Iris and Nora finally have a breakthrough, and Barry vs. the Rag Doll in the latest Flash @ Syfy Wire

The metahuman of the week was a bit on the freaky side this time around, as Team Flash took on the Rag Doll — who felt like a mix of The Exorcist and The Ring thanks to that freaky little crab walk. But, the real story was all about the burgeoning Allen family.

Spoilers ahead for “All Doll’d Up,” the latest episode of The CW’s Flash, which aired Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018.

Wolverine wields the Infinity Gauntlet (with claws!) in Wolverine: Infinity Watch @ Syfy Wire

The fallout from Marvel Comic's current Infinity Wars miniseries is already underway. 

WATCH: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in 2 minutes @ Syfy Wire

Later this week, it will once again be time to dive back into the world of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter. While the main series ended with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Rowling revisited her fictional universe in 2016 with Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. Rowling wrote the screenplay, while Harry Potter veteran David Yates returned to direct the film.

David Harbour says Duffer Brothers have known the whole Stranger Things story ‘from day one’ @ Syfy Wire

We may still be living off the vapors of Stranger Things 2, which is now more than a year removed from its debut, as we await the hugely anticipated arrival of our third visit to Hawkins. So it’s reassuring that one of the show’s biggest stars says there’s always been a road map for where the Netflix smash is headed — and how it’ll end.

Sebastian Stan isn't entirely sure he'll be in Avengers 4 @ Syfy Wire

There have been no shortage of secrets surrounding next year's follow-up to Avengers: Infinity War. The film is due in theaters this coming May, and so far there's no trailer (or even an idea of when we'll see one), or even a title — hence everyone referring to it as Avengers 4

Exclusive: Jughead and FP clash over the latest Riverdale murder mystery @ Syfy Wire

So far Season 3 of Riverdale has hit new heights when it comes to entertainment, even if there have been fewer dead bodies overall. Archie was on trial, Betty and Jughead are going all in on their Mulder and Scully investigations, Veronica and the Vixens performed for prisoners, and Hiram Lodge gets more evil by the minute. Luckily, by the looks of this exclusive clip from this week's episode, the excitement and intrigue aren't going away anytime soon.

Epic Dark Horse comic Black Hammer getting equally ambitious development deal from Legendary @ Syfy Wire

Dark Horse Comics' critically-acclaimed comic book series Black Hammer is headed for both the big and the small screens, thanks to a mega-development deal.

Objects in Space 11/13/18: Back to the future @ Syfy Wire

'Sup, friends! When we're not trying to make it from Point A to Point B in this miserably chilly and rainy weather (at least in our neck of the woods), we're trying to stay bundled up and cozy inside with TV and lots of video games to waste our time with.

Rogue One Isn't Just Getting a Prequel Series, It's Also Getting This Stunning New Poster @ io9

Two years removed from the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the story of Jyn Erso and her crew is cool again. Not that it ever wasn’t cool, but the fact that Cassian Andor is getting his own prequel series has certainly put the film back in the spotlight. And now, wouldn’t you know it? A new poster is coming…

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WATCH: Stan Lee fans remember his legacy @ Syfy Wire

With heavy hearts we've been mourning the sad passing of Stan Lee on Monday, and reflecting on the incredible legacy he's left behind by being one of the iconic architects of Marvel Comics' universe and its immortal stable of superhero characters.

George R.R. Martin's Wild Cards has not one, but two series in development at Hulu @ Syfy Wire

When it comes to creating new television shows based on existing literary properties, why develop just one when you develop two at once?

George R.R. Martin's Superhero Franchise Wild Cards Is Coming to Hulu @ io9

Most people know George R.R. Martin for his A Song of Ice and Fire series, better known as Game of Thrones. But that’s just one of the author’s universes. Another that he curates and edits is about to get the same treatment from another major provider. And it stars superheroes.

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Stan Lee's Spider-Man PS4 Cameo Is So Quintessentially Stan Lee @ io9

Stan Lee loved a good cameo. The legendary comics icon, who died yesterday at 95, got to sneak into so many movies based on heroes he’d helped bring to life over the past two decades—and even into some based on ones he didn’t. But maybe the one that best encapsulates Stan Lee as a creative is one of his most recent.

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Watch How This Absurd Costume Helped Make Solo's L3-37 Droid the Film's Best Character @ io9

The unique personalities of the droids in the Star Wars universe have always made them some of the best characters. Solo’s L3-37 improved every scene she was in, thanks to the voice work of Phoebe Waller-Bridge—who also helped bring the physical character to life on set, as this behind-the-scenes look at the movie’s…

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Daredevil Season 3 is all about damaged men and the women in charge of saving them @ Syfy Wire

There’s an archaic, frankly sexist saying about women gravitating towards “bad boys,” but in Season 3 of Netflix’s Daredevil, it’s the damaged ones that hold all the allure.

Just like humans, AI is learning to cheat its way to video game high scores @ Syfy Wire

If the robots are going to inherit from humans not just our minds, but our filthy little souls too, then we’re all probably doomed. Ongoing research from Google’s DeepMind AI project reportedly indicates that game-playing artificial intelligence is developing a nasty cheating habit, if cheating’s what it takes to finish atop the leaderboard.

Game of Thrones director talks Season 8 runtimes, 'lying' to Obama, and time travel(!?) in Reddit AMA @ Syfy Wire

Earlier today, HBO announced that the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones would debut this coming April.

