The Geekender December 18-20: Star Wars, The Man in the High Castle, Hateful Eight and more!

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Dec 18, 2015

The weekend is upon us, and with it, a chance to sit back, relax and consume massive amounts of sci-fi, fantasy and horror pop culture. In The Geekender, our writers share a bit about what they're reading, watching and playing -- and we want to hear from you. Let us know what's on your plate in the comments!

Trent Moore: I'll be seeing Star Wars, obviously, but that just seemed a bit on the nose. So, with the late-November Jessica Jones binge watch behind me, I've finally circled back to Amazon's alt-history tale The Man in the High Castle — and I highly recommend you do the same. I've made it through the first half of the season, and it's the perfect cure for the holiday movie doldrums as we head into Christmas (and wait for the good college football bowls to ramp up). Hitting Amazon Prime on the same day Jessica Jones took over the internet on Netflix probably didn't do the series any favors in regard to buzz, but this is easily one of the best sci-fi shows of the year. It weaves an interesting, brutal story through this alternate version of the U.S., now occupied by Nazis and the Japanese. Amazon has done an admirable job of bringing Philip K. Dick's classic to the small screen, and this series more than deserves a spot on some "Best Of" lists over the next few weeks. It also just scored a Season 2 renewal, so get to watching.


Jeff Spry: There is nothing else even remotely on my radar starting today and into the weekend except The Force Awakens. After an original trilogy marathon last night, I'm prepped and primed to be swept away into the loving embrace of Star Wars in IMAX 3D at today's premiere and again for Sunday's evening screening. It's been a fun restoration of my childhood, covering the juggernaut of news and announcements leading to its unveiling this year. I remember those California nights in May of '77, listening to the entire Star Wars film from my new Sanyo boombox in the dark, having sneaked it into the third opening day screening, recording it on cassette for re-immersion later. Years after, I discovered I was a minute part of the Star Wars legacy as my Uncle Bill Varney had won an Academy Award for Best Sound for The Empire Strikes Back (and Raiders of the Lost Ark), even getting to hold his Oscar one fine day at Universal Studios in the '90s, where he'd become head of the post-production sound department. (That's him on the left.)  So today I'm proudly displaying my vintage blue "May The Force Be With You" button that was handed out at the 1977 premiere and remembering my uncle and the profound impact this little space opera had on my life as a 12-year-old and rejoicing that J.J. Abrams has resurrected the spirit of the original trilogy for us original geeks as I let the mighty magic take its effect.


Evan Hoovler: This weekend, I plan to catch up on all my Team Fortress 2 updates. I haven't checked up on what's new in the past two years due to family obligations. Even though Valve is probably running TF2 with only a skeleton crew, they have been incorporating a ton of user-generated content. Also, this weekend, we will be watching a marathon of our favorite Christmas movies: Elf, A Christmas Story, and Die Hard. Finally, I'm following my teams in the semifinals of fantasy football, the Dungeons & Dragons of sports.


Matt Dorville: This weekend I'll be reading the Negan period of The Walking Dead, volumes 17-22 to be precise, and looking at it with Jeffrey Dean Morgan in mind. I've always loved Jeffrey Dean Morgan and actually think he's a perfect choice for my favorite villain in the Walking Dead universe. There's been a lot of discussion around how foul-mouthed Negan is and how they'll fit that in on television, but I'm more curious about his brutality, because I remember it as being some of the most difficult story arcs to read in what is already a pretty harrowing series. 


Lisa Granshaw: This weekend is all about The Force Awakens for me. Sure, I saw it opening night, but can any Star Wars movie only be seen once in theaters? In order to let it all sink in and get the full effect of this starting point for the new trilogy, I need to see it at least one more time. So between deadlines and last-minute Christmas shopping, I'll be scheduling in movie times! 


Krystal Clark: Like most of you, I'll definitely be watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens this weekend. But that won't take up all of my time. I'm going to test out Syfy's latest miniseries, Childhood's End. It's a live-action adaptation of the book of the same name written by Arthur C. Clarke. Childhood's End is about as sci-fi as it gets. Did I forget to mention the story has alien Overlords? The series stars Mike Vogel from Under the Dome and Charles Dance, who previously appeared on Game of Thrones. Childhood's End is a binge-worthy treat. 


Ernie Estrella: Having already snuck in my first viewing of The Force Awakens before the weekend started, I feel like the biggest geek goal is accomplished. I'll be preparing next to view The Hateful Eight next on 70mm, with intermission on Christmas Eve night in a limited 100-theater release. I recently purchased the soundtrack and will be putting it on an endless loop until the 24th; the film geek in me is geeking out about a new Quentin Tarantino film 10 times more than The Force Awakens, and it's not often I get to see a film on 70mm. I'll also be in full-on Christmas mode, wrapping up gifts and elaborately icing sugar cookies shaped like Millennium Falcons and comic-book characters, whilst catching up on missed TV shows like The Expanse, Penny Dreadful and Ash vs. the Evil Dead.


Carol Pinchefsky: I never managed to play the 2012 award-winning indie game Fez when it launched, but there is no time like right now. With a fascinating rotation mechanic, you might initially think that Fez is a platformer. Actually, Fez is a puzzle game, something you become aware of when spotting symbols that line the many landscapes of this 2D/3D world. I finally found the key to the puzzle (and I was amused to see an animated quick brown fox jump over a lazy dog). But this means there’s even more gameplay…so much so that some people claim to have a whopping 400% completion. With its choose-your-own-adventure style of decision-making a quiet pace, it seems like an easy game to explore in-depth.



Matthew Jackson: Well, when I'm not constantly thinking or talking about The Force Awakens this weekend, I'm going to do my best to keep up the Christmas spirit, and that usually involves watching every holiday special under the sun. I would just say "I'm watching all of the Rankin/Bass specials" this weekend and leave it at that, but since that's a little boring, I'll narrow it down to the classic The Year Without a Santa Claus, which for my money edges out Rudolph as the best holiday special Rankin/Bass every made. It's festive, it's funny, it expands the Christmas mythology in interesting ways, and it really distills much of what I care about when it comes to this time of year perfectly. 


Don Kaye: With all the hoopla surrounding that little movie that opened this week, I recorded but didn't have a chance to watch SyFy's adaptation of Childhood's End, so I'm hoping to catch up with it this weekend. Arthur C. Clarke's novel had a profound effect on me as a young reader and made me think a lot about mortality and humankind's place in the universe. From what some of my fellow Blastr writers have told me, the miniseries has its flaws (it was always going to be a tough book to adapt) but captures much of the mournful and contemplative tone of the book. I'm on board with that, and I'm also on board with seeing more adaptations of the kind of classic, cerebral sci-fi novels I grew up reading. I'm not just saying this because I work for SyFy: kudos to the network for pursuing a project like this. I'm looking forward to watching this one, and I hope to see more.

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