Bad Guys and Good Guys in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier‘s “The Whole World is Watching”

Good episode. I loved the fact that Bucky has a "disable" built into his mech arm just in case he ever runs afoul of Wakanda's interests. And the Sam/Karli conversation was great. Another example of why Sam should be the one carrying the shield. In fact, a lot of good acting all the way around. And some epic fight scenes. I like the way they are handling John Walker. I didn't want him to be a bad guy, just a good guy in over his head, and that's the way they are playing him. 

@5,6 I wasn't ready to buy Sharon as the Power Broker, but at this point, it's looking more and more obvious that's exactly who she is. I didn't like that idea because the series (and the comics that it is based on) treats the Power Broker as a villain, but maybe that's one of the twists, that the Power Broker is an intelligence agent, in a role that allows them to do things that need to be done. Maybe the Power Broker isn't so bad, since so far, no one in this series (except Sam) is unambiguously good or bad. 

@12 That "three Medals of Honor" thing never rang true. I can believe superpowers, but one guy with three Medals of Honor? Especially now that it is implied they all came in one day? Too much to swallow.

Until last week, I wasn't aware this series is only six episodes long. And after the last episode, I wasn't seeing how it would wrap up. But this episode moved a lot of things forward, and it is becoming clearer where things are going.

Flying Down to Madripoor in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s “Power Broker”

Marvel Studios has released a "Zemo cut" with all the outtakes of the dance scene. Hilarious.

Five SF Stories That Embrace the Scientifically Improbable Reactionless Drive

@24 IIRC, Fred Pohl and Jack Williamson.

In the collection The Best of John W. Campbell, they reprinted one of his essays, in which he said, without some sort of reactionless drive, there would probably never be a spacefaring civilization. No wonder he was so desperate to find a loophole in physics. I remember asking my father (an aerospace engineer) about the Dean Drive after reading one of Campbell’s articles, and he told me, “He’s a good editor, but he has some kooky ideas.” 

Jo Walton’s Reading List: March 2021

@11 That book made my wrists hurt! Great collection,  though.

Loki Has Better Things to Do Than Fix The World in the New Loki Trailer

The bureaucrats appear to have been borrowed from the film Brazil. These self-appointed guardians of order will be a perfect foil for the god of chaos. Looks fun. The new Disney+ projects are looking pleasantly diverse.

Laughing in the Face of Doom: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

@24 There is some wickedly perceptive social commentary in that whole "shoe" episode. Adams could find the humor in the grimmest situation, and there is nothing more futile or meaningless than a run-away consumer economy.

Flying Down to Madripoor in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s “Power Broker”

That dance scene was great, and funny, but didn't fit. Sharon says, "I need you to lay low," or something like that, and the next thing we see is the guys in a crowded dance club?

Flying Down to Madripoor in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s “Power Broker”

I thought it was an OK episode. It had that "spy versus spy, trust no one" vibe that I liked in Captain America: Winter Soldier. Bucky got more attention than Sam, but Sam can't be the hero in every episode. Bruhl is great as Baron Zemo, and at this point, he has the same goal as Sam and Bucky; nip this Super Soldier stuff in the bud. Sharon was great in the fight scenes, while being otherwise mysterious, but I suspect that mystery will be addressed at some point. I liked all the MCU and comic book tie-ins--this episode actually picked up a lot of plot threads from Civil War, and did a good job with them.

I suspect New Cap and Battlestar will at some point get tempted to juice up with super soldier serum themselves, and may deal with the devil (or Power Broker) to do so. I was surprised at the dark turn for Karli, but except for Sam and Bucky, this story has no heroes, only protagonists and antagonists. The shades of gray are becoming darker as the tale continues.

Laughing in the Face of Doom: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Arthur is not the only character an author has used as a punching bag. Consider poor Miles Vorkosigan. He didn't even leave the womb before Ms. Bujold started to pile the woes upon him.

Laughing in the Face of Doom: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

@1 I know what you mean. As I was writing that line about Adams making expository lumps entertaining, I was thinking, "The only other writer who comes close is Neal Stephenson."

Five SFF Stories That Shed Light on Obscure History

There are about a bajillion military SF books based on the career of Byzantine general Belisarius. The oldest mention of Belisarius I've encountered in SF is Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague DeCamp, and he may be the author that pointed the next generation of SF writers in that direction. For example, David Drake has used Belisarius as an inspiration in a number of his books, and is one of the best of the military SF writers who mine history for story ideas.

Five Thrilling SFF Works About Meticulously Planned Infrastructure

@19 Verisimilitude was not high on his list of things to accomplish with that book. 