The weird, abandoned, and mythical theme parks of America @ Syfy Wire

The only things that theme park junkies like more than a brand new ride or attraction are an old ride or attraction that no longer exists — and bonus points if they never existed at all. 

5 fantasy novels featuring warrior women @ Syfy Wire

Good fantasy novels have a way of sweeping the reader away to a magical place. Great fantasy novels do the same but allow real-life to creep into the plot, themes, and characters. Of course, all books are a reflection of the world the author lives in, but only the best fantasy novels use that truth to their advantage.

The 10 Best Deals of November 13, 2018 @ 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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Nintendo Needs to Stop Putting Digimon in Pokémon @ io9

Now that we’ve all seen the trailer for the first live-action Pokémon movie, it feels like it’s time to voice some...concerns about some of the newer pocketable monsters Nintendo’s been stealthily incorporating into its games for the past few years. To put it simply: Nintendo’s been trying to pass off Digimon as 

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WATCH: Dumbledore is a master manipulator (and it's a good thing) @ Syfy Wire

Later this week, fans will reenter the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. J. K. Rowling wrote the script for this prequel, which will introduce Jude Law as a young Albus Dumbledore, decades before he met and mentored Harry.

Exclusive Preview: Climb aboard Titan Comics' crazy new Minions: Viva Le Boss #1 @ Syfy Wire

Those mumbling little monsters you can't get enough of are storming into their very own Minions comic series from London-based Titan Comics and this time they're giving the industry the silent treatment.

WATCH: Scott Snyder on his new Justice League saga @ Syfy Wire

If Scott Snyder forgets you this holiday season and doesn't send you a Christmas card, you'll have to forgive the award-winning creator as he's pretty busy helping to sculpt DC's sprawling new cosmos-shaking Justice League series.

Late to the Party: Doctor Who (10th Doctor) @ Syfy Wire

The 13th Doctor has finally made her glorious arrival and we here at FANGRRLS couldn’t be more excited. In honor of her, and to catch up a few of our FANGRRLS who haven’t yet experienced Doctor Who, our resident Whovians will be helping some of our less TARDIS-fluent FANGRRLS get up to speed on their favorite Doctor.

Meeting Stan Lee @ Syfy Wire

I only met Stan Lee once. Of course, I knew of him for what feels like my entire life. I was a Marvel Comics reader before anything else — the first comic I remember reading more than one of was Savage Sword of Conan (probably too heady a book for an 11-year-old, but whatever).

Aquaman featurette offers BTS footage, explores the enigma of the sea @ Syfy Wire

A new featurette for James Wan's upcoming live-action Aquaman movie is here and it's got a lot of behind-the-scenes footage you won't see the in the mainstream trailers.

Nintendo deals blow to emulated retro gaming with $12 million lawsuit against ROM sites @ Syfy Wire

The days may be severely numbered for U.S.-based websites that offer free online access to pirated old-school and early video games — games that, in many cases, no longer can be found elsewhere. 

God of War and Red Dead Redemption 2 lead the 2018 Game Awards nominees @ Syfy Wire

Next month, the best in 2018's video game achievements will be honored at the Game Awards, and a game you've been obsessed with this year is probably going to be among the winners. 

The Game Awards announced their 2018 slate of nominees Tuesday, and if you've been following the most talked-about major game releases of the year you probably won't be too surprised by the major players at this year's awards. 

Legends of Tomorrow's Newest Arrival Got Screwed @ io9

The Legends have a fashionable force to reckon with. The latest episode of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow saw the full introduction of a new character, Charlie. But I am royally pissed at what the Legends have done to her, and how they’re refusing to address it.

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Rob Liefeld reflects on Stan Lee's legacy, influence and love of fans @ Syfy Wire

It’s hard for Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld to overstate how much Stan Lee played a part in his development as an artist and comic book creator.

Candlelight vigil for Stan Lee happening in Marvel creator's former home of Long Island @ Syfy Wire

The late Stan Lee will be remembered at a candlelight vigil this Thursday (Nov. 15) in Stony Brook, Long Island, an event organized by the Tri-State Stan Lee Fan Club, SYFY WIRE has learned. 

In Vita Nostra, the Study of Magic is Scientific, Sinister, and Deeply Strange @ Barnes & Noble: Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Admission into a magical school is the starting point for many a paranormal bildungsroman. Harry Potter is visited by a giant on his 11th birthday, and soon whisked off to Hogwarts, and, maybe more importantly, into a wizarding world that understands his true worth; the nascent wizard Sparrowhawk, talented and oh, so arrogant, goes from his meager beginnings on Gont to the vaunted school for wizards on Roke Island; the gifted student is identified, and jumps at the chance to escape a heretofore mundane existence. The magical school is a beacon of one’s extraordinary nature. Who would pass up an opportunity to realize their magical potential?

In Vita NostraMarina and Sergey Dyachenko turn this time-honored trope it on its head. Admission to the magical college at its center is terrifying, coercive, and deadly. Failure there is met with brutal results, and dreams of escape are quenched definitely and completely.

Alexandra Samokhina meets Farit Kazhennikov first on a beach holiday with her mother, on what I assume is the Black Sea. Sasha is a nervous 16, still hanging on her mother’s apron strings and swimming in the surf like a gleeful child while other kids her age are pounding out the beat in discotheques and smoking on street corners. She begins to notice a man with sunglasses everywhere she goes, a man whose presence fills her with dread, though to everyone else, he seems completely ordinary. After a series of near encounters that seem to loop through time, Sasha and Kazhennikov finally converse. He tells her she must wake up every morning at precisely 4 a.m., go for a run, and skinny dip in the ocean, swimming to the outer buoy and back.

