posted 7 days ago on io9
Image: Hallmark, Hot Toys, and KuwaharaWelcome back to Toy Aisle, io9's regular round up of the latest nerdy toy news on the internet. This week, Hot Toys has come to bargain with the almost-mandated “New Marvel Movie Action Figure,” Star Wars Celebration exclusives heat up in the cutest manner, and Lego’s latest architecture set takes us to ancient Egypt. Check it out!Image: Hot ToysHot Toys Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Doctor Strange Sixth-Scale FigureAlmost as inevitable as Stephen Strange coming to Dormammu to bargain, a new Marvel release is here, which means Hot Toys just so happens to have a gorgeous action figure ready to tease. Of course, with Multiverse of Madness in theaters what we’re getting teased with is the latest version of Doctor Strange. Clad in his new outfit from the film, Stephen comes with an articulated cape for posing in dynamic, fluttery positions; multiple arrays of hands, including, of course, special spell-casting poses; and a bevy of accessories. There’s two different sets of portal-opening sling rings, four sets of magical spell effects—a set of wrist-mounted rings, two larger circular disks, a whiplike rope of magic energy, and most dazzlingly, some large, fiery draconic vipers to wrap around his arms—and even a pair of Illuminati handcuffs and the Book of Vishanti from the film. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a spoilery alternate head based on the very climax of the movie that fans will... certainly want to keep their eye on. Multiverse of Madness Doctor Strange is set to release some time in late 2023. [Hot Toys]Image: LegoLego Architecture Great Pyramid of GizaWeighing in at 1,476 pieces, the Great Pyramid of Giza becomes one of the larger Lego Architecture sets to date, which makes sense given the colossal footprint of the pyramids themselves. The 8-inch tall model actually features just half a pyramid with a removable outer shell that reveals not only the tunnel structure and burial tombs inside, but how the structure itself was actually built. The diorama includes a section of the Nile river with ancient boats, Sphinx statues, an obelisk, and temples, and Lego says that two of the models can be connected together to complete the entire pyramid, if you’re willing to spend $260 instead of $130.Image: HallmarkHallmark Star Wars Celebration Exclusive Grand Admiral Thrawn itty bittysStar Wars Celebration 2022 takes place at the end of the month, which means we’re starting to see reveals for all the collectibles that will be exclusively available at the event. That includes a new addition to Hallmark’s itty bittys line which somehow manages to make Grand Admiral Thrawn look absolutely adorable, even with beady red angry eyes. Only 2,100 are being produced, and will be sold at PopMinded’s booth #2519 at the show for $10 each.Image: KuwaharaKuwahara E.T. 40 BMX BikeIt’s one of the most iconic scenes in movie history, so much so that Steven Spielberg used it as the logo for his production company Amblin Entertainment, and now you can come close to recreating it yourself as the Kuwahara BMX bike Elliott rode (and flew on) in the film is being resurrected as the new BMX E.T. 40. It features a frame made from 4130 chromoly which is the same material used to build many competition-grade BMX bikes, as well as other high-quality parts which helps justify its $800 price tag when available this fall. It does feature some additional decals featuring E.T. branding, but comes without a milk crate or otherworldly beings.Image: Facebook - Collect JurassicMattel Jurassic World Dominion Dreadnoughtus FigureMattel continues to go all in with its Jurassic Park and Jurassic World figures and we have absolutely no complaints when it’s delivering gigantic toy versions of fan favorite dinos like the Brachiosaurus, Apatosaurus, and now a five-foot long Dreadnoughtus—presumably based on the dino’s appearance in the upcoming Jurassic World Domion. There’s no pricing or availability details at this point, but based on the available images it will offer some additional articulation in its very long neck, and will demand a ton of space on your desk.Image: Lego IdeasLego Ideas The Adventures of the USS CardboardThe winning submission from last year’s Out of This World building contest that Lego announced through its Lego Ideas platform has finally been revealed as the adorable The Adventures of the USS Cardboard, featuring an imaginative young boy ready to blast off in his home-built rocketship assembled from toys and cardboard boxes. The set won’t actually be available for sale, but those who spend over $160 on sets at Lego’s website or its stores will receive this set as a free gift with purchase.Image: MattelFisher-Price Little People Collector RuPaul FiguresFisher-Price’s Little People Collector figures now include everyone from the rock band Kiss, to the cast of the NBC sitcom The Office, to the Golden Girls. The newest addition to the lineup is the iconic RuPaul who helped take performing in drag mainstream through RuPaul’s Drag Race, which has run for 14 seasons in at this point. This set includes three versions of RuPaul with real-life outfits the performer has worn before including purple and pink gowns, as well as RuPaul out of drag and in a stylish suit featuring colors from each gown. The set is available from Amazon for $15.Image: MattelMattel UNO Wild Twists Playing CardsMattel is taking the most enjoyable aspect of playing UNO—the dirty tricks you can subject other players to—and introducing them to other classic card games like Go Fish, poker, and gin rummy. UNO Wild Twists is a standard deck of 52 playing cards that adds eight additional “Wild Cards” that can immediately improve the position of any player, including red and black wild cards that can represent any specific suit a player may need to win the game. The deck will exclusively be available from Target this month for $3.Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

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posted 7 days ago on io9
Image: Severin FilmsHere’s something spooky: the day io9 got an email inviting us to debut the new trailer for Joshua Grannell’s 2010 horror-comedy cult classic All About Evil, I just so happened to be wearing my “Peaches Christ Is My Homegirl” sweatshirt—Peaches Christ being Grannell’s horror-loving drag alter ego. The movie gods aligned, and All About Evil, starring Russian Doll’s Natasha Lyonne, is a lot of fun, so without further ado, here’s that trailer!This new trailer comes as the previously hard-to-track-down indie—starring Lyonne as a librarian turned theater owner turned deranged splatter movie queen—is about to enjoy its highest profile in over a decade. On June 10, Severin Films is releasing a new HD restoration of All About Evil on Blu-ray, complete with new and archival special features, and will also co-present “gala resurrections of the film’s now-infamous ‘Peaches Christ 4-D Experience’ screenings” on June 9 at the Loz Feliz 3 in Los Angeles, and June 11 at the Victoria Theater in San Francisco, which is where the movie itself was filmed. For those uninitiated: Peaches Christ hosted a long-running cult movie series in San Francisco called “Midnight Mass,” and Grannell is a genre expert of the highest order. Both of the writer-director’s personas melded perfectly in the creation of this campy, witty, gruesome film—an energetic celebration of low-budget horror and exploitation movies of the past. It boasts a killer lead performance by Lyonne and a supporting cast that includes Peaches Christ herself, along with Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (a.k.a Cassandra Peterson), John Waters icon Mink Stole (Pink Flamingoes, Female Trouble, Desperate Living), Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles’ Thomas Dekker, and Knives Out’s Noah Segan.Severin Films also has some new key art for the film, which is too good not to share:Image: Severin FilmsImage: Severin FilmsWant more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. 

