How “WandaVision” goes beyond peak superhero stories

Even diehard fans are experiencing superhero exhaustion. But it's not impossible to do something original.

Credit: "WandaVision" by Marvel Studios
  • I'm a comic book fan 50 years in the making but, over the last few years, even I have found myself with superhero fatigue.
  • Then came "WandaVision". The writers have found a way to blunt our expectations about what should happen in this kind of genre.
  • Formula fatigue isn't just a problem for the superhero genre. Creators of sci-fi, detective, romance, and buddy-comedies can recapture exhausted audiences by telling a story differently—or telling a different story.
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How sci-fi helps humanity avoid species-level mistakes

Technology of the future is shaped by the questions we ask and the ethical decisions we make today.

  • Robots (from the Czech word for laborer) began appearing in science fiction in the early 1900s as metaphors for real world ideas and issues surrounding class struggles, labor, and intelligence. Author Ken MacLeod says that the idea that robots would one day rebel was baked into the narrative from the start. As technologies have advanced, so too have our fears.
  • "Science fiction can help us to look at the social consequences, to understand the technologies that are beginning to change our lives," says MacLeod. He argues that while robots in science fiction are a reflection of humanity, they have little to do with our actual machines and are "very little help at all in understanding what the real problems and the real opportunities actually are."
  • AI has made the threat of "autonomous killer robots" much more of a possibility today than when Asimov wrote his three laws, but it's the decisions we make now that will determine the future. "None of these developments are inevitable," says MacLeod. "They're all the consequences of human actions, and we can always step back and say, 'Do we really want to do this?'"

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Best. Science. Fiction. Show. Ever.

"The Expanse" is the best vision I've ever seen of a space-faring future that may be just a few generations away.

Credit: "The Expanse" / Syfy
  • Want three reasons why that headline is justified? Characters and acting, universe building, and science.
  • For those who don't know, "The Expanse" is a series that's run on SyFy and Amazon Prime set about 200 years in the future in a mostly settled solar system with three waring factions: Earth, Mars, and Belters.
  • No other show I know of manages to use real science so adeptly in the service of its story and its grand universe building.
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‘Cockeyed’ map shows both glamour and margins of 1930s Hollywood

Legendary cartoonist John Groth's pictorial map captures LA's film factories in their Golden Age.

Credit: Public domain, via David Rumsey Map Collection.
  • Maps are the safest way to travel during the pandemic - old maps even allow for time travel.
  • This 1930s view of Hollywood captures the film factories of Los Angeles in their Golden Age.
  • But it's not all glitz and glamour: look to the margins for the hard work done by immigrants.
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Inspirational quotes from famous people on the autism spectrum

Words of wisdom from H.P. Lovecraft, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Dr. Temple Grandin, Hannah Gadsby and more.

Credit: World Travel & Tourism Council /gdcgraphics on Flickr / Big Think
  • Autism (commonly referred to as ASD, autism spectrum disorder) refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication.
  • The effects of ASD and the severity of symptoms can be very different in each person. Additionally, these things can also change over time. This is why it's considered a spectrum.
  • Many people with ASD gift the world with inventions or new ways of thinking. Judy Singer, for example, is the woman who coined the term "neurodiversity" in the 1990s.
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