Black Falcon, White Wolf. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s “The Star-Spangled Man”

Sam no doubt works for SOCOM, the Special Operations Command, which does all sorts of things out of sight, and outside the normal chain of command. With his high visibility, the new Cap would be on a very short leash, especially since his predecessor, Steve Rogers, turned on the Powers That Be.

Five Thrilling SFF Works About Meticulously Planned Infrastructure

The Transatlantic Tunnel was the first Harry Harrison I read, and I remember waiting anxiously for each installment in the serial to arrive. Heinlein's "The Roads Must Roll" is another infrastructure-based story. And the gigantic ring around the world in Neal Stephenson's Seveneves is certainly an audacious achievement.

Our Fine Feathered Friends: The Best Birds in Fantasy

I have always remembered fondly the eagles from Murray Leinster's "Exploration Team," and Andre Norton's "The Beast Master."

Star Wars: The Bad Batch Is Here and Ready to Wreak Havoc

New Star Wars under Filoni's direction? I'm in!

And it drops on May the Fourth. Happy Star Wars Day!

Black Falcon, White Wolf. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s “The Star-Spangled Man”

@17 When Cap rescued Bucky, there was mention of Red Skull experimenting on him and his comrades. And the Skull himself had access to early versions of the serum that Erskine had developed before he defected to the US.

Black Falcon, White Wolf. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s “The Star-Spangled Man”

If I  heard it correctly,  and remember the comics correctly,  Karli and her Flag Smashers were being pursued by the Power Broker. In the comics, the Power Broker led an evil outfit who gave people a super serum, but then controlled them by threatening to withhold booster shots. So the Flag Smashers might not be as bad as they first appeared.  And in comics, the Power Broker had a hold on the new Cap and Battlestar. So even though the new Cap looks like a good guy, there might be bad people pulling his strings.

The only thing I disliked in this ep is Bucky pulling off his sleeve, for no purpose other than to remind us he has a mechanical arm, and leap from the plane, cayching handy branches on the way down to slow himself. I mean, the rest of him is still human. So preposterous it pulled me right out of the story, ending my suspension of disbelief. 

I was excited they included Isaiah Bradley, whose story is a reminder the powers that be don't always do right by their superheroes. And his nephew Elijah, who in comics becomes Patriot on the Young Avengers team.

Stumbling to Move Forward: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s “New World Order”

Who can and who should be Captain America? I am pretty sure that question will be the heart and soul of this series.

Hi Stranger, New in Town?: Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke

@18 Not familiar with a computer game. Sounds like a pretty challenging one if it had you doing math!

Stumbling to Move Forward: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s “New World Order”

My only criticism of the flying scene is that, given the speed Sam accelerates at, and given the small amount of reaction mass his rocket pack has room for, that rocket exhaust must be moving at (off the top of my head) about a bazillion MPH.

I also liked how he used his wings as shields. In the MCU, did his government issue wings get replaced by Wakandan tech? Using vibranium?

Stumbling to Move Forward: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s “New World Order”

I thought it was a solid start. It didn't tell a complete story, but neither did the old movie serials, and having a cliffhanger ending isn't bad when you know you just have a week to wait for the next episode.

I liked the big action sequence. A bit of alarums and excursions at the beginning of the play always helps engage the audience.

I was pleased to see Batroc back, and see him escape. He is one of my favorite Cap opponents in the comics, and I am looking forward to seeing more of him. The Flag Smasher group looks like a good adversary, and it was interesting how they tied its rise to the post-blip world.

Sam's reconnecting with his sister gave more depth to his character, and also helped set up the post-blip Marvel world. And Bucky's rootlessness and ennui was captured well by his psychology sessions, and awkward interaction with the young bartender.

Hi Stranger, New in Town?: Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke

@12 When describing the hyper-competence of the crew, I think Clarke was making the point that the crews of these survey ships were the best of the best, and that everyone who survived what must have been a rigorous selection process for this service was an expert in not only their own field, but others as well.

Hi Stranger, New in Town?: Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke

@5 I think that's why I was predisposed against sequels, because Rama's last line was so perfect.

A Brief History of the Falcon and the Winter Soldier in the Comics

What a great recap, Keith! I read all of these comics as they came out, right back to when Cap was first thawed in the 1960s, and even I had forgotten some of the details you provided.