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posted 15 days ago on io9
Illustration: Grandfailure (Adobe Stock)io9 is proud to present fiction from LIGHTSPEED MAGAZINE. Once a month, we feature a story from LIGHTSPEED’s current issue. This month’s selection is “Nobody Ever Goes Home to Zhenzhu” by Grace Chan. You can read the story below or listen to the podcast on our website. Enjoy!Nobody Ever Goes Home to ZhenzhuI’d always known Calam would run.He had all the signs. A taut restlessness, body brittle as an overstretched lute string, when we stayed too long in one place. A gloom in his eyes, as we drifted through stretches of dead space. A sullen crease between the brows, whenever I tried to ask how he’d landed in that dead-end Martian workshop at seventeen.But after ten years, why now?Drumming my fingers on the battered dashboard, I gazed through the viewport at the planet below. My retina flooded with information from the Records. Zhenzhu. Once the pearl of the Feng System: terrestrial, mostly ocean, strung around with island chains like jewelled necklaces. Now, centuries after colonisation, tainted puce-coloured whorls obscured its aquamarine surface.It’s not difficult to track a person. As a Beaconer, I do it for a living. I could’ve dug into Calam’s past at any point in our travels together. But we’d maintained an unspoken code—until, in sneaking off without so much as a jotted message, he’d broken it.My preliminary sweep of both Assembly-run and private surveillance databanks had uncovered a torrent of brainwave, kinetic, and metabolic signatures matching Calam’s to various degrees. Even without the biodata, the clumsiest Beaconer could’ve used the serial numbers of his cybernetic enhancements to pinpoint his whereabouts in inhabited space. After discarding the outliers, I still had a clear record of his movements, dating back not just days, but years.It was my first time to Zhenzhu, but not Calam’s.I moved the Left-Handed Bandit out of orbit, into a stealthy descent.Calam’s trail unspooled in shimmering blue on my retina—through damp-slicked alleys, thick with cinder-smoke and burnt oil, to Mur Angh’s canal district. On the opposite bank, mushroom-shaped skyscrapers loomed against an ochre sky, air traffic zipping around their stalks like glittering fireflies.The waterside marketplace was a noisy sea of aluminium-roofed stalls, food carts with illustrated curtains, vending droids on flexible legs, and tricycle-hauled trailers piled with mass-produced trinkets. The citizens of Mur Angh, in tattered synthetic garments and homemade goggles, looked battered, weather-worn, like the crumbling commission flats that dominated the city’s slums. Fragments of conversation, a mix of Common and local dialect, floated through the air.Zhenzhu’s entry on the Common Records had been no different from the other first-wave colonisation planets. An influx of diasporic groups. A few decades later, the Human Nations Assembly’s coordinated terraforming effort. Now, things were cleaving along the usual lines: the expansionist elitists in their gleaming towers, birthed into new cash and new resources, and the leftovers seething in the slums, wrestling for the scraps.The trail took me to a roadside stall, where I gestured at the first item on the menu and lit a cigarette.I scanned the middle-aged vendor for enhancements. Ah, good. An active memory chip. I pinched the last couple of hours of recording and scrubbed until I saw Calam’s face. He’d been sitting in the seat I was in, hunched over a bowl of porridge. I activated my interpreting networks.“—not as good as it used to be, Kang,” Calam was saying, in a local dialect.“Shut up, boy,” said the vendor. “You try making good food with stale ingredients. Zhenzhu’s in decay. Imports, agriculture, all dying. The elitists don’t give a shit about the dogs under the table. And you and me, we’re the bottom of the bottom-feeders.”“What’s changed?”“Eh, Yen, look at you. You look well. Healthy. Ten years gone—you’re crazy to come back.”“Not staying.” Calam seized a deep-fried doughstick and crunched into it. “Just here to see my mother.”“Your mother?”“Yeah. She sent me a message. She’s dying.”Kang stared flatly at Calam. “Boy, you know what your mother did, to survive, right? Who she is now?”“I know.”“You still want to see her?”“She sent me a message,” said Calam again.Kang sighed and dragged a hand over his fleshy face. “Let an old friend give you some advice, Yen. Even though you won’t listen to me. Finish your juk, go to the shipyard, and buy yourself a one-way ticket. Forget your mother. You did the right thing ten years ago. You’re not wanted on this rock.”I snapped out of the playback when Kang slammed a bowl onto the bench: steaming rice gruel, topped with a gooey black sphere. The fermented aromas made my mouth water. I hadn’t had a fresh meal in weeks. Kang watched, with a pleased expression, as I stubbed out my cigarette and dug in.“First time on Zhenzhu, eh?” He spoke in Common.“How’d you know?”“No jacket, no goggles.” Kang gestured at his own gear. “After first time, you remember acid rain.”Ah. That explained the eroded buildings, the stalls decked in aluminium sheets, the tense expressions as people flitted from door to door with hoods pulled low. Acid rain was a bad sign—a sign that, after mere centuries, once again, we’d extorted too much from a planet.“Forecast says rain coming in an hour,” Kang said, pointing at the heavy sky. “I suggest, go somewhere safe.”Silly Calam.Did he really believe I’d let him go? He’d contrived an elaborate routine: sending his baggage ahead to a public locker; slipping away after the Thurnos Bidding, muttering about a pleasure den; unleashing an actually-decent pirate program to hide his escape via a stem-cell colony ship.Sure, I could’ve snagged another mechanic. Thurnos was stuffed with sad souls vying to underbid one another for a warm meal and a warm bed. But after ten years, you get used to someone. You figure out whether you can live with their worst habits.Kang called him Yen. I wasn’t surprised to discover he had a different name. I remembered the half-starved squirrel-boy—twitchy, shaggy-haired, covered in engine grease—who’d stepped out of that rundown Martian workshop. Mine had been a reluctant stopover. I’d been itching to shoot away from the Sol System, but the Left-Handed Bandit had needed a new portside cannon cradle.The offer of a job had left my lips on impulse. Maybe, subconsciously, I’d wanted someone with secrets, who didn’t want to talk about them. Maybe, in his brittle gloom, in his unwavering silence, I felt an unspoken kinship.Well, this was probably one of the safest places in Mur Angh. I’d tracked Calam to the tallest tower in the fancy district, watched as a statuesque receptionist led him to the elevators, and hacked the service elevator to follow him up to the penthouse suite.Sliding doors opened onto a hallway draped in Cultural Appropriation Lite. Whoever had decorated the penthouse was evidently a passionate but undiscerning fan of the Jovian-satellite diaspora aesthetic. Embroidered silks in an imitation of the Ganymedean artisans softened the chrome walls; traditional Callistoan music thrummed from the ceiling. There was even a hologram of the Europa sky: a fire-striped orb with a stormy red eye, glaring above a rim of icy spikes.I activated my jacket’s bio-cloaking tech before stepping out of the elevator, plunging straight through Jupiter’s equatorial belts. The heat signatures of six or seven people radiated from a large room on the north side of the penthouse.Bloody Calam. Why hadn’t he just told me about his mother? We could’ve come to Zhenzhu together. We could’ve put a plan in place. Now he was probably going to die—and I had to decide how much to risk my life trying to rescue the fool.I skulked my way to a service room. Wedged between a steel trolley and the wall, peeking between doorframe and door-curtain, I had a partial view of a richly furnished lounge.Calam was standing in front of a plush settee, shoulders hunched, eyes darting. Kneeling at a low table of burnished wood, the receptionist poured tea from a gilt teapot. She gestured for Calam to sit. He lowered himself onto the settee, one hand clenched at his bag.“Where is she?” he demanded.“She’s coming.” The receptionist offered an enamelled teacup in a graceful circle of fingertips. Her sleeves slipped down, revealing pale wrists. “Please.”Calam blew on the tea, but did not drink.A curtained doorway on the other side of the room parted. A woman stepped in. A silk robe hugged pyramidal breasts, cinched a wasp waist, and swished around elongated legs. Scarlet lips bloomed in a pearly, luminescent face. Beneath puffy eyelids, inhumanly violet irises glittered. She was someone’s embodied fetish.She was not sick, and not at all dying.“Ma . . .?” Calam rose, dropping the cup onto the table. Hot tea splattered. His expression stretched halfway between a gasp and a grimace.The woman’s head drooped towards her chest, like a stalk of wheat snapped in a harsh wind.Four more people came through the curtained doorway: a brown-haired, clean-shaven man in a high-collared gray suit, and three soldiers in combat gear. One of the soldiers yanked Calam’s mother aside. In the same moment, Calam scrambled backwards over the settee and whipped his hand out of his bag. He was holding a gun, but it looked like a toy next to the soldiers’ weapons.“You lied,” said Calam, his eyes hard and fixed on his mother’s face.The scarlet mouth trembled. “I’m sorry, Yen.”“I’m not surprised,” Calam hissed. “You sold us out before. You sold yourself. Why wouldn’t you sell out your last child, too?”The man in the suit stepped forward. From my hiding spot, I couldn’t get a clear view of his face. But he reeked of elitist: oozing vitality, control, wealth. I wrapped my hand around my holster’s reassuring coolness.“Now, boy. There’s no need to scold your poor Ma. We didn’t really give her a choice. Come. We don’t want this to be messy. Let’s put that gun down, hey? Let’s be civilised.”“Evan,” spat Calam. “You’ve modded yourself so much I wouldn’t have recognised you—if not for that slimy voice.”Evan spread his arms wide. I had a close view of his left hand, extending from his cuff, which bore a coat of fair downy hair. On his index finger, he wore a gold signet ring imprinted with an eagle.“I told you we’d see each other again.”“What do you want? It wasn’t enough for you to kill my father, my brother, my sisters? To take my mother as your bed toy? To murder the Luying because we were an inconvenience?”“Good grief, boy. You make it sound personal.”Calam was backed against the wall, both hands wrapped around his pistol. Sweat poured down his flushed face. He had one shot. At most. The soldiers’ enhancements were several years ahead of Calam’s—they could probably kill him at the first twitch of his trigger finger.I dipped quickly into the Common Records, searching for any entries about the Luying people on Zhenzhu, or a massacre ten years ago. Nothing.“Why go to such lengths?” Calam hissed. “I’m a nobody. Why bother luring me back here, just to kill me?”Evan took two steps forward. “You know I work clean. Loose threads are an . . . irritation. Sometimes, the Assembly likes to stick their nose into the past. They don’t understand that cleaning up the lowlife is a necessary part of building a great planet. Call it . . . tidying.”Pursing his lips, Evan turned to his soldiers.A neural blast bludgeoned into my brain. I reeled.Are you waiting for me to fucking invite you in?!It was Calam.He knew. He knew I was here.Bloody—I went for the receptionist first. I’d seen the faint scars of implanted pistols in her wrists. She was unquestionably the most dangerous one in the room.I crossed the room in four strides. A neuro-linked command to my weapons belt dispatched a chemical blast at Evan and his three henchmen. A small range grenade. Probably leave one or two of them alive—but I didn’t want to hurt Calam or his mother. Pistol in hand, I fired at the receptionist. The bullet took her in the jugular. Blood sprayed in a crimson fan over the settee as she crumpled.I dove behind a grand pianoforte, just as the shots came. Darn—two still standing. Something hit my foot, but I felt no pain. I went low and ducked out, firing.Silence.The soldiers were sprawled on the carpet. Two were melted by the chemical grenade. The third had taken my shots in his chest, and was gurgling his last breaths. Somehow, I’d missed Evan entirely—but Calam had got him, first with a bullet, and then with a knife to his face.I had to pull my mechanic away.“Hey,” I said. “Hey. Calam. Come back.”He collapsed onto his heels, gasping and shuddering, knife clattering from slack fingers. He gazed up at me, blank-eyed.“You—cursed—shagua,” I snarled, prodding my finger into his forehead. “What the fuck would you have done if I weren’t here?”A delirious smile spread over Calam’s blood-splattered face. “But you are here.” Then he shivered, and seemed to return to himself. His gaze dropped to my feet. “Orin—you’re bleeding.”I glanced down. A puncture in my boot was leaking blood onto the carpet. The pain came to me distantly. I activated a neural net to scoop it up, for later.“You didn’t have to smash into my head, by the way,” I snapped, because snapping would keep the wooziness away. “You took down three layers of delicate security work. I was about to waltz in and rescue you.”“Just had to make sure you didn’t change your mind, enyi.”“Starting to wish I had.”We both jerked our heads up at a soft noise. Calam’s mother was clawing at the velvety wallpaper, her body spasming. I limped up to her.“Wei. You OK?”She moved her lips, but no sound came out. She didn’t look injured. Tentatively, I touched her shoulder. She crumpled into a heap, her chin coming to rest on her knees like a decommissioned android. Her artificial eyes looked through me, past me, towards the tall windows, which were squealing beneath an onslaught of toxic rain.“Forget her,” Calam said. His tone was detached, but not cruel. “She’s been rewritten too many times.”I came back to Calam. We gazed down at Evan’s corpse. Bits of jellied eyeball and stringy muscle were visible in the pulpy stew of what had been his face. I wondered if Calam had ever killed anyone before.“After I escaped,” he said in a low voice, “I tried to find others. Relatives, friends, anyone. Didn’t have much luck. I’ve accepted that I’m the only one left. The only one who knows everything he did. He wanted my memory chips—probably would’ve ripped them right out of my head. Can’t have an annoying Luying kid popping up and making Zhenzhu’s history look . . . unpalatable.”I scanned the body for ID and enhancements. Evan Enders. Date of birth: 12/08/2571. Age: 56 Earth-years. Chief Minister for Sustainable Development, third term of service. I drew in a sharp breath. “He’s Assembly. Big shot. He’s got a Scribe Implant.”“Of course.” Calam glanced at me. “How do you think he wrote the Luying out of existence? You think Assembly don’t mod their own Records? Wah, Orin. You’re more of an optimist than I thought. Hey—what are you doing?”The tip of my serrated knife was where Evan’s nose had recently been. “I’m taking it. Isn’t that what you wanted?”“I know we’re into murdering Ministers now, but tampering with Records—that’s a crime against humanity, no?”“I’ve already done it once.” I thought back to undulating swathes of gray, the pink fans of salt basins, smoky breath fanning my face—and a virus I’d crafted to hide, to protect. I couldn’t believe how guileless I’d been, just a few short months ago, about the way the galaxy worked. “We’ll write the Luying back into it. Take that memory loop out of your head and upload it. A crime for humanity.”“No.”“No?”“Then we’d be just like him.” Calam wiped his hands on his pants, leaving grisly trails of the Minister. “Using stolen power for our own purposes. We should do more. We should tear down the walls. Make it so anyone can amend it.”The acid rain seemed to be hammering right into my skull, corroding the bony arches, shaking the floors and roots. For most of my life, I’d avoided thinking about the Assembly if I could—there was a reason a certain kind of people became Beaconers. I felt suddenly foolish. For years, I’d thought that in fleeing the Sol System, in cutting all ties, I’d defied them. But even as a Beaconer, I was entirely in their thrall. I worked for cash. I delivered those with less, to those with more.The Records were yet another tool for the privileged few to conceal, to control.Calam’s mother lifted her face from her knees with a small, sad smile. Her whisper was barely audible beneath the rattling windows. “Good chaos.”An imprint of my own mother rose unbidden in my mind—stolen, rewritten, forgotten. I squashed the memory away. That was another pain to deal with later.“Can you do it, Orin?”Can is a shitty word in Common. It’s a mash-up of meanings, conflating degrees of ability with degrees of willingness until a whole spectrum of nuance is condensed into one clumsy term. In my mother’s Callistoan dialect of the Jovian language, there are thirteen different ways to say can, each with their subtle hints of inclination, capacity, importance, and immediacy.I wondered how Calam would’ve asked, in the Luying tongue—and what he was really asking of me. He’d never requested anything of me before. Not directly, not like this.Taking a deep breath, I plunged the knife through Evan’s crushed nasal bones. I thought I heard a whimper, a gurgle. The Implant was nestled between his frontal lobes. Pinching it between two fingers, I pulled it free of its gory cage and held it up to the wan light streaming through the windows. Beneath a silver-scarlet sheen of viscous fluid, the Scribe Implant looked like a bronze slug, coiled into a spiral.I wiped it roughly and tucked it into my glove, where it nestled warmly in the crease of my palm.“Let’s get back to the Bandit, Calam.”Once we were free of Zhenzhu’s orbit, I scrambled the Left-Handed Bandit’s outgoing positional data—an energy-draining program, but necessary to conceal our next steps. The Scribe Implant sat on the dashboard, cracked open and linked to the mainframe.Calam dropped into the seat next to me. His poncho was melted in spots where it had caught some rain; a tuft of hair poked out of a hole in his hat. From his left cheek to his right temple, a spray of dried blood—the receptionist’s? Evan’s?—formed an angry crimson arc.“How’d she go?”“Freaked out when I tried to buckle her down,” said Calam, wearily. “Had to give the sedative. She’s strapped into the bunk now.”We hadn’t talked about where we would take his mother, but that was a problem for later—along with my injured foot, which I’d hastily patched with a globule of Soothe’em, the puncture hole in my favourite boots, which still carried some Ranzan soil, and the twin pains I’d netted away in the back of my mind.Calam leaned forward to gaze through the viewport. The angle of the Feng Star revealed only a slender crescent of Zhenzhu—the pollution clouds creamy, like frothed milk, against an inky backdrop.I glanced at him. “Will you miss it?”He shook his head. “It was never really home, you know. Even though I was born there. From the beginning, they chased us out.”The Common Records unfolded in shimmering hologram before us. A shiver thrilled through my body. I’d only ever seen the surface, the lacquered exterior of a puzzle-box. But suddenly we were in the heart of the labyrinth, with a birds-eye map of deeply tangled layers of archives, and the knowledge of where things had been knotted and unknotted. And at our fingertips, a dangerous power: to extract, rewrite, replace.It would not be difficult to break it open. Unlock the puzzle-box, crack open its compartments, and turn it inside out, for anyone and everyone to play with. The Common Records would be truly common.“Huh,” Calam said. Touching a dirt-streaked hand to his temple, he neuro-linked to the mainframe. A carefully compiled database unfurled from his memory chip: holographs and names of the Luying people, dates and places of birth, dates and places of death. There was a lot of information, almost a thousand identities, but I could also see a lot of gaps. Trails, gone cold. Missing, whereabouts unconfirmed, presumed dead.I turned to him. Tears glimmered on his cheeks, carving paths through the blood.He reached over me to initiate the hack.The ghost-blue faces of his grandparents, father, siblings, cousins, drifted into their digital shrine. Page by page, the Records opened to the galaxy. Good chaos, his mother had whispered. As the first wave flowed back to us, a deluge of grief and shock and fury, I shifted the Left-Handed Bandit out of neutral, balancing on a knife’s edge of stars, and waited for Calam’s direction.About the Author Grace Chan is an Aurealis and Norma K Hemming Award-nominated writer and doctor. She can’t seem to stop writing about brains, minds, space, technology, and identity. Her short fiction can be found in Clarkesworld, Fireside, Aurealis, Andromeda Spaceways, and many other places. Her debut novel, Every Version of You, will be published in September 2022. You can find her at gracechanwrites.com and on Twitter as @gracechanwrites. Please visit LIGHTSPEED MAGAZINE to read more great science fiction and fantasy. This story first appeared in the May 2021 issue, which also features work by Jonathan Maberry, Lauren Ring, Tobias S. Buckell, Andi C. Buchanan, Aigner Loren Wilson, Lina Rather, Peter Watts, and more. You can wait for this month’s contents to be serialized online, or you can buy the whole issue right now in convenient ebook format for just $3.99, or subscribe to the ebook edition here.Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

