content by

Leah Schnelbach

Subversive Victoriana: The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

If you recall my last entry for TBR Stack, I found Artemis to be a fun read; while Andy Weir’s stated aim is to write exciting SF, not make a political statement, part of the fun for me was investing in Jazz Beshara’s financial troubles. In Theodora Goss’ The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, the politics are much more apparent—this is a feminist retelling of Victoriana, after all. But it’s also an examination of class, mobility, propriety, and finances, and how they echo through women’s lives, and constrain them.

In short, this book is about opportunity, and its specific relationship to women’s bodies.

[Read more]

The Man in the High Castle’s SDCC 2018 Panel Teases a New Resistance — and a Premiere Date!

The Man in the High Castle will return on October 5th…and it’s already been renewed for a fifth season! The dystopia takes place in a timeline where the U.S. lost World War II, and was subsequently divided between a Nazi Annex in the East, and a Japanese colony in the West. The show hosted a lively panel at San Diego Comic-Con featuring actors Alexa Davalos, Rufus Sewell, Stephen Root, and Jason O’Mara, and executive producers Isa Dick Hackett and Dan Percival, showed an extended clip of Season Three, and discussed the difficulties of creating alternate timelines.

I’ve rounded up some panel highlights below!

[Read more]

Nightflyers Used Alien‘s Camera Lenses for Maximum Terror in Space

When Nightflyers‘ Executive Producer Jeff Buhler decided to adapt the George R.R. Martin science fiction/horror mashup for Syfy, he didn’t screw around: “We paid homage to the greats: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Psycho, Alien. The lenses were actually the same ones used for Alien.”

Buhler and the cast discussed their new show at San Diego Comic-Con. Check out some panel highlights below!

[Read more]

The Thin Line Between Monster and Warrior: Maria Dahvana Headley’s The Mere Wife


Maria Dahvana Headley’s The Mere Wife has finally been loosed upon the world. I say finally because I think the world needs this book. In Headley’s hands, Beowulf is revealed to be the perfect story to bring forward from the depths of Western history. Headley has turned it over, poked its squishy underbelly, asked it a bunch of questions, and come out with an entirely new version of the tale, exploring new perspectives and revealing truths new and old.

It’s also a great, heart-wrenching read.

[Read more]

Andy Weir Talks About Life on the Moon, Astronaut Dinner Parties, and Artemis

In Artemis, Andy Weir leaves Mars behind to introduce us to a fantastic city on the moon, and one of its more colorful citizen: Jazz Beshara, a smalltime smuggler who spends most of the book in over her head, trying to plan and carry out a heist while investigating a conspiracy that might destroy her home. I spoke with Weir over email, and asked him some pressing questions about sci-fi classics, interstellar city planning, and his picks for the greatest astronaut films.

[Read more]

17 True and Fictional Stories About the Dawn of 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.

But there’s still that other hand. The Space Race of the 1950s and 60s was the result of intense hatred and fear between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Many of the early aims of the program were baldly militaristic rather than scientific. At least one of the leading engineers was a former Nazi. And as idealistic as NASA was, it still enforced rigid racial and gender lines, refusing to allow qualified women to train as astronauts, and segregating Black mathematicians and would-be astronauts for decades. With all of that in mind we’ve rounded up some amazing stories of space—some true, some fictional, some historical, some set, hopefully, in our future—with an eye toward highlighting the stories of those who had to fight even harder to prove they had the right stuff.

[Read more]

Just This Once, Let’s Try Something Else: The Expanse, “Congregation” and “Abbadon’s Gate”

Can I tell you all how happy I am that The Expanse isn’t ending yet? This two-hour finale was, for the most part, great, but if the story ended here I’d be crushed. The episode packed a ton of suspense and heart into its all-too-brief run time, but then ended on a cliffhanger that’s equally exhilarating and terrifying.

[Read more]

Final Frontier Town: Artemis by Andy Weir

Most heists that I’ve seen are either criminals in for one last score, super glitzy fluff like the “Oceans” movies or The Italian Job, or desperate political heists like Rogue One. When they’re about money they’re usually about money as a macguffin, and when they’re about class it’s usually in an escapist way, watching Danny Ocean or later his sister Debbie slink around in gorgeous clothes and glittering settings. While author Andy Weir tends to say that his books are pure fun, Artemis is one of the few heist stories I’ve come across that, for me at least, is explicitly about money and about class.