Sasha completes the task dutifully (and with no small measure of confusion), and after every pre-dawn swim, she comes home and vomits up coins that look like the old Soviet kopecks. Until the morning the alarms don’t go off, and something bad happens to someone Sahsa cares about. Kazhennikov is both stern and vaguely apologetic: It is out of his hands what will happen if she shirks his prescripted actions, but happen it will. She continues her morning swims.

Meanwhile, Sasha has attempted to continue a normal life, immersing herself in the rounds of studying, test-taking, and socializing that characterize the life of a senior in high school. But Kazhennikov intrudes again, with more strange demands, and Sasha again acquiesces, with the sense that if she were to fail, recriminations more horrible than a heart attack that wasn’t fatal will be visited on her mother. By the time Sasha is ready to take her entrance tests to university, she’s vomited up dozens of occult coins, which she keeps in a purse hidden in her lower desk drawer.

This is when Kazhennikov tells Sasha, in no uncertain terms, that she will be attending the Institute of Special Technologies in the provincial town of Torpa.

In 1991, when I was 16 years old, I went on a school trip to the Soviet Union. It was March; in August the Soviet Union would break. We landed in Moscow and took an overnight train to our provincial destination, to Minsk in Belarus. The sleeper berths flopped down to pinstriped mattresses, where we slept uncomfortably while older Russian women slid open the door and yelled at us incomprehensibly at the top of every hour. We were disgorged into Minsk, and then into the dubious comfort of our host families. We came together again every school day into a strangely ornate room in School No. 30, a room designed with Soviet care to impress. I spent something like 30 days in that country, a place right on the seismic edge of irrevocable change. I think every one of us who applied to college wrote about our experience there in our entrance essays.

Vita Nosta—which means something like “the brief life” or “the brevity of life”—reminded me again and again of my time in a country lost to history, experienced by a version of myself that has been subsumed under years, decades, of who I’ve since become. Sasha boards a train and it takes her to provincial town where all the accents are wrong. She meets her roommates in a dorm in a school that no one, not even the son of the enigmatic Farit Kazhennikov, wants to attend. The pickles and boiled eggs; the curling irons and power outages; the cold radiators with laundry set upon it: all of this reminded me of my time on the edge of the Soviet Union, about to fall, about to shatter everywhere. It was a scary time and place for a careful kid from the Midwest. I had made my choice before I knew how dire the situation was. Sasha makes hers with the same kind of inexplicable terror. We had contingency plans to escape to Lithuania, Poland maybe, if things got too hot where we were, but I can’t even imagine now what would have activated those contingencies. That sort of thing is always too late, an idle daydream of safety, of escape.

Sasha and her fellow students at the Institute of Special Technologies work towards the inscrutable exams they’re expected, somehow, to pass. They’re given impossible mental exercises, passages of gibberish they’re to memorize and internalize. There are other, more normal classes: English, Gym, History; none of these provoke the fear of Specialty, a class in which failure will unleash unspoken horrors on their loved ones. Kazhennikov’s son Kostya fails an exam, and his grandmother dies. Sasha stumbles in her schoolwork, and the next time she speaks to her mother, her mother tells the story of a broken hand, but it could have been so much worse. Failure, escape: these are not options.

Even though Sasha doesn’t want to be there, and is terrified by both success and failure at the occult university that chose her (and not the other way around), she begins to succeed, insofar as anything in that place can be called success. Is she studying magic? It’s not quite clear. It’s certainly nothing so straightforward as dueling lessons and potions class—she listens to recordings of silence that are subtly different kinds of lack of sound, which tear up her mind in different ways. She encounters the usual enemies and friends and lovers and losers of a first year at college, but nothing, nothing, is what it seems.

The fantastic nature of the Institute is revealed gradually—clearly telegraphed in Sasha’s midnight swims in the Black Sea, but never quite in full flower, creating an odd sort of suspense that keeps the pages turning. Sasha begins to change, losing time, and waking with a sudden shock of scales glinting across her skin. The goal of her studies remains inscrutable, occult. The teachers insist one the importance of the curricula, but mostly it just feels like fear and threats. There is no Dark Lord looming outside the school grounds. There is no scar burning on her forehead. There is just the work, whatever it means.

Vita Nostra—published in Russian in 2008 and only the second novel by the Dyachenkos, revered for more than 20 novels penned in their native tongue, to be translated into English—is a remarkable story in many ways, not the least of which is because of how terrifying its supernatural school is: only attended out of coercion, with a magic that doesn’t feel desirable, but onerous and strange. It feels like the hard choices and the helpless quiescence of banal youth, tied up with a ribbon of magic with the sharpest of edges.

Vita Nostra is available now. Read our interview with its translator, Julia Meitov Hersey. 

The post In <i>Vita Nostra</i>, the Study of Magic is Scientific, Sinister, and Deeply Strange appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

Space the Nation: Charlie Jane Anders says silliness is subversive @ Syfy Wire

Charlie Jane Anders is an author, editor and activist. She is one of the co-founders of io9 and the author, most recently, of All the Birds in the Sky, which was nominated for and won a lot of prizes and general acclaim (including the 2017 Nebula Award for Best Novel, No. 5 on Time’s list of best novels of the year).