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posted 17 days ago on io9
The wild poster for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Image: Marvel Studios (Other)Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness reminded me of a really good episode of Saturday Night Live. It’s a series of unique, mini-stories all featuring the same actors, some of which are truly excellent while others are not. Then, by the end, you remember the good more than the bad and feel like the whole thing was rather enjoyable.Obviously, this fantasy episode of SNL would have to be directed by horror innovator Sam Raimi, have a mega Hollywood budget, and be headed to theaters on Friday, but the point stands. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the weirdest, grossest movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date, filled with tons of different ideas, looks, and tones. It may not be particularly even or cohesive—but when it works, it really works. And even when it doesn’t, there’s still a certain charm, thanks to Raimi’s directorial touches and one specific performance.Of course, it’s also important to note that a certain disjointed nature is potentially the point. This is a movie about a multiverse after all, and if you’re making a movie about the multiverse, it’s completely logical for each universe, and heck, maybe even each scene, to look and feel distinct from the others. Multiverse of Madness buys into that from the very first frame. The Gap Junction links multiverses in the MCU.Image: Marvel StudiosInstantly we’re with Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and a character we’ve never met, but will soon learn is America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) as they traverse a mysterious, purple dimension. That battle tumbles into the traditional Marvel Cinematic Universe and, later, many others. Some of these universes are dark and disturbing, while others are bright and beautiful. However, with Multiverse of Madness the issue is less about the differences between the universes, and more about how the stories ebb and flow throughout them, giving the movie a weird sense of pace and importance as it flitters between themThe main drive of Multiverse of Madness has to do with a mysterious figure that wants to steal America’s powers—ones that allow her to physically travel through the multiverse. And though the identity of that villain is largely kept secret in the trailers, it’s impossible to actually, even mildly, discuss Multiverse of Madness in general without the knowledge of that reveal. So, if you want to avoid all spoilers, click away here—we’ll see you Friday once you’ve rushed to the movie theater. But what I’m about to discuss is revealed very early on in the movie—about 20 minutes into its 2-ish hour runtime—and defines everything that comes afterwards.So! Early on, we learn that it’s none other than the Scarlet Witch herself, played by Elizabeth Olsen, who is after America’s powers. She knows that if she can travel into another universe, she can reunite with her kids Tommy and Billy (Julian Hilliard and Jett Klyne, who first appeared on WandaVision) which she wants more than anything else. And this reveal is where Multiverse of Madness takes its first, and best, turn. In an instant you see Olsen change her performance from Wanda to the Scarlet Witch—the body language, the line delivery, she melts right from good to evil and stays there as long as she needs. In fact, Olsen is so good at being bad that after Strange chooses to protect America from his former friend, whenever the story is not with Wanda, you really just want to get back to her. Doctor Strange might be the title character, but Olsen’s Scarlet Witch is the one that makes Multiverse of Madness.Who else was going to be the villain?Image: Marvel StudiosSince the movie is called “Doctor Strange” and not “The Scarlet Witch” though, most of the movie does stick with Strange. He and America take the MCU equivalent of the 2001 Star Gate sequence through several universes, ultimately landing in one where things get taken up a whole other level. After that, there’s another universe where the story levels up again. Most of these scenes, some longer and more surprising than others, are interesting, entertaining, and unique. But they’re all about different things. In one universe, you can’t help but be wowed by the big cameos that have become customary to the modern Marvel experience. In another, the focus is on Strange’s self-discovery. In between all that that the film keeps flipping back to Wanda’s equally, arguably more interesting journey, which involves an criminally underused Wong (Benedict Wong).Throughout all of this, the main story of the Scarlet Witch chasing America, and Strange trying to protect her, attempts to link everything together, but it only partially succeeds. Raimi takes tangent after tangent for big set pieces, jokey exchanges, and less important character relationships. By the end of the movie, it feels like America has been sidelined so many times, it would be easy to forget she’s ostensibly the focus of the main plot at all. And while this is a big problem with Multiverse of Madness it’s also kind of forgivable—everything eventually pays off in some way, and most of the scenes work either in retrospect or on their own.Part of the reason for that is the direction of Sam Raimi. Best known for horror films like The Evil Dead, as well as the first Spider-Man trilogy, Raimi loves to scare and disgust, which he does and more in almost each and every scene. In one, it might be putting the camera into the point of view of a demon. In another, it’s a picture frame moving like something out of a Harry Potter movie. A fourth wall break here, jump scare there, each little touch is fun and gives Multiverse of Madness its very own unique flair. On the flip side, it also adds to the film’s chaotic nature which, at times, can be at odds with the story.Our main trio in act twoImage: Marvel StudiosUltimately, that story is rather scattered too though. You have Strange struggling with the burdens of heroism. Wanda’s selfishness in hunting America. America’s trust issues and insecurity with her powers. There are even a few different throughlines involving Strange’s love interest from the first film, Christine (Rachel McAdams, who doesn’t have a lot to do in the movie, but makes the most of each and every scene) as well as mostly stuffed-in and underbaked subplots with that first film’s ally-turned-nemesis, Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor). There’s also about 5-10 minutes of dense MCU mythology explanation spread throughout, including two end credit scenes, which will leave you either supremely satisfied or completely confused. Possibly both!Overall though, while Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has a whole lot going on from scene to scene and even shot to shot, the parts that shine help save the whole. Nothing in the movie is bad, necessarily—there’s just so much going on that you are never quite sure what the movie is trying to say, if anything. Even the story feels prohibitively stretched out at times. But those Sam Raimi horror touches, and a killer, maybe MCU best, performance from Elizabeth Olsen make the ride well worth taking. You’ll never be bored watching Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness but, on the off chance you are, just wait five minutes. Something absolutely batshit is surely right around the corner.Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness kicks off the summer on May 6.Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

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posted 18 days ago on io9
Image: KiwiWeekSunday, May 1st, kicked off the first KiwiWeek celebration in New Zealand, called Kēmu Whakatau O Aotearoa. Aimed at spreading awareness of Kiwi games and designers, the organizers have created a stacked schedule of events for the week, including game releases, actual play live streams, panels at Big Bad Con, and bundles on DriveThruRPG and itch.io.“Aotearoa New Zealand has developed a vibrant and exciting community of gamers and game designers. We can’t easily make it to GenCon or Dragonmeet or the JoCo Cruise,” Morgan Davie, a game designer and podcaster based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington), told io9 over email. “But we think our games and gamers have a fresh and unique energy that everyone can enjoy.” While you might not know it, games like Monster of the Week and The Sprawl are both written by New Zealanders.io9 was able to chat with a couple of designers and participants who are involved in KiwiWeek, including Liam Stevens (who describes himself as a Kaitiaki, a steward or caregiver who is part of the community responsible for KiwiRPG), and Brendon Bennetts. “The community belongs to all of us, and the [forum] to the community. No one head stands over the others here.” Stevens, also who runs the Toa Tabletop podcast, told us. Stevens continually stressed the importance of community in KiwiRPG. “In Te Ao Māori community comes first, so I felt it was important for us to build a community that was self-supporting and less reliant on overseas parties supporting Kiwi individuals,” he added.Liz Parker, a Waipā- based podcaster, said in a press release provided to io9 that “the story of Aotearoa’s creative industries is making our small size our greatest strength, because it’s easy here to share knowledge, work fast, and try new things with the community behind you. We’ve seen it in film and television and video games, and now in tabletop RPGs.”“We are a culture that is extremely social, putting community and the group before the self, and that aligns well with a hobby like RPGs that is inherently social in nature,” Stevens added. As a Māori creator, Stevens wants to help bring other native, indigenous voices to the forefront of design. “By creating a community that is distinctively based in Aotearoa it would signal to other Māori in the hobby that their voices are wanted. We are few and far between in this hobby, especially in the design space, so I want to put the call out and see who we can welcome in.” Bennetts agreed. “As a community, I’m struck by how generous everyone is with support and collaboration. If I’m stuck on a bit of adventure design, I know there are a dozen expert game masters who’ll happily offer advice.” “The theater of the absurd holds true to our art,” Stevens said about the kind of Kiwi culture that we can expect from Kēmu Whakatau O Aotearoa, “and RPGs are no different.”Image: KiwiWeek“It’s tricky to make generalizations [about Kiwi gameplay culture],” Bennetts noted. “But I think kiwis have a distinct sense of humor that comes through when we play games: the deadly serious can sit right next to the very silly followed by unexpected moments of poignancy.” “Everything is tongue in cheek and firmly self depreciating. This extends to our culture, which has had a bit of a cultural cringe at attempts to be taken seriously. We are shaking this though, and doing much better at finding our voice,” Stevens added. When asked what Stevens hopes an international audience will gain from this, he expressed a desire for people to see and recognize the breadth of talent that exists in Aotearoa, and “from a Māori lens, so many international creators love appropriating Māori cultural tropes into their games, perhaps now they can see how we actually do things ourselves.”“There is a Māori proverb that goes ‘Kāore te kūmara e kōrero mō tōna ake reka’, which means ‘the kūmara (sweet potato) doesn’t speak of its own sweetness.’” Bennetts, who is also the DM of Dungeons & Comedians, (which will have a livestream on May 8th), added. “Kiwis tend to be humble to the point of refusing to promote themselves even when they’ve got something amazing on their hands. Kēmu Whakatau O Aotearoa is a chance for us to speak about the amazing things each other is doing.”“TTRPGs are getting bigger and bigger all the time… I think what is really growing is the embracing of other TTRPGs beyond D&D. For example, I know lots of people who play Monster of the Week (especially after it got played on The Adventure Zone), but don’t even realize the game was made here in Aotearoa by Mike Sands of Generic Games.” io9 asked Stevens about the state of contemporary game design, asking him to choose a couple favorites to share. “This is very tough, like choosing between children,” he joked. “I think a serious contender for greatest game designer ever was Greg Stafford. That man was a treasure. For contemporary designers, the two I am most excited about are Pam Punzalan and Zedeck Siew. As for games, I keep coming back to Mothership and Mörk Borg. They just speak to me.” Bennetts was more specific, and choose games from Aotearoa. “I have a real soft spot for Steve Hickey’s game Soth. It’s a kind of inversion of the usual Lovecraft influenced games, where you play a group of small-town cultists trying to summon a dark god. The tone is dark but (at least when I play it) it turns into a hilarious chaotic mess like something out of Breaking Bad,” he said. “I’d also like to mention Morgan Davies’ new game Paranormal Wellington, which perfectly captures the deadpan humor of Wellington Paranormal (as you might guess from the title). If you’re familiar with both Powered by the Apocalypse games and kiwi idioms then a 7-9 roll being a ‘Yeah, Nah’ result is extremely satisfying.”Stevens helped create the name of the event, Kēmu Whakatau O Aotearoa, which honors the Māori te reo (language) and the culture of play at the heart of Kiwi sensibilities. “Te Ao Māori and RPGs integrate very well. We are a storytelling culture, our traditions are oral and we use metaphor and story to teach lessons and explore philosophy,” he explained. “It’s something we lean heavily into from a very young age, so RPGs feel natural as we are primed from youth to explore problems through the lens of story and others.”You can either browse the #KiwiWeek tag on itch.io to find some great games, or you can peruse the bundle on DriveThruRPG. Here are some popular games from Aotearoa:Monster of the Week, Michael SandsThe Sprawl, Hamish CameronCortex RPG, Cam BanksZ-Land, Stormforge ProductionsBig Tough Shirt Guys, Vex Chat-BlancOdyssey Aquatica, Old Dog GamesSapience, Brian LeybourneWant more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

