The Walking Dead Takes Over Some of the Most Famous Movie Posters Ever @ io9

For years The Walking Dead has been one of the most popular shows on television. Unfortunately for its fans, TV shows rarely get really beautiful, movie-quality posters made for them. So one of the show’s executive producers, Greg Nicotero, decided to change that. And he decided to rip off the best of the best.

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Volcanoes likely brought ancient Egypt down, not the wrath of the gods @ Syfy Wire

When you imagine how ancient Egypt fell, you may envision pharaohs on their knees in stone temples, imploring stone deities to have mercy on a famine-ravaged kingdom infested with disease and political upheaval. The gods may have been rumored to have explosive tempers—but it was something else that erupted and foretold the kingdom’s doom.

Kylo Ren Was Force Choking People at New York Comic Con @ io9

The great thing about conventions is everyone has their own experience. For example, io9 did a tour of the Star Wars booth at New York Comic Con and certainly thought it was cool. But later in the weekend, some unsuspecting attendees got a much, much different experience.

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Tragedy Girls star Alexandra Shipp and writer/director Tyler MacIntyre on taking Twitter way too far @ Syfy Wire

In Tragedy Girls, a pair of high school cheerleaders seek fame -- and Twitter followers -- with a series of brutal, sociopathic murders. The film takes full advantage of tropes in both the horror and comedy genres, creating a sharp satire that is both fun and gruesome.

The 10 Best Deals of October 19, 2017 @ io9

We see a lot of deals around the web over on Kinja Deals, but these were our ten favorites today.

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Icelandic Horror Trailer I Remember You Hints at Dark Secrets and Malevolent Spirits @ io9

Scandinavian horror is a particularly chilling subset of the genre—for obvious reasons (duh, it’s cold there), but also because filmmakers from that region tend to construct films blending slow-burn dread with sudden moments of otherworldly terror. I Remember You looks very much in that vein.

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We Finally Know What the Black Panther Was Up to Before Captain America: Civil War @ io9

As frustrating as the Black Panther’s absence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe up until Captain America: Civil War might have been, it makes plenty of sense when you remember that as a rule, the nation of Wakanda keeps to itself while the rest of the world gets caught up in global drama.

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Zombies (and All Out War) are coming in new Walking Dead Season 8 clip @ Syfy Wire

Last weekend, Fear the Walking wrapped up its third season. It's now The Walking Dead 's turn to return to AMC on Sunday, and ahead of the Season 8 premiere, a tense new sneak peek has made its way online.

WATCH: Deadpool writer Gerry Duggan on the delicate art of writing humor @ Syfy Wire

Humor is often a subjective concept; what might cause spasms of snickering in some, might be dismissed as infantile nonsense in others.

Solo: but what is it about? @ Syfy Wire

This week, director Ron Howard revealed the name of the previously-untitled-but-we-all-sort-of-knew-what-it-was-going-to-be-called-Han-Solo-project, and it’s Solo: A Star Wars Story.

J.J. Abrams promises Episode IX won’t be a retread, will take Star Wars ‘elsewhere’ @ Syfy Wire

J.J. Abrams plans to deliver something entirely new with Star Wars: Episode IX by taking them to places yet unknown to the inhabitants of the galaxy far, far away.

The Bloodprint Is a Compelling Epic That Pits Powerful Women Against a Intolerant Zealot @ Barnes & Noble: Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Did you ever read those Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid? Well, I did, and I loved ’em. As I read Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanay Khan, I was reminded of those adventure tales time and again. I secretly kept wishing I’d come across that familiar fork-in-the-road decision, and be allowed to point the heroine, Arian, in the direction her heart wished to follow. But alas, that power never came. Instead, I could but follow along as Khan skillfully weaves a tale of deception, mystery, and emotion.

