Putting the “Special” in Holiday Dec16

Putting the “Special” in Holiday...

There are a few franchises that get away with what Star Wars could not, but here are a few stories that none have attempted (yet). The Avengers Advent Spectacular Tony Stark whips up a high-tech light display and turns the Avengers HQ into a Christmas tree for the city. The Hulk and the Black Widow star in a touching remake of The Gift of the Magi where he gives up his superpowers to buy her bullets and she pawns her gun to buy him an ultra-stretchy pair of pants. Captain America complains about how Christmas was better when he was a scrawny kid. When Bucky Barnes shows up, he and Cap sing a sweet duet of The Little Drummer Boy. And Harvey Korman appears as a cross-dressing intergalactic TV chef. Battlestar (Christmas) Carol-actica It’s Christmastime in the fleet and Commander Adama just isn’t feeling the spirit of the season. He’s too focused on feeding and protecting the survivors of the Cylon massacre. Apollo tries to get him to lighten up, but is chased off by Adama’s cries of “Humbug!” That night, in his quarters, Adama is visited by the ghost of Colonel Tigh, who mysteriously died just in time for the Holiday Special. Tigh warns Adama that he’ll be visited by three specters. In quick succession Adama’s sleep is disturbed by visitations from Gauis Baltar, President Roslin, and Number Six. Just as he’s about to give in and reclaim his Christmas spirit, Adama realizes that it’s a Cylon trick. He finds and destroys the Basestar and proves that grumpiness is a true superpower. The show ends with Harvey Korman appearing as a cross-dressing intergalactic TV chef. Doctor Who Christmas Special The Doctor… wait a minute.  We live in the universe where the Doctor Who...

The FANtastic Geek Gift Guide Nov25

The FANtastic Geek Gift Guide...

Christmas is coming, folks. And we know gift shopping can be a hassle. What to get your geek buddies that they don’t already to have? What to ask for because no one knows what to get you? We did a Gift Guide to Geek Art already, but thought you might be on the lookout for other ideas too. We did the research for you and have compiled a guide to satisfy every fan’s dream. For the Anime Enthusiast We know RWBY‘s not technically an anime because it’s American; calm down, folks! Calm down. Also, our Small-size editor’s wanted that Attack on Titan hoodie for a long time. Just sayin’. Attack on Titan Hoodie – $34.99 RWBY Ruby Figure – $34.95 Works of H. Miyazaki – $188.99 Crunchyroll Subscription – $6.95/month Princess Mononoke Art Print – $28 Eevee Earrings – $13.16 For the Tabletop Titan No one can understand why the board game organizer is so awesome unless they are a board gamer. Escape: The Curse of the Temple – $70 Dice Bag – $9.95 RPG Dice Set – $9.98 Dungeon Master Screen – $15 Board Game Organizer – $15-$50 King of Tokyo – $39.99 For the Comic Cavalier Marvel’s taking the Star Wars universe to great places… need we say more? Plus some other cool stuff. Star Wars Comics – $4.99 Inky Superhero Art – $30-$75 Superhero Fingerless Gloves – $25 Nimona Graphic Novel – $15.99 Ms. Marvel Comics – $2.99 DC Comics: A Visual History – $35 For the Fantasy Fiend That handmade Falkor, though! Lindsey Stirling album – $9.99 Elf Ear Cuffs – $27.75 The Name of the Wind – $10.79 Handmade Falkor – $131.83 The Grisha Trilogy – $36.53 Game of Thrones Dog Tag – $14.99 For the Sci-Fi Supporter The closest you can get...

“Are you alive?” Cylons, Consciousness  and Humanity in Battlestar Galactica Oct24

“Are you alive?” Cylons, Consciousness and Humanity in Battlestar Galactica...

Though the Cylons haven’t been seen in over forty years, a representative from the Twelve Colonies annually visits a space station to maintain diplomatic relations. This is the first scene of the Battlestar Galactica TV movie reboot. Sitting at a desk, a human representative thumbs through a file on the Cylons, the drawings depicting the familiar “toasters” of the original series. When the doors at the other end of the room open, much to this man’s surprise, two new Cylons enter. They’re different than the drawing—bigger, sleeker, their hands alternating between guns and fingers—but their shape is recognizably machine. The two Cylons take position on either side of the door as a third figure enters: a statuesque blond woman in a red dress. She walks over to the startled envoy, sits down on the table in front of him, leans in close to his ear and asks, “Are you alive?” This question serves as the lynch pin for the thematic aspects of the show. We learn that some Cylons have evolved beyond metal and circuitry; thirteen replicated humanoid forms that have infiltrated the Colonies and are virtually indistinguishable from humans. The revelation of who these humanoid Cylons are makes up much of the series’ storylines as many aren’t aware of their own identities as Cylons. Some, upon discovering their true origin, attack their former friends; others, most notably Athena—a version of Cylon Eight who is aware of her Cylon nature but exercises free will—choose to live as human. Athene even takes a human partner and gives birth to child.  In defying her “programming” and deciding her own course of action, Athena is “alive,” which is most clearly evident by her giving birth. And this all speaks to the most remarkable aspects of Battlestar Galactica:...