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posted 22 days ago on io9
Tom Cruise, seen here in Top Gun: Maverick, stole the show at CinemaCon.Image: ParamountEarly footage from 2023's Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves and Mission: Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 1 just screened at CinemaCon in Las Vegas and we’re here to tell you all about it.First of all, yes, Mission: Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 1 is the official title of what we had long been referring to as Mission: Impossible 7 (which means, we assume, Mission: Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 2 will be the title of Mission Impossible 8). And though it won’t be out for well over a year—its release date is July 14, 2023—Paramount screened a full trailer for the film. The reason? We suspect it will be attached to next month’s release of star Tom Cruise’s other big blockbuster, Top Gun: Maverick, though Paramount had not confirmed this as of publication.Nevertheless, the trailer was action-packed, as one would suspect, with a very unique-looking key apparently playing a major role. There were action scenes on horses, on a submarine, on top of a train as it went through a tunnel (very much like the first film), and even a shot of a train flying off the side of a cliff. We also see Cruise and Hayley Atwell in a car chase on the streets of some ornate, old city, in a very tiny yellow Fiat. All of which culminates with Cruise on a motorcycle speeding off a cliff, letting go of that motorcycle, and letting it crash as he pulls a parachute and glides toward the ground. Filmed from above. For real. (Which we know because at CinemaCon 2021, Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie showed a bunch of footage of it.)The star and director also appeared on screen with a pre-taped introduction for the footage (as well as Top Gun: Maverick) filmed mid-air, above a huge mountain range, as Cruise stood on top of an airplane. Literally. McQuarrie then came up in another airplane next to him to tell him they needed to get back to shooting Mission: Impossible 8. Then the three planes (two on screen, one filming) all banked hard left and flew down. With Cruise still standing on top of it.  Because Paramount chose to show Top Gun: Maverick in its entirely (which we won’t be covering because it’s more of a straight action film, but I still loved it very, very much), the rest of its presentation was a little shorter than other studios. We saw some logos for upcoming films, like John Krasinski’s mysterious If with Ryan Reynolds, as well as A Quiet Place Day One. And then a reel of footage from a few other movies which included two big genre films: Transformers: Rise of the Beasts and Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. Transformers: Rise of the Beasts opens June 9, 2023, and though there were only a few shots of footage shown at CinemaCon, they were super cool. There was one of Optimus Prime, who looked very much like the blend of Michael Bay and G1 designs we saw in Bumblebee. A few shots of star Anthony Ramos reacting to what we assume can only be giant robots coming at him. One of him driving and seeing about six of the same Porsche criss-crossing in front of him, and even a shot of a Transformer we think might be Arcee, who was rolling alongside a big Volkswagen van. You couldn’t really tell what was going on overall but it was obvious the film will have the scale and scope of the previous Transformers films. You can read more about the plot and Beast Wars tie-ins from earlier reporting.Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves hits theaters March 2, 2023 and unfortunately also didn’t show a lot of footage. What we did see however was large, beautiful vistas, Chris Pine and Regé-Jean Page dressed in ornate armor, and most notably, several of the film’s characters standing in some sort of arena that was moving around them. Like platforms raising and lowering from the ground. I’ll be honest. I don’t know much about D&D so whether or not that’s something from the mythology is beyond me—but took a movie that I had zero interest in and moved the dial for sure. It certainly seems like the franchise is being treated with the utmost respect.And with that, io9's CinemaCon 2022 coverage comes to an end. Thank you so much for reading and we’ll see you next year.Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

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posted 23 days ago on io9
Concept art from Avatar: The Way of Water, which is out December 16.Image: FoxThese eyes have seen a sight I never thought I’d see: a trailer for Avatar 2. After over a decade of development and production, writer-director James Cameron finally debuted the teaser trailer for his long-awaited, highly anticipated sequel at CinemaCon in Las Vegas. And while you can’t see it just yet, you’ll see it soon. Here’s what you need to know.First of all, the film is no longer called “Avatar 2.” The official title is Avatar: The Way of Water and it’ll be in theaters on December 16. Before that though, Disney will re-release the original Avatar, with remastered picture and sound, in theaters on September 23. Plenty of time for fans and audiences to get reacquainted with Pandora, the Na’vi, and the highest-grossing film in history. (It’s also on Disney+ too.)Also, the film’s producer Jon Landau said that each of the upcoming four sequels will center on the family of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) but will also stand alone. “Each story will come to its own conclusion and each movie will deliver audiences fulfilling, emotional resolutions,” Landau said. “However, when looked at as a whole, the journey across all four movies will create an even larger, connected, epic saga.”As for the trailer, it’ll debut in theaters exclusively with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which is out May 6. That’ll be the only place audiences can officially check it out. It’s expected to debut online a week later.So, what’s in it? Well, it begins with those big, familiar clusters of vines high above the ground and a family of Na’vi, some big, some small, running and jumping around them. There’s a close up on the face of Neytiri, as she watches something with care, followed by a shot from high overhead of four Na’vi flying on the backs of what look like Pandoran Banshees over a vast ocean of water. They fly over big, almost coral structures in the sea with lots of Na’vi standing on them. There’s no talking over any of this. Just sweet, quiet music with hints of James Horner’s themes.We then see an industrial area with humans and fully dressed Na’vi walking and talking together. A few helicopters taking off. Then shots of Na’vi swimming underwater. This is the big thing with this sequel, hence the title, and honestly... it didn’t even look like there was water. You know it’s water, it’s all blue and there are fish and a creature swimming, but it looked almost like they were swimming through the air. To be fair though, the footage is barely a few seconds and I was further back in the theater. It looks beautiful but not 100% convincing as water. The trailer then ramps up into a bit of a montage. Some of the shots include Jake and Neytiri trapped in what looks like a flooded submarine. Them spying on a group of humans. Shots of Na’vi swimming alongside whales, holding their fins with a single hand. And even Jake in a shot that looks like he’s floating on water but then you realize he’s riding a creature that can both fly in water and in the air. Oh, and Jake now has a haircut. It looks very military. Dark, short, tightly cropped to his head.“I know one thing,” Jake says in the trailer’s only dialogue. “Wherever we go, this family is our fortress.” The whole thing runs about 90 seconds.After 12 years of waiting, will this trailer be enough to get people excited for Avatar again? We’ll see. What it will do it let people know that Avatar is coming back and this lyrical trailer will absolutely get everyone’s attention once it drops in theaters and online later.Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

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posted about 1 month ago on io9
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHImage: Hasbro Peter Parker’s poor luck always seems to strike in the weirdest places. Like, his face apparently. From the put-upon Spider-hero that gave us a truly distressing video game makeover, now comes this.Announced today by Hasbro as part of an upcoming celebration of Spider-Man’s 60th anniversary with its Marvel Legends line up, this Spider-Man: Homecoming Peter Parker figure is actually part of a two-pack, pairing together the civilian Spidey with his best friend, Ned Leeds. Ned, at least, looks pretty good for the most part, mostly resembling actor Jacob Batalon and coming with a very fun alternative head that’s just Ned in the Spidey mask:Image: HasbroBut... what is this Peter Parker face? Why is this Peter Parker face? Who is this Peter Parker face? Because good lord, it’s not Tom Holland. Or, rather, this one isn’t. The figure comes with two heads, with a more neutral head for Peter that looks a little more like Holland if you squint at it. But the smiling head is just... a lot.Image: HasbroYou know that bit in No Way Home where—and I’m sorry, I guess spoilers for a movie that’s been out in theaters for like five months now, and has made so many gabillions of dollars that half the planet has already seen it multiple times—Willem Dafoe’s Norman Osborn changes personalities from the kindly, traumatized Norman over to his Goblin persona? “Norman’s on sabbatical, honey”? That’s this Peter Parker smiling head, that moment, except, if anything, Peter Parker should never be going goblin sicko mode.I can’t stop thinking about it. This is far from the first time Hasbro has done a Holland Spidey unmasked head—before the company switched over to its printed “Photoreal” paint applications for MCU figures, a Homecoming two-pack with Iron Man gave us the first Holland head in the Marvel Legends line, and last year, a No Way Home Walmart-exclusive version of his black-and-red suit had an unmasked head that wasn’t half bad. Why not re-use that here? I guess we shouldn’t complain at getting not one, but two new headsculpts for Peter in the set, but... maybe we should when one of them looks like this.Image: HasbroShould you yourself decide you’d like a Ned and Gremlin Peter for your own shelf, the Spider-Man: Homecoming Peter Parker and Ned Leeds two-pack will go on pre-order tomorrow, April 20, at Hasbro Pulse for $56. It’s not due out until December 2022 though, so you’ve got eight months or thereabouts to mentally prepare to have that little plastic face staring back at you. Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.

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posted about 1 month ago on io9
Karen Gillan plays two roles, both the same person, in the new film Dual. Image: RLJE FilmsIn Karen Gillan’s latest movie, Dual, the Marvel star plays two versions of the same character, both looking to kill each other. On paper, that might seem like a new, unique challenge. Only... Gillan has done it before. A few times in fact. One was even in the second highest-grossing movie in history, Avengers: Endgame. As a result, much like being cast on Doctor Who earlier in her career, she somehow keeps taking on projects that only make her next film or show that much better.“I think when I was making Dual, I was like, ‘How many times have I done this now?’” Gillan said to io9 over video chat this week. “I mean, it must be on my fourth time playing opposite myself. I was like, ‘That’s the weirdest bit of typecasting I’ve ever heard in my life.’ But I think actually, through working on the other projects and on Avengers, I kind of figured out how I like to do it.”In Dual, Gillan is Sarah, a young woman who is diagnosed with a terminal disease. As a result, she decides to make a clone of herself so that her friends and family won’t know she’s gone. However, Sarah miraculously recovers and now, with two Sarahs running around,, the rules of society dictate there can be only one. They must duel to the death. It was written and directed by Riley Stearns, who previously made The Art of Self Defense and Faults.Gillan approached both Sarah and Sarah’s clone as separate characters, writing out detailed lists of traits each embody based on Stearns’ script. But playing both lead roles led to way more work than usual. She had to act both sides, remember the lines for both sides, and, almost most crucially, react believably to that performance—with help from actress Katariina Havukainen, who played opposite Gillan on-set.The Sarahs showdown.Image: RLJE Films“I like to make sure that I have an actress I can do this with because it’s definitely a team effort,” Gillan said. “So that was really important to me, and I got to help choose the actress that I would be acting opposite for Dual, which made me really happy. And [Havukainen] is an amazing actress because I knew that I wanted to be able to react off of something. I didn’t want to just fully imagine what I would be doing with it in the future when I film the other side. I wanted it to feel more real than that. And she gave me a lot to work with, so I was really happy with that.”However, Gillan admits keeping all of that in her mind at once was at times difficult. “It was challenging because it’s kind of a lot to take on,” she said. “There’s certain element of like, I would be playing opposite this amazing actress and I would kind of watch how she’s doing it. And I’m thinking, ‘I like that. I’m going to steal that.’ And then I think, ‘Oh, I’m not going to do the line like that.’ So let me react appropriately to the way I’m imagining myself doing it in the future when I get to it. So it’s a lot of multi-tasking.”One bit of multitasking that Gillan didn’t necessarily think about was Sarah’s physicality. Once the duel between Sarahs is set, the film follows the first one through her training, which happens with a man named Trent (Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul). The problem is, Gillan is used to playing a superhero and Sarah has never trained a day in her life. She basically had to unlearn had to be Karen Gillan.Yes, there are dance sequences in Dual. Image: RLJE Films“I have been playing really physically capable characters for years now,” she said. “So I’ve perfected the art of running like an action hero. All of that. And I had to undo everything for this character because she’s training for the first time in her life. So I remember I got on the treadmill and I was running like an action hero and I was like, ‘I need to be way worse.’ So then the arms started to flail. I looked a bit more winded.”Playing two Sarahs in Dual after two Nebulas in Avengers: Endgame is not the first time in her career a major role prepared her for what’s next. When asked about the impact Doctor Who had on her career, Gillan talks about the surprising link between that role and her next. “[Doctor Who] was one of the most important things that happened to my career, still,” she said. “It was the first big thing I’d ever gotten. It was an amazing role and an amazing TV show that I loved so much. And also, I had a lot of sci-fi training.”That sci-fi training helped her settle into her next big role, in a movie called Guardians of the Galaxy. “I was extremely nervous to start on Guardians of the Galaxy because it was like a big American film, and I had done British television up until that point,” she said. “So I was like ‘What’s this going to be like? Is it going to be all the Hollywood stuff I imagined?’ And then I actually got there and I was on a spaceship and I was like, ‘Oh. Wait a minute. This is my environment.’ I can show you guys a thing or two since I spent the last three years on spaceships.”Gillan in Doctor Who back in 2008. Image: BBCDual doesn’t see Gillan on any spaceships but she does think it’s helped what’s already been a dynamic, surprising career get even better. “[Working on Dual] really expanded me as an actress,” she said. “Just to even figure out how to deliver that style of writing in that style of delivery. it was just so unique and I loved it. It was so cool. I think [Stearns] really helped me develop as an actress and I think I’ve gotten funnier from the film too because he really taught me how to not play the funny, and in turn, make it a lot funnier.”Which, it turns out, might even impact her next time playing her Guardians of the Galaxy character, Nebula. “We’re definitely going to see a new version of the character [in future movies], Gillan teased. “Maybe a looser version of the character, maybe a little more levity.” Levity she certainly honed in Dual. Dual is in theaters Friday.Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.