Nearly all the lands of Khorasan have been swept into the folds of the Talisman, a far-reaching militia under the leadership of the One-Eyed Preacher. The Preacher uses the authority granted him by the massive army to spread his tyrannical and corrupted views of the Claim—both the sacred scripture and a powerful magic in the land of Khorasan.

Arian, the First Oralist and a senior member of the Companions of Hira, a diverse group of woman charged with guardianship of Khorasan and the Claim’s heritage, has spent a decade alongside her apprentice Sinnia, trying to disrupt the Talisman’s slave trade, which has been stealing away the women of Khorasan, and track down any information that might lead her to the One-Eyed Preacher. After so many years separated from her sisters in the Companions, she no longer knows all the rules of the game, or even its players, and after discovering a powerful ancient text known as the Bloodprint, which may hold the key to ending the One-Eyed Preacher’s tyranny, she must learn quickly if she is to survive, and cleanse Khorasan of corruption.

Khan’s debut is a truly powerful quest-tale. Mysteries and political machinations abound, and we end this first installment with the feeling we’ve barely scratched the surface of a fascinating new world. It is a story of small movements and intricate intrigues, where the subtlest of moments may hide the biggest threats.

Arian’s journey drives the narrative, but we also explore Khorasan from the perspective of her traveling companions and a few other key players. And like Arian, we would be wise to question everyone and everything, as it is clear there are those we cannot trust, even when its unclear who we can. Though the plotting is intricate, the fast-paced prose style makes the book nearly impossible to put down. We never dally too long in any one place—fitting, in a desperate quest to save lives. The pacing matches Arian’s sense of urgency as she delves into the mystery that may hold the key to her people’s future.

Arian is a compelling protagonist, driven by her commitment to the Claim, to the Council of Hira, and by her passion for language and the written word. Her drive inspires those around her to follow her, to sacrifice themselves for her quest, and to strengthen their wills. Kahn shows skill at creating compelling heroes worth following through a multi-book epic, and a despotic villain worth cursing all the way to the end.

Khan holds a PhD in international human rights law, and her real-world experience with military interventions and war crimes add subtle realism to the tapestry of this tale, and truly make the novel stand apart in a crowded field of dark fantasy sagas. Never does the story feel forced or the characters manipulated by the narrative, and Khan maintains a delicate balance of hope and horribleness in her world, not least through the spirit of sisterhood that binds the Companions of Hira.

As the opening installment for a planned quartet, this volume leaves us with many unanswered questions, but also reveals enough secrets to feel like a story worth reading all on its own. It’s one of the year’s finest fantasy debuts, and Ausma Zehanat Khan is an author you’ll want to follow.

The Bloodprint is available now.

The post The Bloodprint Is a Compelling Epic That Pits Powerful Women Against a Intolerant Zealot appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

All-Time Masterpiece RPG Call of Cthulhu Will Never Die @ io9

Lovecraftian horror is something I only really discovered earlier this year. Sure, I’d seen the superhero episodes of South Park, where Cartman teams up with a My Neighbor Totoro-style Cthulhu, but it wasn’t until recently that I started diving into the stories and mythos—as well as the legacy they left behind. One of…

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David Fincher opens up on why his axed HBO series went from 'Utopia' to dystopia @ Syfy Wire

Director David Fincher is well-known for his bleak depictions of society (Fight Club, Seven, Gone Girl, Zodiac) as well as his meticulous style of filmmaking that includes dozens of takes to get a scene just right.

He's a stickler for perfection, detail (sometimes relying heavily on CGI to get it just right), and washed out color correction that take you into cynical worlds of deep blues, oranges and greys. All of these things make his movies and TV shows look unique while also giving them their own moody atmospheres. 

