Everybody Lives! TV Episodes of Hope

Last month, I listed some episodes of TV that show heroes bouncing back from despair with resolve. This month, here’s some episodes of TV in which our heroes get a freaking break for once. Spoilers, duh.

“The Post-Modern Prometheus” The X Files, Season Five, Episode Five

This episode of X-Files is a tribute to the old black and white horror films, specifically Frankenstein. It’s shot in black and white and despite having a modern, small-town setting eventually our heroes and semi-villains are threatened by a mob bearing torches and pitchforks.

Just as the mob seems about to get its way, Mulder rebels and demands a happy ending. “I want to talk to the writer!” he yells. The monster is able to explain himself to the townspeople and visit Cher, his hero, while Mulder and Scully share a sweet dance together. It’s such a happy ending for everyone that many viewers believe that it must not be real – but I prefer to think that for once Mulder and Scully were able to relax and enjoy a job well done.



“The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances” Doctor Who, Season One, Episode Ten

“The Empty Child” is a harrowing episode of a harrowing season of Doctor Who. This season introduces a Doctor who is haunted by a war in which everybody died (as far as he knows, he’s responsible for the deaths of all the Daleks and all the Time Lords other than himself). Luckily, “The Empty Child” is the first in a two-parter. In “The Doctor Dances,” we get a rare episode of pure joy, as The Doctor regains a sense of hope and joy, and figures out a way for everybody to have a happy ending for once!


“The Prom” Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Episode Twenty, Season Three

This episode takes place during the very end of Buffy’s time at Sunnydale High. It’s a heartbreaker of an episode but has one moment of absolute happiness. At Senior Prom, Buffy is awarded “Class Protector.” Its a wonderful moment of recognition from the students she saved for years.




Between the Lines Book Club: Biographies and Spin-Offs

between the lines book club logoIt’s link time! Charlotte Bronte was a prickly person who experienced a great deal of loss in her short life. She lived long enough to see Jane Eyre be a success and even enjoyed some literary fame. Here’s a link to my review of Charlotte Bronte, A Fiery Heart, by Clare Harman. You might also enjoy The Bronte Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects, by Diana Lutz (my review is here).

Many people have tried retelling Jane Eyre’s story from the viewpoints of different characters or in different time settings. The most depressing but also influential and challenging of these is Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys, who tells the story from Bertha’s perspective and challenges Victorian ideas about gender, race, colonialism, and sexuality. Another popular retelling is The Flight of Gemma Hardy, by Margot Livesey, which places the story in the 1950s. Here are links to my reviews of some retellings:

Reader, I Married Him, edited by Tracy Chevalier

This is a collection of short stories inspired by Jane Eyre and featuring variety in setting and tone.

Mr. Rochester, by Sarah Shoemaker

Mr. Rochester’s story, from childhood through the end of the events of Jane Eyre.

Jane Steele, by Lyndsay Faye

I loved this book! A Victorian orphan named Jane is inspired by Jane Eyre, with whom she has many life events in common. Jane Steele, however, is capable of using force to defend herself and her friends, which has far reaching consequences.

Jenna Starborn, by Sharon Shinn

A science fiction version which works surprisingly well.

Ironskin, by Tina Connolly

A dark fantasy, one of my favorites.



WWI and the Birth of a Genre

J.R.R. Tolkien in uniform

J.R.R. Tolkien

This Saturday (October 21, 2017) I’ll be giving a presentation on WWI, Science Fiction, and Fantasy at Folsom Public Library at 10AM. In this presentation I’ll be talking about how anxieties immediately before and after the war led to a wave of invasion literature, such as H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, and utopian and dystopian literature, such as Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

I hope I can see some of my California friends at this event! I’ve given this presentation before in Sacramento and had a great time. Loved the audience Q and A!

Between the Lines Book Club: Wuthering Heights Vs Jane Eyre Smack-Down

between the lines book club logoThis month we are reading Jane Eyre, one of my favorite books and also a book I’ve done a lot writing about in the past. We’ll be meeting to discuss Jane Eyre at Arden Dimick Library on October 28th, 2017 at 10:30AM.

Today I raise the question: can a person be equally besotted with both Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, and Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte? Generally speaking I’ve found that the answer is “No,” but there are exceptions. In this piece written for Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, I asked readers this question after comparing the two novels. what do you think?

A Thought from Mary Shelley

I opened Frankenstein at random and found Elizabeth, Victor Frankenstein’s childhood friend, talking about the unjust death of their servant:

Before, I looked upon the accounts of vice and injustice that I read in books or heard from others, as tales of ancient days, or imaginary evils; at least they were remote, and more familiar to reason than to the imagination; but now misery has come home, and men appear to me as monsters thirsting for each other’s blood…When falsehood can look so like the truth, who can assure themselves of certain happiness?

To donate blood:


To advocate for gun gontrol:


To give aid to Puerto Rico:


To fight climate change:








Between the Lines Book Club: Jane Eyre

between the lines book club logoI am so excited about our October book, because it happens to be one of my favorites. We’ll be reading Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. Our next meeting is at Arden Dimick Library on October 28th, 2017 at 10:30AM.

Jane Eyre was first published on October 16, 1847 under the name Currer Bell. It was a more or less instant hit, which allowed Charlotte Bronte to know a significant measure of fame before her early death at the age of 38. It tells the story of an English governess who is “small, plain, and friendless” who becomes a governess at Thornfield Hall, home of the mysterious Mr. Rochester.

I love all of Jane Eyre but I have to admit that it takes a while to get going. Here is my top-secret tip – if you get stuck, skip ahead to Chapter 11 which is when Jane finally gets to Thornfield Hall. Until then it’s all back story about child abuse, possible ghost sightings, burnt porridge, typhus, and lectures about heaven that leave both Jane and the reader unimpressed. The mysterious Mr. Rochester doesn’t show up until Chapter 12.

I’m looking forward to discussing this book with you all in person and here in the comments!

Poem Time

A young Edna St. Vincent MillayThanks to www.poets.org for reminding me about this lovely poem. It reminds me of my college friends and the road trips we took and the outings we scraped together from pocket change.


Edna St. Vincent Millay1892 – 1950

  We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable—
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed, “Good morrow, mother!” to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, “God bless you!” for the apples and pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.