Ranking the eccentric and old-timey names of the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts series @ Syfy Wire

Author J.K. Rowling has many talents, one of which is the ability to give the characters in her Wizarding World unforgettable names.

Our hands-on preview of Shadow of the Tomb Raider's new DLC, The Forge @ Syfy Wire

Shadow of the Tomb Raider was released earlier this fall, and in it, fans got to play once again as Lara Croft. Developers Square Enix and Eidos-Montréal haven’t stopped at Lara’s adventures in South America, however. Today, November 13, the first of seven monthly DLC releases will be available. This one is called The Forge, and SYFY FANGRRLS had a chance to check it out at a hands-on preview event. 

Remembering the Legendary Stan Lee @ io9

It’s hard to put into words everything that Stan Lee was. The comic book creator and Marvel Comics leader changed the world of comics as we know it, and like many creators of that era his influence will be felt for a very long time.

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Development: Netflix's Travelers, A Series of Unfortunate Events set premiere dates; Sneaks coming from Pixar alum @ Syfy Wire

Today in development news, two Netflix series on opposite ends of the genre spectrum announce the premiere dates for their upcoming seasons while an Oscar-nominated animator hopes to make Ohio the next big place for cartoon features. Read further for talking tennis shoes, time travelers, and some very, very unlucky kids.

Game of Thrones alum Pedro Pascal to lead The Mandalorian for Jon Favreau @ Syfy Wire

DEA agent Javier Peña and Oberyn Martell is heading to the galaxy far, far away for Disney+.

Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri is a rich fantasy novel based on Indian history @ Syfy Wire

At the beginning of Empire of Sand, Mehr is living a half life. She is half-Ambhan, and that, combined with the fact that her father is the governor, makes her favored throughout court. However, her mother’s Amriti blood — a people who are hunted to the edges of the Empire because they are descended from spirits of the desert — casts a shadow over Mehr.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is awash in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald @ Syfy Wire

This Friday's Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has already descended upon the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. Whether you’re wandering through the park’s Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade, or the muggle gift shop in your Universal Studios hotel, you’ll be sure to come across magical items such as Newt Scamander’s journal, Gellert Grindelwald’s elder wand, and lots and lots of nifflers.

The Mandalorian Picks Up Game of Thrones' Pedro Pascal as Its Lead @ io9

First he was in Game of Thrones, soon he’ll be in the DC Universe, and now, he’s going to a galaxy far, far away.

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WATCH: Brian Michael Bendis recalls his first meeting with Stan Lee @ Syfy Wire

Earlier this week, the comic book industry lost one of its legends when Stan Lee passed away at the age of 95. Lee’s contributions to the medium were immense, as he played a role in the creation of the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, Silver Surfer, Hulk, and so many others. Spider-Man was perhaps his most well-known creation, which he accomplished alongside Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby.

5 awesome moments from the Spyro the Dragon series @ Syfy Wire

With Activision finally confirming remastered versions of the first three Spyro the Dragon games in the Spyro Reignited Trilogy, it's time to take a look back on the series. Spyro is a character that so many PlayStation fans grew up with and have been clamoring for remastered games to play the original trilogy. 

6 Big Things We Hope to See From Star Wars: Episode IX @ io9

In little over a year, we’ll be seeing the third and final chapter of Star Wars’ latest trilogy, Episode IX, hit theaters. Unsurprisingly, we barely know a thing about it yet, other than it exists and some people we know and love are in it. But that just gives us more reason to make a list of hopes about what we’ll…

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A pull list of comics featuring characters outside the gender binary @ Syfy Wire

Life can be challenging when you live outside the gender binary. Sometimes, it feels like a constant barrage of having to clarify one’s pronouns, justify one’s outfit, and be cautious about every breath drawn in public. Add to that the almost complete lack of nonbinary representation in media and you’ve got a big depressing can of ugh.  

Why Pokémon Go is still wickedly popular among adults, two years after its debut @ Syfy Wire

When Emily Lydic was growing up in the late-1990's, Pokémon hysteria ran rampant through the rural Midwest, but she didn't feel like she could participate in it. Although Pokémon was wildly popular, the boys she knew were mean about it, and she didn’t know any girls who were fans. Lydic dealt with the exclusion by dismissing the whole franchise, but that changed when Pokémon Go launched in the summer of 2016.

Mortal Engines: Peter Jackson and more break down the caste system of the film's mobile cities (Watch) @ Syfy Wire

There's no question that Mortal Engines (arriving a month from tomorrow) will be a giant spectacle of a film. We'd expect nothing less from executive producer/co-writer Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit). But where there is spectacle, there must also be pathos, so the audience feels invested in the characters and story. 

The Final Season of A Series of Unfortunate Events Is Coming, and They Saved the Worst for Last @ io9

Count Olaf is still at it—but in 2019, the unfortunate events will come to an end.

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How Stan Lee, Creator of Black Panther, Taught a Generation of Black Nerds About Race, Art and Activism @ io9

When I was a kid, I didn’t live close enough to a comic book shop to get there on my bike. My parents would have to take me to Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax, Va., and I’d get my comics off the old spinner racks at Waldenbooks. As the years went on and specialty comic shops opened, my friends and I had a comic book ritual…

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Exclusive: Annabeth Gish and William B. Davis question their X-Files fates @ Syfy Wire

A convention called Spooky Empire seems the perfect place for an X-Files reunion. After all, one of its lead characters was nicknamed "Spooky."