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posted about 1 month ago on io9
Screenshot: Disney Parks/YouTubeRecently we got a chance to speak with Disney Imagineer Alex Lee, an entertainment producer for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. In the first part of io9's interview, conducted over video chat, Lee shared how guests have been influencing the ongoing evolution of Walt Disney World’s first fully immersive experience. In the second part, he explained how it’s all thanks to the hard work of the crew inside guiding guests—and those behind the scenes making the magic.As we’ve covered previously, the two-day “cruise” invites Star Wars fans to participate in their own adventure in a galaxy far, far away, an experience that’s filled with ways for guests to become a part of the story. As you might imagine, it takes an enormous amount of coordination between all those secret missions, lightsaber training classes, musical performances, and even the food served aboard the Halcyon, all creatively brought into the experience from an array of sources. “It’s a diversification of stories, but also a diversification of how I’m building my own team of designers, vendors, and partners who haven’t typically worked in a theme park environment but do great work,” Lee said. “We’re able to help clear some of those boundaries for them and allow them to have a chance of executing work and coming into this franchise. A lot of them come from marginalized communities or [are] owned by vendors of color.”As reactions to Galactic Starcruiser continue to pour out on social media, the effect the cast has had on visitors is seen not only in reaction videos but also fan art and writing. “I am honestly enthralled by the response to Gaya and her crew,” Lee said, referring to the music performer who headlines aboard the Halcyon. She’s a Twi’lek pop star, but her role is more than just her concert appearance—she’s an original character for the experience, with a storyline that has resonated with Galactic Starcruiser visitors.Lee pointed out it’s partly due to the dedication from the assembled talent—and partly due to the chance Lucasfilm took to bring the whole thing to life as kind of a living play inside the Star Wars universe. “I think what we presented to Lucasfilm to collaborate and bring on the artists that we did felt like such a risk, because it’s not what has been identified in Star Wars mainstream media, but we were able to dive into the deeper catalog of all of their assets to create Gaya’s story,” Lee said. “We were telling such overt stories and such overt messages through her progression over the two days that people may or may not pick up on, and they love her. I think the response to her music and the type of warmth that she exudes for the type of character she is. We got to tell a whole new story of the Twi’leks, what they are in the Star Wars universe and reframe the narrative for them ... We’re proud of the roles and stories that we created to highlight local Orlando talent in a way that’s really meaningful, and bringing a very intense art form, writing music and improv—[it requires] high stamina in a very sandbox story.”During rehearsals right before experience previews, Star Wars hero (and current Moon Knight star) Oscar Isaac visited the Halcyon to get a sneak peek of its voyages into a world he’s quite familiar with. “It was great that someone from Star Wars, who was creating stories for everyone else, understands that’s what we were doing, an experience that’s very heartwarming that wasn’t a film,” Lee said. “And here he was, in a full environment. So it was so much easier for him to play. He was very excited in the bridge where he has a particular affinity to [since he played a pilot in the films]. We tell so many different stories of both the First Order, as well as with the Resistance, that we were able to share with him and the various stories that we were telling and the archetypes that you see. Like Sammie, our mechanic [character], is very much a wannabe hero, and you see that full arc. That’s a very familiar trope within the Star Wars storyline.”With characters that really bring the experience to life—something that’s since been given the seal of approval from Poe Dameron himself—the stories aboard the Halcyon continue to expand from their original intentions. Disney’s Imagineers hope to offer an experience that affects travelers in meaningful ways—and not just the hardcore fans, but also curious parties with casual interest (and deep pockets). “We’re able to take on things that are more real-world based and messages that are overt and relevant now and tie that back into a Star Wars franchise,” Lee explained. “So we kind of got to play on both sides of that and find a strong middle ground of what guests are looking for from Star Wars.” While Star Wars fans can expect appearances by familiar characters—again, we are asking you to please not rat out Chewbacca—it’s the new ones you meet that Disney Imagineers hope stay with you when your own adventure unfolds aboard the Halcyon.Find out more about Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser on its official Walt Disney World website.Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.

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posted about 1 month ago on io9
Illustration: Grandfailure (via Dreamstime)io9 is proud to present fiction from LIGHTSPEED MAGAZINE. Once a month, we feature a story from LIGHTSPEED’s current issue. This month’s selection is “Advice From the Civil Temporal Defense League” by Sandra McDonald. You can read the story below or listen to the podcast on LIGHTSPEED’s website. Enjoy!“Advice From the Civil Temporal Defense League”DOBe Aware of Strangers Who Ask You What Day It It.Be Aware of Strangers Who Ask You What Year It Is.Be Aware of Stunned Looking Strangers Who Murmur “Mom?” in The Squeeze-In Diner When You Stop By After School For a Chocolate Malt, Though Clearly You Have Never Given Birth to Them or to Anyone At All, Thank You Very Much.Be Aware of Strangers Wearing Clothing, Footwear, or Accessories That Seem Just A Few Years Out of Fashion or Incongruent With the Season, Climate, or Weather Forecast, or Perhaps Not Gender Appropriate Because No Woman Needs to Wear Trousers Anyway, or Who Are Not Wearing Their Mandatory Orange Chrono Radiation Badges.BE ON ALERT At All Times for TIME TRAVELER Arrivals, Especially In Empty Parking Lots, in Poorly Lit Alleys, or On Sparsely Traveled Roads Like Old Highway Seventeen Just Outside Town. Signs that a TIME TRAVELER Might Be Arriving:Unexpected Flashes of Bright Light, Sometimes With A Dramatic Strobing Effect;Unexpected Gusts of Wind Stirring Trash Along the Sidewalk or Against A Chain Link Fence Like The Kind You Can Purchase At The Feed & Seed From Earl Hynes, Chairman of Our Very Own Civil Temporal Defense League;Unexpected Noises Indicating A Sudden Explosion of Energy, A Change of Temporal Pressure, and/or A Gate Opening Between Worlds That Will Inevitably Lead To Chaos and Tragedy Such as That Time Betty Newell’s Grandson Sired Betty’s Grandmother And All Hell Broke Loose.Be Aware of Strangers Who Stand In Telephone Booths By The Side of Highway 17 With Perplexed Expressions and/or Rip Pages Out Of Phone Books And Now The Next Person Can’t Find The Listing for Betty Newell, Thanks So Much.Be Aware of Strangers Who Hitch A Ride Into Town With The Milkman And Ask Where Is The USB Port Because Their Battery is Almost Dead Even Though They Thought They Put It On Airplane Mode.Be Aware of Strangers Who Gaze at The Picturesque Town Square as If They’ve Seen It Before But Somewhat Different, Who Ask for Something Called A Frappuccino No Whip From Your Aunt Doreen at The Squeeze-In Diner, Who Seem Surprised By Pictures of President Adlai Stevenson in The Morning Newspaper, Who Try to Play Elvis Presley’s song Funny How Time Slips Away On The Jukebox Without Inserting a Nickel First, And Who Seem Even More Surprised to Learn that Corporal Elvis Presley Died in That Tragic Accident at Fort Hood in Texas And Your Aunt Doreen Will Never Get Over It.Be Aware of Strangers Who Follow You Home from The Squeeze-In Diner and Wait Until Your Dad Goes off to His Night Shift at the Hospital and Wander Up Your Driveway to Your Kitchen Door and Then Call Your New Puppy By The Name You Just Decided on A Few Minutes Ago.Be Sure You Don’t Think His Sad Smile Is So Oddly Familiar That You Take Pity on This Lost Stranger and Invite Him in for Lemonade and You Always Did Follow Your Heart, Mary-Ann Newkirk, Even When You Should be Following Your Head.Be Concerned When He Squints at Common Household Devices (Transistor Radio, Stereo Console, Television Receiver) as if He’s Wandered Into a Museum Instead of Your Dad’s Living Room and Reaches a Reverent Finger Toward the Framed Photograph of You and Tommy Hardy at the Senior Prom, Both of You So Happy in Your Formal Wear and Silver Chrono Helmets.Be Especially Wary When He Apologizes to You with Vague Details but Heartfelt Emotion About Something He Says You Will Some Day Understand, Who Gives You a Gold Locket That Looks Just Like the One You Gave Tommy Before He Shipped Off in the Army to West Germany Back in August, and Who Leaves Abruptly With Tear-filled Eyes and a Vow to Fix What Has Been Broken.Isn’t It Curious That His Eyes Are the Same Beautiful Blue-Green Color as Tommy’s?Isn’t It Strange That Tommy Hasn’t Written Back Since He Went To West Germany?REPORT THAT SUSPICIOUS STRANGER IMMEDIATELY TO THE DEFENSE LEAGUE, Mary-Ann.IMMEDIATELY AFTER THAT, Escort Yourself to the League Offices for Your Mandatory Debriefing, Chrono Radiation Evaluation, and Temporal Scrub Down.DON’TDon’t Wait Until A TEMPORAL EMERGENCY Happens to Know What To Do and Who To Call.Don’t Try To Warn Your Future or Past Selves. They Never Listen.Don’t Go Into The Streets During The Emergency, Which Will Probably Be Announced on All Radio Frequencies Long Before It Actually Occurs Because Cause and Effect Don’t Work During a TEMPORAL EMERGENCY, Didn’t They Teach You That in School?Don’t Go Looking for a Safer Shelter. During a TEMPORAL EMERGENCY, No Place Is Truly Safe from The Five Threat Categories of Time Disruption: Discrepancies, Oddities, Disruptions, Paradoxes, and Shenanigans. Hiding In a Root Cellar Won’t Save Your Timeline from Cracking, Snapping, and Fracturing as The Universe Itself Realigns.Instead, Find Comfort in a Place That Is Familiar and Cozy, Like the Cedar-Lined Closet in the Hallway That Henry Newkirk Built for His Bride Alice Back When They Were Young and Madly In Love, Long Before the Chrono-Cancer Stole Her Years and Ovaries and Thyroid Function, Before She Took to Bed and Faded, Faded, Faded Away While Her Husband and Daughter Watched Helplessly.Don’t Hesitate to Subdue a Suspected TIME TRAVELER By Any Means Necessary and Make a Civil Arrest Until Enforcers from the Civil Temporal Defense League Can Arrive. Aunt Doreen’s Boyfriend Ray Will Catch a TIME TRAVELER In His Garage Next Christmas Eve and after Christmas Dinner We All Will Enjoy The Execution in Our Picturesque Town Square. Thank You In Advance to Ray for The Exemplary Civil Service and to Our Very Own Earl Hynes for Providing the Bullets.Don’t Go Looking For Answers in Dusty City Records, in Dusty Books on Dusty Library Shelves, or in Dusty Archives in Civil Temporal Defense League Closets.Dust Never Leads to Clarity.Trust Us.After All, Dust Is Barely Sentient. It Is Mostly Tiny Bits of Debris From Everyone and Everything That Has Ever Existed or Will Exist, or Maybe Existed in a Corrupted Timeline Where Eisenhower Was Elected or Corporal Elvis Presley Reported to Duty in a U.S. Army Secret Temporal Laboratory in West Germany Instead of the Our Correct and Absolutely Perfect Timeline, where Tommy Hardy Reported Instead And No Don’t Ask Us More Unless You Want a Visit from the Enforcers.Speaking of the Enforcers, Mary-Ann, Mrs. Earl Hynes Happened To Be Driving Down The Street in Her Cadillac and Saw What Might Be a TIME TRAVELER Walking up Your Driveway. Fearful for Your Safety, She Has Alerted The Civil Temporal Defense League.Don’t Jump on Your Bicycle and Race After the Stranger with Tommy’s Eyes.Don’t Catch Up to Him in the Alley by The Squeeze-In Diner and Grab His Sleeve and Beg Him to Take You Where He’s Going in Order to Save Tommy, Your One True Love.Don’t Watch Your Alternate-Timeline Son Take a Time Traveling Device from His Pocket and Deftly Activate It. Time Travel Devices Might Take a Variety of Appearances:A Metallic Orb with a Steampunk Vibe that Emits a Mysterious Light;A Doorway, Glowing or Darkened, that Clearly Was Not There a Moment Ago;A Phone Booth Of Dubious Origin;A Futuristic Automobile Unlike Any You Have Ever Seen Before, But Certainly Not as Affordable as Those Sold by our Own Earl Hynes at His New Dealership near Route Seventeen.DON’T BE SELFISH, Mary-Ann. Yes, Tommy Has a Good Soul and You Love Him Dearly. Still, How Important Is One Life Weighed Against the Correct and Absolutely Perfect Timeline? You Can’t Just Go Mucking Around Time Propelled by Grief and Your Heart’s Desire. Where Will the Madness End? Would You Keep Stevenson from the White House to Keep the Secret Temporal Laboratory in West Germany from Being Built? Would You Save Elvis so that He Reports to West Germany Instead of Your Tommy?Would You Save Your Mother? Remember, She Always Wanted You to Date Betty Newell’s Grandson Instead.Who’s to Say The World Will Be Better off When You’re Done with Your Meddling?True, Your Tommy Accidentally Triggered the Explosion in The Secret Temporal Laboratory that Threw the World into the Chaos We Face Today. Preventing That Would Save a Universe of Grief.For Some Of Us.Yet as Earl Hynes Likes To Say in Our Meetings, “Time’s a Mess But It’s OUR Mess.”The Civil Temporal Defense League Will Protect You All. Whether You Want Us to or Not.Besides, We’ve Seen Elvis Perform. It Was Shameful.Long Live Time Travel.About the Author Four of Sandra McDonald’s stories have been noted on the Tiptree Award Honor List, and her collection Diana Comet and Other Impossible Stories was a Booklist Editor’s Choice and ALA Over the Rainbow book. She is the author of The Outback Stars series of SF adventures, the Fisher Key mysteries for LGBTQ young adults, and stories that have appeared in Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, Beyond Binary and War and Space: Recent Combat as well other magazines and anthologies. Once upon a time she was Hollywood assistant who worked at CBS Television and Disney Studios. Visit her at sandramcdonald.com. Please visit LIGHTSPEED MAGAZINE to read more great science fiction and fantasy. This story first appeared in the April 2022 issue, which also features work by Ashok K. Banker (a two-part novella!), Charlie Jane Anders, Maurice Broaddus, Izzy Wasserstein, Leah Cypess, Phoebe Barton, and more. You can wait for this month’s contents to be serialized online, or you can buy the whole issue right now in convenient ebook format for just $3.99, or subscribe to the ebook edition at this link.Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.