@3 I don't think they ever gave a specific age, but the philosophy in those days that kids bought more comics if someone their age was featured, so I would imagine he was about 12-14 years old. The reboot of him being barely old enough to enlist with his dad's permission was a welcome change, as it made an absurd concept viable. Another part of this retcon was that the old Golden Age comic adventures were just that, comic books produced during the war for propaganda purposes. This was brilliant, as all the old comics were still canon, but canon as fictional versions of what actually happened. The MCU version also works very well, as he and Cap have an interesting relationship, rooted in their boyhood friendship.

I have always loved Falcon, and welcomed the comic book reboot, as his origin as a criminal was just a hot mess of an idea. And I like his MCU origin as a soldier and VA employee (or maybe contractor) even better. 

I am looking forward to the TV series, as both the actors are spot-on for their roles, and the conflict with the new US Agent should make for interesting viewing.

Syfy’s Resident Alien Is Coming Back for a Second Season

It is a great show, and Alan Tudyk is marvelous in the role. My wife, who often only tolerates SF shows, absolutely loves this one, and is on a campaign to get all of her friends and relatives to watch it!

The Final Trailer for The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Looks to a Post-Captain America World

@4 I doubt there will be any superpowers for Sam. He has always been a human in peak condition, augmented only by his mechanical wings. He does have a telepathic connection to birds in the comics, but in the MCU, his companion Redwing is a drone, not a living falcon.

The Final Trailer for The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Looks to a Post-Captain America World

This one looks very good, and also very topical. The US Agent storyline it was based on is all about the dark side of patriotism, and how important it is to have a moral and caring person in the role of Captain America. I'm also glad Zemo is back--his actions in the Civil War movie were so plot driven, we never got a good feel for the character.

The "buddy cop" vibe is spot on, and Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan fit the Falcon and Winter Soldier roles like a hand fits a glove.

Marvel Reportedly Casts Kingsley Ben-Adir as Villain for Secret Invasion

This was a great series in the comics, one of the few big crossover events that I actually enjoyed. And shapeshifters and alien plots can be a lot of fun, as nothing is as it first appears. Plus, a real focus on Samuel L. Jackson's take on Nick Fury. About time he got center stage.

7 Wrong Lessons That Creators Learned From Game of Thrones

The central point of this article is perfect. Too often, especially in the bureaucratic and money-focused movie and TV business, there are attempts to capture the look and feel of what worked in previous shows, instead of looking at the heart and soul that drove them. The same thing happens when books are adapted for the screen.

Finding the Groove Again: Andre Norton’s Brother to Shadows

By the time this had come out, I was no longer seeking out Andre Norton's books. But it looks like this one is worth a look. Time to check my local used book store!

We Never Got To See Colin Trevorrow’s Episode 9, Now a Fan Is Adapting the Leaked Script as a Comic

It is intriguing to play "what if." The new trilogy was fun, with a lot of good new characters, but the plot did not flow smoothly, and except for Luke being a cranky old hermit, the movies played things way too safe (at times feeling more like a remake of the OT than new adventures.).

The Greatest Looney Tunes Cartoon Is Not What You Think It Is

Perhaps not so innovative, but my favorite WB cartoon is Robin Hood Daffy, specifically the scene where the eponymous duck swings into action, calling "Yoiks, and away!"

All the New Science Fiction Books Arriving in March!

I'm looking forward to the new Star Wars Alphabet Squadron book. With this trilogy, and the Battlefront: Twilight Company book, Alexander Freed has done a great job presenting the gritty side of the Star Wars universe. Not the glory and triumph, but the true cost of war.

Marvel’s Third Law of Motion: How WandaVision Shows That Actions Have Consequences in the MCU

I originally thought WandaVision was an odd choice to start the Disney+ streaming offerings, because it was very obviously not a traditional superhero story. But they knew what they were doing, and that was one beautiful piece of storytelling.

WandaVision Brings One Chapter to a Close in “The Series Finale”

So Hayard turned out to be just exactly what he looked like, another jerk reeking with privilege.  And SWORD is compromised before it even gets a chance. Is every MCU government agency fatally flawed?

Darcy really needed to be in that final scene with Monica and Jimmy.  And Jimmy and she need their own show.

The Vision versus Vision battle was perfect. Superintelligent robots are wasted when they just punch things.

Wanda was a sketch of a character in the MCU to date. But now she is one of the richest characters around. I look forward to her continuing adventures. 

Could the post credits scene have a darker meaning? Could we have just seen Wanda’s powers running her like a meat puppet? The way she controlled the people of Westview?

Spinning New Tales: Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Alan Dean Foster and Han Solo at Star’s End by Brian Daley

@5 As I researched this article, I could find no word that the royalties dispute had been resolved.