Antimatter Property Beats Regular Matter After Scientists Make Incredible Precision Measurement @ io9

If physics were complete as-is, the Universe wouldn’t exist. All particles would have found their antiparticle pairs and annihilated into a burst of energy. Matter and antimatter look like exact mirror images of one another, after all. There’s no difference between a particle and its antiparticle partner aside from…

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The Legendary Doctor Who Story Still Yearning to Be Told Nearly 40 Years Later @ io9

There are tons of untold Doctor Who stories out there—but none have ever captivated fans quite so much as the almost-aired “Shada.” In the nearly 40 years since it was originally canceled, it has become legendary among Who fans, and a story the BBC has frequently tried to tell, including in a new animated version due…

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Get to know the big screen Barry Allen in new Flash clip from Justice League @ Syfy Wire

We’re less than a month away from the hotly anticipated premiere of Justice League, so isn’t it about time we get to know the big screen version of Barry Allen? Well now you can meet the youngest member of the team in this latest featurette released for "Flash Week," which not only puts the spotlight on him, but also manages to deliver some new footage.

Stranger Things Was Nearly an Anthology Series, Before Everyone Else Got on the Bandwagon @ io9

Netflix’s Stranger Things took the world by storm with its canny and effective use of 1980s nostalgia and a story that was more binge-worthy than anyone expected. That story will continue in season two, but according to series creators Matt and Ross Duffer, the series was almost going to be something more like an…

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Stan Lee's Marvel cameo roles are becoming a line of Funko POP! figures @ Syfy Wire

Stan Lee, now a comics industry legend in his 90s, just can't stop making cameos in the films based on the characters he wrote. It's almost become his trademark even more than writing dozens of issues of Fantastic Four and Amazing Spider-Man. He loves it. We love it. A cheer goes up whenever a theater full of people spot him. It's an everlasting part of his legacy at this point.

Behold the neo-noir beauty of 22 Blade Runner 2049 fan art posters @ Syfy Wire

Celebrating the most imaginative and talented minds in the fan art community, Poster Posse is the inspiring online art collective that showcases a revolving roundup of provocative movie-themed poster interpretations.

The Creators of Bitter Root Want a Demon-Hunting Family’s Adventures to Take Readers Back Through Black History @ io9

Some concepts just grab you right away. Take this one: a family of demonologists operating during the Harlem Renaissance, with a creative team that includes the writer and artist from Marvel’s late, well-loved Power Man and Iron Fist series. You want to know more, right?

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Atwood Receives Franz Kafka Prize @ Locus Online

Margaret Atwood received the Franz Kafka Prize, given by the Franz Kafka Society and the city of Prague, on October 17, 2017 at the Old Town Hall in Prague, Czech Republic. Atwood was chosen as the 17th laureate of the prize by an international jury on May 22, 2017. The selection jury includes Peter Demetz, André Derval, Marianne Gruber, Oldřich Král, Jiří Stránský, Jiří Stromšík, Lorenzo Silva, and Hans Dieter ...Read More

The New Pacific Rim Comic Explores the Lives of Those Left Behind After the First Film @ io9

The first Pacific Rim movie left lots of hooks for the backstory of a world where humanity, armed with giant robots, stands at the brink of extinction from giant monster attacks. Before sequel Pacific Rim Uprising hits theaters next year, a new comic wants to delve into the past of its future hero.

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WATCH: James Tynion IV on how Mr. Oz's identity changes the DC Universe @ Syfy Wire

SPOILER WARNING! Action Comics and Detective Comics spoilers below!

Those adorable Stranger Things kids curse a lot more in Season 2 @ Syfy Wire

Stranger Things isn’t only getting scarier in its second season, it’s also getting more mature. In an interview with Wired, the show’s creators, the Duffer Brothers, revealed that the young stars of the series actually petitioned for more cursing in the scripts. Getting the foul language there in the first place was actually a “big argument,” according to Matt Duffer.

Thor: Ragnarok reviews are in, and it sounds like a galactic good time @ Syfy Wire

What a week for Marvel. First we get a new Black Panther trailer and poster and now the embargo has lifted on reviews for Thor: Ragnarok.