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posted about 1 month ago on io9
Image: Ray Fawkes/Jeff Lemire/SubstackSince it first launched in 2016, Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston’s Black Hammer has circled back in on its story of golden-age-pastiche superheroes to flesh out the weirdness of its comic book world. But after dozens of spinoffs alongside the main series at Dark Horse, Lemire is leaping into a new format along with a host of fellow creatives to deliver shorter, regular slices of Black Hammer.io9 has your first exclusive look at Colonel Weird and Little Andromeda, a new weekly series that will run on Lemire’s Tales from the Farm Substack newsletter. Written by Tate Brombal, the series will rotate a wide cast of artists as it tells a dimension-hopping tale focusing on Black Hammer characters Colonel Randall Weird and Dr. James Robinson.Image: Ray Fawkes/Jeff Lemire/Substack“I feel like the luckiest guy on the planet to be welcomed back into the Black Hammer universe! And this time nothing is off-limits, as we take this unlikely duo across worlds and genres in a project that could only be possible in this format,” Brombal said in a press release provided to io9. “It’s truly a dream come true for a writer to work with so many artists of this caliber. From the beginning, Colonel Weird and Little Andromeda was designed to be the best possible canvas for our artists to cut loose and showcase their art form. So, strap in for a breathtaking, formative tale that is integral to who Colonel Weird and Doctor Andromeda become.”Joining Brombal on the weekly series are artists Ariela Kristantina, Ray Fawkes, Andrea Sorrentino, Marguerite Sauvage, Yuko Shimizu, Dani, Tyler Bence, Nick Robles, Shawn Kuruneru, Jordie Bellaire, Bill Crabtree, Steve Wands, Dave Stewart, and Tyler Crook. Check out a look inside the first chapter below, featuring art from Ray Fawkes:Image: Ray Fawkes/Jeff Lemire/SubstackImage: Ray Fawkes/Jeff Lemire/SubstackImage: Ray Fawkes/Jeff Lemire/SubstackImage: Ray Fawkes/Jeff Lemire/SubstackImage: Ray Fawkes/Jeff Lemire/SubstackImage: Ray Fawkes/Jeff Lemire/SubstackImage: Ray Fawkes/Jeff Lemire/SubstackImage: Ray Fawkes/Jeff Lemire/SubstackImage: Ray Fawkes/Jeff Lemire/SubstackThe first chapter of Colonel Weird and Little Andromeda will be available to subscribers to Tales From the Farm on Substack today.Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.

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posted about 1 month ago on io9
Uhhh, spoilers I guess.Screenshot: WB GamesIt’s currently a very exciting time to be a Star Wars fan. The year started with The Book of Boba Fett. Next month, we’ll get to see Obi-Wan Kenobi. There’s also Star Wars Celebration, possibly the new Andor show before long, and, of course, there’s probably The Mandalorian season three too. However, today is right up there in terms of hype for Star Wars fans. A video game years in the making and spanning 40 years of cinema is finally being released.Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is out today for PlayStation, XBox, and Nintendo Switch. It takes players through all nine films of the Skywalker Saga with chances to play as all of your favorite characters. Our colleagues at Kotaku got their hands on the game and did a very extensive review, but for something with more Ewok DJ jokes and lightsaber fails, check out this official launch trailer.Many fans will know that Warner Bros. Games, the team behind Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, delayed the game multiple times. In fact, I looked back at my emails and I preordered it in June 2020. So almost two years have passed and in that time, I had to preorder a second one because I have since upgraded from a PlayStation 4 to a PlayStation 5. So yes, it’s been a long wait.But truly who can be mad when, for the price of one game, you pack in a story told across nine movies? Star Wars is truly a generational saga, both on the screen and off; it’s a tale parents have passed down to their kids who in turn will pass it down to theirs. And all of it is right here in one game. With Lego characters. Who are kinda goofy.We’ll have more on Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga soon. Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.

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posted about 1 month ago on io9
Image: ParamountStar Trek is doing pretty good in television right now, but film is another matter entirely. Despite Paramount’s best efforts to get another film off the ground, there hasn’t been a theatrical release since 2016's Star Trek Beyond. That’s all set to change—probably—with Star Trek 4, with Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and the rest of the living cast set to return as their respective roles they first inhabited back in 2009. While speaking to Deadline about his two newest films, The Contractor and All the Old Knives, Pine briefly touched on the still pretty surprising news that a fourth film featuring the Enterprise crew from the Kelvin timeline was happening after Beyond was considered something of a dud at $343.5 million. While he “really likes” director Matt Shankman and the folks over at Paramount, it’s the lack of a script that’s truly tripping him up after the film’s sudden confirmation. Still, he stressed that he does love playing James T. Kirk and Star Trek overall, and would be fine coming back. “It cemented the career that I have now,” said Pine. “I’m honored to be a part of it...I think there are plenty of stories to tell in it.” More interestingly, Pine opined that the biggest thing holding these films back was Paramount’s desire to make them into massive, juggernaut-sized successes on the level of Marvel or even the studio’s own Mission: Impossible series. “It was always this billion-dollar mark because Marvel was making a billion...we’ve definitely done a good job of it but not the billion-dollar kind of job that they want.” It’s a critique that really stuck with the first two films, but many found Beyond be a better movie because it felt like plain old Star Trek. him, He added that boldly going forward, Star Trek should stick to what it’s good at, making films that appeal to its fans and using those veterans to draw in newcomers. ”Let’s make the movie for the people that love this group of people, that love this story, that love Star Trek...if people want to come to the party, great.”But more than anything, Pine believes that these movies should be made with some absurd budget. Later in the interview, he talked about how Blumhouse has managed to succeed financially with their modestly budgeted films like the recent Invisible Man reboot and the Purge series. Horror is arguably an easier genre to pull off than sci-fi with a small budget, but he’s still certain the action film industry could learn something from horror since in his words, “Those films make a lot of fucking money.” While it wouldn’t be an easy fix for every franchise, it would at least be more reasonable than trying to constantly go big and chase after Marvel, only to come up short. “Make it for a price and then market it really well,” said Pine. “It seems to be this great niche market that could be exploited that could be really cool.”Pine’s right when he talks about how trying to chase after the financial success that Marvel’s earned hasn’t really worked out for several studios. (Some of which are still trying, despite failing the first time.) Its multitude of shows out right now hitting different demographics underline how highlight how Star Trek hits a particular sweet spot that other big sci-fi franchises aren’t interested in or unable to. (You don’t see Star Wars letting an anthropomorphic version of its various insignias become delightfully kill crazy holograms, I’m just saying.) If the franchise is to have any real hope succeeding as films again, it may be time to go back to basics and do what it does best: be about good looking people traveling the galaxy and being pretty damn good at their jobs. Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new one up here.

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posted 2 months ago on io9
Image: Supermassive Games/2KWhen Until Dawn launched on the PS4 back in 2015, it gained acclaim for managing to capture the old school feel of slasher movies wherein a group of young adults have to survive the night at a mountain retreat. At a time when big budget horror games were slowly being phased out, Until Dawn felt like a breath of fresh air and a way to keep the genre alive using the cinematic aspirations that AAA gaming loves.Supermassive has been busy with the Dark Pictures anthology series, but their next standalone title, The Quarry, is intended as a true spiritual sequel to Dawn. Players will swap between nine different characters Hackett’s Quarry summer camp, where the teen counselors are throwing a party to celebrate their final night together. But things soon go bad, and the counselors have to survive the night. Like with Dawn, players will swap between each character, and the choices made will affect who makes it to the credits and who gets a gruesome end. The vibe is very much in the vein of those old school slasher movies like Friday the 13th, but director Will Byles teased to IGN that the game’s influences include that iconic film, admitting that there’s a “certain expectation” that comes with a horror movie involving teens at a summer camp. But you’ll be able to see how nastier monster flicks like Evil Dead and The Thing have influenced the game, along with a little bit of Scream’s DNA. “It’s a lot lighter, it’s got a lot of that weird self-referential thing where we all know the rules,” he said. Speaking of Scream: David Arquette headlines the game’s cast, which also includes Justice Smith (Detective Pikachu), Ethan Suplee (My Name is Earl), Ariel Winter (Modern Family), Brenda Song (Dollface), Lin Shaye (Insidious), Evan Evagora (Star Trek: Picard), and Ted Raimi (Evil Dead). Byles also gleefully informed Entertainment Weekly that each character can potentially die up to a dozen different ways, which is morbid, but keeps in with the slasher movie theme, for those who watch those movies for the gnarly kills. For those who want a social horror movie viewing experience, you can play the game with friends: in local co-op, another player will control a different counselor, while online allows players to watch playthroughs and vote on decisions. According to Byers, this feature is something Supermassive wanted to include following the surge of makeshift couch co-op that players implemented with Until Dawn. There’s also a Movie Mode, wherein the game can be played like an interactive movie and the game parts—like quicktime events or controlling characters during gunfights, even the traits of the playable characters—are turned off or tweaked to the player’s liking. “You can turn off everything until it becomes literally a movie...You can go, I wanna get a movie with a happy ending where everyone’s alive or a bad ending or, my favorite, a gore fest where everything gets messy.” The Quarry will release on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC on June 10. Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.

