Lisa Frankenstein Features Cole Sprouse as a Victorian Corpse and That’s Really All We Need to Know

Lisa Frankenstein, the feature debut of director Zelda Williams, has a lot going for it, but this one detail is just too good: Cole Sprouse (Riverdale’s Jughead Jones, above) plays a “handsome Victorian corpse” who is reanimated by an unpopular high school student in 1989. Important question: Can we have him in lacy collars and velvet? Please? (Note: I do not care if this is historically accurate. The heart wants what the heart wants.)

The very loose take on Frankenstein is written by Diablo Cody, who knows her way around teen horror (Jennifer’s Body).

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Exploring the Depths of Middle-earth With Artist Kip Rasmussen

When I first came across Kip Rasmussen’s work, I knew it was exceptional, and that I’d probably like everything he made. His paintings present all the best components of high fantasy: long hair flowing from beneath helms, brazen swords, gleaming spears, fire-breathing dragons, primordial godlike beings, imposing pinnacles of rock, and an insanely huge spider. Yup—these were scenes right out of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium, instantly recognizable as features of Middle-earth. But curiously, only a few of them depict characters in The Lord of the Rings itself. Here was a Silmarillion-leaning artist. Oh, hell yeah.

When I contacted Kip to ask permission to use some of his work in my Silmarillion Primer, he just happened to be mulling over three ideas in his mental queue and he was quick to ask me to choose which subject he’d tackle next. I chose “Tulkas Chaining Morgoth,” so when he finished it later, it was right on time for the War of Wrath segment of the Primer. That made me very happy. And now, once again, I’m debuting a new painting in this article: Kip’s take on that legendary conflict between a certain lionhearted shield-maiden and a certain overconfident lord of carrion.

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A Very Metaphysical Techno-Satire: Adam Roberts’ The This

In the years before social media turned into an outright nightmare most of the time and the algorithm powering YouTube veered past the uncanny valley and into something monstrous, there was a moment when random things would come up online that had the power to delight. Among them: people coming up with attack ad-style videos about 19th century philosophers. I have no idea what the context behind these was, but the Kierkegaard and Kant ones were and are hilarious. (There was also an attack ad directed at Nietzsche which seems to be lost to history.) You wouldn’t necessarily think that this combination would work, but it does.

Such is the case, too, with Adam Roberts’ memorably-titled The This. In his notes following the novel, Roberts writes that the writings of Hegel were a primary source of inspiration for him, and that this novel “follows, and is in some respects in dialogue with, an earlier Kant-novel of mine called The Thing Itself.” But while that novel was set in the recent past, The This is largely set in the near future—except, of course, for the scenes set in the bardo.

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Yellowjackets Continues Its Excellent Casting, Adding Lauren Ambrose for Season 2

There’s a new adult in the Yellowjackets cast—which means at least one more of the ’90s teens survived their harrowing crash in the wilderness. Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under) has been cast as an adult version of one character, and fans of the show can probably guess who. But in the interest of spoiler protocol, you’ll have to read on to find out!

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Long After Last Call: Natalka Burian’s The Night Shift

New York is a city in which the fabric of space-time seems particularly flexible. It’s not just how the subway, rushing inconsistently at all hours, feels like it could open onto any moment in the past. (It is a time travel portal in Russian Doll and Casey McQuiston’s One Last Stop). It’s not just the way the city’s history is right there, all the time, in the names of places, the name of the island of Manhattan itself, the gaping space in the downtown skyline that some of us can never not see. 

It’s the way the city is layered with the places it used to be. Things can change so fast that if you live in a neighborhood for more than a few years, you don’t just see a present-day bodega, burrito place, inevitable Starbucks; you see all the places those storefronts used to be, the bars long closed, the coffee shops transformed. “But that was New York,” Emma Straub writes in This Time Tomorrow, “watching every place you’d kissed or cried, every place you loved, turn into something else.”

Natalka Burian’s The Night Shift is set in New York City in the early 2000s (a narrative act of time travel in itself). Jean Smith just quit her job; her beloved boss, famed psychotherapist Myra Goldstein, got a little too friendly and curious about Jean’s past, which Jean doesn’t talk about. She throws herself into not just one new job but two: bartending at Red and Gold in the evenings, and working at a bakery following her bartending shift. The hours are long and late and the distance between the two businesses is just a little too far for convenience.

That’s where the shortcuts come in.

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Five Dark YA Fantasies About the Fae

The first house I lived in was a bi-level with a long, straight-shot hallway from the kitchen to the living room. Full length mirrors were set into the walls, in very 1980s fashion. My brother and I would turn off all the lights in the house and run up and down that hallway, catching ghostly glimpses of ourselves in the mirrors, playing “Night Faeries.”

A foreboding kind of rush would prickle through me as I held my arms out wide, making them wings, and swooping along in search of night flowers and glowing fruits (I think we were watching a lot of FernGully at the time). There was something illicit to the whole thing—being in the dark, transforming ourselves into something human but not quite. I couldn’t have recognized it at six years old, but there was a whiff of the uncanny to our game, and it was laced with “what if.” What if we were us, but we could fly? What if we were us, but magic?

That, I think, is one of the reasons fae stories are so enduring. They could be us. Fae are often portrayed as looking human, speaking like humans, interacting with humans, but they’re more. Immortal, bearers of powers that inspire both awe and fear. We want to get closer.

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Series: Five Books About…

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