Arrival Wonders What We’d Do If Life Came with Spoilers

At the risk of sounding self-indulgent, let me point out that film criticism is not born in a vacuum. Much as I try to keep myself “pure”—not reading reviews, not consulting PR synopses (at least before my first viewing), going all the way to tackling people who say they’ve already seen the film to keep them from revealing what they thought of it—I still go into a screening with expectations and prejudices. I carry my personal baggage wherever I go, and there’s a lifetime in every word I write—including, to radically paraphrase Mary McCarthy, “if,” “and,” and “but.”

Cognizance of where I’ve been steers where I’m going. If I feel that A Monster Calls (2016) is a grievously undervalued film, I can’t discount that that opinion may well have roots in a particularly devastating event in my own life. The question I’m obligated to confront is: Do I factor my personal biases into my reviews and temper my evaluation accordingly, or do I accept them as a part of the things that form me, and stand by my judgement? How much do I let cognizance of the past alter my present…and future?

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Reading The Wheel of Time: Nynaeve Makes a Discovery in Robert Jordan’s Lord of Chaos (Part 19)

Welcome back to Reading The Wheel of Time. I’ve missed the column, and it’s great to be back at it. It’s a big week too, because we have finally gotten to one of the things I’ve been waiting for since basically the beginning: Nynaeve has figured out how to Heal stilling and gentling.

Other than being able to reverse the madness brought about by the taint and/or remove the taint from saidin all together, healing gentling is the biggest game changer for how the One Power is understood in Rand’s time. Granted, most men who are gentled tend to die before too long, but if even a few of them could be restored that would make a big difference for Rand, especially someone like Logain who is both powerful and experienced in wielding saidin. And of course there is also Siuan and Leane, who are characters I care for very much and with whom we’ve spent a lot of time. We’ve watched how they both tried to find something else to sustain them in the loss of such an intrinsic piece of themselves, the way they tried to pretend they weren’t hurting, the way Siuan sacrificed everything to continue doing the work she and Moiraine began so long ago. It’s a really wonderful moment when Nynaeve is able to give that piece back to them, even though the whole thing hasn’t gone quite to plan.

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. First, let’s do the recap.

[Squaring her shoulders, she went below to do battle with the Hall.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

5 Horror Books That Will Forever Change How You Look at Everyday Objects

Something that I love about horror, no matter its subgenre, is when it can take something harmless and ordinary—like a rubber ball, or a button, or a VHS tape—and turn it into a symbol of terror. We see this phenomenon play out in horror movies all the time—you can barely mention the Final Destination franchise without someone bringing up that the second installment spooked them out of driving near lumber trucks forever—but what about books that shape how you interact with stuff that really shouldn’t be that scary?

Here are five horror novels that, at some point in my life, really made me rethink what sort of stuff I keep lying around my house.

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Series: Five Books About…

Thor’s Not Like the Other Gods in the Trailer for Thor: Love and Thunder

The latest trailer for Thor: Love and Thunder begins with Korg (director Taika Waititi) telling the story of the space viking, Thor Odinson (Chris Hemsworth), and while Korg’s story gets off track real quick, it is, for the brief moment it happens, perfection. Can Korg narrate the whole film? We need his take on the first appearance of Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale).

Gorr’s fine, though. Let’s talk about Jane.

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Andor Aims to Recontextualize Legacy Characters That Star Wars Fans (Think They) Know

The first season of Star Wars: Andor has yet to air, but showrunner Tony Gilroy is drawing back the curtain about where the series begins and what legacy characters may have some unexpected moments for long-time fans of the franchise.

A warning before I go on: below are very mild spoilers for the beginning of Andor. If you want to go into the show without knowing anything about the story or the characters, stop reading now!

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Peter S. Beagle Returns to the World of The Last Unicorn With The Way Home

First, Peter S. Beagle got the rights to his work back. Then news broke that new live-action and musical versions of The Last Unicorn are in the works. And now there’s something equally exciting on the way: new fiction set in the world of The Last Unicorn. Next spring, Ace Books will publish Beagle’s The Way Home, a collection containing two novellas set in the world of his beloved story.

