Tor.com content by

Leah Schnelbach

A New Janet! Dogs are Serenaded! Highlights from The Good Place Season 4 Panel at SDCC 2019

The Good Place panel opened with scenes from the upcoming fourth and final (sniff!!!) season, which apparently involved a bay elephant telling the secrets of the universe. With that out of the way, a panel made up of Ted Danson (Michael) Kristen Bell (Eleanor) Manny Jacinto (Jason) William Jackson Harper (CHIDI!!!), Darcy Carden (JANET! JANET!) and Michael Schur (Creator God) shared tales from the set and talked aobut saying goodbye to their characters. We’ve rounded up some highlights below!

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“We Ship Braime!” “The Night King Will Rule Westeros!” And Other Highlights From Game of Thrones‘ Panel at SDCC 2019

Some of Game of Thrones‘ cast gathered one final time to discuss Season 8 (and THAT FINALE) at San Diego Comic-Con. Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark), John Bradley West (Samwell Tarly), Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth), Raleigh Ritchie (Greyworm), and Conleth Hill (Varys) all appeared, regaling Hall H with spoilers for a panel that closed with no time left for Q&A.

We’ve assembled highlights below—obviously this post is dark and full of spoilers!

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17 Factual and Fictional Stories About Space Exploration

The Space Race encapsulates both the best and the worst of aspects of U.S. history. On the one hand, there is humanity’s drive to learn and explore. All space programs have no choice but to celebrate the wonders of mathematics, physics, and engineering. (To put this into ’80s film terms: no matter how jock-ish an image an astronaut wants to put forth, it’s still nerds who get us into space.) Space exploration doesn’t just raise the possibility that humanity will find new homes across the galaxy, but it also leaves technological innovation in its wake.

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Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Reportedly Gets Epic, Straight-to-Series Order from Netflix

After a failed attempt at a movie in 2013, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman has now apparently found a home–and a giant budget–at Netflix.

The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that Neil Gaiman’s iconic comics series Sandman has been acquired by Netflix, in a deal that they are describing as “the most expensive TV series that DC Entertainment has ever done.” The show has been straight-to-series with showrunner Allan Heinberg (Wonder Woman, ABC’s The Catch, Grey’s Anatomy) attached.

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Used Sporks in the Hands of an Angry God: Toy Story 4, The Good Place, and What it Means to Be Trash

I was hoping Forky would end capitalism. After all, all the toys in the Toy Story Universe are bought, packaged, branded, boxed, sold at high prices and given to children for holidays and birthdays. But with the end of Toy Story 3 we had a slightly different paradigm. Andy gave Bonnie his old toys because he’d outgrown them. They were given freely, no strings attached, no dollars exchanged. After two films about birthday presents and online auctions, they were blissfully outside of the market.

Was it naive of me to hope for the next step? To rejoice when Forky was made by Bonnie’s own two little kindergarten paws, not begotten in some sterile toy company boardroom? When Bonnie wrote her name on Forky’s popsicle stick feet, I hoped that we were entering a brave new world, in which the toys would rise up and critique those who would call them mere commodity.

After all, can there be consent under capitalism? Can there be true freedom beneath the baleful eye of Geoffrey Giraffe?

[(Of course, we all know that capitalism came for even Geoffrey in the end.)]

Finding Role Models in Madeleine L’Engle’s A House Like a Lotus

A House Like a Lotus bears many of the traits common to Madeleine L’Engle’s work: family members swap kids; a deeply eccentric adult mentors a deeply precocious child; ESP exists when convenient; half of the characters are the youngest/most eccentric members of old, old families; precocious children are abused at school; extraordinarily intelligent parents insist that precocious children stay in schools where they don’t learn anything because of the nebulous concept of “social intelligence” which in the L’Engle-verse seems to mean “learning to put up with idiots”; and, of course, international travel. But, other than that instance of convenient ESP, and one fictional terminal illness, Lotus is pretty straight realism.

Or, if you’ll humor me, pretty queer realism.

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The Dead Don’t Die Is the Perfect Zombie Movie for Our Times

There is a certain comfort to be found in horror. The kids are going to head out into the country and find the weird heart of rural America. There will be a diner with great coffee. Signs will accrue. The moon will be full; animals will act up. If you’re in a haunted house, each night will get be worse than the last, while the daylight hours will remain safe… for a while. If you’re in a rural horror, the locals will be friendly… at first. If you’re in a zombie movie, there will be at least one shot of an undead swarm. People will split up like idiots no matter how much you yell at them not to from the safety of your couch or movie theater. People will open up about their deepest fears or childhood memories while huddled together for safety. People will argue about which room/building is safest, with someone opting for basement and someone else opting for closet, and the really smart ones will head for the hardware store. There will probably be at least one reactionary asshole who thinks the whole thing is a hoax perpetrated by the government. (Watching that guy get eaten/murdered/haunted to death will carry a certain amount of satisfaction.) There will be at least one person who snaps and throws themselves to the Big Bad.

The Dead Don’t Die nods to each of these moments, subverting some, embracing others, but does it all with a sense of flat detachment that marks this as a wholly different beast that your Shauns of the Dead or your Tuckers and Dales Versus Evil, or even your Zombielands. The film also riffs on classics including but not limited to: Plan 9 From Outer Space, Night of the Living Dead, Evil Dead, Carrie, Nosferatu, and Scream.

[But honestly, I don’t know if the movie works.]

Bill & Ted’s Daughters Will be Joining Them for an Excellent New Adventure

At the end of the underappreciated cinematic masterpiece Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, we learn that in the future, Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan have married the medieval princesses they rescued in the first film, and each have a child. But now that we ourselves are in the future, we have learned that Bill and Ted have daughters, and they named them after each other.

And now they’ve each been cast for Bill & Ted Face the Music.

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Be Terrified by the First Trailer for Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark!

Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark wasn’t just a terrifying collection of short stories enhanced with Stephen Gammell’s artwork, which may well be the GREATEST ILLUSTRATIONS OF ALL TIME—it was also a generation-defining work of horror. And now, thanks to horror icon/producer Guillermo del Toro and Trollhunter director André Øvredal, it’s going to be a feature film that will presumably traumatize all the kids out there who haven’t gotten to the book yet.

And it looks fun as heck.

Check out the full trailer below!

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Permeable Borders: Tears of the Trufflepig by Fernando A. Flores

There is a lot of book packed into Tears of the Trufflepig. There’s a story of grief that may prove unshakeable. A story of political and economic oppression. A story of environmental catastrophe, and a gang war, and a mythical beast, and of the power dreams can hold over us.

This is Fernando A. Flores’ debut novel. He’s previously published a short story collection, Death to the Bullshit Artists of South Texas, released by Host Publications in 2018. In Trufflepig he gives us an alt-/near-/quasi-/somewhat dystopic- future that is funny and weird, but with a dark undertow of social commentary that will keep it unspooling in your mind after you finish reading.

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