A Discussion with the Manga-ka Duo Behind The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess @ Barnes & Noble: Sci-Fi & Fantasy

At this year’s New York Comic Con, I had the privilege of interviewing A. Honda and S. Nagano, the two-woman team who draw the manga adaptation of The Legend of Zelda under the shared pen name of Akira Himekawa. We talked about their work on the original series, now being collected by Viz in two-volume omnibuses as The Legendary Edition, as well as the new series, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

After being away from the Zelda stories for so long, how did it feel to go back and start drawing them again?

S. Nagano: We feel like it’s our duty.

A. Honda: Ten years ago, when the game first came out, we had a lot of people both overseas and in Japan that were saying you have to write a manga about this story because it matches you so well, but the timing was never right. But it felt like our duty; we knew lots of fans were waiting, and that it had to be us to write a manga for this story.

Personally, I knew this would be a really hard one to write and so I felt a lot of pressure approaching this project. We write this for the fans.

What are you doing differently this time? What is the same?

Nagano: One of the biggest differences is there is a lot of darkness in this story that we have to deal with. With our other series, they have mainly been for children’s magazines so there were parts of it that we couldn’t touch that we do here. Because the new series is for an older, more general audience than the previous series, we can incorporate more complexity and darker elements to the theme. One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is that universal story that goes through all of Link’s journeys. We have to make sure we hit all of that in order to keep it all together.

And so up until now, things like death have been taboo because of our audience. Now we are writing to more general, broader audience, kind of like what would be in a movie, and so as a writer it’s not that one is any better than the other, but compared to the previous series, it is more challenging to write Twilight Princess as we do touch upon many more themes in this.

In the past, we have just been very straightforward: the good people are good, the bad people are bad, but here we can touch the more complexities of humans, where good people have weaknesses and flaws.

Honda: It’s also the fact that these children who used to read our previous series are now adults so they are now reading this.

As creators, you are also more mature.

Nakano: It’s our 30th anniversary now as a duo. And so, if we compare it to ourselves 30 years ago when we first started, I would like to think our drawings have really developed, especially in terms of the details and intricateness.

Even though Link is the main character, each of the stories is different. How do you feel about Link, after writing him for all these years? What traits stay the same, and how have you changed him for the different stories?

Honda: We think of that story and then we think of what kind of a Link that we can create that would really shine within that story. So his personality is always a little different, but in terms of that universal place where he is at between being a child and an adult as a young adolescent boy, we try to find that kind of pureness of adolescence in each Link.

Nagano: This Link in Twilight Princess is a little special. He actually runs from his issues, he runs from his insecurities, and it’s very human in that sense, so we try to draw him as he is.

Is he like a real person to you now?

Honda: Yes, he is. We always approach him as a human, not a character in manga. You see the growth of an individual, a human in his story.

When we spoke in Canada a few years ago, at TCAF, we discussed your interest in traditional cultures, mythology, and nature. How does that tie in to your most recent Zelda manga?

Honda: We have a lot of nature, lots of spirits, a lot of animals, but it’s also a little different. Although we have these aspects there is also a lot of darkness that takes more of center stage.

Nagano: In the case of Twilight Princess, because of all the darkness that’s in the plot, that’s in this game world, it’s a little hard to incorporate these aspects of nature and animals that we have and that we were talking about last time. So with this series in particular we have really stuck to the game world and that description. It’s been a little hard to include our sense of the natural world.

So, for instance with Ocarina of Time, that world was very spiritual and natural, and it matched up with our image of the natural world, and it was much easier to extend that world in our image of what we wanted it to be. The darkness that Twilight Princess has is not the kind of world that we naturally have, so it’s been a little harder to extend our image of the spiritual and natural world to it in our own style and fashion.

So you think of nature as benign and good, not an evil, scary place?

