Nerd Alert! Atwood draws for Geek Girls, MacGregor would play Obi-Wan again

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      Welcome to Nerd Alert!, your weekly round-up of news from the world of science fiction, fantasy, comic books, animation, and all things nerdy.

      MARGARET ATWOOD IS A woman of many talents, not all of them widely known. She's a poet, novelist, and literary critic, sure, but she's also a high-tech entrepreneur, an opera librettist, and a cartoonist. It's that last skill that Atwood has contributed to The Secret Loves of Geek Girls, an anthology compiled by Toronto editor and publisher Hope Nicholson. Naturally, there's a Kickstarter page for the project, which also includes new comics from Meaghan Carter, Megan Kearney, ALB, Jen Vaughn, Meags Fitzgerald, Gillan G., Diana Nock, Roberta Gregory, Laura Neubert, Sarah Winifred Searle, Natalie Smith, Jenn Woodall, Mariko Tamaki, and Irene Koh, plus non-graphic fiction from a number of female authors. 

      Apart from her own contribution, there's another Atwood connection: The Secret Loves of Geek Girls will include a piece by artist Renee Nault, who is working with the author on a graphic-novel adaptation of her Governor General's Award–winning novel The Handmaid's Tale.

      Visit Atwood's website to see a selection of her cartoons.

      JAMES HORNER'S DEATH earlier this week no doubt had a lot of movie fans reaching for their copies of the Titanic soundtrack. It is, after all, one of the best-selling film soundtracks of all time, with its penultimate track, "My Heart Will Go On" (sung by Céline Dion with her usual subtlety) netting an Oscar, a Grammy, and a Golden Globe. Here at Nerd Alert! HQ, though, we would naturally prefer to remember Horner as the composer of memorable scores for many genre films. These include Aliens, Willow, Avatar, The Rocketeer, The Amazing Spider-Man, and two Star Trek films (The Wrath of Khan and The Search for Spock).

      Want to be well and truly creeped out? Check out Horner's score for Aliens. Just don't listen to it in a dark room. Or in space. Because in space, no one can hear you scream.

      WITH DISNEY SET TO release, like, a dozen Star Wars films over the next four years (well, technically, it's only five, so far), Ewan MacGregor is hoping the folks in charge will spare a thought for old Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi. MacGregor played the Jedi Knight in Episodes I through III, taking over the role originated by Sir Alec Guinness. Speaking to Scottish radio host Edith Bowman during the Edinburgh Film Festival, MacGregor revealed that he would love to take another crack at playing Kenobi, perhaps in a standalone feature set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. (He also said that seeing his uncle Denis Lawson on the big screen as Wedge Antilles in the original trilogy was what inspired him to pursue acting in the first place.)

      While I would love to see MacGregor return to the role, I'm pretty sure all Obi-Wan did between Episodes III and IV was hide out in a cave in the desert, emerging occasionally to scream at Sand People or make a quick run to Tosche Station to stock up on Bantha steaks, or whatever it is people eat on Tatooine.

      MacGregor was one of the stars who were skilled enough to act their way around the ludicrous dialogue and tone-deaf direction of the prequel trilogy. (And, hey, props to Liam Neeson and Christopher Lee while I'm at it.) He certainly came out of it looking better than poor Hayden Christensen, who couldn't make the petulant young Anakin Skywalker a relatable character no matter how much he sulked and scowled. The fact that Anakin was so thoroughly detestable, however, made it all the more satisfying to watch Obi-Wan kick his whiny little ass so authoritatively in Revenge of the Sith. So there's that. (Of course, we all know where Anakin's defeat led, and suffice to say it wasn't good news for the Republic.)

      LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, your new Spider-Man is... Tom Holland! 

      Wait, who? 

      On Tuesday, Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios announced that after "a full worldwide casting search", Holland will play Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the next Spider-Man film, which is due to hit theatres in IMAX and 3D on July 28, 2017. (This also means audiences will see him even sooner than that, since Spider-Man will also be in Captain America: Civil War, which comes out next May.)

      As for who Holland is, you might know the 19-year-old English actor from the PBS miniseries Wolf Hall. No? Well, maybe you saw him as Isaac in the teen-dystopia flick How I Live Now. In any case, as a white dude, he fits the requirements of the role, as revealed in a leaked agreement between Marvel and Sony that stated Spider-Man must be depicted as a heterosexual, Caucasian male. Oh, and he must be named Peter Benjamin Parker.

      That last bit is important, because Parker isn't the only Spider-Man in the Marvel Universe. In fact, the character headlining Marvel's new Spider-Man title is the black-Hispanic character Miles Morales, who has been the Ultimate universe's Spidey ever since that world's Peter Parker died in 2011.

      If you find all this talk of multiple universe's confusing, maybe you should just stick with the movies. And if you think there are already too damn many Spider-Men, you are not alone.