Godzilla vs. King Kong synopsis revealed as production officially kicks off in the Pacific @ Syfy Wire

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is still six months away from its theatrical release, but Warner Bros. and Legendary's budding Monsterverse isn't wasting any time in getting off the ground. Godzilla vs. King Kong has officially begun filming in the Pacific, mainly Hawaii and Australia, SYFY WIRE has confirmed. 

With a Pen, Stan Lee Changed Lives and Created Universes @ Barnes & Noble: Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Stan Lee, who became a towering figure in pop culture over an extraordinary eight decades in comics, died this week at the age of 95. Though his long life and career saw many phases, it was his work with Marvel comics that made him a legend.

But Stan’s stint with Marvel didn’t begin in the pop art era of the early ’60s for which he’s most famous. Family connections got him a job as an assistant at what was then Timely Comics under Captain America creator Joe Simon in 1939. The 17-year-old filled inkwells and picked up lunches until earning his first byline in Captain America #3, for a piece called “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge.” In that era, “literature” magazines generally got cheaper postal rates than did comics, so publishers made sure there were at least a couple of pages of straight text in every issue—typically forgettable bits of character backstory. This early work by Stan doesn’t stand out, except that it includes the first-ever instance of Captain America throwing his (mighty) shield—and, of course, for the career it presaged.

Stan began writing comics features and back-ups shortly thereafter. Turmoil at the company saw him landing a temporary editor job that never really went away, even during the three years of military service during World War II. Timely Comics became Atlas before evolving into Marvel in 1961. That same year saw Stan and artist Jack Kirby create the pop culture revolution that we still haven’t seen the end of.

Though inexplicably never having achieved quite the superstar status as some of their other creations, the debut of Lee and Kirby’s Fantastic Four made Marvel, and broadened the potential of the superhero genre immeasurably. The lead characters had no interest in secret identities, but lead their lives as celebrity adventurers while frequently feeling like freaks. They dealt with petty grudges and had problems paying the bills, none of which stopped them from facing down increasingly bizarre science fiction threats, from shape-shifting aliens to a planet-eating god and his surfboard-riding herald. That contrast—between the gritty and the cosmic—makes the long Lee/Kirby run on FF a high-water mark in superhero comics. The alchemy of that unlikely collaboration has never been matched—Kirby’s stunning art and wild ideas paired with Lee’s storytelling sense, and a flawless ability to deflate self-seriousness with a well-timed, if groan-worthy, joke.

Debate has raged for decades now about how much to credit Lee over his collaborators: giants like Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and John Romita, all artists with unparalleled creative minds. But I’ve never seen it as a competition, even if these men sometimes did. Marvel’s method at the time—in which Stan might provide a plot outline that Kirby would develop and expand upon before Stan added dialogue and a final polish—meant a top artist might have a profound impact on the story and overall direction of a book. Stan’s fingerprints, nonetheless, were on every issue of every title released during that era.

And the tone—that blend of cool and self-consciously corny that had a grown man ending every piece of writing with “Excelsior!”—was pure Stan. His character was something akin to your coolest uncle. He was dorky and he knew it, and it came across as something like irony, before irony was a given. Stan also engaged with fans and readers as no comic creator had ever even considered—each book started with a splash page listing the names of all of the creators, ended with a letters page, and eventually included a “Bullpen Bulletin” in which readers would get updates on the lives of Marvel staff. There was soon an official fan club offering all sorts of tie-ins, even the tackiest of which worked just fine with the so-uncool-it’s-cool style that defined Stan’s public persona. Perhaps because of the soap opera elements that make the comics so compelling, it’s tempting to set creators against each other or reduce Stan’s role to that of pitchman, but that’s not fair to any of them. There was genius to spare in Marvel’s bullpen.

Lee’s is a remarkably diverse legacy. It’s impossible not to mention Spider-Man, in whom Stan and Steve Ditko (with help from Kirby and, later, John Romita) created a teen hero at a time when the youth culture in America was in the ascendant, but the dominant mode among that other company’s heroes was “Super-Dad.” With The Avengers, Lee and Kirby (and later Don Heck) built a team book that lost some of the cosmic grandeur and weirdness of the FF but amped the soap opera elements to 11. X-Men, even with an all-white cast, made a compelling case for diversity. The Hulk managed to be a hero despite his incredibly poor impulse control.

The list goes on and on, and includes another Lee and Kirby creation: Black Panther, the first major black superhero in mainstream comics. Lead by Stan, the mostly-Jewish lead creators at Marvel didn’t hesitate to sneak messages of religious and racial tolerance into their books, and the character of the heroic African monarch from a scientifically advanced society remains resonant, perhaps more than ever. Just last year, the movie was doing huge business while a 1968 “Stan’s Soapbox” column on hate and prejudice went viral after RZA cited it at a tribute event.

The energy in those ’60s Marvel books is undeniable. It was boundless. Addictive. And you still get the same charge reading those issues today. They’re all exploding with art and ideas, with knowing asides and fourth-wall breaking moments that invite you in, even decades later. The hip tone wouldn’t work without the sense that everyone is having a tremendous amount of fun—even if we can guess that they weren’t always.

