The Many Faces of the Major

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Click to explore different artists’ visions of the Major in all her incarnations.

Ghost in the Shell is one of the most profound pieces of fiction from any genre or culture. Period. The storytelling is intricate and powerful. The philosophical questions it poses make one consider the meaning of life and reconsider just how far technology should go. And the bad guys, well, they could be anyone or no one. There is no way to tell in this world what is real and what is not. Blink, and you might get your eyes cyber hacked.

The numerous layers of meaning in the Ghost in the Shell saga make it an unparalleled experience, whether in print or on the screen.

In five days, the live-action Ghost in the Shell movie comes to American cinemas. Certain quarters of the web have taken issue with the casting of the Major (Scarlett Johansson), but I am hopeful that the film will be faithful to the themes of the Japanese manga and anime and introduce new audiences to the acclaimed world the Major inhabits.

The West has its pop culture icons – Luke Skywalker, Batman, the Avengers, etc., etc. Major Kusanagi is one of East Asia’s.

Welcome to your newest sci-fi/cyberpunk/dystopian fix. This one has staying power.

SFF Cage Match 2017

Some of the most recognizable characters in contemporary science fiction and fantasy literature are going toe-to-toe. Unbound World’s Cage Match 2017 competition is giving authors a shot at writing how a fight, say between the queen of Dragons and a modern god, might go down.

It provides some entertaining scenarios from authors who are obviously having fun with the battle royales. Our pick to take it all home, The Martian’s Mark Watney – and who the contributing author predicted would win his round – got beat by some adolescent magician wannabe, and one that’s not even from Hogwarts.

Check out the rankings as they stand in round 2. We’ll have updates throughout the cage match. Go Daenerys!

CLICK TO INTERACT

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We Come at Last to the End (EP. 76) | THE DARK TOWER (DARK TOWER #7) BY STEPHEN KING

How we imagine Roland at the end.

We are finally here. We have crossed the lands of Mordor, braved the winter wastelands of Westeros, and survived Arrakis’s unforgiving and unending desert in a struggle to master fate itself and steer the course of the universe. WE NOW STAND BEFORE THE DARK TOWER.

These other fictional worlds lie parallel in their own universes to Stephen King’s Dark Tower, in a metaphorical sense. They all in their own fashion represent the journey to the tower: to reach for the meaning of life, to attain one’s highest achievement, or to finally atone for one’s sins. The trek to the tower defied literally every expectation we had of this journey, and delved into some truly profound territory.

Roland Deschain ended his journey as it began, alone, and using his own wit and will to defy superior powers and reach the nexus of all worlds. Wow, if that sounded spoilery, don’t worry, it’s only a vague description to keep this epic monologue going. It won’t help you fully understand or comprehend what King ultimately has our protagonist find.

We’re still scratching our heads, not because of the complexity of the end, but of the implications it has for humanity. It’s not a conventional ending by a long shot, nor would we expect one from this tale. Our man Roland and his quest to save himself and all of creation will stick with us for a long time and demands attention for it’s literary elegance and execution in the questions it asks of us individually, including who do we want to be in this lifetime.

If you want to hear our full discussion on the end of this amazing journey, check out the podcast. Spoilers ahead. Enjoy.

Battle of the Book Genres 2016 – The Definitive List of the Year’s Top Reads

EVERYONE has a list of the best reads of the year. That makes it fun – but daunting – to go through a slew of recommendations.

How are you supposed to trust your Booktube buddy’s taste even if you do both like the same genres? Easy. Just crowdsource the best books.

That’s right, instead of pouring over YouTube or Goodreads for hours on end to learn about new books, we just crunched the data and looked at what was most popular across book types. We took all 3 million votes from the Goodreads Choice Awards and found out which books and genres ended up on top in 2016. (But we still watched some YouTube videos with great book recommendations!)

Take a look at this interactive collection of the top books as voted on by the social web. Your next TBR may be only a click away! You can check out a quick tutorial here.

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Click to interact

Drawing Battle Lines | Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King BOOK TALK

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Illustration by Vincent Chong

 

In the quest for the Dark Tower, the gunslingers are drawn into a conflict where a town is being terrorized by wolves from the land of Thunderclap. Our heroes are reminded of the humanity they are fighting for and the terror that lies at the end of their journey. Spoilers ahead.

Justice at the End of the World (Ep. 74) | Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King

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Album art from Come-come-commala

 

This is a mesmerizing entry into the Dark Tower series. Roland Deschain is asked to save a town from a horrible fate, and he can no more deny these people than forget the face of his father. There is an impending sense of doom and betrayal and more loss as the gunslingers must keep their own ka-tet from breaking as they face insurmountable odds against the emissaries of the Crimson King. Spoilers ahead.

This amazing song about the people of Calla Bryn Sturgis transported me to the night Roland danced the Commala. It speaks of hope and fear and the fate of many resting in the hands of the few.

REIGNFALL – Journey to the Dark Tower Movie

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Stephen King may be known for his horror novels, but over the span of his career he also shaped a very different type of story, one as ambitious and sprawling as the great fantasy epics of the 20th century.

The Dark Tower series, now being adapted for film in 2017, follows the gunslinger, the last of a line of men who stood to defend a world that has moved on. He now wanders the lands of Mid World in search of the Dark Tower.

We tackle this eight book series before the movie and TV series debut.

Love, Loss and Exile (Ep. 73) | Wizard and Glass (Dark Tower #4) by Stephen King

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The original ka-tet: Cuthbert, Roland and Alain 

This entry into the Dark Tower odyssey offers some of the most tense and fascinating exploits in Roland Deschain’s journey to the Dark Tower. It is in fact near the beginning of a journey that will span Roland’s lifetime  and it shows a boy in a trial to become a man. The game of Castles he plays with a band of desperadoes, a town hiding a mystery, his first love, and an unbreakable bond with his ka-tet — Cuthbert and Alain — make this one of my favorites of the 7-book series. Spoilers ahead.