In sickness and unhealth Oct16

In sickness and unhealth...

Being sick sucks. There, I said it. And though I suspect this is pretty obvious, I still think it’s worth saying and perhaps even repeating. Being sick sucks. It is the general consensus that if you are sick, you should be coddled, babied, taken care of, and in some cases even pitied. This is hardly the state we expect a hero to be in. When we doodle Superman on our fourth-grade notebooks (or for some of us, on the edges of the manuscripts we are currently editing), we don’t depict him in bed hugging a blanket with a bucket close at hand. We like our heroes to be strong, and how are they supposed to be powerful if they are suffering from an unbearable illness? Okay, some notable heroes catch the odd bug, like when Lucy comes down with a cold in Fairy Tail and Natsu makes it his mission to help her feel better, or when Buffy passes out because of the flu while fighting a vampire, but those are all short-term. I’m talking about the long-term, chronic, debilitating kind of sickness that seriously sucks and all of us dread. Sometimes we have to give up our independence and ask others to carry us when we can’t crawl any more (flans, unite). The truth is, we don’t see a lot of heroes suffering from this type of disease, and for good reason. It’s hard to write around if it isn’t the main focus of the story or episode. Also, psychological disorders and pain seem to be more romantic or something (Batman, Wolverine, or Deadpool anyone?); so you will probably notice characters thus afflicted a lot more frequently. But when I do see a character fighting a long-term physical illness, I love it. I love seeing that particular battle because the...

Why we named our son after science fiction characters Aug12

Why we named our son after science fiction characters...

“You named your son what?” You heard right. Ender Hoban Helo Rudge. That is my, now two-week-old, son’s name. I have always been fascinated by names. I love looking up name meanings. I love experimenting with which names go well together, and contemplating how my feelings about certain names are influenced by people I know. As a child, my dolls had to have extensive extended families just so I could name them all. Naming children though—you know, real live babies— well, the stakes are a bit higher. Not just any name will do. All three of these characters have a powerful story to tell. There is something beautiful about naming a child after a treasured family member or valued friend. I mean, my husband and I did that with kid number one! The problem with baby number two was that nobody had a name we liked enough to pass on. Plus we wanted something unique (not weird, unique). So we turned to the things we love for inspiration: science fiction, fantasy, video games, books, TV shows, movies. And when our son was born on July 27, 2015, we gave him his science fiction-inspired name. Here is why these three names made the cut: Ender In the book Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Ender spends his childhood being trained to fight an alien race called the Buggers. Despite obstacles, he manages to win by obliterating the entire alien race during what he believes to be a training exercise. I am not saying our son will grow up to save the entire human race from alien invasion (although, hello, that would be COOL). But Ender was able to defeat the enemy because he understood them and he understood them because he loved them. If he had realized the training exercise was real, he would not have been able to do what he did because he truly loved the Buggers. This compassion is what also leads him to later become the Speaker for the Dead. Ender, as Speaker for the Dead, was also instrumental in shaping my husband’s thinking around how he sees other people and interacts with them. Hoban Hoban “Wash” Washburne (ironically, the character who hates his first name and so goes by a nickname—our son can thank us later that we put this as a middle name) is the pilot of the ship Serenity in the TV show Firefly. Serenity’s crew takes what jobs they can find, sometimes legal, sometimes not. These folks also live in a world where right and wrong are often muddled by simple factors like wanting to survive and eat the next day. Into this, Wash speaks as the voice of reason, often questioning decisions made by the others on the ship, including the captain. While he respects the authority of those in charge, he is not afraid to speak up against it when he feels the situation warrants it. Wash is also a character of compassion and integrity, as demonstrated when he shows compassion to the poor soul in “Bushwacked,” who witnessed a Reaver attack and went mad. Helo Battlestar Galactica is a show littered with a multitude of complex, dynamic characters. Most of them live within some shade of grey as they navigate ethical and moral dilemmas of epic proportions. In this world of grey, Helo shines as the moral compass of the show. His sense of right and wrong doesn’t waver and he speaks out when he senses that others are veering from what is right. You heard right. Ender Hoban Helo Rudge. Helo shows compassion to the Cylons, and is the first human to selflessly love a known Cylon. He changes everything when he and his Cylon partner have a baby. No longer can humans look at Cylons as “Toasters.” They are living creatures, breathing, bleeding, procreating. All three of these characters have a powerful story to tell within their mediums and have impacted me in profound ways. When the movie Serenity came out, I was...