Should you want to refresh your memory of that story, though, you can pick up an updated edition of The Last Unicorn, with the author’s preferred text and an introduction from Patrick Rothfuss. This edition—which also marks the first time the novel is available as an ebook—will be out this July.

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Sleepwalk Sweepstakes!

Dan Chaon’s Sleepwalk is a high speed and darkly comic road trip through a near future America with a big hearted mercenary, from beloved and acclaimed novelist Dan Chaon.—and we want to send you a copy!

Sleepwalk’s hero, Will Bear, is a man with so many aliases that he simply thinks of himself as the Barely Blur. At fifty years old, he’s been living off the grid for over half his life. He’s never had a real job, never paid taxes, never been in a committed relationship. A good-natured henchman with a complicated and lonely past and a passion for LSD microdosing, he spends his time hopscotching across state lines in his beloved camper van, running sometimes shady often dangerous errands for a powerful and ruthless operation he’s never troubled himself to learn too much about. He has lots of connections, but no true ties. His longest relationships are with an old rescue dog that has post-traumatic stress and a childhood friend as deeply entrenched in the underworld as he is, who, lately, he’s less and less sure he can trust.

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Not Dead Yet: The Time Traveler’s Wife, “Episode Two”

So… it would seem that I’m in the minority for really enjoying Steven Moffat’s adaptation of The Time Traveler’s Wife. This is not the first time I’ve championed something other critics have panned, but I do want to clarify what I like about it. Because listen, this is not going to bring together an incredible fandom like Our Flag Means Death or even demonstrate the near-perfection of a book adaptation like Station Eleven. But it’s engaging twenty-year-old source material in a new way, and it’s clear that Moffat has been waiting a long time to do this. So that’s what has enraptured me with each episode, on both first watch and rewatch.

I also appreciate how episodic it is; last week was the first date that Henry messes up, while this week’s second date has Henry getting his first lesson in actually being vulnerable with his future wife, by way of some Moffat cleverness.

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Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: First Season Overview

Star Trek: Enterprise First Season
Original air dates: September 2001 – May 2002
Executive Producers: Rick Berman, Brannon Braga

Captain’s log. Ninety years after first contact with the Vulcans, Earth has united under a single government and is ready to explore space more thoroughly beyond a few colonies here and there. Under the strict (some think too strict) guidance of the Vulcans, they do so.

[It’s been a long road getting from there to here…]

Series: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch

Love and Piracy: On the Importance of Queer Romantic Fantasy

I learned early that television in general was inhospitable to my desires. To be a queer character on TV was to be in constant peril; a post-sweeps-week disappearance, a stray bullet, a snide joke that minimizes to the point of complete obliteration. Aside from some notable exceptions, which I would diligently watch despite a distinct lack of enjoyment (sorry, Bette and Tina), I learned that my desires were a media exception. An aberration. A fly in the soup of consumable content. This was in line with the pre-marriage equality world in which I grew up. I didn’t expect anything more from media or from the world because I didn’t have the right.

So I said “F*ck TV” and picked up a book.

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Tom Cruise Is Endlessly On the Move in the First Trailer for Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One

Is there a whiff of plot in this trailer? Do we care? Tom Cruise runs! Tom Cruise drives a tiny yellow car! Tom Cruise rides a motorbike off a cliff! These are the things that matter in a Mission: Impossible movie, and the extremely early trailer for Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One has all of them in great and entertaining quantities.

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A Museum in Space and Time: Adrienne Celt’s End of the World House

It’s fair to say that if you’re working on a novel that’s suffused with the surreal, setting it in Paris is a good place to start. Much of Adrienne Celt’s End of the World House is set at the Louvre—best friends Bertie and Kate, on vacation from the Bay Area, are en route there when the book opens—and that seems like a wise decision for a work of fiction that takes a concept that’s become a full-on trope and steers it into something far more ineffable.

I don’t normally go for mild spoiler warnings, but I’m going to insert one here. Like Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi—a novel that shares a few qualities with this one—it’s a story best experienced knowing as little as possible going in. The first few chapters give Bertie, who soon emerges as the novel’s protagonist, a sense of something inherently off about the world; Celt eases the reader into this same sense of subtle wrongness before the full nature of what precisely is wrong comes into focus.

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