Though Stan’s relationship with the company in later years was complicated and sometimes contentious, his remains the human face of Marvel in the hearts and minds of fans—even those who’ve never picked up a comic. His later projects never quite matched the critical and artistic success of his ’60s collaborations, but he retained an enviable amount of energy well into his 90s—doing new work in comics, visiting conventions, creating a charitable foundation, putting out a comic autobiography and, of course, making appearances in pretty much every single Marvel-related movie and TV show. (Of which there are, of course, very, very, very many.) He ranks as Hollywood’s top-grossing executive producer simply for having his name on so many of the biggest movies of all time. Almost 80 years after he first walked in the door of what became Marvel Comics, Stan saw his co-creations conquer the entertainment world. Only in the last year or two, and following the death of Joan, his wife of seven decades, did he really slow down.

Impossibly, these are just bits of Stan’s resume, and pieces of his bio: all very impressive, but only part of the story. Anyone who’s ever even loved superheroes grew up with Stan Lee: his creations are essential to our pop culture landscape, sure, but that face and voice have been in cartoons, movies, and TV shows for as long as any of us can remember. He’s been a smiling ambassador for the good and tolerant bits of comics culture, reminding us that it’s OK at any age to love mutants, Hulks, and Things; teens who dress like spiders and Russian spies (who also dress like spiders). Disabled people, including a wheelchair-bound professor and a blind lawyer, weren’t excluded. His heroes were often reformed villains, eschewing the idea that evil is indelible or that good isn’t subject to temptation.

Beside the weird alliteration, bad puns, and cheesy dad jokes, Stan and company gave us big ideas, and endless inspiration. In 2018, as in 1962, is there any more relevant lesson than Uncle Ben’s exhortation to leaven great power with a great sense of responsibility? With a pen, Stan Lee changed lives and created universes. He’ll be missed, but the work is immortal.

Stan Lee, 1922-2018

The post With a Pen, Stan Lee Changed Lives and Created Universes appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

The Boulet Brothers are the Monster Queens of drag @ Syfy Wire

Welcome back to another episode of Strong Female Characters, as we finally take a breath after a long election week.

This week, we're talking to the Boulet Brothers, who have made a name for themselves in the LA drag scene for their horror-infused performances. They talk to us all about how they got started, what drag and horror mean to them — and the similar space they share — and how they've introduced some of their favorite horror films to their television show, Dragula.

Todd McFarlane remembers Stan Lee, his friend and mentor @ Syfy Wire

No one could hold court like Stan Lee.

Whether at a comic convention or one of his countless appearances at college campuses around the world, Lee reveled in his role as comics’ ringmaster. Armed with endless yarns to spin, clever wit, and boundless charisma, Stan "The Man" turned Con appearances into performance art. It’s one of the most underrated aspects of his legacy. The man could work a room.

Ratings for post-Rick Walking Dead hold steady, are they finally leveling off? @ Syfy Wire

After a steady decline, ratings for The Walking Dead post-Rick Grimes appear to be holding steady. This week’s episode of TWD was relatively similar to last week’s, which featured the long-anticipated departure of actor Andrew Lincoln.

The Arrowverse Gets Its Freaky Friday on in Our First Look at Elseworlds @ io9

Please. Please appreciate the sheer nightmare that is seeing Stephen Amell’s face photoshopped onto what is very clearly not Stephen Amell’s body.

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Kevin Feige hints at future Stan Lee 'surprise', how Marvel plans to honor his legacy @ Syfy Wire

Marvel Studios helped bring Stan Lee’s creations to the world at large, and now, with fans mourning the comic legend’s passing, the company’s leader has given his own thoughts on the death of one of the industry’s titans. Marvel Studios head and producer Kevin Feige remembered the man who gave him a nickname (“Fearless Feige”), a tradition, and a toy box full of superheroes to unleash upon the box office.

This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Alien Viruses, Defying an Empire, and the Language of Magic @ Barnes & Noble: Sci-Fi & Fantasy

The Long Price Quartet, by Daniel Abraham
A decade ago, Daniel Abraham, one half of the pseudonym James S.A. Corey (The Expanse novels and TV series) and a frequent collaborator of George R.R. Martin’s, quietly began one of the most complex and emotionally affecting epic fantasies of the 21st century with The Long Price Quartet. The series garnered critical accolades but remained under the radar and criminally underrated (the fourth volume was never even released in paperback). That will hopefully change with the release of this omnibus edition, including all four volumes of the series, each of which tells a standalone story that is connected to the others in ways that surprise and satisfy as the narrative jumps forward in time: the main characters are teenagers in book one, then adults, then middle-aged, and finally elderly; characters born in one book appear as major players in later chapters. Set in a universe where so-called “poets” are able to shape concepts into physical reality, a fragile system of city states survives in the wreckage of a once-mighty empire, it’s a remarkably different reading experience than much of epic fantasy. You’ll want to read this massive all-in-one volume all the way through.

Vita Nostra, by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko
Marina and Sergey Dyachenko stand with the best writers of fantasy in Russia, but very little of their work has been translated into English. Hopefully, Vita Nostra—which has been hailed as perhaps their greatest work (it was named the best fantasy of the 21st century by the attendees fo Eurocon 2008)—will begin to change that. It’s the story of a young girl named Sasha who, after a series of bizarre and disturbing events, is enrolled against her will in the mysterious Institute of Special Technologies, where she will learn a very peculiar sort of magic—think philosophy and linguistics rather than spells and wands. Hogwarts this isn’t—the Institute is a cold, austere place, and Sasha’s exploration of magic offers all the charm of cramming for a post-grad final—but the novel somehow makes her coursework thrum with the drive and suspense of a thriller, all the way through the mind-melting ending.

