Tor.com content by

Emily Asher-Perrin

How Do You “See” the Books You Read?

Inevitably, when someone is trying to advocate reading over watching things on screens, some variation of this old joke gets made: “Books are like movies inside your head!” This assumes everyone can—and does—create a full mental picture when they read, complete with sets, landscapes, costumed characters, and easy-to-follow action.

But that’s not how it works for me.

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How She-Ra, Steven Universe, and the World of Animation Speak to My Genderfluidity

When I was very little, I wanted to be a girl.

This was super useful because—according to the world—that’s what I was. When I watched The Little Mermaid, when I read books about Miss Rumphius, or The Moon Lady, or the little girl who wanted to give Corduroy a new button, I was perfectly happy in that skin. Being a girl was full of possibility.

But that feeling didn’t last.

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How to Handle the Baron Harkonnen in a Modern Dune Adaptation

As Denis Villeneuve’s Dune beings to take shape, I find myself with all sorts of questions. Can they condense such a complex novel into one or two films and do it justice? Will they change too many core themes, making the story unrecognizable? Where will all that hefty exposition come from? But upon hearing the casting of Stellan Skarsgård in the role of Baron Harkonnen, those questions rapidly filtered down to one:

Is this going to work?

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Alita: Battle Angel Can’t Find Its Cyborg Heart, Relies on Visual Style and Sentimentality Instead

A project that has been well over a decade in the making, Alita: Battle Angel is based on a 1990s manga and anime that centers on a cyborg teenage girl trying to remember her past. Unfortunately, Hollywood’s less-than-optimal track record in adapting from these mediums holds stronger than ever. Though writers James Cameron and Laeta Kalogridis had years to develop their script, and eventually brought Robert Rodriguez on board as director, Alita is a muddled film that packs in action at the expense of substance and relies on Cameron’s worst storytelling impulses.

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Glass Is an Unnecessary Sequel that Undercuts Unbreakable

M. Night Shyamalan has had nearly twenty years to perfect any ideas he may have been tossing around for an Unbreakable sequel, and following the success of Split—which was set in the same universe—it was only a matter of time before Mr. Glass and David Dunn resurfaced. Sadly, everything that made Unbreakable one of the better ruminations on superhero archetypes on film is missing from Glass, which despite impressive performances manages to be neither as surprising, nor as thoughtful, as its predecessor.

[Spoilers for Glass, Split, and Unbreakable contained within.]

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Bad Dads Make for Family-Friendly Drama, But Bad Moms Are the Stuff of Nightmares

Hollywood seems to have a thing for struggling fathers, running the gamut from hapless or distant to downright sinister. The trope is so common that it permeates every genre of fiction regardless of tone—even family-friendly fare like Mary Poppins Returns centers on a father’s inability to keep his family above water following the death of his wife.

I don’t think these stories are bad by virtue of their very existence—for some, they may even offer some much-needed catharsis—but their ubiquity is a bit troubling, especially when compared to how stories about women who struggle with parenting are often framed.

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The Federation Allowed Families On Starships to Keep Starfleet Enlistment Up

If you’ve watched Star Trek: The Next Generation, it has probably occurred to you that keeping families on a starship is a questionable practice. The Enterprise-D is constantly heading into dangerous situations, and while we can assume that there are protocols in place to keep the kiddies feeling safe and cared for, you have to wonder who thought this was such a brilliant idea to begin with.

Turns out the answer is: probably the Federation?

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A Realtime Breakdown On How Pottermore Made the Chamber of Secrets Weird For Me

Leah dropped a tweet into Slack with an “ummmm” affixed beforehand:

I did some telltale nerdly throat-clearing and gamely told her that this information was not new; it had been published on Pottermore in a larger piece about the history of the Chamber of Secrets several months ago, and I kept avoiding it because of how angry it made me. Because it makes no sense, and also, it ruins one of my favorite headcanons about the Potter series.

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I Hear Santa’s Sleigh: On The Polar Express and What It Means to Believe

It’s sappy holiday story time! Are you ready? I’m ready….

So, Christmas at my house has always been a decidedly secular affair. In that way, I’m no different from a good portion of North America. My parents and I always loved decorating our tree, drinking cocoa, putting out the cookies and such, but the only time we ever arrived at a Christmas mass it was to hear my piano teacher play the service. I went to see one live nativity display as a teen because a friend’s cousin was playing one of the Wise Men. The only Jesus Christ I was listening to was probably the Superstar kind.

Santa Claus, however, was another matter entirely.

[A single bell…]

Die Hard is Great, but Shane Black is the King of Christmas Explosions

Another holiday, another hot take…. But seriously, this annual “Die Hard is the best Christmas film ever” thing has gone bananas. There are so many Christmas films out there—why has this become the hill we die on?

I’m going to be extra aggravating and contrary because Die Hard is not the greatest Christmas movie ever. But there is someone in Hollywood who regularly cracks out amazing Christmas films. He happens to be the guy who named Die Hard.

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5 Things Obi-Wan Kenobi Should Have Told Luke Skywalker (Instead of LIES)

Calling yourself “Old Ben” is fine. Saying mean things about someone’s uncle is rude yet necessary. Pretending that you don’t remember your BBF’s old copilot droid is crappy, but saves time. Does that excuse all the outright lies that Obi-Wan Kenobi tells to Luke Skywalker? Maybe if those lies were truly essential to getting the kid to bring down the Empire. But they’re not, so most of those lies (and omissions) are pretty egregious.

Here are a few things that Obi-Wan could have said to avoid the most ridiculous ones. Because let’s face it, most of Ben’s lies are just kind of… ill-conceived.

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Star Wars is Really a Cautionary Tale About Devoting All Technological Advancements to Death

It’s called Star Wars. Not Star Trek, not Star Peace, not Star Friends, not even Star Tales. This gargantuan fictional universe is labeled with a title that guarantees the ability to travel space… and near-constant warfare.

We can debate the relative okay-ness of this focus from a moral standpoint, sure. But in reality, I think that Star Wars is accidentally teaching us the greatest lesson of all: It’s depicting what a universe looks like when you dedicate all of your research and technological advancements to war and destruction, and unwittingly showing us what an incredibly dark place that universe is. Because the Star Wars universe is a fun fictional playground for sure, a great place to build weird and wonderful stories… but it’s not a good place. Not by a longshot.

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