Nagano: That’s not the case either. We think of nature as something that has both scary elements and very nice and nurturing elements. We definitely recognize both aspects of the natural world, but the natural world is something that was created by the gods. It’s here. This world that’s used in Twilight Princess, that was really created by the game developers. We enjoy depicting the natural world that God created, but in manga we depict the world that the game developer created. So it’s a little different from what we have in the natural world, and it was really hard to change that in our own imagination. The two don’t match.

With the four spirits, and the spiritual world that appears in Twilight Princess, we actually did try to add our own original aspects to this world but in talking to Nintendo, everything didn’t match up, so those ideas weren’t actually used.

I know you have written and drawn other stories besides The Legend of Zelda. With the Zelda books, you are telling stories that many people are already familiar with, from playing the games. What do you do differently when you are telling a story that people don’t already know?

Honda: The huge difference is that when we work on Zelda, there’s a world that Nintendo created, and then we have to rearrange things within that world in order to create our own story, so there’s a level of creativity with the arrangement that we have to do. It has been really hard, in particular with Twilight Princess, because that world was so set already. Whereas working on our own works we get to create that world from scratch, so it’s working with something that inspires us, a piece of inspiration, and then creating world from there.

What inspires your original stories?

Honda and Nagano: Nature.

Do you get out into nature much?

Nagano: Yes, we are always going out to nature. That’s our source of inspiration. Even when we went to Los Angeles in July we went out to Sedona. That’s where we get our energy and that’s where we get our inspiration.

Honda: We also found that when we are doing artwork, our studio has to be near nature. It has to be near that inspiration. We can do work near the city, but in terms of the artwork it has to be near nature.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is available now from Viz Media.

The post A Discussion with the Manga-ka Duo Behind The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

Barry runs out of luck in hilarious new Flash trailer @ Syfy Wire

There's going to be a hefty dose of good old fashioned slapstick comedy in next week’s episode of The Flash, which is set to introduce DC villain Hazard to the speedy superhero series. The lucky meta-human will wreak havoc in Central City by putting our heroes through the ringer, which in turn will lead to much hilarity (at least for us), as seen in the latest trailer.

New Pacific Rim prequel comic will fill in the gaps before Uprising @ Syfy Wire

Pacific Rim: Uprising, the sequel to Guillermo del Toro's 2013 monsters vs. robots slugfest Pacific Rim, recently blew us away with its first trailer, getting us pumped for another sci-fi epic. This time out, it's John Boyega leading the charge as Jake Pentecost, son of the legendary Jaeger pilot and commander Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba).

WATCH: James Tynion IV on pairing up with Jim Lee for The Immortal Men @ Syfy Wire

James Tynion IV (Detective Comics) is living the dream with his upcoming project, The Immortal Men, which is being drawn by "one of the greatest artists in the medium," Jim Lee.

Those are Tynion's words, as you can hear in our NYCC 2017 interview below, but you won't find us disagreeing.

The Coolest of Dark Nights: Metal's Evil Batmen Is a Woman @ io9

Each of the evil Batmen in DC’s Dark Nights: Metal event are manifestations of Bruce Wayne’s deepest insecurities about himself, styled as different members of the Justice League. This week’s Batman: The Drowned introduces the Dark Multiverse’s answer to Aquaman, and she’s the most fascinating of the Dark Knights.

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Gotham humorously shoots down Arrow over that Bruce Wayne reference @ Syfy Wire

Maybe DC oughta get these two together for a Superman v Batman-style smackdown. Hey, it wouldn't be the first time we had a cross-network crossover (Flash and Supergirl paved the way for that one a couple of years ago).

Watch the Death Star explode from the ground in new Star Wars: Battlefront II trailer @ Syfy Wire

Part of the lead up to Star Wars: Battlefront II included a book by Christie Golden called Battlefront II: Inferno Squad. The book follows Commander Iden Versio and her team after the destruction of the Death Star and that story goes hand in hand with the single-player story in the game itself.

