What’s the Big Idea? A Review of HBO’s Westworld

Westworld, HBO’s new science fiction drama that will premiere Sunday, wants to be the big idea. Trade in your zombies and dragons for life-like robots. Tackling notions of morality, artificial intelligence, and entertainment in the premiere alone, Westworld wants to be a show that makes you think. Or perhaps it wants to make you despair.

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Today is the Last Day to Pre-Order Greg Pak’s Kingsway West #1

Today, August 1, is the final order cut-off date for comic shops to order Kingsway West, the new creator-owned series by Greg Pak and Mirko Colak. The Dark Horse book officially hits stores on August 24, but the more retailers order the book, the better chances you’ll be able to secure your own copy — and ensure more books like this get made.

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Hell on Wheels: Chinamen, The Final Frontier

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t watched through Episode 6 this season, there are some character revelations and minor plot twists revealed, but ostensibly nothing that would alter anyone’s viewing of the show.

AMC’s Hell on Wheels entered its fifth and final season this summer with seven episodes scheduled to finish in 2015 and seven more in 2016 to close it out. The show follows a former Confederate solider, Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount), as he reconciles his dark past while becoming a key player in the race to build the Transcontinental Railroad.

Admittedly, I have never been a regular viewer of the show. I only tuned in for this season after hearing that Hell would finally include Chinese railroad workers as part of its story; and not without some healthy skepticism. Chinese workers have been mostly glossed over in mainstream media depictions of the western frontier and they got the same treatment through Hell‘s first four seasons. While the show’s creators Joe and Tony Gayton gave practical reasons as to why this happened, the chances of whether the Chinese would ever be included on the show seemed less promising with each passing season.

Season Five, however, has been worth the wait.

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The Sisko, Part One: Our Living Black Manhood

The Sisko.
The Sisko.

When I was a teenager, I liked to skip church.

My parents attended different Baptist churches in my hometown, vibrant, bright places of worship where suburban Blacks developed a respectful, life-affirming, joyous relationship with a living God. Each Sunday meant uptempo gospel music, dedicated Bible study, and hour-long sermons on the spiritual uplift offered through Christian precepts. This was the Black church: fine clothing, expensive hats, smiling children, gaunt deacons, relaxed tresses, choir robes, public praise, Negro spirituals, religious supplication, spiritual uplift. For my neighbors, for my mother, church was the emotional recharge, the soul cleansing needed before Monday morning’s journey into corporate White villainy. I don’t pretend the same of my father; I always found his belief an extension of his duty to family and country. Still personal, but reserved, stately, imperial.

My mother would sing in church. For years, she gave up her Sundays to care for an ancient grandmother and her elderly son; when the grandmother passed in a tragic hospital fire, my mother’s return to the church jumpstarted her perspective. She learned to smile again. Church meant community, friends, gossip for the jealous, and prayer for the troubled. For me, church was ostracism. I loved science fiction and comic books — Jean-Luc Picard and Jean-Paul Valley — and my irrepressible skepticism toward Biblical stories reaped disapproval from peers and adults alike. Church was high drama and high emotion; weighty secular concerns like systemic poverty and environmental racism did not, in my opinion, respond to the power of prayer. So I skipped, usually by taking so long to prepare myself on Sunday mornings that waiting for me risked tardiness, and watched new episodes of Star Trek.

That’s when I met Benjamin Sisko. On a Sunday.

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