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Caroline Perny

The Wheel of Time, Trailers, and the Ineffable Hope for the Future

Welcome to Close Reads! In this series, Leah Schnelbach and their guests dig into the tiny, weird moments of pop culture—from books to theme songs to viral internet hits—that have burrowed into our minds, found rent-stabilized apartments, started community gardens, and refused to be forced out by corporate interests. This time out, our own Aes Sedai, Caro Perny of the Publicity Ajah, muses on the trailer for Rafe Judkins’ adaptation of The Wheel of Time, trailers in general, and how we cope with an unknowable future.

If I’ve learned anything from my lifelong obsession with fantasy, it’s that liminal spaces are uniquely powerful things. SFF media is littered with stories about crossroads and life-altering riddles, fae appearances at dawn, the veil between worlds thinning at dusk—but all of those seem anachronistic in our modern world. In the present day, I’d argue that there is no liminal space quite so powerful as the time between the release of a trailer and the actual airing of the story it corresponds to. Simply put, trailers are a glimpse into the future where we as the viewer are required to fill in the blanks—both about the story being told, and who we’ll be when the telling happens. That’s what makes them so powerful.

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Series: Close Reads

If Rand al’Thor Were Your Boyfriend…

If Rand al’Thor were your boyfriend, you’d be a sister-wife. This man has somehow bagged a coven of devoted badass babes, and you’d be lucky to be one of them, sweetie! But…if Rand al’Thor were your boyfriend, well, you would be one of them, and that’s what the kids call “squad goals.”

If Rand al’Thor were your boyfriend, he’d constantly flex and make you tell him how cool his dragon tattoos were. “Oh yeah, honey, these are so badass, and I definitely haven’t seen five guys in Ed Hardy shirts with the exact same ones,” you’d say, brimming with sincerity.

If Rand al’Thor were your boyfriend, you would definitely be in it to date him, a mythical figure fated to go insane and then die, instead of for the gang of smokeshow goddesses he is also dating. You’re straight, and you’d be in it to date him. For sure.

[If Rand al’Thor were your boyfriend, you’d have pretty sweet date nights…]

No Jokers, No Masters: Birds of Prey and the Emancipation of Harley Quinn’s Narrative

I didn’t expect to love Birds of Prey so much, but I’m currently sitting on my bed in a gold lamé jumpsuit, eating a breakfast sandwich and pretending my cat is a hyena, so here we are. On the surface, it’s just a dumb superhero action movie that gave me cause to yell things like “HELL YEAH MURDER SLIDE!” or “KICK HIM IN THE NADS!” at full volume in a movie theater. The film is designed to be pure fun, a carnival of sartorial delights and one-liners tied together by glittery explosions and a soundtrack that can only be described as “bitchin’.” I’m a simple woman, and that would have been enough for me.

But there’s actual substance lurking beneath the surface. This isn’t the first time we’ve gotten a Harley Quinn story, but it’s finally the version of Harley Quinn I’ve always wanted to see—and it’s because she gets to choose who she becomes, and choose the people around her.

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