Sitting with Pain — Star Trek: Discovery’s “Anomaly”

Star Trek has, historically, been really really terrible with consequences.

On the original series, Kirk was present for the deaths of several important people to him: his best friend, his brother and sister-in-law, and two of the great loves of his life, one of whom was pregnant with his child. Yet he was never seen to feel any trauma beyond the episodes where those things happened.

And it wasn’t much better in the first wave of spinoffs. But if the trend toward serialization has given us nothing else, it’s given us TV writers who are willing to examine long-term consequences.

[Fine—I fly, you scan…]

A Love Letter to Mystery Science Theater 3000

Thirty-three years ago, on November 24, 1988, Mystery Science Theater 3000 premiered on KTMA, a cable access channel in Minneapolis. In human years, the show is out of college by now (probably), maybe trying to buy a home, or start a family. It bristles when Cheers calls it a millennial—it’s always felt like an old soul, with the references to Get Christie Love and Charlie McCarthy, and-three it gets frustrated when other shows consider it shallow. It’s not just a reference factory, after all. There’s real depth and heart here, if you know how to pay attention.

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Gingerbread Bricks, Cherry-Stealing Cats, and Other Culinary Disasters

I’ve been asked if I cook as well as I write about cooking.

It’s a fair question: I’ve been cooking almost as long as I’ve been writing. Writing was something I fell into, much like Alice down the rabbit-hole, when I was fourteen. I sat down one day to write myself a story instead of reading one, and thirty-two pages later—pencil and lined paper tablet—I finished my tale and realized that my predictable world had expanded wildly, enormously, with endlessly diverging and intriguing paths running every which way into an unknown I suddenly knew existed. Having ended one story (which is locked away, guarded by dragons and evil-eyed basilisks, and will never see the light of day if I have anything to say about it), I wanted to start all over again on another.

When or why I decided I needed to inflict culinary disasters on my long-suffering family and others, I don’t remember.

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Neverending Stories, Or: The Best Books I’ve Never Actually Finished

Hear me out.

We all remember that scene in The Neverending Story—which is a ridiculously apropos title for this conversation, by the way—where Bastian takes out his sandwich and, while hiding in the school attic, reading his stolen tome, stops himself after one bite, saying, “No. Not too much. We’ve still got a long way to go.”

That’s my reading life, in a nutshell. While I can count on one hand the times I have thrown restraint to the wind and finished an amazing book in one or two sittings, it is more often that I’ve started reading something, appreciated it, and taken months to finish. Better still are the times I’ve started a book, realized I love it on a deep bone level, and, lamenting the progress I am making toward completing it, set it down.

Because I love it too much.

This is a thing that happens.

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Ten Expansive SFF Worlds Worth Exploring

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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Ron Moore Shares a Riker/Picard Flip That Occurred on Star Trek: First Contact

It’s hard to believe that Star Trek: First Contact came out 25 years ago, but here we are. The movie—the second one with The Next Generation crew led by Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart)—had the Borg set on using time travel to assimilate Earth at an earlier date, with the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise (E) the only ones to stop them.

The Hollywood Reporter recently interviewed the film’s co-writer Ron Moore about the film’s production, including some key circumstances that got flipped around during the writing process.

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Remember Our History: A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger

In Darcie Little Badger’s second novel, the National Book Award longlisted A Snake Falls to Earth, Lipan Apache teen protagonist Nina lives in near future Texas and is smart, funny and adamant to translate her great grandmother Rosita’s ‘fanciful, ancient stories about the days when humans and spirits lived together’. Rosita was ‘the keeper of ten thousand stories, each stranger than the last’, and when she was almost impossibly old, Nina recorded her stories into an advanced translation app which is confused by the language Rosita spoken in, partly a Lipan dialect that no one can speak any longer. Nina, it seems, has to work a lot harder to understand the things her great grandmother was trying to tell her.

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Worldbuilding and the Labor of Food

I have a lot of fruit trees on my little, suburban lot. It’s a postage stamp lot, and packed in as tight as can be are six citrus trees, two pomegranates, two pears, two plums, two peaches, a jujube, three grapevines, a barbados cherry, two olive trees, a loquat, an elderberry, passionfruit vines, blackberries, raspberry… Let me think. I think that’s most of them. Papayas come and go, as well as other annual fruits and vegetables, and I love to draw bees and butterflies with flowers and herbs, but when I think of my garden, the first thing I think about is the lemon tree next to my front door that blooms in the spring and hands me hundreds of golden jewels in the dark days of winter.

I think about the astonishing bloom of the passion vines, which have yet to produce edible fruit but should, and the bird nest hidden deep in my orange tree. I think about the fig tree, that rambling beast eager to consume all available landspace, and beating her back into her corner. I think about the season of the fruit trees, where I prune in the spring, where I watch the flowers and leaves break through the bark in a burst of life right when I am most thoroughly weary of even our mild winter, down in south Texas, to the long season of fruiting, and then harvest, and then sleep.

I think about how every day I go into my yard and without much effort encounter a butterfly or wild bee, there. I think about how many fantasy novels are written and read by people who don’t take even a moment to think about what the weather and landscape mean to available food. In some ways, the conspicuous absence when I read fantasy is found in the way food is grown, harvested, prepared.

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Ghostbusters: Afterlife Finds the Breaking Point of Nostalgic Reverence

Your feelings about Ghostbusters: Afterlife will hinge on your relationship to nostalgia. More specifically, how you feel nostalgia has shaped the entertainment of the last several years, and what you’d like to see in the future; maybe even the stories you’re working on and would like to tell.

Afterlife leans so heavy on the first Ghostbusters for its story beats, images, and gags. Many lines are taken straight from the 1984 original; they even recreate several (dozens of?) scenes. These references are meant to conjure warm memories from my youth, but I was way more interested when the movie started doing its own thing that wasn’t just a reiteration of Ghostbusters (1984). Yet the movie plays less like a greatest hits album, more like an uninspired cover.

Nostalgia has its uses, but when it’s so cynically deployed as it is in this film, it feels life-sapping, limiting; something like a trap.

[Major Spoilers for Ghostbusters: Afterlife Below]

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