From post-apocalyptic character studies to speculative paleontology, reviewer Annalee Newitz says this year's best science fiction stretches boundaries and crosses genres. She also sees a strong resurgence in political themes, with a focus on civilizations on the brink of transformation or collapse.
Peter Jackson takes his audience back to Middle-earth in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, set in a time before the Lord of the Rings films. NPR's Bob Mondello says that where the Rings films struggled with what to omit, The Hobbit labors to justify its three-hour running time.
Any Day Now, set against the backdrop of the 1970s, tells the story of a gay couple's fight to adopt a neglected boy with Down syndrome. Director Travis Fine's film lacks technical polish, but critic Ella Taylor says the story's heart makes up for most of its faults.
As part of All Things Considered's Found Recipes series, cookbook duo the Brass Sisters share a friend's memories of his mother's Portuguese Sweet Bread. Her tradition involved a big enamel basin, a nip of whiskey and a little prayer that the bread would turn out right.
2012 was a very jittery year — what with the presidential election, extreme weather events and the looming "fiscal cliff." Fresh Air critic Maureen Corrigan found that her favorite fiction and nonfiction this year directly confronted the atmospheric uncertainty of the age.
Maysoon Zayid is a Palestinian Muslim with cerebral palsy. She's turned that identity into a tool for laughter, performing stand-up around the world. She says she doesn't apologize to anyone for her very political and personal jokes. Host Michel Martin talks to Zayid about her comedy and a program she runs in the West Bank.
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