My Favorite Things: American Gods, Sci-Fi Novellas, and The Trip of a Lifetime

They might not be raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens, but that doesn’t mean that we love them any less. Welcome back to My Favorite Things, a weekly column where we gab about the greatest in geek. This week is all about our love for sci-fi and fantasy, both old and new. This includes a fantastic trailer for an upcoming TV adaptation of a popular fantasy book, a beloved sci-fi movie from the 70s, and one of the books in Lois McMaster Bujold’s award winning Vorkosigan Saga. Can you guess which one it is? Read on for more!


Casey’s Favorite Thing is… the American Gods trailer!

I am absolutely in love with the new trailer for the American Gods miniseries.  This is easily one of my favorite books of all time.  When I heard that there was going to be an adaptation, I was a little terrified that it wasn’t going to work out.  Then the cast was announced.  On top of Ricky Wittle and Ian McShane as Shadow and Wednesday, respectively, we’ve got Gillian Anderson, Cloris Leachman, and Kristin Chenowith (as EASTER! PERFECT!) among many other talents.  Then Neil Gaiman started tweeting about being on set.  Then the pictures started to show up.  And THEN?  THE FIRST LOOK!  There’s SO MUCH to be excited about in just this little glimpse!  It’s not quite two minutes, but not a single second is wasted in this short teaser.  We get a good taste of McShane’s Wednesday and Wittle’s Shadow, of course, but we also get glimpses at Mad Sweeney, Bilquis, Laura, Czernobog, and Zorya Vechernyaya.   I cannot wait for this to be released!  

 

Sharon’s Favorite Thing is… Westworld!

Well, summer is over. Maybe you took a vacation. Maybe you long for a better one. The ultimate vacation. The trip of a lifetime. That was the premise of 1973’s Westworld, my hands-down favorite SF movie from childhood. Written and directed by Michael Crichton, the movie was about robots. A theme park FULL of lifelike robots you could interact with to your heart’s delight. You could talk to them. You could have sex with them. Heck, you could shoot them. In fact, that was the whole point of the trip. “In Westworld, frustrations find release. Desire ends in satisfaction,” they promised. You could take a trip to Westworld, or Medieval World, or Roman World, dress up in appropriate costumes, and go wild, doing your worst. The assumption being that doing our worst, consequence-free, is what we really want out of a vacation, not another trip to the beach with the family. Of course things go horribly wrong. One robot doesn’t particularly enjoy being shot at. Yul Brenner’s terrifying “Gunslinger” owns the movie with his relentless pursuit of a vacationer. And long before the credits roll, we’re left wondering what’s really going on in Westworld.

Crichton’s vision was brilliant and subversive. The future, he suggested, might not be so shiny if humans get to shape it. (Jurassic Park fans will find that theme familiar. Crichton loved the science run amok plot.) For years I’ve wondered when they would get around to remaking it. My wait is over! Westworld the series debuts on HBO Oct. 2, this time helmed by J.J. Abrams. Don’t miss it. Until then, get yourself ready by taking in Crichton’s original vision on iTunes, Amazon, or Netflix. Close the curtains, turn off the lights, and watch. And just try not to have nightmares about Yul Brenner.

 

Nancy’s Favorite Thing is… the audiobook for Borders of Infinity!

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When it comes to long running, beloved sci-fi series, it’s hard to beat Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga, whose 17th book Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen just came out earlier this year. I have a ways to go to get to this recent release, as I’m only about halfway through reading the series myself. A couple weeks back, I read Borders of Infinity, a trio of previously released novellas, now connected by an unrelated framing story. It shouldn’t work. The three stories here are just so different. “The Mountains of Mourning” is a detective story; “Labyrinth,” a sci-fi romp featuring a unique type of super soldier; and “Borders of Infinity,” a prison break story. But it somehow ends up working, mostly because the three stories presented here are just so damn good. My favorite would be the Hugo and Nebula winning “The Mountains of Mourning,” where Miles must come face to face with one of the deepest held prejudices on Barrayar, a rejection of the physically deformed. Given that Miles himself suffers from a twisted spine and brittle bones, these prejudices hit very close to home.

Miles is such a likable protagonist, and Bujold such a strong writer, that I found myself enjoying every single story, and their respective emotional highs and lows. I highly recommend Borders of Infinity, and would even consider it a good alternate entry point to the series. The stories may take place all over the timeline, but they’re wonderfully accessible to new readers. I chose to listen to the audio version of Borders of Infinity, which is narrated by Grover Gardner. Gardner has narrated every one of the Vorkosigan books, and he simply gets better with every one he does.


What was your favorite thing this week? Any thoughts on the selections above? Let us know in the comments!

 

4 Comments

  • Shara White September 12, 2016 at 7:28 am

    I have a lot of faith in Bryan Fuller and his ability to adapt source material (see Hannibal), but watching this trailer is making me remember some very problematic aspects to this particular book (the climax), and I wonder how Fuller is going to navigate that? The cast does look fantastic, and I really hope to see the Raven pop up. 😉

    Reply
  • Nancy O'Toole Meservier September 12, 2016 at 7:48 am

    I can’t get over the fact that Bryan Fuller’s doing BOTH American Gods AND Star Trek next year. Where does he find the time?

    Reply
    • Shara White September 12, 2016 at 8:52 am

      He started working on American Gods first, so I suspect he wrapped one and moved on to the other VERY quickly. It sounds like Discovery is more in the planning stages, whereas American Gods is set to go.

      Reply
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