Philip Pullman has a new trilogy coming out, set in the multiverses of His Dark Materials. It's been twenty years since Northern Lights/The Golden Compass was published (which gave me a fright) but I have very clear memories of reading it for the first time: I was thirteen and entranced.
More than the story or characters, it was a formative experience for what it taught me: that the fantasy genre didn't have to be set in the Middle Ages, complete with knights and dragons and swords, and that it's narrative thrust didn't have to be based on good and evil – at least, not as we usually define them.
The His Dark Materials trilogy isn't perfect. For all Pullman's criticism of C.S. Lewis, I actually find his soap-boxing more intrusive to the story than anything in The Chronicles of Narnia, and I enjoy each book in the trilogy less than the one before. But I still love exploring the worlds and ideas he's created, particularly in how they interact with each other (the relationship between daemons, Dust and our concept of the Temptation/Fall still gives me writer's envy).
And if his interview on the subject is any indication, we'll be learning more about what happens both before and after the original trilogy, with Lyra as both an infant and a twenty year old woman. Hopefully this means more of the fraught love story between Lord Asriel and Mrs Coulter, more gyptians and witches, more daemons and panserbjørn.
Still, I've recently come to the conclusion that there's such a thing as too much world-building. In any story there needs to be an element of the unknown; places and people and events that we never learn too much about; horizons that are never crossed. Just look at the exhausting amount of detail that now infuses the Star Wars and Harry Potter franchises. After a certain point, people lose interest in such a microscopic view of the world.
Another upcoming publication is one I feel like I've been waiting for just as long as new material from Pullman (though it's only been two years): The Legend of Korra comics! Some of the first pages have been released and are available here, picking up right where the series ended, with Korra and Asami enjoying their vacation in the spirit world.
I melted. These two make me just as happy as they did in 2014, and I'msoglad that Bryke are taking their time when it comes to depicting their relationship. There's no hurry, and I want to enjoy the slow burn: "I don't want to get separated." "Me neither."
As I'm sure you already know, the title for the next Star Wars movies has been released, and speculation is rife as to whether The Last Jedi refers to Luke Skywalker, or Luke and Rey. My money is on the latter, especially since international versions of the title suggest that the term is plural, but it's going to be fun speculating for the next ten months.
We've also got out first official look at the main trio, though bizarrely enough it's from an empty toy box. Seriously Disney? That's how you want to reintroduce these characters?
In any case, there's not much you can glean from a few floating heads, though I love the fact that Finn still has Poe's jacket, and Rey has changed her hair (perhaps to indicate she's no longer looking for her family? After all, the triple buns were what she's been wearing since childhood).
There are also some funny skits released between Daisy Ridley and Josh Gad on the set of Murder on the Orient Express – and then Judi Dench gets involved. Here's number one, two and three. As amusing as they are, the skit drops the term "reylo" which ... hoo boy. The shippers are now insisting it's evidence for canonicity, that Daisy smiled when she heard it, and that Judi Dench is a shipper. The antis are going nuts as well. I get a headache just thinking about it. It's taking all of my willpower not to get aggravated by this stupid ship war, but it's one of the most irritating I've seen in a long time.
More interesting to speculate about is the casting of Murder on the Orient Express. There's no way Judi Dench is playing anyone but Princess Dragomiroff, and I'm pretty certain Josh Gad will turn out to be Hector McQueen. That leaves Daisy, who could either be Mary Debenham or Countess Andrenyi. Of course, there's a chance the casting has been revealed already, but conjecture is too much fun!
Here's a great essay on the allure of female villains and why they so often eclipse not only heroines, but male villains as well.
An interesting video essay on the epidemic of passable movies: not bad but not good either.
Finally, this 2016 film and television mash-up. I always watch SleepySkunk's annual offering, but this one is even better: because it incorporates big screen spectacle with the small, clever editing can bring together similar shots and themes across a wider range of material. It's like watching several "mini-montages" on war, time, superhero team-ups, memories, and perfect moments.
Mulder and Scully appearing to Zoolander's: "we're back!"
Tyler Hoechlin asking "who the hell are you?" before appearing as Superman
The deliberate cut between Cosima/Delphine and Clarke/Lexa reuniting
Jon and Sansa embracing to the lyrics: "I found you..."
A deliberate closeup on Anton Yelchin's face when Kirk says "to absent friends"
Jyn's "this is our chance to make a real difference"
The whip-fast editing between "don't you know what you are?", "what am I?" and "who are you?" over scenes from Midnight Special, The Young Messiah, Humans, and Arrival.