coming back in a standalone film, but otherwise, all bets are off.

According to the publication, possible candidates for Superman cameos are Shazam 2Black Adam, and Aquaman 2, while Wonder Woman 1984 and Suicide Squad have wrapped production too soon for this, and an appearance in Matt Reeves’ The Batman “isn’t expected.” Meanwhile, there’s no Man of Steel sequel in the works. But could Cavill’s rumored return be connected to the recently announced “Snyder Cut” that will arrive on HBO Max next year?

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Balancing on the Hyphen: AAPI Identity & Nationalism in Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series

The Age of Revolutions has always fascinated me. After I first learned about the French Revolution as a child, I promptly decapitated my Princess Jasmine Barbie for crimes against the Republic. (My mother screwed her head back on, thus allowing Princess Jasmine to elude revolutionary justice.) This time period, roughly 1774-1849, encompasses some of the greatest shifts in Western thinking, and transformations of Europe and its colonies so seismic that, when asked about the influence of the French Revolution, former Chinese premier Zhou Enlai is purported to have replied, “It’s too early to say .”

But for all these dramatic changes, these great increases of rights for the common man and citizen, the expanded world of the age of sail, it is one of the most whitewashed periods of history in contemporary culture. Period pieces—and the fantasies inspired by them—are pale as debutant’s white muslin gown. In the days before Hamilton suggested that people of color could own and be interested in the American Revolution as much as white students, I had the same historical vision of this time period as a 1950s Republican Senator. I had a vague understanding that the Indian muslins and Chinese silks Jane Austen characters wore had to come from somewhere, but someone like me, a mixed race kid with a Chinese mother and a white American father? I didn’t belong there. There was no place for me in this history.

Enter Tenzing Tharkay, from Naomi Novik’s alternate history Temeraire series.

[And he has an amazing entrance…]

Safer Meat: Amanda Downum’s “The Tenderness of Jackals”

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 Amanda Downum’s “The Tenderness of Jackals,” first published in Ellen Datlow’s Lovecraft Unbound anthology in 2009. Spoilers ahead.

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Series: The Lovecraft Reread

On the Origins of Modern Biology and the Fantastic: Part 18 — Nalo Hopkinson and Stem Cell Research

“She just wanted to be somewhere safe, somewhere familiar, where people looked and spoke like her and she could stand to eat the food.” —Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson

Midnight Robber (2000) is about a woman, divided. Raised on the high-tech utopian planet of Touissant, Tan-Tan grows up on a planet populated by the descendants of a Caribbean diaspora, where all labor is performed by an all-seeing AI. But when she is exiled to Touissant’s parallel universe twin planet, the no-tech New Half-Way Tree, with her sexually abusive father, she becomes divided between good and evil Tan-Tans. To make herself and New Half-Way Tree whole, she adopts the persona of the legendary Robber Queen and becomes a legend herself. It is a wondrous blend of science fictional tropes and Caribbean mythology written in a Caribbean vernacular which vividly recalls the history of slavery and imperialism that shaped Touissant and its people, published at a time when diverse voices and perspectives within science fiction were blossoming.

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Reread — The Soul Key

The Soul Key
Olivia Woods
Publication Date: August 2009
Timeline: 2377, following the events of Fearful Symmetry and Warpath; also 2376

Progress: A Prologue set in the Alternate Universe (AU; also, I’ll be using “m-” to denote the mirror version of a character) aboard Terok Nor recaps the basic conflict between the Terran Rebellion and the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance. We’re shown m-Eddington, m-O’Brien, m-Ezri, m-Keiko, and m-Sloan receiving the inter-dimensional call from our Bashir, Sisko, Ro, Quark, Kira, Dax and m-Iliana, as depicted in Fearful Symmetry from our side. Terok Nor is then attacked by Klingons.

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Empathy Over Stigma: YA Authors On Making Mental Health Visible In Their Works

As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, Tor Teen YA authors hosted a conversation on mental health representation in YA fiction. Titled “Empathy Over Stigma,” the panel featured YA authors TJ Klune (The Extraordinaries), Mark Oshiro (Each of Us a Desert), and Lauren Shippen (A Neon Darkness).

The trio sat down over Crowdcast to discuss the responsibility of writing about a frequently misrepresented topic, how they react to readers who don’t feel portrayed, changing people’s perceptions of therapy, tips for bad mental health days, first-person experiences vs. research, sensitivity readers, book recommendations, and much more. Watch the video above, and follow along below the jump for time-stamped questions.

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Blogging the Nebulas Predictions: Place Your Bets

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 and I’ve now reviewed each of them in turn,  figuring their odds of taking home the prize. Now it’s time to make my final predictions. This is Blogging the Nebulas 2020.

The Nebula for Best Novel is my favorite award in genre fiction. Sure, everyone loves to kvetch about the Hugos, but there’s too much drama there, especially lately, and until recently at least, the winners rarely reflected my own personal taste. The Philip K. Dick Award, which goes to a paperback original, tends to skew weird, which is always interesting, but rarely am I intimately familiar with the entire shortlist, which makes things a bit less fun. The Locus Award shortlist is always fantastic, but that’s… a lot of nominees.

[But the Nebulas are my jam…]

Read N. K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season Along With Us!

The Socially Distant Tor.com Read-Along continues! We recently wrapped up Katherine Addison’s fabulous steampunk/fantasy/goblin bildungsroman, The Goblin Emperor, but there are still more excellent books in our To Be Read stacks. Next week we’re excited to dig into N. K. Jemisin’s Hugo Award-winning tale of magic and climate upheaval, The Fifth Season! We’ll be reading and discussing the novel over the course of the next six weeks, and you can follow along with us on Twitter using the hashtag #TorDotReads.

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