[Read more]

Incredibles 2 is a GREAT Action Movie, with an Even Greater Message

I don’t know if Disney•Pixar’s Incredibles 2 is the best superhero movie this year (I mean, Black Panther) but it is the first time this year that as I walked through the theater to leave, I seriously considered ducking into the 10pm showing and watching it all over again immediately. It also has the greatest action I’ve ever seen in a super hero movie—the only thing that even comes close is the opening of X2, with Nightcrawler bamfing through the White House. The action sequences are breathtaking in the sense that I literally held my breath during a couple of them. And again, as a hardbitten, cynical movie critic I tend to spend my movie time watching myself watch the movie, gauging audience reactions, analyzing themes. Here I was just…happy.

And yet! There were also enough messy, contradictory ideas built into the film that I was able to think about it, too.

Before we go below the cut: The first few paragraphs of this review are non-spoiler, but I do go into a bit more depth later on. I’ll warn you before we get into spoiler territory. Also, and more important: there are flashing lights and hypnotic screens in the film that might be triggering if you have epilepsy, so please be cautious if you need to.
[Read more]

Existentialism in SPAAAAACE: The Expanse, “Dandelion Sky”

This was a surprisingly talky episode of The Expanse! “Dandelion Sky” touched on free will, determinism, the nature of consciousness, the nature of fear…there was a lot going on as our intrepid space people drew ever closer to The Ring. There are spoilers below, obviously, but also a content warning as I’ll be talking about suicide, specifically how it was depicted in this episode, so if you need to tread carefully or simply not read that part I’ll drop another warning in when we get there. (And if you haven’t seen the episode yet, note that it shows a suicide, in a blunt, graphic scene, so if that’s something you don’t want in your head, just read a recap for this one.)

[Read more]

How Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice Avoids the Dreaded Infodump

For this post I’m going to slap my editor’s hat on, adjust it until its angle achieves jauntiness, and talk about the bane of my editorial existence! So many times I begin reading a story, full of hope for what’s to come, only to be met with a wall of bland facts, pale character introductions, narrators who want to introduce me to everyone they’ve ever met before they’ve even introduced themselves, or even…genealogies. As a writer, I completely understand this urge: you love your characters. You’ve spent time creating a world, deciding everything from the color of its sky to what your characters eat for second breakfast—naturally you want to stuff all of this knowledge into your reader’s eyeballs as quickly as possible. Unfortunately this can very easily become an infodump—per TV Tropes: “exposition that is particularly long or wordy”—and speaking as en editor, infodumps are the worst.

In the interest of slaying this monster, I’m going to walk you through the opening pages of Ann Leckie’s Hugo Award-winning Ancillary Justice—which gives the reader the perfect amount of info, without becoming too dumpy.

[Read more]

Bursting Space Bubbles: The Expanse, “Intransigence”

So THAT’S Melba’s deal. Well I should have guessed that! I feel so silly now.

This week’s episode of The Expanse, “Intransigence,” continued the dangerous trajectory the Roci started last week. It tied some loose threads together, gave me one of my favorite scenes yet, and set up what I’m guessing will be an absolutely terrifying hour of television next week.

Join me in spoiler territory!

[Read more]

How to Talk About Punk and Sex and Evolution and True Love: John Cameron Mitchell’s How to Talk to Girls at Parties

Is there anyone more earnest than a punk? In all the universe the only people who feel things more than punks are, maybe, kids in love for the first time. John Cameron Mitchell’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s short story “How to Talk to Girls at Parties” understands this, and squeezes every drop of heartfelt, un-ironic, anguished emotion by combining these two forces into a movie about a young punk’s first love. In Mitchell’s hands, this eerie short story is transformed into a weird, day-glo, feminist, queer-as-hell movie that only he could have made.

This film is not for everyone, but if you love it, you’ll really love it.

[Read more]

Ghosts, Bombs, and Rings! The Expanse: “It Reaches Out”

Holy crap did all of last week’s set up pay off for The Expanse! The week’s episode, “It Reaches Out,” wound tighter and tighter until a final ten minutes of action that made me want next week’s installment RIGHT NOW.

But alas, I’ll have to wait. Can I just mention how happy I am that this show is going to keep going after this season? Because I want all the seasons.

[Read more]

Our Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.