The first time I read A Wrinkle in Time, it was part of a 4th grade reading assignment, where each student had to choose a book that all the other students would then take turns reading. I’ll be honest. A Wrinkle in Time, chosen by the only kid in class who could spell Czechoslovakia (which was both still a country at that time and quite the feat of spelling), fell somewhere between the books Soup on Wheels and Freckle Juice, both of which resonated with my 9-year-old bookish self a bit more than A Wrinkle in Time.
With its more complex character development and themes of love and individuality that seemed beyond my years or at least beyond Soup on Wheels, that initial reading didn’t leave me feeling all that inspired. That said, I fortunately returned to the book just a few short years later and have since read it at least half a dozen times. With each new reading, more of the book’s magic and wisdom is revealed to me, largely through its oh-so-relatable 13-year-old protagonist and my personal geek girl hero, the plucky Meg Murry.
This is a great era to be a Black geek. Communities like Black Nerd Problems and Black Girl Nerds are catering to a population that has always been present but traditionally ignored within geek circles. Recent films like Dope and TV shows Atlanta are also celebrating the Black nerd (or “blerd”) and giving us a new type of hero for the 21st century: young African-Americans with high IQs, awkwardness, and a penchant for sticky situations. Sleight continues with this movement. The protagonist, Bo, is every geek’s superhero, endowed with little more than intelligence, a good dose of desperation, and, of course, STEM!
I suppose that I’m getting a bit of a reputation around these parts as being the sci-fi/pop culture geek, and today isn’t going to break the cycle.
The best science fiction is a way to look at the world we live in and ask ourselves what it means to be human–I know, it’s a tall order. So, when a movie comes along that fits the bill, I go out of my way to support it.
That movie is Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival.
Arrival is about a linguist who is recruited by the government to help communicate with mysterious aliens who have landed on Earth.
What follows is a beautiful, quiet, and measured reflection on communication and understanding. Not only does the story dive deeply into the science of communication (what elements of speech do you have to teach someone to convey that you are asking a question?), but it also stands as a more reflective metaphor for global society.
Once the cold weather returns to my neck of the woods, I like to cuddle up with a blanket watch and science fiction. There’s something about the dark evening that sends my mind to a dreamy, speculative place.
While I’m always on the lookout for new shows, books, and movies, sometimes it’s nice to revisit old favorites. To kick things off, here are my picks for sci-fi shows to re-watch (or check out for the first time) this season.
Starring the incredible Tatiana Maslany in more than 14 different roles, this BBC America series is one of the best ongoing series around.
The plot revolves around Sarah Manning, a troubled British woman who wants to make amends with her daughter and adopted family. While waiting for the subway she encounters a crying woman who looks exactly like her. Before Sarah can confront her, the mysterious twin throws herself in front of an oncoming train. Sarah gets more than she bargained for when decides to assume the dead woman’s identity. The truth is that they are clones, and there are a lot more of them. As she is wound deeper into the mystery, Sarah must struggle to keep herself, her family, and her new-found sisters safe.
This near-future science fiction show has so much going for it that I don’t know where to start. The writing is superb, the characters talk like real people, and although the plot is complex, it’s always presented clearly. More than anything, the writers have an excellent understanding of voice, and they use it to full effect. Every character is three-dimensional, which is very important when you have one actor playing so many different roles.