Your New TV Obsession, the Merits of Fanfiction, and Michael Keaton Is a Giant Muppet

birdmanHere’s what we’ve been reading this week (at least, when we weren’t reading one of this week’s new releases).

Yesterday, Syfy FINALLY released the first trailer for their eagerly-awaited adaptation of the James S.A. Corey space opera series The Expanse. We read these books before they were cool (just kidding they were always cool), so trust us when we say this footage does not disappoint.

This week, as we welcomed Marvel’s Star Wars #1 and said farewell to our favorite books in the no-longer-canon Expanded Universe, and it occurred to us that, when it was first published, Timothy Zahn’s beloved Thrawn Trilogy was basically glorified fanfiction—a case of a writer playing around in a previously established universe he loved. Over on The Book Smugglers, Hugo-nominated fan writer Foz Meadows considers the merits of the form. Should we be ashamed to write (or read!) fanfiction?

We didn’t think we could love Guardians of the Galaxy any more than we already did, but then we saw outer space’s most lovable misfits reimagined as 8-bit characters over on The Mary Sue and spent the rest of the day pining for the blocky graphics of our childhoods.

Casting announcements are leaking out as MTV continues its epic quest to bring Terry Brooks’ The Elfstones of Shannara to television. This week brought news that should thrill every epic fantasy fan in the land: The Lord of the Rings’ Gimli, Jonathan Rhys-Davies, is lending his axe to the production as King Eventine Elessedil (and since we can’t remember who that is, a reread is probably in order). No word yet on when the series will premiere, but the network plans to rush it through without making a pilot first, so this year is still very much a possibility.

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman is a twisted black comedy that can be read as a metafictional commentary on our obsession with escapist entertainment. Or, if you ask Max Gladstone (author of the brilliant Craft Sequence novels), it’s just one big, trippy Muppet movie in disguise. Max’s series is all about magical lawyering, and he makes a very strong case for his theory over at

Speaking of lawyers, long have we lamented that long-standing contracts and exclusive character rights have left the big-screen incarnation of The Avengers short one of their most prominent, web-slinging members. Earlier this week, we rejoiced at rumors that Spidey would be breaching the Sony/Disney divide to make an appearance in 2018’s The Avengers: Infinity War, Part I. Of course, after a few days, our hopes were dashed once again. Sigh.

Finally, SF Signal reminded us that the nomination period for the 2015 Hugo Awards is now open. Time to narrow down our list of the best books we read in 2014.

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