mortal engines extended trailer

Mortal Engines — a bombastic film produced by Peter Jackson and coming to a theater near you on December 14 — is not only full of roving cities, fantastic airships and a killer cyborg, but is also based on the eponymous book by Philip Reeve.

“Uh oh!” you might be thinking. “Another film based on a book! Do I have to read the book before I see it?”

You’ll likely get contrary answers depending on who you ask; some, for example, might say you should read the book before seeing the movie, while others might urge you to go into the film with fresh eyes. I’m here to offer you another option: instead of reading Mortal Engines, read something else in the steampunk genre. That way, you’ll get into the mood for the movie without spoiling the story itself. Genius, right? I know! But before we get to my recommendations, let’s talk about what’s considered steampunk.

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There’s been a growing trend of networks and studios developing science fiction and fantasy books for TV or film. The 2018-19 television season alone includes at least five new ones—Justin Cronin’s The Passage on Fox, George R.R. Martin’s Nightflyers on SyFy, Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens on Amazon Prime, Daniel O’Malley’s The Rook on Starz, and Joe Hill’s NOS4A2 on AMC—and networks have several others they have optioned or have in development (just a few are Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death on HBO, N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season on TNT, Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series on Amazon Prime, and Victor LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom on AMC).

And that doesn’t even get into movies. For example, Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines will be coming out as a Peter Jackson-produced movie this December, and other books like Jeff Vandermeer’s Borne, V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic and Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank The Moon have been optioned for the big screen as well. Patrick Rothfuss has even scored a hat trick with The Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy, and has the series in development for film, television and video games.

Despite all this activity, there are a still an innumerable number of books that deserve to come to life on the screen. Here is my pick of some that should make the cut (note: I haven’t included any books that have had recent reports of being optioned), and what fans of existing films or shows they might appeal to.

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DC Universe Shows

On September 15, a day also known as Batman Day, DC Entertainment launched its DC Universe streaming platform, a service that aims to cater to those who want to become immersed in the DC world.

On October 12, the platform premiered its first original show — Titans — which to date is best known for showing a Dick Grayson grumbling, “Fuck Batman!” in a trailer released at July’s San Diego Comic-Con. 

From September 15 through October 12, I’ve watched and read stuff on the platform via Apple TV as well as on my iPhone and iPad. And over the past month, my feelings about the platform have ranged from thinking it’s okay (there’s a bunch of old content on it; some of it is good) to thinking it’s the most frustrating platform in existence (the UI sucks, although it is slowly improving). Throw in watching the first episode of Titans, and I have a lot of feelings. Feelings I will share with you now.

Is the service worth the $7.99 a month (or $74.99 a year) price tag? Let’s discuss. 

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iron fist season 2 trailer

The second season of Iron Fist has most of its characters struggling to figure out who they are and what their purpose in life should be. I, after watching all ten episodes of the season, went through a similar process. It was a journey, but at the end – like some of the show’s characters – I have realized who I truly am: I am a person who wants to watch more Iron Fist.

It’s shocking, I know. I still don’t really believe it myself. It took time to get there — to the end of the eighth episode, “Citadel on the Edge of Violence,” in fact.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Below is an overview of what makes this season better than the last (The Good), what isn’t so great (The Bad) and what makes me excited to see what’s next in store for these characters (The Crazy).

Warning: spoilers abound.

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The story of Amazon Prime Video picking up The Expanse for its fourth season is a true fairy tale about fandom, one about how thousands of people from different backgrounds connected across different parts of the internet to launch a campaign, that in a few short weeks, saved the series from cancelation (check out the “The Expanse Lives” fansite to get a detailed account of the fans’ efforts, which included flying a #SaveTheExpanse banner over Amazon Studios and launching a model of the Rocinante — the ship the crew lives on in the show — into actual space).

This story is also proof that hardcore fandom can be a force for good, how the hard work of dozens of dedicated volunteers and the passion of thousands of additional fans who supported them, kept the show alive. “It’s a very strong fanbase we’ve got for the show,” explained actor Cas Anvar at an Expanse Q&A panel at Atlanta’s Dragon Con this weekend. “Science fiction fans I think—and I’m a huge science fiction fan—we appreciate when we are given intelligent, layered and textured stories. And if you try to take that away from us, you’ve got to be prepared for a fight.”

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Atlanta’s Dragon Con, a five-day event that took place this Labor Day weekend, is the antithesis of San Diego’s Comic-Con (SDCC). Where SDCC is industry-led and full of exclusive events, Dragon Con is fan-led and has at least two or three themed parties a night, which are open to all attendees. Dragon Con is one big party, really. A Mardi Gras for nerds. And despite the lack of industry presence, the con is chock full of special guests and panels that cater to fandoms, from Filk to The X-Files to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

So how exactly does Dragon Con differ from SDCC? Let me count the ways…

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Legion Comic-Con

The Legion panel, the last Hall H panel at San Diego Comic-Con this year, had several panelists including producer and writer Nathaniel Halpern, executive producer and director John Cameron, Marvel Television’s Jeph Loeb, and cast members Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller, Aubrey Plaza, Bill Irwin, Amber Midthunder, Jeremie Harris, Jean Smart, and Farouk himself, Navid Negahban.

One person noticeably missing was show creator Noah Hawley, who, according to the Comic-Con schedule, was supposed to be a panelist. Even if Hawley had been there, however, there likely would have been little additional insight as to what may take place in Season 3, which FX confirmed will air in 2019.

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the magicians comic-con

“Can you tell we were drinking tequila in the green room?” showrunner Sera Gamble asked at one point during The Magicians panel at San Diego Comic-Con.

The answer to Gamble’s question was yes, but it was a wonderful thing to see Gamble, her fellow executive producer John McNamara and cast members Jason Ralph, Stella Maeve, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Hale Appleman and Summer Bishil enjoying each other’s company and having a rowdy time on stage. Tequila or no tequila, it was clear that they all genuinely liked each other, and the panel was full of jokes and laughter as they took audience questions and tried to avoid spoiling anything from Season 4.

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Jack Ryan - John Krasinski

Amazon Prime held a two-hour panel at Comic-Con highlighting a slew of upcoming shows, including their most marketed series of the convention, Jack Ryan. In the latest adaptation of Tom Clancy’s best-selling novels, Amazon’s Jack is played by John Krasinski, the fifth actor to take on the role (previous Jacks include Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, and Chris Pine) and the first to play the role in an episodic series instead of a movie. Read on for highlights from the Jack Ryan Comic-Con panel, including our reaction to the first episode. Read More »

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The Expanse Comic-Con

Thanks to fans’ above-and-beyond efforts, which included flying a plane over Amazon Headquarters, Amazon picked up The Expanse after it was cancelled by SyFy earlier this year. Showrunner Naren Shankar took to the stage in San Diego Comic-Con’s Ballroom 20 to celebrate this news and celebrate the upcoming season 4. Check out a video from the cast and our reaction to The Expanse Comic-Con panel below. Read More »