Epic Mashup: Captain R2-D2

We all know interesting mashups of genre characters, but this R2-D2 / Captain America mashup really takes the cake:

Twitter Daniel_Logan R2-D2 Captain America Mashup

When you think about it, R2-D2 is very like the Cap: starts small (although R2 never gets larger), doesn’t talk all that much, embodies persistence, can often jury-rig vehicles, kicks (space) Nazi butt, and despite modest beginnings turns out to be one of the most competent characters in the story. I’m all in with this one, LOL!

Image via Daniel_Logan on Twitter.

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

Advertisement

Trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

The first official trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has now been out for a few weeks:

Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever | Official Teaser by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

OMG, what a different choice of music for the trailer—at first just a neat, atypical choice, then getting more and more sinister when juxtaposed with the imagery. Brr!

The underwater events and Mesoamericans scenes completely took me by surprise. (Seems surprisingly similar to the Avatar sequel about to be released this year, doesn’t it, or am I the only one to make the connection?) Looks awesome, though, and has so much potential for very inventive storytelling.

On the other hand, the tribute to Chadwick Boseman I did expect—or would’ve been surprised to see omitted. RIP; the world lost a huge talent.

Director and co-writer Ryan Coogler did such a fantastic job with the first Black Panther that I’ve no doubt that this sequel will be amazing. (Finally, FINALLY, there are A LOT of serious, powerful, purposeful roles for women!) I can’t wait!

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

Teaser Trailer for Andor, a New Star Wars Series

Apart from Obi-Wan, another Star Wars series I might want to see is Andor. Here’s the first teaser:

Andor | Teaser Trailer | Disney+ by Star Wars on YouTube

And the second trailer:

Andor | Official Trailer | Disney+ by Star Wars on YouTube

There’s also what’s apparently not called a trailer but a sizzle reel for Andor from 2020 with some fascinating concept art and behind the scenes glimpses.

The first thing to really grab me was the birch tree in the first trailer (around the 20- to 30-second mark). I love birches despite their evil, evil pollen, but they’re rarely depicted in SFFnal screen adaptations. Now, though, birches are canonical in Star Wars. Woot!

Another thing of note is how different the two trailers are—I’d say the first mostly introduces a mood for the series, while the second starts rolling in the various characters almost at a breakneck speed.

I also loved that Mon Mothma seems to get a much larger role than in previous stories. Plus, Fiona Shaw! Shaw’s a superb actor (whom I know from Killing Eve, a screen adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion from 1995, and as Aunt Petunia in the Harry Potter movies) but, sadly, at this point Shaw is credited only for one episode in IMDB. Boo!

Add to all that more of Diego Luna and Stellan Skarsgård (seen in Dune, Chernobyl, the Thor franchise, and many others) plus the astounding set-building, propping, and costuming we’re sure to get in any Star Wars project, and I’m strongly considering a Disney+ subscription.

Andor will release on August 31, 2022, with a three-parter of a premiere.

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

A World of Warcraft Druid Cosplay by Svetlana Quindt

Svetlana Quindt at Kamui Cosplay makes seriously impressive cosplay outfits from scratch. Here are a few of her photos of the druid tier 9 set from World of Warcraft.

Flickr Svetlana Quindt Druid T9 w Flute

Her attention to detail is amazing! Take a look at the Making of photoset on Flickr for a sampling.

Flickr Svetlana Quindt Druid T9 Vest Progress

And because merely sewing an intricate costume wouldn’t be enough, Quindt has embedded LED lights into some of the gems.

Flickr Svetlana Quindt Druid T9 Skirt w Gems

A staff, of course, is included.

Flickr Svetlana Quindt Druid T9 w Staff

OMG, there’s even a little pouch built into the shoulder piece! I’m afraid I’m way too impatient to make anything this detailed, even if I looked like an Elf… Although, the Dwarven females look about the right height for me if I squint hard. LOL! 🙂

Quindt has written blog posts on the build process, available at the Kamui Cosplay website.

Images: Druid tier 9 costume by Svetlana Quindt: With flute. Making the vest. Skirt with gems. With staff.

How It Happens is an occasional feature looking at the inner workings of various creative efforts.

Trailers for She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

Goodness, Disney+ is really churning out series this year! Among the upcoming releases is She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. Here are the two official trailers:

Official Trailer | She-Hulk: Attorney at Law | Disney+ by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

Official Trailer | She-Hulk: Attorney at Law | Disney+ by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

I have no doubt Tatiana Maslany is going to be great, and it’s always nice to see Mark Ruffalo get screentime. Also Benedict Wong and Tim Roth (Abomination) will at least visit, but of course at this point it’s impossible to know how big their parts will be. I am also curious to see what Jameela Jamil can do with a role that isn’t ditsy and/or superficial. (At least I’m hoping that her role here won’t be a rehash of her role in The Good Place!)