Terran Tomorrow, by Nancy Kress
In the final volume of Nancy Kress’s trilogy based on her award-winning novella Yesterday’s Kin, the survivors of a last-ditch diplomatic mission to treat with the aliens who years earlier had visited our planet and brought with them a deadly plague returns in defeat. Upon arrival, the human delegation discovered a barren world rather than the advanced alien civilization they expected. And due to the time dilation of interstellar travel, when they make it back to Earth, they discover the plague has worsened, leaving only scant survivors. There is little time left for the returning scientists to use what little information they gathered on their journey to fight back, and find a cure for the extraterrestrial disease that is killing the human race.

The Winter Road, by Adrian Selby
Self-professed Tolkien fanatic Adrian Selby’s second novel (after 2016’s Snakewood) is far grimmer than anything you’ll find in Middle-earth. It’s the story of Teyr Amondsen, a warrior without a home leading a band of mercenaries protecting a merchant caravan. They’re headed into the Circle, a wilderness of eternally warring clans, in order to establish a trade route that could bring peace and prosperity to the land. The soldiers use a variety of plant-based substances to enhance their fighting abilities—and they’ll need every one of them, as a new warlord has begun uniting previously independent clans, making Teyr’s noble goal of taming the wild seems perpetually just out of her grasp.

Bedfellow, by Jeremy C. Shipp
Acclaimed horror writer Jeremy C. Ship offers up another slice of his dark imagination in this short novel, which charts the slow decline of a family forced to learn to live with the strange, human-shaped thing in a Space Jam t-shirt that settles into their home and refuses to leave. At first, the intruder terrifies the Lund family—but then, he is not; the creature seems to have the power to edit memories; as soon as the family has accepted him as a homeless man who saved their son from choking as they dined at a restaurant, he becomes a friend from work, a distant relative, even father Hendrick Lund’s twin brother. As the invading entity works to complete his own special project in the Lund’s spare bedroom, he continues to manipulate their minds, using their worst feeds and misdeed against them. Shipp constructs a constantly self-editing narrative that is all the more compelling for its shifting strangeness.

Empire of Sand, by Tasha Suri
Tasha Suri draws on the history of the Mughals in her debut novel, set in the fictional Ambhan Empire. Mehr is the unacknowledged daughter of the governor of Irinah, an Amrithi descended from spirits. The Amrithi are outcasts, both desired and feared. Mehr is protected by her status until she performs magic, drawing the attention of the ancient, immortal founder of the empire and his disciples (known as the Maha), and leading to a forced marriage aimed at ensuring the dominance of the empire and the immortality of the Maha. Trapped by a suffocating social system and her own dire importance to the established order, Mehr must use her intelligence and courage to survive—and avoid waking the vengeful gods themselves.

The Sky-Blue Wolves, by S. M. Stirling
S.M. Stirling reaches a milestone with The Sky-Blue Wolves, the 15th book in his Emberverse series, the concluding book of the sub-series that began with The Golden Princess, and the final book of the Change, which encompasses some 18 novels and yet more short stories. We’re now decades past the titular Change that caused all electronics and most machines to stop working, and the world has become a very different place than it was, with redrawn borders and new powers to covet and fear. Crown Princess Órlaith Mackenzie struggles to preserve the peace her father the High King forged in the Western United States. With her ally Empress Reiko of Japan, she takes on the Yellow Raja, who have kidnapped her brother Prince John, and will have to face the Sky-Blue Wolves streaming out of Mongolia, riding under the ancient flag of Genghis Khan and seeking to conquer the world entire.

Creatures of Want and Ruin, by Molly Tanzer 
Molly Tanzer does it al; from her debut novel, named best book of 2015 by i09, to the “thoughtful erotica” she edits at her magazine, Congress, she’s proven to be one of the most distinct voices in contemporary SFF. Her followup to last year’s Creatures of Will and Temper mixes a dash of F. Scott Fitzgerald and a shake of H.P. Lovecraft into something wholly original. It’s the Prohibition Era. Ellie West engages in bootlegging in a desperate bid to pay her bills, and winds up acquiring some extremely unusual moonshine, which she brings to a party thrown by the out-of-her-depth socialite Delphine Coulthead. The supernatural liquor—brewed from poisonous mushrooms by a cult of devil worshippers— triggers horrifying, realistic visions of destruction, and hinting at the cult’s plans to drag the world back to “the good old days.” Delphine and Ellie must work together to figure out what’s real, what’s not, and what it all means. When the cult’s actions become extremely personal for Ellie, the stakes rise accordingly, as Tanzer balances wink-wink references to contemporary politics with pulpy tropes and solid storytelling.

The Night Angel Trilogy: 10th Anniversary Edition, by Brent Weeks 
Weeks’ debut novel The Way of Shadows was an instant hit when published in 2008, launching the career of one of fantasy’s best modern writers. This special 10-year anniversary edition collects all the three books of the trilogy (continued in Shadow’s Edge and Beyond the Shadows) chronicling the story of an orphan named Azoth, who trains to become an expert assassin, using magic to augment his deadly capabilities, then evolves into something greater—the fearsome Night Angel. This omnibus—which features a slick, striking all-black cover—offers the perfect opportunity for longtime fans to commemorate a landmark series, and for new readers to be introduced to the author’s skill at building intricate characters and compelling worlds. Also available in a signed edition from Barnes & Noble, while quantities last.

What new books are on your buy list this week?