@8 I find people are equally split between defining the "Golden Age of Science Fiction" as a function of the reader's age, and as the glory days of the "old masters" of Clarke, Asimov and Heinlein.

Sissy Spacek and Ed O’Neill Have a Secret in Amazon’s Lightyears

Intriguing premise, and wonderful lead actors. I'll be looking forward to this one. 

Seven Excellent Escapist Adventure Fantasy Books

Since you opened the door to non-fantasy derring do, I would submit three books from Raphael Sabatini; The Sea Hawk, Captain Blood, and Scaramouche. He was a master of adventure. 

WandaVision Gets to the Heart of Things in “Previously On”

Oh, one other thing about Vision. Hayward's new version is white and devoid of color. That is significant to long-time comic readers. At one point, Vision was rebooted, and the new version was not only colorless, but emotionless. So don't expect this new Vision to have any love for Wanda (although his personality reasserting itself may be part of the end game, and the foiling of Hayward's plans).

Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. Series Gets New Teaser and Premiere Date

This looks fun. I have always had a soft spot for Modok, and Patton Oswalt's involvement is a definite plus. Too bad it is on Hulu and not on Disney+. There are too many streaming services to sign up for all of them.

5 SF Stories About Teleportation Systems Gone Awry

I dearly loved "The Universe Between," which I encountered at a very young age, and had a profound impact on my sheltered little brain. Consciousness expanding, to say the least. In fact, Nourse was a marvelous author, and deserves to be more widely remembered.

WandaVision Gets to the Heart of Things in “Previously On”

@3 There is no such thing as an easy commute to NYC.  :-)  But since the Avengers are now based in a compound in "upstate" New York, it is possible that Westview is in northern New Jersey, and if the compound is somewhere around Newburgh, and both locations are near I-87, it wouldn't be so bad a commute from one to the other.

I found this episode very satisfying. It explains things rather well, in a way that makes Wanda's character much richer and compelling. And much of her action has been subconscious, so I doubt she meant any hurt to the people of Westview. She has something to atone for, but there are mitigating factors involved. Agatha's intent is still somewhat cloudy, although power stealing is my guess at what she is up to. Monica's new powers will definitely be called for in the finale, and I suspect she will be instrumental in saving Wanda from Agatha. It appears to me that Hayward is nothing more than an unprincipled jerk, and other than being an irritant, he will have very little impact on the outcome.

Ta-Nehisi Coates and J.J. Abrams Are Teaming Up to Reboot Superman

Coates is a brilliant and thoughtful writer. When he first started writing comics, with Black Panther, he was a bit too caught up in detail, and his plotting too complex, trying to pack too much into the books. But he has learned to adapt himself to the simplicity required by the comic book form, and his work on Captain America has been very good. And certainly, there is no Marvel character who has more in common (morally, if not in his superpowers) with Superman than Cap.  

Disney+ Reveals Release Dates for The Bad Batch and Loki

Disney + is starting to hit its stride, looks like at least one Star Wars or MCU release every week going forward!

Five SF Works That Explore the Mysteries of Alpha Centauri

One of the first SF books I owned was from Scholastic Books, I think it cost a quarter; Revolt on Alpha C by Robert Silverberg. There were disabled rockets and spacewalks, dinosaurs, and a rebelling colony; everything a young reader would want.

Ronald D. Moore Is Developing a Magic Kingdom Franchise for Disney+

The explorers and adventurers idea sounds intriguing, as long as they can avoid falling into stereotypes and colonialism. The new Jungle Cruise movie may introduce an adventurers society, something that has been built into the theming of the new Skippers' Canteen restaurant at Disney World. 

Nine Deeply Humanist Science Fiction Films

Just remembering all these uplifting movies made me feel a bit better about life.

WandaVision Goes Through Major Revelations in “Breaking the Fourth Wall”

Reed Richards didn't show up, but we still got an FF connection, because in the comics, Agatha first appeared as young Franklin Richards' babysitter. Really.

Kudos to everyone who predicted Monica getting powers, Agnes being Agatha, and SWORD's aim being to resurrect Vision. The collective wisdom of Marvel fans is not to be trifled with.

New Setting for an Old Hero: The Ginger Star by Leigh Brackett

@4 I am sad we will never get to see those Stark books that had been planned.

Another great line of "splendid defiance" comes from Howard's "By This Axe I Rule," where Kull, cornered and alone, raises his axe and snarls, "Who dies first?"