At this writing, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is set to premiere on August 17, 2022.

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

World of Warcraft Dragonflight Talent Calculator

Wowhead has made available a talent calculator for Dragonflight on the basis of preliminary info on the upcoming expansion. Hooray, we get to dink around with test builds ahead of time!

At this writing, there are only a limited selection of classes to try: death knight, druid, hunter, priest, and rogue. In addition, the new race / class combo, Dracthyr evoker, is available for preview. Excitement! Below are some thoughts from the point of view of my main toon, a balance druid.

Wowhead Dragonflight Talent Tree Balance Druid

On one hand, there still isn’t quite enough information available. For example, on the Druid Tree, I’d like to pick Frenzied Regeneration, but the description doesn’t say whether it’ll pop you into bear form immediately upon use, which would make it less useable for me. (I assume it does, but the button doesn’t say.)

It’s great, however, that you can elect to skip certain spells. For example, I’ve never taken to Typhoon or Cyclone; they’ve always felt awkward and unconducive to my playing preferences or our joint style when Erik and I play together.

So, assuming that I’ll skip a number of lower-tree talents due to personal preferences, I’m having a hard time assigning enough points to reach the 20 required level. If this tree configuration is retained for the release, I’ll just have to hold my nose, pick talents I’d rather skip, and just not drag them onto my action bars.

On the other hand, I love that a balance druid gets more healing spells than is available in Shadowlands. When we play our druids together, we have quite a bit of staying power. I used to play a healer when we raided, but when it’s just the two of us it’s more beneficial to have a tank + dps combo. At times, though, I could use a bit more heals—the tanks are more than fine—and now I’m going to get it. Yay!

In the Balance Tree, it’s especially delightful that we can choose Convoke the Spirits, a Shadowlands covenant ability. A huge surprise was that they’re moving one of my favorite spells, Fury of Elune, to an end-tree position.

What remains to be seen is how the spells and talents become available as you progress, but so far it doesn’t look too awful. 🙂

Image: screencap from Wowhead

Of Dice and Dragons is an occasional feature about games and gaming.

Visual Inspiration: Ruins Don’t Need to Be Grey and Dull

Ruins and abandoned places are often seen as plain and boring. Granted, the color of untreated, inexpensive rock (which the majority of surviving buildings tend to be made from) often isn’t anything to write home about. But in our fiction, ruined areas don’t need to be austere and grim. You can even find real-life ruins in a variety of styles for inspiration.

For example, houses in Herculaneum famously featured colorful mosaics and painted murals. In addition, paint was generously applied elsewhere, like these pillars and external wall from House of the Relief of Telephus show:

Flickr Andy Hay Herculaneum

In Sanzhi, Taipei County, Taiwan, clusters of colorful pod houses or UFO houses once stood:

Flickr mingshah Sanzhi Pod Houses

It’s not always humans who have applied the color onto the ruins either. At the ancient Maya site called Bonampak or Ak’e, in the Chiapas area, Mexico, strikingly orange lichen is taking over building facades:

Flickr Carsten ten Brink Bonampak

(Check out the Bonampak Wikipedia article for a stunning relief carving and a painted mural!)

In Dutch photographer Roman Robroek’s shots we can see that a ruin definitely need not be grey, blocky, and boring. Partly overrun by nature could mean an almost orderly takeover, like in the photo of a Gothic-style former chapel built at the end of 19th century, below:

Robroek Former Gothic Chapel Sm

Beautiful, brightly colored arches among rubble from the childhood house of Lebanese singer Fairuz (who was born in 1934) in Beirut form a striking contrast to the greenery outside:

Robroek Arches House of Fairuz

Finally, a still strikingly turquoise—if peeling—underside of a round staircase:

Robroek Blue Staircase Sm

It vaguely reminds me of peacock feathers! I wish the photographer gave us a little more information about the history of this place. Browse more via Colossal or at Robroek’s website.

Since they exist in real life, I would be delighted to read about vibrantly colored and visually striking abandoned places in my genre fiction, too.

Images: Herculaneum by Andy Hay via Flickr (CC BY2.0). Sanzhi Pod Houses by mingshah via Flickr. Bonampak by Carsten ten Brink via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). Images by Roman Robroek: Former chapel. Arches at the house of Fairuz. Blue staircase.