The 5 essential new Star Wars books you have to read ASAP @ Syfy Wire

If you're a long-time reader of Star Wars novels or have spent any time exploring the old Expanded Universe (now "Legends"), you're probably well aware that the books were… hit or miss. If we're being honest, the novels really covered the spectrum in terms of quality. But my goodness, there were a lot of them. As a new reader, it was nearly impossible to know where to begin.

WATCH: Writer Gerry Duggan speaks out against harassment in comic community @ Syfy Wire

Comic creator Gerry Duggan has an important to message to give to the comic community – particularly to those who spend their time harassing others and spreading negativity on Twitter.

Thor: Ragnarok May Be the Funniest Superhero Movie Ever @ io9

Thor: Ragnarok is the funniest Marvel movie to date. In fact, it may be the funniest superhero movie ever. From the first scene until the very last, it’s a non-stop cavalcade of jokes wrapped around an epic, sweeping space adventure. The whole thing will make you absolutely giddy.

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Martian moons could get electrified, and it’s scaring NASA @ Syfy Wire

Supercharged moons might sound awesome—who wouldn’t want to see high-voltage moon lighting up a sci-fi movie?—until you realize what they could do to spacecraft and even humans.

Rumor of the Day: Is this the basic plot of Ant-Man and the Wasp? @ Syfy Wire

Ant-Man and the Wasp is currently filming in Atlanta, and several set photos have emerged showing Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) on the run. But what happens in the Marvel movie before that? Where/how do we pick up from the events of Captain America: Civil War?

Exclusive: Fear cuts deep in Cullen Bunn and Jack T. Cole's The Unsound #5 @ Syfy Wire

In the pages of The Unsound, readers have ventured into the depths of Saint Cascia Psychiatric Hospital with Ashli Granger, a brand-new nurse at the archaic facility. Things quickly took a turn for the worse, and the entire hospital has been turned on its head, leaving Ashli fighting for her life and unsure of what’s really going on. Will she ever escape? What is her connection to the so-called Prince of Fools? Is she—and what is—the Mother of Blades?

Game of Thrones Teased Jon Snow's True Identity Way Back in Season Three @ io9

The past two seasons of Game of Thrones have centered around one major question: Who is Jon Snow? At the end of the latest one, we finally got a definitive answer—but it turns out the series’ biggest secret was hidden in plain sight years ago.

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How Taika Waititi finally figured out how to make Thor relatable in Ragnarok @ Syfy Wire

Taika Waititi is about to give Thor a major makeover – and it's not just the new haircut. In a recent profile in The New York Times, the oddball New Zealand director revealed how he convinced Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige to hire him to direct Thor: Ragnorok, the third installment in Marvel's superhero saga.

This Star Wars-Inspired Simulation of Human Reproduction Is Awesome @ io9

The microscopic processes involved in human fertilization are a difficult thing to convey visually, but a group of scientists, using Star Wars as their inspiration, have managed to do just that, creating a highly entertaining and informative video—while accidentally stumbling upon a new scientific discovery in the…

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Someone in Congress is making bizarre Star Wars edits on Wikipedia @ Syfy Wire

Gun violence. Healthcare funding. A vicious increase in racism and hate speech. Rampant sexual harassment and assault by powerful figures. Hurricane and disaster relief. The opioid crisis. Election integrity. Media independence. Financing the government. Economic stratification. The dying middle class. The minutiae of the Star Wars extended universe.

The Secrets Behind Blade Runner 2049's Most Surprising Special Effect @ io9

Most fans knew that there’d be important connections between this year’s Blade Runner movie and the one that came out 35 years ago. But one of those links was a major shock and took a lot of work to pull off.

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New Punisher trailer confirms November premiere for Netflix series @ Syfy Wire

Get ready to see Frank Castle kick some can, because Marvel’s The Punisher now has a premiere date. Netflix will debut the Jon Bernthal-led Daredevil spin-off on November 17, the streaming service announced with a brand-new trailer today that highlights Castle’s time in the military.

