Dr. Feyrouz Hanafusa is a curator at Yale in the 23rd century. Space exploration is still ongoing, and signs of life have been discovered on a planet near TRAPPIST-1. Signs, Dr. Hanafusa realizes, that suspiciously resemble drawings in the Voynich manuscript, which no one has been able to decipher for over eight hundred years.
From the beginning, Westworld’s companion websites have been a treasure trove of Easter eggs, lore, and other goodies, encouraging fans to solve puzzles and decode seemingly innocuous files for a more interactive viewing experience. For season 3, the website in question is Incite Inc., a mysterious tech company first introduced in a teaser way back in November. As reported by Westworld Watchers, per io9, Reddit user u/MTC_Chickpea went poking around the site to try to grab screencaps from a mysterious new trailer. When the trailer disappeared, they turned on their VPN, and voila! Not one, not two, but three hidden trailers for Westworld season 3.
When it comes to science fiction adaptations, one name you don’t hear much about is British author Olaf Stapledon, who began writing genre novels in the 1930s, with stories like Last and First Men, Odd John, Star Maker, and others.
Interestingly, his book Last and First Men is the inspiration for the directoral debut of Jóhann Jóhannsson, the late Icelandic composer known for his work on films such as Sicario, Arrival, and The Theory of Everything.
In this scattershot series, we’ll be delving “too greedily and too deep,” prying gems out of the glorious rough that is the extended legendarium of Tolkien’s world. This includes drawing on The Lord of the Rings itself, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, The Children of Húrin, and the History of Middle-earth (or HoME) books.
As Tolkien-reading humans, we already know that even in Middle-earth, all Men die at some point. Obviously. But it’s not unless we read Appendix A in The Lord of the Rings that we see mortal death referred to as something other than a tough break. The narrator calls it “the Gift of Men” when speaking of the long-lived Númenóreans. Arwen Undómiel calls this fate “the gift of the One to Men” at her husband’s own deathbed, where “the One” is essentially God, a.k.a. Eru, whom the Elves named Ilúvatar. And this all might seem strange at first, for nowhere else in Tolkien’s seminal book does he explain why death might be seen as a gift.
After Star Wars took the Disney+ limelight with the release of The Mandalorian last year, Marvel Studios is set to jump into the streaming world this year with its own shows: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and WandaVision are each slated for release in August and December, respectively.
Now, Marvel has confirmed the next batch of shows that’ll debut in 2021: Loki, What If…?, Ms. Marvel, and Hawkeye.
With Rise of Skywalker in the rearview mirror, Lucasfilm and Disney are working to figure out what the future is for the Star Wars franchise. According to The Hollywood Reporter, they’ve brought on Sleight director J.D. Dillard and Luke Cage and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. writer Matt Owens to develop a new project for the franchise.
Jules Verne was a ridiculously prolific author, publishing more than 90 novels, short stories, non-fiction books, essays, and plays over his 50-odd year career. His magnum opus was the Voyages Extraordinaires, a series of 54(!) novels that sought “to outline all the geographical, geological, physical, and astronomical knowledge amassed by modern science and to recount, in an entertaining and picturesque format…the history of the universe,” according to his editor Jules Hetzel. How’s that for an ambitious undertaking?
You might not expect a novel about the Thirty Years’ War to be entertaining, much less funny. Those three decades of massacre, starvation, plague, and pillage littered central Europe with eight million corpses; it wasn’t until the twentieth century that the European nations once again achieved such sheer horror. And yet, despite its grim subject and despite its jacket-copy endorsement from Michael Haneke, bleakest and most depressing of bleak and depressing German directors, Daniel Kehlmann’s new novel Tyll is a rollick and a delight.
Heist stories always seem so straightforward at the beginning. All that stands between our protagonists and possession of whatever it is they covet or require is a team with the right skills, a plan so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a fox, and a bit of concerted effort. What could possibly go wrong? And yet, something always does.
It doesn’t matter if the heist takes place in a mundane world or a science fiction world or a fantasy world. There are always complications…because otherwise, where’s the fun?
For the first forty minutes of its forty-two-minute running time, “Stardust City Rag” is a fantastic episode, my favorite episode of Picard so far (okay, fine, the competition isn’t exactly fierce yet, given that we’re only five episodes in, but work with me, here). It is full of so much amazing stuff from beginning to end, and runs the gamut from hilarious to sad to dramatic to action-packed to horrific. This is the first solo script by Kirsten Beyer, who is not just supervising producer and co-creator (and also a friend of your humble reviewer), but is also the author of several brilliant Star Trek: Voyager novels which did powerful character work with Seven of Nine.
Then there’s the last two minutes.
In the past few decades, theme parks across the U.S. have been engaged in a kind of entertainment arms race, building not only ambitious new individual rides and amusements, but creating entire new sections of the parks which immerse the visitor in another world, all built around a popular franchise, movie, or brand. By far, science fiction and fantasy fans have been the principal beneficiaries of this expansion. Universal Orlando Resort fired opening salvos with their Islands of Adventure theme park, originally launched in 1999, containing sections devoted to Marvel Superheroes, Jurassic Park, and the world of Doctor Seuss. They pushed things to another level with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where not only the rides, but even the shops and restaurants were all part of the theme, and employees were trained in Potter-related role-playing. Disney World followed suit with Pandora—The World of Avatar, and then Toy Story Land.
In 2019, in a move that many delighted many fans, Disney opened Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge—an area of the park dedicated to the Star Wars universe—promising an experience that would again raise the bar for audience immersion. Recently, my wife Jan and I had the opportunity to visit Disney World in Orlando, where we discovered that Black Spire Outpost, set on the previously unknown planet of Batuu, truly lives up to all the hype
We recently sat down Drew Williams, author of the Universe After series, and Arkady Martine, author of the Teixcalaan series, to chat about all things space opera!
In the following conversation, the two skilled sci-fi writers discuss the craft of writing stories that take place in a far-future we can’t see, how the genre handles the concept of empire, and the whether or not their stories could take place in say, a modern office setting instead.