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

Living in the Science-Fictional Now: Solar Canals

Covering canals with something to slow water evaporation is a no-brainer, right? (Or should be.) How about making those covers be solar panels for a two-fer—as apparently is already happening in India—now, that’s outright ingenious.

Smithsonian Magazine Solar Canal System California

And not just India: for example, California has planned a similar system. Its first prototype section, Project Nexus, is about to break ground (in the fall of 2022).

(Incidently, I can recommend Paolo Bacigalupi’s novel The Water Knife from 2015, in which water rights and covered canals feature strongly. In case you’re interested in that sort of fiction.)

Found via Good Stuff Happened Today on Tumblr.

Image: an artist’s rendering of a solar canal system for California by Solar Aquagrid LLC (CC BY-ND) via Smithsonian Magazine

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

Official Trailer for Thor: Love and Thunder

Thor rambles on in Thor: Love and Thunder, this time partnered with another deity capable of throwing lightning around:

Marvel Studios’ Thor: Love and Thunder | Official Trailer by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

Jane Foster wielding Mjölnir will be something to see! I have no idea of the comic book storylines, so I can’t say how the tidbits we see compare to those—I have literally no idea—but the main antagonist, Gorr, seems musty and uninspired. We’ll see if that’s just that trailers always lie.

I do find the realm with a fancy, floating (although quite open) city interesting, and all of the other sets, props, costumes, and effects are handsome, as usual. Since this is another Thor movie co-written and directed by Taika Waititi, I’m inclined to see it in the theater.

Thor: Love and Thunder is set to debut on July 08, 2022, in the U.S.

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

Quotes: Being Awesome While Female

Sam Hawke guest posted at Fantasy Book Cafe about tomboy protagonists for the blog’s annual Women in SF&F feature in 2019:

“There is a particular kind of character in SFF. You know her. She’s smart and tough, determined, decisive, and she can kick the collective arses of any takers. She comes in a few varieties—in better stories she’s an Alanna of Trebond or a Brienne of Tarth, with depth and history and more than one dimension; in weaker ones she’s an empty Strong Female Character™ who has no real contribution to the plot other than Being Awesome While Female—but either way it’s her prowess at fighting, particularly against men, that sets her apart. […]

“Instead, I wrote a woman, Kalina, with a chronic illness who couldn’t fight to save her life. Literally. I wrote a book in which the main characters’ problems couldn’t be solved by the strategic and entertaining use of violence even if they had the skills to deploy, and I did it purposefully. I did it in part in response to my own sewing test.

“Let me explain.

“The sewing test is failed when a book deploys a lazy code to tell me how much better, more interesting, more deserving, the female character is than those silly other women by making a point of having her hate sewing or embroidery or [insert other feminine-coded activity or trait of your choice—but you wouldn’t believe how often it’s sewing]. These days, if a book does this, I’m out. It’s not just lazy, it’s not just a cliché, it’s a statement by the author that I’m expected to cheer on one woman by disparaging the rest of them. […]

“Basically, there’s a nasty underbelly to over-reliance on this very limited model of ‘strength’, and it’s rooted in the same insidious patriarchal BS that gave us the old style women-as-objects-to-be-rescued stories: here are traits which are traditionally coded as masculine, which you have been taught are more valuable than traits which are coded as feminine. See how you should cheer on this woman because she’s different and better than those other women, who are weak and shallow and worthless. Reward her for those traits, and punish those who lack them.”

author Sam Hawke at Fantasy Book Cafe blog, 2019
Hawke City of Lies

Hawke is perfectly right, if you ask me. As awesome as ass-kicking women are, other ways of being awesome exist and should be recognized more widely. Because the variety of life skills to be excelled in is much, much wider than merely physical prowess, fighting skill, or attitude.

Moreover, as we all know, there are situations where the application of know-how or just the right tool will create such a better outcome than anything else that at best it’s not even fair to compare them. Why should genre literature forget these skills when women stand in the protagonists’ shoes?

I’m going to be adopting the phrase “being awesome while female” for all kinds of amazing things that women do. It’s just that awesome. 🙂

P.S. I just read City of Lies, Hawke’s book with the female protagonist who has a chronic illness. I thoroughly enjoyed her strategic and entertaining use of her brain—and ditto for the male protagonists, Kalina’s brother and his best friend.

Image by Eppu Jensen

Serving exactly what it sounds like, the Quotes feature excerpts other people’s thoughts.