With great music comes great responsibility May18

With great music comes great responsibility...

The mournful song after Gandalf’s death in The Fellowship of the Ring can still bring me to tears, even though I know he’s not actually dead. The quick violins and orchestral explosions in Fairy Tail gear me up for the magical battle that is always about to ensue. The cheerful tune in Portal combined with GLADoS’s sarcastic lyrics makes me giggle. Music is, without a doubt, powerful. On screen, music is used specifically to create the desired emotional response in the viewer, and it’s proven effective. Yes, we are being manipulated. Yes, it’s a little bit eerie to realize that. “It’s just something I can’t get outta my head. Some way outta here.” Though we know what we’re getting into when we take our seat in front of the screen. Emotional manipulation is just par for the course (I had to look up that analogy to make sure I got it right). What I find even more creepy is when the on screen characters themselves are manipulated by music. Music as a trigger is a TV trope that never fails to give me chills, whether it’s Nyu shifting to her murderous side when she hears the music box playing in Elfen Lied, River Tam turning into an assassin to the tune of the Fruity-Oaty Bar commercial in Firefly, or Spike killing humans when he hears “Early One Morning” in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The creepiest by far has got to be the assembly of the Final Five in Battlestar Galactica. The Battlestar’s crew has known for a while that some of its members are sleeper-agent Cylons, though they don’t know who, and some Cylons themselves don’t even know that they aren’t human. The Final Five fall under that category, and the plot only thickens to know the other seven Cylon models don’t know who they are. It’s thus with great interest...

TV themes that we never skip May15

TV themes that we never skip...

Since May is our music-themed month, we will be regaling you with fun playlists every Friday. These are the geek television intros that we never skip, because the music is so good. Either that, or our love for the show is so great that we associate it with the theme. We’re not sure which. Futurama Not sure if the Futurama theme is awesome or super awesome. Firefly I swear by my pretty floral bonnet, no power in the ‘verse can stop us listening to this theme with nostalgia. Warehouse 13 This theme was nominated for an Emmy in 2010, but it would have been put on a shelf and ignored forever. The IT Crowd With all due respect, I have it on good authority that if you listen to this theme more than once, you can break the Internet. So please, no one try it, even for a joke. It’s not a laughing matter. You can break the Internet. Battlestar Galactica This theme music has happened before, and it will happen again. So say we...

Geek-surrection Apr02

Geek-surrection

The death of a character can be a powerful storytelling mechanism. From the death of Fives, the murder of Aerith, or Boromir’s sacrifice, death shows that there is always a price to pay and ultimately we do not emerge from our struggles without scars. However, what does it mean when storytellers defy death and bring character back from the dead? Resurrection is dangerous territory for a storyteller and needs to be handled wisely; if someone’s death needs to mean something then perhaps their resurrection needs to mean that much more. Leave it to Joss Whedon to kill off his lead not once, but twice Sometimes, resurrection is confused with other plot elements, so let’s begin by defining what resurrection isn’t. Resurrection != Respawn (or multiple lives) Most video games fall under this category. Should you actually “die” the clock is reversed and you have the chance to redo what you did (or didn’t do). The overarching story is completely unaffected by whether or not you died. Resurrection != Reanimation Zombies are reanimated, not resurrected, beings. In stories that involve reanimation (like that one episode of Star Trek Voyager where Ensign Lyndsay Ballard is reanimated by an alien race), it’s usually clear that what makes a person human goes beyond their memories, mannerisms, and corporeal being. Resurrection != Adding to 0 HP Take the latter Final Fantasy games or even Dungeons and Dragons; just because you fall to 0 HP does not mean you’re actually dead. So when that Phoenix Down hits you or your cleric finally gets their act together, it’s more realistically described as going from incapacitated to capacitated. Moving on, here are a few powerful examples of true resurrection found in geek culture. The Cylons come back, the very next day Toasters die only to wake up with all their consciousness intact in a completely new body. The cycle of death is broken through the blood of a pure innocent.To Cylons, their bodies are completely expendable and their countless “suicide” missions highlight that. Resurrection is a literal way of life for them, but take away the safety net of a resurrection ship and each Cylon has a deep crisis of faith. What it means: The intangible and unexplainable of what make us human is worth more than any physical form. Buffy dies and dies again Leave it to Joss Whedon to kill off his lead not once, but twice (and I’m not even including her “death” in Season 1, because I’m not sure it really counts as resurrection). Season 5 is a different story, however. Buffy sacrifices herself to save Dawn and she is dead. Like, dead dead. After being ensconced in the after-life, Buffy is unceremoniously ripped from heaven and returned to the land of mortality by her friends. She returns broken. Her friends write it off as damage from the after-life (thinking she had been in Hell) but the truth is, Buffy had a taste of heaven and her mortal life now seems like hell in comparison. What it means: Life after death is greater than we can comprehend. Drogo returns While Whedon seems to prefer quality deaths over quantity deaths when it comes to killing of major characters, Martin’s tactics are the exact opposite. That isn’t to say his characters’ deaths carry no weight—I mean, who wouldn’t want Ned Stark brought back? No Stark is returned though. Instead, it’s Khal Drogo who is brought back, and his resurrection is anything but celebratory. Drogo becomes a fraction of who he once was and the cost of his return was great. Daenerys wanted it all, and instead it cost her the life of her unborn child as well as Drogo’s sanity and self. What it means: The cost of life and death must be paid. Harry Potter rises above death Hit with the killing curse from Voldemort, Harry finds himself between life and death in Harry...

Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal Mar18

Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal...

The best kind of traitor lives in a world of grey. They are not just evil for evil’s sake, but they have motive, they have passion, they are doing what makes sense to them. Even when I want to throw the TV remote at Jayne’s head when he betrays Simon and River during their heist on Ariel in Firefly, I can’t help but understand his desire to leave the cruddy life of space piracy to find a tropical planet to live the rest of his days with the reward money (or, more likely, spend it on his own ship, Vera upgrades, and “other” services). The conflict in him is obvious throughout the show. He’d grown attached to the Serenity’s crew. This was a hard decision. It was possibly made easier because Simon and River were relatively new and they weren’t a part of Mal’s crew. Not to mention he didn’t really like either of them. I don’t think even Jayne could have turned Kaylee in to the Alliance if she was a wanted convict. It is only when Mal shoves Jayne out of the airlock doors that we begin to see the true measure of Jayne’s character. Mal: “I should’ve shot you the second I found out what you did.” Jayne: “That would’ve been the right thing.” Could our scruffy-looking, loot-loving, gun-toting criminal actually be sorry for what he did? When Jayne realizes he’s going to die, he doesn’t plead for his life. He doesn’t try to explain his actions. He says to Mal, “Do me a favour… Make something up. Don’t tell them [the crew] what I did.” This. “I could either move forward or stay in the past. But the only way to move forward was to forgive myself.” This is why...

Unlikely Friendships that Should Have Been Feb05

Unlikely Friendships that Should Have Been

We all know (and love) the many friendships that are exhibited within a variety of shows: Han and Chewy, Frodo and Sam, Mega Man and Rocket, Blanka and your face, you get the idea. But sometimes those friendships are just not enough and we need to reach outside their respective genres for the friendship matches made in heaven. Here are our top 10: Calvin & Chewbacca “You know, Chewy, some days even my lucky Millenium Falcon underpants don’t help.” Hermione Granger & Twilight Sparkle They’ll form a group called S.B.E.W. (Society for the Bookworms of Equestria and the World). Edward Elric & Gimli Sometimes dynamite comes in small packages and can explode at anytime, especially if you mention anything about being short. Tony Stark & Tali-Zorah “Testing rocket boots, Day 11, Test 37, Configuration 2.0. For lack of a better option, Tali is still on fire safety.” Arya Stark & Toph Beifong We just want to see these two take on an army together. Master Chief (John-117) & John the Baptist “But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, one who wears the spartan helmet of salvation and wields the energy sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Sephiroth and Scar Scar would get some much needed perspective—“You wanna be king of a rock? Well I wanna destroy the world with a giant meteor”—and Sephiroth can stop being jealous that he doesn’t have a pet lion like the other side. Mal Reynolds & Doctor Horrible So Doctor Horrible can’t be friends with Captain Hammer, but he can darn sure be friends with Captain Tightpants! Caprica Six & Seven of Nine Separated from the hive collective with a strong desire to gain some form of humanity. It’s kind of true for both. Although Seven of Nine definitely has better taste in men. Jayne Cobb & John Casey “Do you know what the chain of command is? It’s the chain I go and get to beat you with until you buy this washing machine.” Certainly we missed a bunch. Which unlikely friendships would you...