Reading The Wheel of Time: A Figurehead and a Pair of Silverpike in A Crown of Swords (Part 6)

It’s a slightly sedate week this time, as we catch up with what Egwene has been up to as the Salidar Aes Sedai and Bryne’s army makes its way toward Tar Valon. Sedate by Wheel of Time standards, anyway—there’s still some fraught stuff going on for our young Amyrlin.

[Odd things had happened in the White Tower’s history… yet surely nothing so odd as her.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers Is a Manic, Misunderstood Satire

My goodness, is Starship Troopers an under-appreciated movie. It’s also a strange movie, even by ’90s standards. It shares a space with Demolition Man, representing satirical sci-fi movies that, now, have more or less become a punchline. Demolition Man—while it’s admirable for what it was trying to do—suffers from poor execution. But Starship Troopers hits the exact mark it’s going for; it’s just largely misunderstood by audiences.

The thing is, if you watch Starship Troopers with a straight face, it doesn’t work all that well. It’s weirdly melodramatic, the performances aren’t all that good, and the antagonists are just giant bugs, amongst other things. It can be seen as “one-dimensional” or “immature,” as Roger Ebert, and other critics, have complained. But, as with all Paul Verhoeven movies, Starship Troopers is not meant to be watched with a straight face. Verhoeven makes movies with his tongue buried so deep in his cheek it almost comes through the other side, and that penchant for taking something very serious not seriously at all is one of the things that makes Starship Troopers so uniquely great.

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SFWA Names Robin McKinley the 39th Damon Knight Grand Master

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association has announced that the latest recipient of its Damon Knight Grand Master Award is Robin McKinley, the acclaimed author whose works include the beloved Beauty and The Hero and the Crown. McKinley joins an impressive lineup of authors to win this lifetime achievement award; previous Grand Masters include Nalo Hopkinson, Peter S. Beagle, Connie Willis, Ursula K. Le Guin, Isaac Asimov, C.J. Cherryh, Jane Yolen, and William Gibson.

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Ten Expansive SFF Worlds to Fall Into

You can tell an epic story at any length; sometimes a standalone fantasy can traverse just as much narrative space as an entire trilogy. But when it comes to fantasy worlds that we can explore every inch of, we are particularly fond of series with nine books or more. Yep, you heard us: we want trilogies upon trilogies (with the occasional side duology/quartet) in our favorite long-running SFF series. From alternate histories to fantasy that slowly becomes science fiction, from lady knights to more than a few telepathic dragons, from sagas that span one generation to multiple centuries, these series are so expansive and immersive that reading them feels not just like visiting a new world, but like coming home.

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James McAvoy Says What We Were All Thinking About His X-Men Movies

James McAvoy made an excellent Charles Xavier, and I shan’t hear a word against him. But I will hear—and say—some words against how that run of X-Men films failed to make the most of its central pairing: McAvoy’s Professor X and Michael Fassbender’s Magneto. Two of the most talented actors of a generation, and they’re sidelined for another watered-down Dark Phoenix story that isn’t even really about Jean Grey? C’mon, kids.

Turns out, McAvoy agrees. (Well, maybe not with the Dark Phoenix part. That’s my own personal complaint.)

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An Epic, Grimdark Conclusion: The Voyage of the Forgotten by Nick Martell

Nick Martell’s The Voyage of the Forgotten brings to a close the story of Michael Kingman, a man of many epithets and a few burning and straightforward ambitions…

Michael Kingman has been through a lot, and ever since he has gone through the tribulations of trying to regain lost memories and sharp relations with Serena, the Queen of Hollow, his path has slowly become clear. It’s been a tangled story over the first two volumes, Kingdom of Liars and The Two-Faced Queen. He has regained some of his memory, or at least learned what was lost. But protecting all that he holds dear is going to require his greatest trick yet.

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Get Your Headphones Ready for Hot Skull’s Communication Dystopia

It is in no way immediately apparently what’s going on in the trailer for Netflix’s upcoming series Hot Skull. (You can tell it’s a dystopia, though, because everything is gray and brown except for a nightclub, which looks like a wee bit more fun.) There’s a man with big headphones, and a lady with an angular haircut, and some running and hiding and then everyone’s wearing headphones—but they are not all enjoying the latest banger. There’s some kind of illness that spreads through speech.

Not that this stops anyone from talking.

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Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Regeneration”

“Regeneration”
Written by Mike Sussman & Phyllis Strong
Directed by David Livingston
Season 2, Episode 23
Production episode 049
Original air date: May 7, 2003
Date: March 1, 2153

Captain’s star log. An expedition in the Arctic on Earth has found some technological remains and a couple of bodies that appear to have been in the ice for about a hundred years. They are unfamiliar to the scientists, but instantly recognizable to the viewer as Borg—likely left over from the sphere that went back in time to 2063 from 2373.

[Resistance is futile…]

Series: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch

Rewatching Willow 30-ish Years Later

With Disney+’s new Willow series coming up on November 30th, we wanted to take a look back at one of our older columns. Please enjoy this freewheeling discussion of Ron Howard’s original movie and everything that makes it wonderful, as the inimitable Leigh Butler and her sisters revisited the film back in 2016 for the first entry in the Movie Rewatch of Great Nostalgia, a series which ran until 2018.

When I told Liz and Kate that this would be our first nostalgia movie, their response immediately proved why I had chosen to do this project with them, for they both instantly turned to me and bellowed “WILLOWWWW! YOU IDEEOT!” in quavery goat voices, and this is why my sisters are the most awesome sisters evar.

Thus we settled down of an evening to rewatch this semi-classic staple of our childhood viewing habits, and see how it measured up all these years later.

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A Taxonomy of Werewolves: Jim Butcher’s Fool Moon

Thanks to the comments on my introduction to the Werewolf chapter of the SFF Bestiary, I opted to begin the series of readings with the second of Jim Butcher’s supernatural detective novels starring Harry Dresden. Fool Moon offers a whole gamut of types and styles of werewolf. Each has its own magical rules and manifestations. They all converge on Chicago, and on Chicago’s resident wizard.

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Five SFF Novels Featuring Wealthy Protagonists

Living as we do in a perfect meritocracy, we can conclude that the extremely wealthy must be particularly intelligent, insightful, and wise, and that any apparent flaw in their brilliant schemes must be entirely because said schemes are too transcendent for mere peons to grasp. As a noted philosopher once observed, were he wealthy “they would ask me to advise them like a Solomon the Wise.” When we remember, or observe, the results of the Darien Scheme, Enron’s rise to financial eminence, or Elon’s rule of Twitter, the godlike intelligence of the wealthy is evident, is it not?

Unsurprisingly, the extremely wealthy make great protagonists, embodying as they do all the human virtues. Take these five examples.

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Necromancy for Fun and/or Profit: Vivian Shaw’s “Black Matter”

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 cover Vivian Shaw’s “Black Matter,” first published in July 2019 in Pseudopod. Spoilers ahead!

[“People have described it as sweet…”]

Series: Reading the Weird

Eight Fantasy Tales About the Joys of Bread and Baking

“There is not a thing more positive than bread.” So said Fyodor Dostoevsky, and as someone who needs little more than a decent sourdough loaf and a spread of good Irish butter to be blissfully happy, I wholeheartedly agree.

Bread is one of our oldest recipes as humans, and nearly every culture has developed its own variety. It became such an important staple in our diets that the Roman empire and, later, medieval Europe established baking collegiums—systems to keep bread prices fair, for the good of the public.

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