Star Wars ride to include new scene from The Last Jedi before it’s released @ Syfy Wire

With less than two months to go until it hits theaters, it doesn’t take much for us get excited when we are handed any tiny crumb of information that will tell us what’s to come in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Earth's Underworld is Real and Scientists Just Mapped It @ io9

Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate, reads the gates to the Inferno. “Abandon all hope, you who enter,” which is a pretty nice way of saying “welcome to Hell.” But there’s a real underworld, albeit one with fewer dogs and less being blown around by the wind or wading through shit. Scientists are working on a…

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Netflix's The Punisher Has a New Trailer and Release Date @ io9

Looks like The Punisher is will start streaming with very little time for the show to ramp up the usual Marvel levels of fanfare. It’s coming on November 17, and Netflix has released a new trailer for the upcoming vigilante series.

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Watch: New York Comic Con meet-up goes omnidirectional @ Syfy Wire

If you weren't able to make it back to New York Comic Con, no worries, SYFY WIRE has you covered. We crashed a Marvel fan meetup and managed to catch all the action in a way that'll make it almost feel like you were there.

Our team had the opportunity to play with some fancy new camera equipment and shoot a 360-degree video of some fantastic cosplayers that include (but are not limited to): Spider-Man (of all ages and costume technology versions), Doctor Strange, Captain America (of all costume iterations), Loki, and more.

X-Men’s Alexandra Shipp, aka Storm, promises dark and faithful take on Phoenix arc @ Syfy Wire

The next entry in the X-Men film franchise, Dark Phoenixis based on the famous comic book arc that sees Jean Grey lose control of her powers. Following the pattern set up by the current crop of X-Men films, Dark Phoenix is set a decade after Apocalypse — which places it firmly in the 1990s. So what should fans expect from one of the biggest X-Men stories in history?

Chosen One of the Day: The bed that eats Johnny Depp in A Nightmare on Elm Street @ Syfy Wire

A Nightmare on Elm Street is credited for giving us Johnny Depp, which was a complimentary thing to say about the film until about 2004 and is now said with a slight scowl and a "thanks, I guess." In the 80s and 90s, we had no idea the young actor playing Nancy's boyfriend Glen would grow up to be disappointing as a human. Instead we revelled in his nice face and excellent hair. And while we still enjoy the film that launched his career as well as his excellent death scene, we can definitely say, in hindsight, we're decidedly pro-bed.

The Book of Dust Honors the Legacy of Philip Pullman’s Masterpiece @ Barnes & Noble: Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Returning, years later, to expand upon a story long thought complete—particularly one treasured by many as a childhood classic—is a fraught proposition for any author. Just ask J.K. Rowling. It has been nearly 20 years since Philip Pullman closed the book on the world of His Dark Materials, one of the defining works of the modern era of young adult fantasy—though certainly just as many adult readers have fallen in love with Lyra, the young girl at the center of a world inhabited by shapeshifting spirit animals called dæmons, massive armored bears, soaring airships, beguiling witches, steely vilenesses, and tragic heroes. Across three increasingly complex books, Lyra grows up, grapples with her destiny, and comes to accept her place in a flawed and complicated world. By the end of The Amber Spyglass, it seemed her journey had reached, if not an ending, than the only logical stopping point for a series that was as much about navigating the tricky maze of burgeoning adolescence as it was about saving the world from religious tyranny.

And yet today, Lyra’s story continues, more than 20 years after it began. The Book of Dust, Vol. One: La Belle Sauvage, the first in a planned trilogy, takes us back to before we first met Lyra, bounding across the rooftops of Jordan College in Oxford, to delve further into the scientific mysteries that define her world, and to introduce us to another remarkable child whose actions will resound through all possible worlds. It’s a story you didn’t know needed to be told, until you’ve read it, and you realize: yes, there is more to discover in this remarkable setting. There are more people to fall in love with. New questions to be answered. A new adventure to relish.