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posted 2 months ago on io9
Stephen gets ready to meet some frenemies.Screenshot: Marvel StudiosGet a look at the returning cast and new faces of Sonic 2 in some new character posters. Marc Webb’s next project brings him into the supernatural world. And speaking of Supernatural... the show’s prequel series The Winchesters has cast some new hunters. Plus, what’s coming on The Flash. Spoilers get!Madame WebSydney Sweeney (The White Lotus, Euphoria) has joined the cast of Madame Web in a currently undisclosed role. [Deadline]Organ TrailDeadline reports Olivia Applegate, Clé Bennett, Zoé De Grand Maison, Nicholas Logan, Sam Trammell and Jessica Frances Dukes will star in Organ Trail, a horror-western at Paramount written by Meg Turner and directed by Michael Patrick Jann. The story is said to concern “a young Abigale Archer, friendless and alone in a brutal Montana winter during the 1870s” as she “fights to retrieve her one earthly possession, her family’s horse, from a gang of bloodthirsty bandits.”Day DrinkerDeadline also reports The Amazing Spider-Man’s Marc Webb is attached to direct Day Drinker, a “supernatural thriller” based around “the bond between an enigmatic stranger and a bartender mourning the loss of her lover.”Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of MadnessThe latest issue of Empire Magazine (via Cosmic Marvel) seems to confirm Doctor Strange meets the Illuminati in Multiverse of Madness. Johnny & ClydeDeadline also has our first look at Megan Fox in the upcoming supernatural crime thriller, Johnny & Clyde.Photo: Redbox EntertainmentSonic the Hedgehog 2The official Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Twitter page has released a slew of new character posters. MorbiusThe latest Morbius TV spot includes a few seconds of new footage.Mayfair WitchesAccording to Variety, Alexandra Daddario will star in the upcoming Mayfair Witches series as Rowan, “a brilliant doctor who grapples with her fate as the heir to a family of powerful witches.”Anansi BoysDeadline also has word Jason Watkins, Fiona Shaw and CCH Pounder have joined the cast of Anansi Boys. Watkins will play Grahame Coats opposite Shaw as his client, Maeve Livingstone. Pounder rounds out the cast as Mrs. Higgler, “the matriarch of her clan and an old family friend of Charlie’s.”The WinchestersNida Khurshid and newcomer Jojo Fleites join the cast of the Supernatural prequel series The Winchesters. Khurshid will play Latika Desai, a character described as a “fiercely intelligent and braver than she believes young hunter-in-training” whose “research and problem-solving skills help her face her fears in battling dark forces.” Fleites will portray Carlos Cervantez, the “easygoing and confident Carlos, who is” a natural when it comes to fighting demons and a boost of positivity for the team as it takes on more serious threats.” [Deadline]Secret InvasionAppearing as a guest on the Happy Sad Confused podcast (via /Film), Samuel L. Jackson confirmed Don Cheadle also stars in the upcoming Secret Invasion series at Disney+.C’mon man, you walk on the set, Emilia [Clarke]’s amazing… Ben Mendelsohn, he’s awesome. Don, Don Cheadle. I got Don, that’s my golf buddy. I didn’t realize it, but til we did this thing, I was like, ‘We’ve never worked together.’ We just kinda know each other, hang out and laugh… but we’d never worked together and we finally got to work together.The Lighthouse WitchesAccording to Deadline, a TV series based on C.J. Cooke’s The Lighthouse Witches is now in development at Studio Canal. The story will reportedly follow “young mother Liv and her three daughters” as they “arrive on a mysterious Scottish island to run a decrepit lighthouse.”The FlashThe Flash fights for a metahuman’s innocence in the trailer for “The Fire Next Time”. Kung FuThe team break into Russell Tan’s mansion in the trailer for “The Bell” — next week’s episode of Kung Fu. Resident AlienA new promo reveals Resident Alien will return for new episodes this summer. The PentaverateFinally, Netflix has released a trailer for Mike Myer’s new Illuminati comedy, The Petaverate premiering May 5. Banner art by Jim Cook

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posted 2 months ago on io9
Image: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.I first noticed it in the opening scenes. Over a moody, dramatic voiceover, Robert Pattinson, as Bruce Wayne, explains that the Batman’s power comes from fear. Criminals stare down darkened alleys, shadowed doorways, and disused train stations. This is when I rolled my eyes a little. Whatever city Gotham is trying to imitate, it isn’t really New York City, despite all the set dressing hinting that this is, indeed, New York. I don’t think there’s an alleyway in Manhattan that’s been dark since 2000.Now, I know that this film wasn’t shot in New York City. I know that this is supposed to be an amalgam of gothic architecture and darkened alleyways that hint at any number of other cities. There are some overhead drone shots of the City That Never Sleeps, but for most of the outside set pieces, this film was shot in the UK, in Liverpool and Glasgow. There was some CGI added into a lot of those UK shots to make NYC-esque skyscrapers happen. I get all that.But in the final act? When the sea walls break? That’s all New York. The accents? New York. The newspapers, magazines, political infighting? New York. The architecture? New York. The corrupt institutions, haunted by their past? New-Fucking-York. This film tries so hard to make this aesthetic mish-mash vibe exist within the real-life struggles of our own Gotham that it practically hurts to watch Pattinson zoom down a derelict tube tunnel rather than a decommissioned subway station.Instead of understanding Gotham—which itself in the comics has always been a mishmash of various real-world inspirations, New York including—and making the effort to really critique the city for which it is named in-part, Matt Reeves’ film decides to create an off-center version of New York City aesthetically, all the while retaining the narrative set pieces that tie Batman to New York. The problem is that without a critique of New York City, as it is now, The Batman becomes a much emptier film, the three-color scheme that encompasses its retro-modernity failing to fill the gaps left when anyone has even a minor understanding of New York City. The worldbuilding here is in the Gotham of our collective imaginations, rather than in the film itself. We, as viewers, are asked to do the heavy lifting in order to figure out the kind of place this is, because the world is so disjointed. There is no sense of place because this is a city removed from place; it is to the detriment of The Batman that it is set in this nowhere city, while also being so clearly inspired by New York politics and understandings. There is no removing Batman from New York City, and no removing New York City from Gotham.In the late ‘70s and ‘80s, when Bronze Age-era Batman comics turned the character to grittier and gorier tones, they emphasized the gothicness of the setting, the corruption at the heart of the city. The New York City of that time was mean; Times Square was full of grindhouses and drop points. The mob really did run the economic infrastructure of the city, and the police force was so corrupt that it organized raids on innocent people via police radio. And all this is clearly and definitively reflected in The Batman. Look no further than this New York Post picture of ​Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, NYPD detectives convicted of corruption, who look like the spitting images of Commissioner Pete Savage (Alex Ferns) and Carmine Falcone (John Turturro). This is probably a coincidence, but these men have been burned into the narrative consciousness of New York City’s history. It’s no surprise that some tropes have surpassed intention, appearing as if Reeves has actually created a masterful analogy to a pair of New York City’s most corrupt cops and not just co-opted their look out of a collective visual library of “gangsters.”Moving past the cops, when I watched The Batman, I didn’t immediately see the Zodiac killer parallel in the Riddler. Instead, I recognized the Son of Sam. New York City had its own deranged serial killer in the ‘70s, a man who evaded the police for a full year, leaving taunting messages, writing letters to the cops on his case, and later claiming to be a part of a murderous cult. Like the Riddler (and Bruce Wayne) of The Batman, Son of Sam kept notebooks full of his thoughts, arsons, and drafts of the messages he sent to the police during his killing spree. In a surprising irony, Bob Rozacis, the lettering editor at that time for DC Comics, was asked to analyze the Son of Sam’s handwriting. Time is a flat circle, apparently.But the New York of the ‘70s, ‘80s, or even ‘90s, is not the New York of today. And the Batman comics of those decades truly did great work when they took Gotham as it was and turned it on its head, creating a horrific mirror to the reality of the city. But now? When there are no more darkened alleys in Manhattan? The parallel between Reeves’ version of Gotham and New York in 2022 falls apart almost immediately. It no longer becomes a satire, but a stunted fantasy, stuck half in the past, with its vintage cars and mob bosses, and half in the future, with extremism live-streaming for the masses.Right now, there are no drug lords “running” New York City, now more of a racially coded stereotype than true to the fact of the city. The Mob is a political machine reduced to combating tax evasion on its Brooklyn warehouses in Zoom court. The real problems in New York City come from real estate moguls gentrifying the city, shitty infrastructure that was the source of most employment in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and speculative investment bankers destroying the economy. These aren’t the villains that Batman fights. The New York City The Batman takes inspiration from doesn’t exist any more, and when you take the stories of NYC and remove them from their place in the city’s history, even in the extrapolation of Gotham itself, you create a noirish fantasy land where Batman can play cop and sort the good bootlickers from the bad ones with some degree of moral impunity. The emotions of the film become muddled and uncertain, with so much time spent on investigating corruption The Batman loses its nuance within the three-hour cat-and-mouse detective chase through its facsimile landscape.Gotham is a place of fiction, of course—this isn’t like, say, a contemporary Daredevil beating up hardened criminals in Hell’s Kitchen. But at this point we have to recognize that the image we have of Gotham now has little to no political basis in present-day New York, no matter how badly Reeves wants us to see the political and cultural narrative parallels there. The Batman’s desire for a noir aesthetic is hampered by its own assumptions of the city, dragging us back into the past half-heartedly, but still hoping we’ll believe all the tech in the Batcave. If this series continues it risks looking back rather than pushing the genre forward; in order for Reeves’ Batman to survive in this kind of neo-noir Gotham steeped in 1980s NYC references, there needs to be worldbuilding independent of assumptive nostalgia of what Gotham is. The Batman’s version of Gotham is a stereotype of a stereotype, but there is nothing interesting about this city—about this set of buildings next to those, attached by slim connective threads and no neighborhood names, disjoined from history and emotion.If Reeves truly wants Gotham to be a character, if he wants this city to have character, then the work has to come from the film itself. Relying solely on worldbuilding that exists in the marginalia of past films will only further cement this series as discordant, an echo of a past time when Gotham really was as mean as this movie portrays it, and when Batman really was the “world’s greatest detective” and not just a vehicle for another superhero blockbuster. I want to believe in this film, for the most part I enjoyed it, but the noir-fantasy has to live up to real life expectations or else risk looking dated and out-of-touch.Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new one up here.

