Why Canto Bight is Vital to The Last Jedi

Plenty of things about Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi have been divisive, but few have been as derided as the Canto Bight sequence.

The whole thing is just a disgracefully bad bit of storytelling.”

“…feels pointless and tacked on…”

But the Canto Bight stuff is a bit of a drag…”

“…an unnecessary sequence at the casino city of Canto Bight that goes straight from a political sermon into a plot hole…”

Was it put there as a merchandising tool, a way to sell space pony plushies and several dozen more figurines? Does it fail to advance the story at all? Does it matter?

No, and no, and yes. Canto Bight is neither a fluffy diversion nor a tacked-on way to find something to do with Rose and Finn. It’s absolutely vital to the themes of The Last Jedi, and if you ...

Glitter and Grime: Would You Want to Go to Star Wars’ Canto Bight?

If The Last Jedi is the Star Wars feast we’ve been waiting for all year, Canto Bight is an odd appetizer platter, an array of tidbits that you might find unnecessary—or you might find appealingly curious.

Why do we get a whole book centered on Canto Bight, of all the Star Wars locations? The casino city was teased in Vanity Fair this summer, when Rian Johnson described it as “a playground, basically, for rich assholes.” One glittering city on the desert planet of Cantonica, it sits next to a giant manmade sea and is largely a resort city for the wealthy and glitzy. It’s so fancy, it has rare Alderaanian trees—or what people claim are Alderaanian trees. This city has its own mythology, as Mira Grant (the pen name of Seanan McGuire) explains in “The Wine in Dreams”:

It began, as most beautiful things do, with money, ...

You’ll Never Sink My Love of Battleship

There exists no convincing argument that movies should never be based on board games, because Clue exists, and therefore disproves any such argument. That said, the game of Battleship is a categorically stupid idea for a movie. Battleship is basically bingo with a bit of deductive strategy and no wacky prizes at the end. People in movies cannot sit around yelling YOU SUNK MY BATTLESHIP at each other, a fact which must have been clear to the people behind Battleship. Despite its dubious source material, Battleship is the one of the greatest dumb action movies of the early twenty-teens. Writers Jon and Erich Hoeber and director Peter Berg clearly took their Hasbro/Universal paychecks, gave the game a serious side-eye, and opted to keep just a few elements: big honkin’ battleships, cylindrical missile things, and goofy coordinates.

Everything else is newly made-up big dumb action movie gold.

It is important to ...

The Magicians’ Season Three Trailer is Going on a Quest

Magic is gone, but the Muntjac is ready for its close-up! The ship that takes Quentin on a tax-collecting adventure in Lev Grossman’s second Magicians novel, The Magician King, is likely to play a major role in season three of The Magicians, which is going to involve one heck of a quest: Just a little trip to get magic back, no big deal…

Check out the new trailer for season three, and let the theorizing begin!

Magic has gone poof and people … are not dealing with it well. (There’s an interesting shade of Mr. Robot-like post-crash desperation to a few of these scenes.) Julia, as we knew from the end of season two, has a tiny spark. We don’t know why Penny’s wearing that suit, though—at this year’s New York Comic Con, executive producer John McNamara definitely thought his wardrobe shift was worth bringing up.


Revolutionary Whimsy: Where to Start Reading Frances Hardinge

Unlike many fantasy and young adult heroes and heroines, Frances Hardinge’s main characters aren’t chosen ones. They’re the other kind: misfits, orphans, oddballs, changelings. They’re young women chafing against responsibilities, sexist societies, the nature of their own existence. These characters are primarily interested in survival, though that focus has a tendency to align with bigger things: freedom, or justice, or knowledge.

After finishing A Face Like Glass, I went head-over-heels for Hardinge, and binge-read everything else I could get my hands on in the span of a few weeks. Each one of her books makes its own argument for why you ought to be reading Hardinge—but since you might not have time to read five or six or eight books right this second, here are three places you might start. These aren’t necessarily my favorite Hardinge tales, but each of them, in its own way, presents a common Hardinge theme: a world ...

Winter Is Seriously Here: What Happened on Season Six of Game of Thrones

If you’ve got ten or so hours to spare between now and July 16th, I highly recommend binge-devouring season six of Game of Thrones, even—or maybe especially—if you watched it when it aired last year. What seemed, week to week, like an inconsistent, fairly unsatisfying season (certain moments aside) turns out to be a solid stretch of narrative setup and motion when you gulp it down in a sitting or three. Every season of intrigue and betrayal moves the narrative forward, but finally, by the end of season three, the pieces are in intriguing place on the board—places that suggest season seven will be a battle of consolidation and compromise as various parties begin to take the Night King’s threat seriously. There’s going to be war. Everyone’s talking about it. But who’s left to fight? Spoilers for all previous seasons follow, but I’ll leave the books out of ...

One Day You Wake Up and You Are Grown: Fairyland and the Secrets of Growing Up

There are a dozen essays a person could write about Catherynne M. Valente’s Fairyland series. One is entirely about the literary allusions and references. Another simply describes all her magical inventions and locations, from the Carriageless Horse to the Narrative Barometer, the Autumn Province to the Lonely Gaol. There’s a really good piece to be written about one of the rules of Fairyland-Below—what goes down must come up—and the way no one stays in the underworld for good, forever, even a shadow. This is a different essay. This one is about change and subversion, and mostly about how magically a book can rewrite the story of growing up. Note: this essay discusses plot points from Books 1-4, but contains no spoilers for Book 5. Many books for young readers, for a very long time, have drawn a very distinct line between being a kid and being an adult, between the ...