Five SF Works Featuring Dyson Shells (and Not Dyson Swarms)

@6 Maybe the Earth already is a Dyson Sphere, and we just don't know it!  :-)

Five SF Tales of Presidential Peril

I really liked the John Dalmas book, The General's President. In a crisis, the generals take over, and pick a new president who they think will be malleable. But the man they pick has a mind of his own. I don't remember the details, but I remember it made me think.

It wasn't the president, but the Prime Minister of the Solar System or something, but Heinlein's Double Star, where an actor replaces a politician, was an enjoyable tale. Years later, when I saw the movie Dave (another tale of an actor filling in), it made me think of that old Heinlein book.

Captain Marvel 2 Finds Its Villain In Zawe Ashton

@8 I agree completely. It is like in music, if you don't have any quieter moments, the crescendos become meaningless.

Wandavision Goes For Retro Looks in “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!”

Could Ellis Avenue be a tip of the hat to writer  Warren Ellis? He wrote a lot of X-Men comics, and a comic called Nextwave that featured a team including a superpowered Monica Rambeau.

Wandavision Goes For Retro Looks in “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!”

I’m glad the plot is finally moving forward, although the end is still unclear. If we weren’t sure this was Monica’s Spectrum origin story,  we are now. And maybe Darcy is getting a superhero origin as well. I so want Jimmy and Darcy to get their own show.

Did anyone catch the name of Hayward's secret file? He has gone full EVIL on us, and at this rate, by the next episode I expect him to be twirling his mustache or whispering "Hail Hydra" in people's ears.


Captain Marvel 2 Finds Its Villain In Zawe Ashton

I look forward to this movie, and seeing one of my favorites,  Ms. Marvel, on the big screen. But I am also a bit concerned. There is a real danger here that Marvel movies are becoming so overstuffed with world building and new character origins that the stories are getting lost.

Mindy Kaling’s Animated Velma Is Coming to HBO Max

Not surprising.  Velma seems to have overtaken the rest of the gang in popularity lately.

Latest Trailer for The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Shows Off an Intense Staring Contest

This looks like good, old-fashioned superhero comic material. It will be a nice change of pace from all the cosmic and reality-bending stuff that has been happening in the MCU lately.

WandaVision’s Cracks Are Beginning to Show “On a Very Special Episode…”

I was so disappointed that Hayward went directly to using deadly force on Wanda. We just met SWORD, and they are already following in the footsteps of SHIELD, corrupted by arrogance.

One Heck of a Summer Vacation: Dinosaur Summer by Greg Bear

@1 I definitely think you will enjoy this one!

@5 If we can accept FTL, we can squint a little, and just accept those dinos survived!

Jon M. Chu Will Helm the Film Adaptation of Wicked

Best musical I ever saw. I look forward to the movie version.

Six Great SFF Love Stories

One of my favorite SF romances is that of Val Con and Miri, who debuted in Agent of Change, first book in Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's Liaden series. In fact, that series is chock full of romance intertwined with the adventures. Highly recommended for fans of romance who don't want it wrapped in the old, tired formulas. 

WandaVision Shows the True Horror of Endgame in “We Interrupt This Program”

@26 As a long time Jimmy Woo fan, that is an idea I can get behind! It wouldn't have to exactly match the comic book superpowered team. The Agents of ATLAS could be a group of agents and scientists chasing aliens, flying saucers, dragons and stuff around the Pacific Rim.   :-)

WandaVision Shows the True Horror of Endgame in “We Interrupt This Program”

Darcy and Jimmy were indeed perfect characters to introduce us to what is happening in the real world. First, because they are both excellent comedic actors, and second, because their characters were right for the job. Obviously, neither of them was snapped, and in the past five years, Darcy has come into her own as a scientist. And Jimmy is filling the role he did when I first encountered him in 1960s comics, as an FBI agent who handles out if the ordinary cases (and eventually joins SHIELD).

I'm glad we saw the outside world, because mysteries get tedious when they remain unresolved for too long. We now know Wanda's powers are sustaining this bubble of unreality, and from here on I suspect the show will be about reconciling her with the real world, and possibly her powers adjusting the real world a bit as well.

Babylon 5 Just Got an Upgrade for HBO Max

This was a marvelous show. The first season was a bit uneven, but new viewers should hang in, because once it hit its stride, it was a thing of beauty. I was always impressed what they did in set dressing to squeeze every bit out of a limited budget. And it was a great example of what skilled actors can do when armed with a well written script.

17 Iconic Fashion Moments in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Great article. You did such a good job putting it together, I have nothing to add.

Five SF Empires That Seemed Too Big to Fail

I suspect that, even with FTL travel, the problem would not be the collapse of an interstellar empire, it would be getting one formed in the first place.

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