Are you guys fans of speculative fiction podcasts but find it hard to actually find said podcasts? Me too! That’s why I’m so happy to be able to tell you guys about the Procyon Podcast Network, a largely female-led team of podcasters who are also concerned about the lack of good fictional podcasts. As they say on their Kickstarter:
Formed in November 2016, the Procyon Podcast Network began as the brainchild of several audio drama fans hanging out in a private Slack who wished there were more cool genre fiction podcasts out there with interesting and diverse characters. Eventually we figured, hey, here we all are. Let’s be the cool genre fiction podcasts we want to see in the world.
After a long couple months of YA booksthat I couldn’twholly get behind, I went back to the library to return them and then just wandered the aisles for a while. I didn’t have any other recommendations from friends or websites, so I ended up in the children’s section, picking out, somewhat at random, what looked like a fairy tale adventure with a Black protagonist. The back cover told me it was the second in a series, so I grabbed the first book, as well, and went home to see if they were any good. As it turns out, they were incredible. Not only are they some of the best revisionist fairy tales I’ve read, the book I picked up, Disenchanted: The Trials of Cinderella, was also centered on social justice and the ills of child labor. Did I mention I found this in the children’s section?
There probably aren’t very many people who remember Fox’s ill-fated reboot/sequel of Minority Report, which was quietly canceled in 2016 after a supremely lackluster first season. The TV series had so much potential—it introduced a huge number of characters of color to a canon that was predominantly white and it discussed complicated issues like immigration, genetic engineering, and police profiling, though it never got deep enough into any of these issues to really be satisfactory. I can honestly say that I enjoyed watching it, despite its many writing missteps.
However, the main failure of the show was its handling of the PreCrime program and the precogs who were used against their will to run it. While the original Minority Report film ended the PreCrime program because John Anderton proved that people could choose not to commit a crime and thus change their own futures, the Minority Report TV show made this touchy issue into a procedural cop drama by assuming that all the futures the precogs saw would definitely come to pass. This uninspired utilization of the original film’s themes meant that the TV reboot was neither as creative nor as thought-provoking as its predecessor, and it unfortunately meant that the potentially meaty conflict between leads Lara Vega, a Metro P.D. cop who believed fervently that PreCrime was the best way forward for society, and Dash, a precog who wanted to help people but didn’t want to be put back in the milk bath, was quickly erased so that the procedural cop drama could move forward. We never got to see a connection between the themes and characters of the film and the themes and characters of the show. But fortunately, in fanfiction, other writers can tackle these problems for us.
Another day, another subpar YA novel. After the disaster that was Three Dark Crowns, I told myself, “Luce, don’t get sucked in by another excellent premise, it will only disappoint you,” and I should have listened to myself. I picked up a new book called The Hawkweed Prophecy based on its premise: two girls, one magical and one not, were switched at birth and have to find their way in the world. The author, Irena Brignull, seemed particularly accomplished as well: as a screenwriter, she worked on The Boxtrolls and the movie adaptation of The Little Prince, and she’s worked on many other projects as a script editor for the BBC. Yet somehow, there turned out to be very little to recommend about her first novel.
Minor spoilers and trigger warning for some discussion of abortion after the jump.
One of my favorite movies of all time is Minority Report, a 2002 movie by Steven Spielberg which was based on the Philip K. Dick story of the same name. I watched it for the first time at a young impressionable age and spent maybe a little too much time thinking about its morals and themes, but when I wanted to revisit it recently before the ill-fated Minority Report reboot aired, I found that I had lost my copy of the DVD. Fortunately for me, it finally turned up, and I settled in to realize that the messages of this movie, though somewhat flawed, are still relevant today.
Fandom has recently come to celebrate the month of February as Femslash February—an open call to all ficcers, vidders, and other creative participants to make fanworks that feature women who love women. Usually this is the month when I try to find a good femslash fic or two to read and rec, but I’m kind of in between fandoms right now, and I didn’t know where to start. Fortunately, though I didn’t find a fanwork, I did stumble across Of Fire and Stars, a YA novel by Audrey Coulthurst that was surprisingly about two princesses who fall in love with each other. Although I didn’t love all of it, the queer romance at the heart of this book was incredible and definitely deserves a rec.
Massive spoiler alert: everyone dies at the end of Rogue One. (That’s okay to say now, right?) The rebel crew, after a long-fought battle on Scarif, get the plans for the Death Star out to Leia Organa, but are all killed in the destruction of the planet. It makes sense from a storytelling perspective; if Jyn, Cassian, and everyone else were good enough to survive Scarif, it wouldn’t make any sense if we didn’t see them fighting alongside Luke and Leia in the original movies. So they had to die. However, if you, like me, left the movie asking yourself “did they really have to die, though???” today’s fanfic is for you.