The post This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Alien Viruses, Defying an Empire, and the Language of Magic appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

Tuesday's Best Deals: Black Friday OLED Sale, Under Armour, Razor Scooters, and More @ io9

The Philips Hue starter kit, the ThermoWorks ChefAlarm, and Cuisinart cookware lead off Tuesday’s best deals from around the web.

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An Alien Invasion Was Happening in Searching, You Just Didn't Notice It @ io9

Most people think Searching is just a movie about John Cho looking for his missing daughter that takes places completely on a computer. That’s true, but it’s also an alien invasion movie. Kind of.

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The episode titles for Gotham's final season hint at 'heroic' Penguin, a nod to Frank Miller, and more @ Syfy Wire

In January, Fox's Gotham will begin to wrap up its storylines with a fifth and final season, which means they'll be pulling out all the stops with a slew of iconic villains (like Bane) and a look at David Mazouz's young Batman with a finale time jump.

After months of speculation, Game of Thrones' final season confirmed for April 2019 @ Syfy Wire

You can stop trying to guess at when the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones will arrive on HBO.

Chosen One of the Day: The lobster tank from Venom @ Syfy Wire

Ah, the humble lobster tank. Familiar to us from fancy restaurants and that one amazing Les Misérables parody from Saturday Night Live, it’s such a common fixture that it almost fades into the background.

It’s also the centerpiece of one of the the best scenes from Venom.

Buzz Lightyear Is the Butt of the Joke in the Latest Toy Story 4 Teaser @ io9

The sentient playthings of Disney and Pixar’s Toy Story franchise lead rich inner lives hidden away from the human eyes and, like most intelligent forms of life, they spend a fair amount of time bonding with one another about whatever happens to be on their minds at the moment.

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Stephen Colbert, Hugh Jackman appreciate 'creative genius' of Stan Lee on Late Show @ Syfy Wire

Friends and fans have been reeling from the loss of Marvel co-founder and comics legend Stan Lee this week, with respects being paid in all corners of the pop culture world. The 95-year-old had plenty of time to touch a lot of lives, even without his comic characters becoming the international juggernauts of the box office — though that certainly helped spread his messages and creativity far and wide.

Game of Thrones Narrows Down Its Final Season Premiere Date to a Month @ io9

The latest teaser for Game of Thrones, highlighting the biggest moments of the series while prepping us for the last season, has told us the month we can expect to see the final battle for the future of Westeros. The long march toward actually figuring out when we can watch the show again...marches on.

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The Truth Is Out There in first look at Boom!'s upcoming Ben 10 Graphic Novel @ Syfy Wire

The Ben 10 franchise is a crossover property that has its roots in the acclaimed Cartoon Network series that first aired in December of 2005, telling the fantastic tale of a precocious 10-year-old kid, Ben Tennyson, who discovers an otherworldly magical device that transforms him into 10 unique alien heroes.

Toy Story 4 introduces Key & Peele's characters in second teaser for Pixar sequel @ Syfy Wire

Toy Story 4’s misnomered spork, Forky, isn’t the only new character that the Pixar sequel is dropping on fans of the tear-jerking animated franchise. In a new teaser trailer dropping a mere day after its first, the film introduces two cute and fuzzy familiarities in the company’s first reaction video.

This Deep-Sea Fisherman Is Still Posting His Discoveries and OH GOD THE TEETH WHY DOES IT HAVE TEETH @ io9

Back in 2016, we introduced you to the photos of Roman Fedortsov, a deep-sea fisherman who posts his discoveries to Twitter and Instagram. The monsters he pulls from the deep are horrifying, to say the least. So it seems like a good time to check back in with Fedorstov’s social media.

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Updates From Black Widow, Mystery Science Theater 3000, and More @ io9

Doctor Sleep adds another young star. The ALF reboot is dead. The Walking Dead’s showrunner hints at some interesting plans to integrate some key stories from the comics. Plus, the first tiny teaser look at the new Child’s Play, a glimpse at Sabrina’s holiday special, and a giant octopus attacks on Legends of Tomorrow

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Alita: Battle Angel trailer gives us best look yet at live-action manga adaptation @ Syfy Wire

After its first trailer convinced fans that, hey, maybe director Robert Rodriguez could actually pull this off, the Alita: Battle Angel movie (adapting the Gunnm manga) has let loose a new trailer, which plays up the divine and warrior aspects of its central protagonist. 

Venom became a monster hit in China by selling the Symbiote as a dream boyfriend @ Syfy Wire

We’ve already made our own case for why Venom just might be the ideal heartthrob, but now it looks like Sony’s wacky marketing campaign in China, which features cutesy posters selling the alien symbiote as the perfect boyfriend, is paying off big.

Blowing square smoke rings @ Syfy Wire

Is it possible to blow square smoke rings? A video by @ThePhysicsGirl shows that you can, kinda, and the physics of them is truly weird.

Pokémon Let's Go! Eevee and Pikachu: The Kotaku Review @ io9

Pokémon Let’s Go! Pikachu and Eevee are going to be divisive. The games seem meant to introduce a new generation of players to Pokémon, especially players who started with Pokémon Go. The changes made to gameplay may frustrate longtime fans, including me; I started playing in the late ‘90s and kept up with the…

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Alita: Battle Angel's New Trailer Digs Into the Heart of the Most Advanced Weapon Ever @ io9

It’s been nearly a year since the first trailer for Alita: Battle Angeldirected by Robert Rodriguez, co-produced and co-written by James Cameron, the project’s longtime champion—startled us with the main character’s exaggerated, distractingly creepy eyes.

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