Restless Yuletide Spirits: M. Rickert’s Lucky Girl

Growing up, my family never told ghost stories around Christmas. We did, however, have a couple of Krampus-themed ornaments on the tree—one with a chain, one with a large bundle of sticks—courtesy of my father’s Austrian cousin. (Who was also my cousin, albeit of my dad’s generation.) I don’t want to say that I was into Krampus before Krampus was cool, but—I regret to say that that statement is also not untrue.

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Torn Between Two Lovers: The Black Flame by Stanley G. Weinbaum

In this bi-weekly series reviewing classic science fiction and fantasy books, Alan Brown looks at the front lines and frontiers of the field; books about soldiers and spacers, scientists and engineers, explorers and adventurers. Stories full of what Shakespeare used to refer to as “alarums and excursions”: battles, chases, clashes, and the stuff of excitement.

The science fiction world was robbed of a major talent when early star Stanley G. Weinbaum died from cancer at the age of only 33. His stories had taken the magazines by storm, and writers like Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke were quick to sing his praises. One of his rare longer works, The Black Flame, did not appear until after his death, and even then, in a significantly revised form. It was not until 1995 that a copy of the original manuscript was located, allowing Tachyon Books to put it out in the form intended by the author.

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Five SFF Works About the Aftermath of an Apocalypse

Being an inveterate optimist, I have a natural tendency to look on the bright side of even the biggest disasters and feel compelled to inspire similar hope and optimism in the world (or at least, the Twitterverse). We all know that everyone loves an optimist, but for some reason, not everyone seems to find my point of view convincing. Take, for example, a recent discussion of possible outcomes of the various crises currently facing the human species in which I made the following points about our ability to endure…

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Reading The Wheel of Time: The Biggest Battle Yet in Robert Jordan’s Lord of Chaos (Part 32)

I can’t believe we’ve actually made it to the end of Lord of Chaos! I must say, after getting through these last two chapters, I feel like I’m almost as tired as Rand and Perrin and the rest of them. Figuratively speaking, anyway. Onward to the recap!

[They will pay, Lews Therin growled. I am the Lord of the Morning.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Return to the Realms of Mkalis in Second Spear by Kerstin Hall

In Kerstin Hall’s debut, The Border Keeper, we met Eris (the border keeper in question), and a man named Vasethe who needed her help crossing the border she kept. Which border is that, you ask? Why, the ways into Mkalis, the 999 realms of the afterlife—a multiverse replete with gods, demons, monsters, magic. Each realm is ruled by larger than life figures of myth, all involved in a delicate balance, lest the entirety of Mkalis fall in on itself.

Hall’s second installment in the realms of Mkalis focuses on a handful of new characters, but this is a sequel, not a standalone. Tyn, a soul who in death has found herself the Second Spear to a demon ruler, questions who she used to be in life, and what she must do now to save her ruler and realm.

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A Sanrio Series About a Lazy Egg Is Eggzactly What the World Needs This Fall

Of all the trailers and teasers and first looks and date announcements Netflix put forth at Tudum, its awkwardly named fan event, this is the one I did not know I needed. A animated and live-action show about a lethargic Sanrio character that looks like a raw egg? Why?

The answer is right here. Gudetama: An Eggcellent Adventure has a precision-calibrated tone that lands somewhere between painfully cute and distressingly existential. Will Gudetama get anything done before going bad or being eaten?!??!

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Cursed Castles and Daddy Issues: Keeping Up with the Targaryen Timeline in House of the Dragon Ep. 6

The sixth episode of House of the Dragon is being referred to as a “second pilot” by showrunners Miguel Sapochnik and Ryan Condal, set after a ten-year time jump, with two lead actors recast as older versions of the characters they play, and a bevy of young royal offspring exacerbating tensions. There’s a spiraling sense of doom as old feuds ossify into deadly factions and King Viserys (Paddy Considine) seems ever more blind to the disaster awaiting his house and the realm, refusing to recognize the dangers even as he steers directly into the storm. (Some spoilers for Game of Thrones and the novels below, for anyone who might be avoiding those.)

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The First Teaser for The Last of Us Is Moody and Grim

The era of video game adaptations is well and truly upon us—but if they all look as good as this one, I for one welcome our new adaptation overlords. A series adaptation of The Last of Us was announced in 2020, and it was clear from the start that HBO was going to take this pretty seriously: Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin was selected to develop the show along with Neil Druckmann, the writer and creative director of the original game.

Then they went and cast Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian) as Joel and Bella Ramsey (Game of Thrones) as Ellie, both of who seemed like impossibly perfect choices—and all the more so now that we can see them in action.

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Everybody’s Going Down in the Teaser for They Cloned Tyrone

When breaking into a nefarious and/or mysterious science facility, one should always come prepared. And in the case of They Cloned Tyrone, one should always come prepared… with the right song for the lengthy elevator ride into the depths of a creepy building.

The trailer for the upcoming movie from writer-director Juel Taylor (Creed II, Space Jam: A New Legacy) lingers on the scene of Jamie Foxx, Teyonah Parris, and John Boyega’s entrance into a dark lab—a moment that might seem excruciatingly stressful. Or it might seem like a great time to break into song.

It’s a pretty effective way to set the tone.

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Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Cease Fire”

“Cease Fire”
Written by Chris Black
Directed by David Straiton
Season 2, Episode 15
Production episode 041
Original air date: February 12, 2003
Date: unknown

Captain’s star log. For a hundred years, Vulcan and Andoria have fought over a world, which the Vulcans have named Paan Mokar, and which the Andorians call Weytahn. The Andorians colonized it and terraformed (Andoria-formed?) it, but then Vulcan annexed it, and they’ve been fighting over it ever since.

[“We need to reduce our speed.” “The ground is going to do that for us.”]

Series: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch

The Umbrella Academy May Be Constantly Stressed, But This Blooper Reel Shows They Still Had a Good Time

“Am I allowed to say ‘fuck’ on Netflix?” Robert Sheehan asks at one point in this utterly delightful Umbrella Academy blooper reel. The answer seems to be no, given that little birds (sparrows, one assumes) blot out all swears—even the middle fingers Colm Feore holds up at one point.

But we don’t need swears to have a good time with these folks. Especially not when we’ve got creaky desks, stiff suits, a misbehaving treadmill, and a serious case of the giggles.

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