We begin, again, in Oxford—or on its outskirts, in a small inn called the Trout, where an 11-year-old boy named Malcolm Polstead lives unremarkably with his parents, helping them serve customers and assisting the standoffish kitchen girl, Alice. One night, three strangers visit the Trout, and in the best tradition of young Philip Pullman protagonists, the observant Malcolm overhears them talking of mysterious, momentous events: a baby has been delivered to the priory across the river, to be cared for by the nuns, with whom Malcolm is friendly (because he is friendly with everyone). This child is special, it seems—there are whispers of a prophecy, of her scandalous, illegitimate birth to two noble persons. Malcolm is intrigued, not only by the gossip, but by the child: he’s never had a sibling, but has obviously always longed to be a brother. So he visits the nuns, and quickly falls in love with the baby, a girl named Lyra, with a funny little dæmon named Pantaliamon.

But there are greater intrigues afoot, though they all seem connected to the girl. Out one day in his faithful canoe, La Belle Sauvage, Malcolm sees a stranger arrested by black-clad men; when he later turns up dead, the boy is pulled into a conspiracy involving a long-simmering conflict between the oppressive Magisterium, the religious organization that holds undue sway over the government, and rebellious forces more inclined to trust science over faith. Both groups are racing to obtain any knowledge they can about a strange particle known as Dust, which each group believes could change the world forever. Malcolm becomes a sort of unwitting agent for the rebels, ferrying information to a kind professor named Dr. Hannah Relf, who assists in the effort through the study of an ancient device of unknown origin called an alethiometer. Meanwhile, officers of the church are nosing around town, enlisting Malcolm’s classmates as spies, seeking something—something to do with the baby. And then there’s the fierce, terrifying man with the hyena dæmon, cruel and seductive, operating out of his own dark purpose.

All the while, it has been raining, though no one quite believes the floods will come—save for Malcolm, who has listened to the wise words of the gyptians (who know everything about water) and has stocked his canoe with supplies. One terrible night, the rivers do rise, and Malcolm finds himself in the boat with Alice, the two of them the only ones who can keep Lyra safe, and deliver her to a new home—whether that’s with the scholars of Jordan College, or with her father, the imposing, oddly gentle Lord Asriel.

As soon as Malcolm boards the boat, the adventure begins in earnest, as he and Alice, baby in tow, embark on a wearying journey that’s the stuff of The Odyssey (as well as Edmund Spenser’s The Fairie Queene—let it never be said Pullman doesn’t respect classic literature), pursued by the near-demonic specter of the laughing hyena and its master. The children are borne helplessly from one strange situation to another, from the cellars of a house haunted by the spirits of murdered children, to a party on the grounds of an enchanted estate, where none of the revelers seem to be able to see them. The magic is stranger here than you remember it—there are fairies, yes, and river gods—until you remember that this is a world inhabited by those massive, intelligent polar bears.

The pacing is relentless—I can’t recall the last book I read that so resisted giving me an easy spot to stop and rest. But there is no rest for Alice and Malcolm, who carry out their mission with the clear-eyed determinedness of the young, untroubled by the moral complexities of their actions (until they aren’t—for this, too, is a book about crossing the threshold into maturity). And yet despite the darkness they face along the way, this is an oddly hopeful book, glittering with small, bright moments of beauty—shared rest around a warm campfire, the comfort of food after too long without, the spark of a growing friendship. Pullman is famously adverse to organized religion, but he has great faith in the inherent goodness of people. Malcolm and Alice, and the friends they meet along the way, are very good people at heart, even when they are forced to make difficult choices. I hope we get to see them all again, the next time we visit Lyra.

The Book of Dust, Vol. One: La Belle Sauvage is available now 

The post The Book of Dust Honors the Legacy of Philip Pullman’s Masterpiece appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

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