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posted 2 months ago on io9
Image: WB AnimationAmong Kids WB’s many accomplishments, it ended up being a boon for cartoons based on DC Comics characters, ultimately contributing to the creation of the DC Animated Universe. While DC shows would later transition entirely to Cartoon Network for animation, the superhero shows on the network were nothing to shrug at. But while Static Shock and Batman Beyond are always fondly remembered, and 2004's The Batman deserves its own serving of love.In rewatching The Batman via HBO Max, it quickly becomes clear how abnormal it was at the time and remains still as both a Batman show and in the general superhero space. One of the things that immediately stands out about the show is its title character, who’s only a few years into being a vigilante. Hearing Rino Romano’s voice—just a few years prior, he voiced Spider-Man on Spider-Man Unlimited over on Fox Kids—really puts into perspective how much younger this take on Bruce Wayne is. He has a laidback vibe befitting a guy in his mid-20s, and the show’s first season highlights this in moments where he builds new tech just for fun or can’t pay attention during an opera concert. Not inexperienced, and not quite comically overpowered, he’s a Batman that’s comfortable in his position as Gotham’s protector, which makes it a perfect time for some actual villains to enter the picture.The rogues are an important part of any Batman story, and there’s a surprising amount of range in this show instead of relying on heavy hitters. As odd as it first seems for almost all of them to be solid melee fighters, the show commits to this choice, and it keeps the action beats exciting. There’s some fun fights across the show’s run, from a three-way brawl between Batman, Catwoman (Gina Gershon), and Ragdoll (Jeff Bennett) in a clocktower to a late game episode where Batman and Robin (Evan Sabara) face off against the villains across the show’s history. Much of the fun of the villains can be owed to their designs. Jeff Matsuda of Jackie Chan Adventures fame served as the show’s art director, and there’s a distinct style to everyone that still has some charm today. Making Bane into basically Red Hulk when he uses his Venom or portraying Riddler as a goth twink on his way to the club are the kind of looks that DC stories just aren’t able to do anymore unless they’re explicitly AUs, like a mobile game. Regardless of how they look and fight, their voice actors mostly do a great job in making each villain feel like they belong in this specific version of Batman’s world. But Penguin and Joker are the highlight of the bunch, and both are some of the more recurring villains of the series. Mainly known at the time for voicing nice or dopey guys, Tom Kenny’s having a lot of fun with Penguin as an absolute sleazebag who repulses everyone he meets. Meanwhile, Kevin Michael Richardson’s deep voice and booming laugh give the show’s Clown Prince a more playful but still deadly edge that stands proudly alongside the raspy wit of Mark Hamill. Since this was before the villain transitioned into being basically a serial killer, his crimes are sinister while still being incredibly goofy, and the show knows how to make him menacing in some pretty inventive ways.Just from the show’s intro for its first two seasons, you’d think this was a darker take on the Dark Knight for kids, as bat screeches and guitar strums from The Edge give the show moody, noir-ish vibe where Danny Elfman’s theme for Batman: The Animated Series felt grand and adventurous. Often during those first two seasons, that original intro is a misdirect, and an episode can be goofier than you’d believe. While the first two seasons are quite strong, introducing Danielle Judovitz as Batgirl in season three (and later the aforementioned Robin in season four) helps the show find a better idea of its tone. Both young heroes are fun additions to the cast, and the new energetic opening feels like it better fits the episodes for the show’s following three seasons. For as often as people complain about Batman being “too dark,” The Batman manages to find a strong balance between playful and gritty most of the time. When it hits its balance, you get fun episodes such one early into season two where Joker’s dressed as Batman, attacking civilians for minor crimes while Batman’s in danger of laughing himself to death after being hit with a new dose of Joker Venom. (Romano’s recreation of the Joker laugh is its own kind of unsettling.) Another high point is the finale to season one; after the clown kidnaps Batman’s childhood friend turned cop Ethan Bennett (Steven Harris), part one abruptly ends on the still pretty horrifying visual of Bennett’s face sliding off his skin. Part two, fittingly titled “The Clayface of Tragedy,” opens like a mini-monster movie as Bennett tries to ask for help, only to be attacked and avoided by anyone who catches sight of him. But Bennett disappears for decent stretches of time throughout the show’s run, somewhat neutering the impact of his and Bruce’s relationship. But at least he gets something of a conclusion to his arc, unlike his fellow cop Ellen Yin. Voiced by Ming-Na Wen long before she became the de facto Competent Woman, she’s set up to be a long term ally (and maybe a love interest?) for Batman before she’s just straight up gone after season two.With how popular Batman is and always has been, it’s genuinely surprising how The Batman just barely avoided the modern day superhero boom. A few episodes into its second season, Batman Begins debuted in theaters, and the series would end in March 2008, a couple months before The Dark Knight would become a box office juggernaut. From there, Christopher Nolan’s more grounded take on the superhero would help chart the character’s path going forward. Rocksteady’s beloved Arkham games drew upon the Nolan for much of its tone and style, and so does Titans, ridiculous of a show that it is. 2013's Beware the Batman animated series, the immediate successor to the more lighthearted Brave & the Bold, was marketed as being more serious, no doubt because of The Dark Knight Rises. Surprisingly, the show doesn’t do much with the Cat/Bat dynamic. Image: WB AnimationMeanwhile, both Brave and Lego Batman served as counterarguments to Nolan’s trilogy, showing the Caped Crusader as a light-hearted adventurer or goofy father and deliberately poking fun at the more “adult” take on the character. Even Batman’s handful of appearances over in Teen Titans Go poke plenty of fun at the perception of the hero that Nolan helped popularize. Whether you like Nolan’s trilogy or not, the Batman work that’s followed it since 2005 hovers over Batman and anyone in his orbit like a long shadow, for better and worse. But The Batman isn’t really in conversation with how the world has seen its Caped Crusader, and in a lot of ways is all the better for it. While it can’t help but feel like a relic of a bygone age, it was a pretty good age where superhero shows just ran off of vibes and experimentation. Similar to Kids’ WB’s other beloved cape series Spectacular Spider-Man and X-Men: Evolution (or arguably Young Justice today), it was free to do its own thing without being caught up in corporate nonsense, nostalgia of dubious merit, or cultural pissing contests. At the end of the day, it’s just a show whose pitch began and ended with: “Batman’s pretty cool. You wanna see him be pretty cool?” And to The Batman’s credit, it was right. He is pretty cool.Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.

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posted 2 months ago on io9
Michael gets ready to enter the unknown.Image: ParamountAbout 80% of this week’s Star Trek: Discovery was perhaps one of the most thoughtful and engaging episodes the series has ever done—perhaps even one of its most wonderfully Star Trek-y tales. The other 20% saw the dread inevitability that next week is a big bang season finale and decided it really needed to undermine that incredible work a little.That sounds perhaps a little harsh, but “Species 10-C,” the 12th and penultimate episode of Discovery’s fourth season, matched some of the boldest sci-fi storytelling the show has ever done with a subplot that has increasingly become a thorn in the side of the back half of the season: the cycle of lies and betrayals that has become Tarka and Book’s uneasy “friendship.” A friendship, of course, that has been obviously set up to split apart practically since Tarka first met Book, and now has had to do so with explosive consequences to set up suitably dire stakes for next week’s finale.But let’s get to what works with “Species 10-C,” which really is for the most part a very sizeable chunk of the episode. Last week saw Michael and her team explore the remnants of the titular species’ homeworld, uncovering an unconventional emotional-biological way they could communicate with the mysterious, highly advanced species threatening to inadvertently tear Ni’Var and Earth apart. “Species 10-C” largely focuses on the science and diplomatic tools Discovery can use to put that revelation into action. It’s genuinely fascinating stuff, because for all the whizz-bang action Discovery often excels at, it’s so rarely had the chance over its four seasons to dedicate extended periods of time to just a purely investigative, theoretical, and science-y as hell premise. Image: ParamountSure they’re not sitting around a desk in a captain’s ready room for the most part, but it’s people! Talking to each other! Experimenting! Offering theories! Trying to figure out a puzzle that they relish because they’re incredibly smart Starfleet officers! Yes, the 10-C’s highly advanced society might make a lot of that science more rooted in fantastical elements that rely on technobabble and Discovery’s usual strong performances to carry it through the details, but there is enough meat there that it genuinely feels like you’re watching Burnham, President Rillak, Saru, the bridge crew, and the rest of the Federation’s diplomatic team work through this scientific problem. It’s incredibly classic Star Trek, and it really works in a refreshing change of pace and scale for the series.It also works because, for the most part, that scientific headspace is still connected to the very human heart of Discovery, and this season’s running commentary on the power of connection, communication, and shared understanding brings people together on scales personal and metaphysical. After all, the scientific problem the emotional hydrocarbons the 10-C start using to form basic communications with the Discovery crew are all about feeling in their purest form—conveying joy, fear, sadness, and hesitance as each side pokes and prods at a First Contact scenario unlike anything Star Trek has seen on this scale before. Being in tune with those emotions, and knowing when to confide them in the people around you, has been something Discovery has always been about, and we see it throughout this episode as well. Michael and Saru sharing a de-stressing scream session together before braving the unknown, Zora opening up about her own uneasy feelings to Stamets and Dr. Culber, even Book and Tarka’s degrading alliance (we’ll get to all... that in a bit), or the still fleeting sparks of romance between T’Rina and Saru—in big ways and small, “Species 10-C” is all about the vitality of being able to share these most basic instincts to feel, so that we can all better understand each other. And it comes so close to triumphantly celebrating that, after Michael’s team figures out a way to use a mathematical bridge language to talk to the 10-C, and make clear to them that the DMA is something doing horrifying damage back in our galaxy.Image: ParamountBut everything has to go wrong, because this isn’t the season finale, but the precursor to one. All that hard work, all that wonderful science-y exploration, it all has to go out the window and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, because you need the 10-C to be at odds with Discovery’s crew, to have dire stakes for the finale. This is created, of course, by the fact that Book and Tarka finally make a move to forcefully disable the DMA, having been sneakily cloaked and attached to Discovery’s hull for the last two episodes. Or it’s more really Tarka, who, at this point has shockingly turned on Book to forward his own goals. Who could’ve possibly foreseen that Tarka would lie to Book about the threat his plan really has if it doesn’t work? Who could’ve foreseen that it might not work in the first place? Who could’ve possibly foreseen that all this would end with Book realizing what a massive mistake he’s made siding with the rogue scientist?The answer is literally everyone except Book apparently, whether it’s us, whether it’s Michael’s crew, whether it’s the captive Reno (speaking for all of us literally every time she brings Book over to her impromptu holding cell on his ship to go “hey this guy’s going to like, get everyone killed? Are you... seeing this?”), whether it’s Tarka himself. Their entire journey together has been about Book making a big show of how much he trusts Tarka, only for Tarka to almost immediately abuse that trust to do something aggressive, selfish, or more often than not a little mix of both—and, equally more often than not, it’s failed to work out for him. He was wrong about the DMA’s power source, he’s been riding off Discovery’s passage to the 10-C rather than figuring it out himself. And now the grand plan that he wants Book to be forced into trusting—tearing a way out of the 10-C’s native “hyperfield” with a violent explosion, in the hopes he can sneakily deactivate the DMA’s power source along the way—is what kicks off at the worst possible time for Michael and Saru’s negotiations with the 10-C, putting the species on a hostile stance right at the moment of potential peace.Image: ParamountIf all this wasn’t so inevitable (Discovery has basically been screaming that Tarka is up to no good since the first second he slinked on screen), it might have been a little less infuriating to watch the series set up another big stakes finale like this. But the fact that the show had to pull this ripcord now, after an otherwise fantastic episode that played to the series’ emotional and cerebral strengths, undermines everything that came before it. The stage is set for another one of Discovery’s trademark explosive finales, consequences be damned—but at least we only have to wait a week to see if it was worth this penultimate stumbling block. Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new one up here.

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posted 3 months ago on io9
Screenshot: Disney/LucasfilmIt’s only been a few days since Disney’s lavishly priced Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser attraction previewed for invited media, influencers, and guests—yet eBay listings are already being promoted for exclusive items from the experience. Some item postings even have timetables for guests who have yet to step onto the Halcyon ship but promise to bring back merch for sale.A sign that this might be different from the usual hive of scum and villainy where merch-flippers tend to dwell is that the prices seem to reflect ways to offset the cost of the trip itself—or for those who got freebies to maybe even get on board again.Screenshot: eBay/io9The Galactic Starcruiser exclusive Droid Depot SK-620 remote-controlled droid, which retails for around $100, is being listed for $900 starting bid (super surprised beeps). The Starcruiser Halcyon Lightsaber Hilt is priced at $1,200 and up, which is remarkably close to what one would shell out when splitting a stay just to sleep in a cozy themed hole in the wall.Screenshot: eBay/io9With the experience costing over $5,000, is it really surprising to see these items on the secondary market to possibly offset the exorbitant cost or to fund further future excursions? (Or just, you know, to rake in some easy cash?) Call it sort of canon and in-theme for the immersive experience considering what some of the characters do for a living.That said, Disney has implemented item limitations to stop the Dark Side of the rampant eBay flipper and reseller market which has been known to fleece fandom for a living. For exclusive items purchased in the Halcyon’s specialty shop, each cabin is only allowed to buy two of specially marked limited edition items. And on ShopDisney.com, select Galactic Starcruiser costuming and gear is only available for purchase with the use of an email tied to a booked reservation aboard the ship.Screenshot: io9/GizmodoWith bids listing at high prices and selling, how this trend will affect the merchandising space remains to be seen. Despite the paywall, resellers may not be deterred if they find a way to scalp any scrap of Star Wars to eager fans who can’t make the journey to Walt Disney World themselves. Remember the fiasco surrounding metal space sporks at Galaxy’s Edge, when the cool themed utensil kept disappearing to the point where it was removed from the land altogether? There’s a world of difference between that situation and a fan who’s risking financial hardship for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live the Star Wars life deciding to recoup some cash by upselling some of their souveniers when they get home.Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new one up here.

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