content by

Cole Rush

Legends & Lattes Would Be the Warmest, Coziest Fantasy Adaptation Imaginable

Welcome to another installment of Please Adapt! I hope you’re ready to snuggle up and enjoy a warm cuppa, because we’re putting our feet up after last month’s massive Cosmere discussion.

Today, we turn our sights to Travis Baldree’s Legends & Lattes, a fascinating viral indie success that bypasses the “epic” lane of fantasy and sets off on its own road, leaving readers with warm and fuzzy feelings from dawn to dusk.

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Five SFF Settings That Feel Like Characters

Places have power. In science fiction and fantasy, they have actual, magical power more often than not.

SFF settings are often big by necessity. Locales need to hold entire casts of characters, sweeping civilizations, the flora and fauna flourishing in myriad biomes. Most settings function as they’re meant to, but meaning depends on the author’s intent and the reader’s interpretation. I find most settings nestle into the Goldilocks zone, a happy middle-ground where they can flesh out the larger world and offer a stage upon which the characters can fuel the plot.

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Reading to Music: Five Perfect Soundtracks for Fiction

How do you create an atmosphere perfect for reading?

I soundtrack my life depending on the activity at hand. Video game soundtracks and future funk mixes while I work. Musical theater hits and Bo Burnham’s Inside while I drive. Lizzo while I cook. Chill electronic tunes while I bike.

When I’m reading, I can’t handle anything too complex. My brain can’t tune out lyrics, so anything with more than a few words is immediately out of the question. Reading takes immense focus; I can’t nestle into the flow while sonic distractions run amok around me.

To some, the answer might be silence. I can’t handle it. Without atmospheric noises of some sort in the background, every little sound bugs me: the turning of the pages, a car rushing by outside, the neighbor’s dog barking at thin air. My brain needs an aural pattern to glom onto, one that says, “You are now in reading mode.”

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Please Adapt Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere

Alright, folks. It’s time. Let’s do this.

Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere has long provided rich conversational fodder for avid fans, readers who love speculating and swapping theories about his interconnected fictional worlds, and anyone anxiously awaiting the next big fantasy adaptation. What follows will be of special interest to that third group, in particular, because this is as promising an outlook as we’ve seen thus far in my “Please Adapt” column.

Given Sanderson’s popularity, the possibility of Cosmere adaptations are often posed as whens, not ifs. In light of the author’s string of recent successes, the time seems right for a deep dive into this unique, interconnected fictional universe, as we consider how screen portrayals of his books might take shape…

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Damn, That’s Good: Pseudo-Profanity as SFF Worldbuilding

You’re reading your latest SFF obsession and you hit a string of back-to-back profanities: “Fuck! Shit! Damn!” The rogue stubbed her toe during a challenging stretch of a treacherous climb. 

I see segments like this and I chuckle. There’s an odd, intangible pleasure in seeing a swear word taking up space on a page. “Hey, I say that when I stub my toe, too!” (Of course, I’m not climbing cliffs or buildings. I last stubbed my toe chasing my cat, who refuses to swallow his pill.)

SFF authors have proven time and again that profanity can be an art form. I look to Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard sequence as the gold standard, here—the series elevates swearing to the realm of artistic achievement. But for every book blending the familiar profanities we know and love with magical lands and spacefaring civilizations, there’s a work that substitutes new terms that take the place of common expletives to great effect. 

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The Power of a Myth Retold: Hadestown Makes A Melodic Case For Reviving and Reimagining Stories

“It isn’t finished yet,” sings a caught-off-guard Orpheus when Eurydice asks him to sing the song he’s working on. 

Every night, Hadestown runs again. Orpheus repeats the phrase, and a new audience whisks away to the industrial reimagining of Hades in which the musical takes place. 

Hadestown brings the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice into the modern era, punctuated throughout with folksy, melodic music by Anaïs Mitchell. In case you’re unfamiliar, the original myth sees Orpheus trek to the underworld to retrieve his lost love, Eurydice. When he arrives, Hades strikes a deal with the boy. Orpheus may walk out of the underworld, and Eurydice may follow him, but he cannot look back. The entire journey must be undertaken facing forward and looking ahead, without checking to see whether his love still remains behind him. If Orpheus looks back, Hades will claim Eurydice for good. Normally I’d let you guess how it ends, but the finale is important to my point. If you don’t want spoilers for Hadestown (or an ancient myth), here’s your warning. 

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Shveta Thakrar’s Star Daughter Deserves the Star-Studded Silver Screen Treatment

Welcome back to the Please Adapt column! This month, I’m shining a celestial spotlight on Shveta Takrar’s Star Daughter. In my review, I praised the novel for its unique premise and relatable story. Today, I’ll revisit the book and outline the myriad reasons it deserves a stellar on screen adaptation.

Minor spoilers will follow, but they mainly involve setup for the story—nothing beyond what you might find in an online summary or back-cover synopsis.

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Five Zombie Stories That Breathe New Life Into the Undead

I’m not one for spooky-scary stories. I watched The Conjuring with a horror-savvy friend once and couldn’t sleep for two nights. Still, I push myself to try new things, and that often includes books, movies, and shows with distinctly terrifying elements.

I remain a bit of a baby in this regard, I’ll admit. I won’t touch any of A24’s recent horror flicks. But I have dipped my proverbial toe into the murky waters, and I have settled into a subgenre with content scary enough to give me the occasional shudder but palatable enough to keep me from losing sleep: zombies.

