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‘Civil War’ Reactions, Ready For The Universe

Where I live, just north of Manhattan, you’d never know that there’s major unrest on New York college campuses. Among the flowering trees and gardens here, there’s only serenity and no sense of anyone’s political views or other strong opinions. Not to say that we aren’t barraging ourselves with what’s in the news behind closed doors. (Guilty!) You just don’t sense it, walking down the streets.

It reminds me of a scene from the futuristic movie “Civil War,” when a group of reporters enter a town that makes them feel like they’re in a time warp. There is no indications of the horrific violence or smoldering anger they’ve witnessed elsewhere on their road trip from New York to Washington.

(Photo by Vony Razom on Unsplash)

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Rising From the Wildfire

I once stayed at a retreat for creative types that had been previously destroyed by a fire and then rebuilt. It was haunting to see photos of Dorland Mountain Arts from its previous state of being, so long gone. In speaking with one of the people who watches over the residency, Robert Willis, I learned that in one way, wildfires are a good thing. As you may know, there are certain tree seeds, like lodgepole pines, that are encased in resin. And it takes a fire to melt that away so the seeds can germinate. When I went back to the retreat a few years later, I’d gone through a “wildfire” that left me charred inside—the death of my husband after a four-year fight against cancer.

(Photo: A View From Dorland Mountain Arts)

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‘Dune’ Goes Boom; Two NK Jemisin Gems

N.K. Jemisin is, hands down, one of my favorite sci-fi and fantasy authors. But it’s taken me a wee bit of time to finish her “Great Cities” series, even though there are only two books. After reading the first one, The City We Became, I needed a breather before beginning The World We Make. They’re so dense and richly imagined that to gobble up one right after the other would have been like eating two large slices of flourless chocolate cake covered in whipped cream and raspberries in the same meal. Which, come to think of it, sounds like a dream come true. But my mental digestive system required a bit more elapsed time.

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My Big Bang Universe

Every once in a while a really important email gets stuck in my junk mail folder. If this has happened to you, I’m sure you know how jolting it can be to find something that’s significant languishing amongst the spam sludge. Once, one of my incoming messages came from Asimov’s magazine, which wanted to publish one of my stories. It put me on notice: I really needed to wade through the junk-mail muck more frequently. And of course, it’s equally dismaying when something I’ve written gets caught in someone else’s ocean of spam. After a while, whenever the situation reared its head I started imagining a place, somewhere up in the stratosphere, where lost messages get trapped.

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What Sci-fi & Fantasy Stories Hit It Big in 2023

Some of the most talented writers I know are easily frightened. And it’s easy to understand why. Having a rich imagination serves them well creatively, but it works against them in real life now and then. A real double-edged-sword situation. One friend who falls into that camp loves horror movies, which makes me laugh. At first blush that might seem crazy. But a master of horror films, Felipe Machado, once explained to me that “there’s so much about real life that we’re afraid of. And horror movies are a great way to face those fears — watching someone else face them for you.” If you’re interested in watching fictional characters tackle some big kahuna terrors, watch Leave the World Behind (pictured here).

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🌖 To the Moon! Videogame for Cats!

At one point in my life, I worked as a location scout—finding settings that fit the bill for directors and photographers. Venturing into the swanky digs of complete strangers was like stepping into the pages of a good book. One place in particular set my imagination on fire: a decaying mansion.

(Photo: Krys Marshall and Joel Kinnaman in a fourth season episode of “For All Mankind,” now streaming on AppleTV+)

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Deadly Flicks, Terrific Sci-Fi and Fantasy Reads

There’s an interview with Jordan Peele on NPR this morning that gave me some food for thought about horror, and in particular Black horror. Peele (“Get Out,” “Nope”) has curated a collection of Black horror stories called “Out There Screaming.” In explaining why Black horror has become so popular, Peele said that it allows people to process their own fears. It reminded me of an interview I did with a master of horror filmmaking, Felipe Machado, who explained why all kinds of people love to be terrified by horror stories. What Peele said fit right into what Machado was talking about. All of this comes as my head is full of work by Victor LaValle, another master of horror.

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Top Sci-Fi Movies on Netflix

One of most popular reasons why people search out the word “sci-fi” on Google is to find out what reviewers consider to be the top sci-fi movies playing on Netflix at any given time. Naturally, several digital publications have provided just that. I nosed around five top sci-fi movie lists to find out what’s been recommended over the last month.

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