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Three Sandman Stories I Hope The Show Adapts

We’re just under two weeks away from Netflix’s Sandman adaptation. It’s slated to release on August 5th, bringing Morpheus and his mystical companions to our screens for journeys through the Dreaming, the Waking World, and every realm in between.

Based on the casting and trailers to date, it appears we’ll be treated to some core Sandman stories. Preludes & Nocturnes (Volume one) and The Doll’s House (Volume two) seem likely to make up much of season one. I’m also holding out hope Gwendolyn Christie’s casting as Lucifer means we’ll get Season of Mists (volume four), a marvelous arc about Hell and its rule.

[Here are three of Morpheus’ adventures that I hope the show will adapt… ]

8 Whimsical Couch Co-Op Games You Can Play With A Friend, Ranked By Difficulty

My wife and I have played video games together for years now, and we have a special place in our hearts for cooperative gaming experiences. She began her video game education as a youngster, enjoying Super Mario Bros. and the occasional heated Mario Party outing—but in adulthood, she played precious few video games.

Re-learning the hobby has been a joyful experience for her. I’m relieved I can say that, because I opened the floodgates by requesting we play Cuphead together (more on that later). There’s a unique rush that comes from playing games together, whether it’s with an experienced partner or a relative gaming rookie. (If your favorite gaming comrade fits the latter category, I highly recommend checking out Razbuten’s Gaming for a Non-Gamer series on YouTube.)

What began as a resurgence of interest in gaming for my wife quickly evolved into a renewed vigor for gaming on my part. Together, we hunt for top-tier co-op gaming experiences. It’s easy enough to find battle royales or competitive online games, but we much prefer sitting down and overcoming challenges as a unit.

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Five Fantasy Cafes I’d Love To Visit

Sometimes, our favorite fantasy characters need a break—an escape from the woes of brutal, unforgiving worlds and a safe space to ruminate on life, or simply exist in peaceful solitude. Or perhaps characters just need a warm and welcoming atmosphere to encourage a few hours of friendship and laughter, insulated against the stress and harsh realities of life by four walls and the rich aroma of roasting coffee beans and steaming pots of tea.

Thankfully, fantasy writers and creators give us these spaces in droves. The genre brims with comforting, often whimsical cafes, and many of them make me long for a real-world equivalent. I’d love to nestle into a corner booth at all five of these fantasy cafes with a good book, basking in the ambiance and sipping on whatever delightful brews the owners have on offer…
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The Crawling King: A Conversation With Einar Baldvin

Einar Baldvin’s graphic novel The Crawling King released in 2018 on the heels of a successful Kickstarter campaign. The eerie grimoire blends fairy tale elements, Lovecraftian monsters, and an overarching narrative about a fallen kingdom. The book is an ideal conversation starter: a lovingly crafted, horror-filled tome packed with dazzlingly dark illustrations and compelling yarns. 

But after its initial run, The Crawling King seemed to fade into the background. The book soon became hard to find, with secondhand copies surfacing rarely and almost always above list price. 

After I discussed the graphic novel in my article about fictional texts with dark or mysterious implications, Einar Baldvin got in touch. We chatted about The Crawling King and his career as an animator and illustrator. He also revealed that he and his publisher have a few stray copies of the book still available, which are now available for purchase

My conversation with Baldvin below spans origin stories (his own and that of The Crawling King), inspirations, his experience working with Starburns Industries, and a few hints at what’s next…. 

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Please Let F.C. Yee’s Kyoshi Sequence Be the Next Avatar: The Last Airbender Movie

When it rains, it pours! Waterbender or not, the deluge of recent Avatar news is sure to please any fan of The Last Airbender or The Legend of Korra. I started drafting this essay a few weeks ago, only for a big announcement to derail my original angle in the best possible way: Three new Avatar movies are on the way, and it’s possible that one of them might be exactly what I pine for in the following paragraphs…

F.C. Yee’s Kyoshi duology expanded the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender, giving the titular bender a much-deserved stint in the spotlight. The books are excellent fodder for an adaptation, bringing Kyoshi back to screens to earthbend her way into the larger fandom (especially for those who haven’t read the books yet).

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Five Stories That Test the Limits of Bodily Consciousness

Science fiction and fantasy stretch limits. They explore infinite what-ifs, using speculation like rocket fuel to blast us off into unknown worlds. The genre can also offer more grounded stories, ruminating on different aspects of human experience through a magical or scientific lens. And while I enjoy a vast new world as much as the next SFF reader or viewer, I also seek out stories that use the human psyche as a playground.

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Severance, Severance, and the Importance of Honest Corporate Sci-Fi

Fresh out of college in 2014, I joined a massive corporation. Over the course of my seven-year tenure, I worked various roles and survived numerous high-profile acquisitions, often shifting teams and learning to navigate new intercompany politics along the way. Heading into 2020, my mental health had taken a nose-dive. I hated my work. I hated my role. The poor treatment I received at the hands of suit-wearing sales bros and executives who expected blind deference chipped away at what little self-worth I had left. 

Then, in April 2020, my boss messaged me: “Have a minute to chat at 1?” The writing was on the wall; the company was in decline due to Covid’s rampant spread. Furloughs cascaded through the workforce. I signed onto the call with my manager and he opened with six glorious words: “Listen, mate. We’re eliminating your position.”

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