January 11, 2017
A number of online opportunities presented themselves this week:
There’s a special Wild Cards e-book bundle available that includes the first five Wild Cards novels. These include my stories in the reissued versions of #1 and #4. If you’ve been wondering where to start with the series, this is it!
Tor.com is giving away an anthology Some of the Best From Tor.com for 2016, if you sign up for the newsletter. I’m in this one too! It includes my story “That Game We Played During the War.”
And my January movie reviews for Lightspeed went live this week. It in you can see more of my comments on Moana, Rogue One, and Passengers.
Continuing on with Julia Child’s My Life in France and I got a little teary-eyed thinking that I was about the same age when I started my own Operation Learn To Cook as she was when she started classes at Le Cordon Bleu. A couple years younger maybe. But still. It’s never too late.
January 2, 2017
Happy New Year! You should know I made blood sacrifice to ensure a good year. i.e. I sliced my fingers cutting limes at the New Year’s Eve party. It’s fine, except sliced fingertips plus typing = ouch. I also successfully sabred a champagne bottle with my rapier. Not very well, mind you, but I did it.
Meanwhile, I’ve caught up on some viewing.
In this month’s Lightspeed, I briefly review Moana, Rogue One, and Passengers.
Here’s the short version of my review of Passengers: This film miserably fails its premise. It could have been a good middling Hollywood SF adventure romance. If they both woke up at the same time, and by accident. But he wakes up first, then purposefully sabotages her hibernation pod. So it turns into a movie about how this stalker and kidnapper really isn’t such a bad guy once you get to know him. Big side eye, there. I have a lot more to say, in the full review.
Legends of Tomorrow: I watched the first couple of episodes of this season to get the Justice Society glimpse, and my speculation was correct. My longed-for Starman reference appeared here. Well, not exactly. I mean, my Starman is Jack Knight and the mid-90’s run. This was Stargirl, a more recent incarnation. But I believe that is Jack’s cosmic rod she was using (or what will become Jack’s, in 50 years…) And it was kind of fun to get what is essentially her Bombshells version, sort of. (Bombshells: a graphic novel excuse to draw all the DC heroines and villains as 40’s pinups, but they have excellent adventures and it’s a lot of fun.)
And Rogue One was better on the second viewing. I liked seeing the setup, that we do get a pretty good introduction to each member of our gang before they finally all end up on a ship together, bonded by chance and circumstance. Classic gaming setup.
Those last five minutes are still a kick in the teeth. The whole last battle, really, (The hammerhead corvette, OMG. “Are they doing what I think they’re doing?” Yes, yes they are.) but once you understand what’s happening when that disk gets passed hand to hand and finally ends up on the blockade runner, and you know exactly what happens next — that’s how you do a prequel. A brilliant bit of fan service, there.
December 16, 2016
First, some shameless self promotion: the first chapter of Martians Abroad is up at Tor.com. Less than a month to go till release day!
And now, to a brief-ish review of Star Wars: Rogue One, the movie I have been waiting for for 25 years.
First off, I’m really annoyed at a handful of people who are insisting that spoilers don’t matter on this because we know what happens because Episode IV, yadda yadda. That’s not the point, and they know that’s not the point. Yes, we know how it turns out, much the same way we know how Titanic or Henry V are going to turn out. But this is also a story about individual people and their arcs and what they do, and those are the details we don’t want spoiled. I’m annoyed that I have to explain this to some people.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MOVIE, CARRIE.
Oh yes. I REALLY LIKED IT. I’m still processing. As you’ll recall, my rubric was “a rollicking adventure espousing the heroic ideals of Star Wars,” and I got that. And I also got what I’ve been wanting for since I started reading Rogue Squadron and playing the RPG, and that’s a Star Wars movie that breaks out of the strictures of the main saga and shows us some new characters and new corners of the universe and so on, and even uses a slightly different filmic language to do so. YES. This really opens up the world for even more storytelling possibilities.
So much more I could say. I will refrain.
And I really want to talk about the part that kicked my teeth in. (In a good way. A brilliant way, even.) But I won’t. Not yet.
December 14, 2016
My long review of Arrival is up at Lightspeed. I’ll say again, I really liked this and want to see it again to catch what I missed the first time. I hope between this, The Martian, Interstellar, and so on, we’re looking at a growing trend of smart, high-concept, problem-solving science fiction in the movies. It’s like I’ve always said: these stories don’t need monsters or explosions to make them riveting.
Yes, I have my Rogue One tickets for tomorrow night. I’ll report in, without spoilers, on Friday. I’m on review and spoiler lockdown myself right now. I have no idea what to expect. What I want is a rollicking adventure espousing the heroic ideals of Star Wars. Fingers crossed.
The annual viewing of White Christmas has happened. The annual viewing of The Muppet Christmas Carol is still on deck. And I may or may not have added Hogfather to the annual holiday movie viewing roster… This year may clinch it.
Holiday countdown continues. Packages arriving, presents coming together, decorations still going up. Maybe not as much to do as I feared. Maybe I can sit back and relax a little. Enjoy things. Except I haven’t started any baking yet…
December 12, 2016
I had a great busy weekend — my busiest of the holiday season, with an SCA event on Saturday, a play Sunday afternoon, and a really nice dinner I was able to take my friends to because I had a gift card. I’m so glad I’ve been feeling better so I could really enjoy it.
I’m also back to work. I got frustrated with some of my lingering projects, so I put them aside to start working in earnest on the next novel, the sequel to Bannerless. That feels great.
The play we saw: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. I had forgotten that I love this story. I had it read to me almost every year in elementary school. But after that, it sort of vanished out of my life. So when I saw the Longmont Theater Company was putting it on this month, I did a big squee and then made my friends who’d never heard of it go see it with me. Turns out, I still love it. I’d missed it.
And I don’t think I mentioned that I saw Moana. I might be writing a longer review for Lightspeed so I’ll be brief: It’s gorgeous. One of the most beautiful animated films I’ve ever seen. Pacific Islander voyager culture, the scenes with their great ocean-going fleets — I want MORE. And Moana is a really wonderful self-rescuing princess character. Then there’s that chicken. OMG the chicken.
SCA: my local barony had its Midwinter feast. Roman-themed, so of course I dressed as an invading Visigoth but no one really noticed. Instead, the Baronesses created a new award and named it after me. I’ve received many honors in my years in the SCA, but this has to be about the highest. I’m floored. (The award is called St. Cecily with the Cup and is granted for bardic and heraldic feats. The premier recipient and I are already plotting miracles.)
And that’s my Monday. So many emails to catch up on…
November 28, 2016
Here’s basically how this went for me (WITH SPOILERS):
Me: Oh yes, please, I would like a whimsical movie about wizarding magic in Jazz Age New York!
Movie: Yeah, what we actually have is this dour gray thing with basically incompetent characters working in a system that has instant summary execution, apparently? and also MASSIVE CHILD ABUSE but the victim isn’t saved and doesn’t get a happy ending is instead horribly destroyed because it turns out he was just a plot device all along. How’s that?
Me: *weeps softly like Westley in the torture machine in The Princess Bride*
So yeah. I’m willing to consider that this was a case of my expectations and the actual movie not lining up at all, because plenty of people seem to like it just fine. I mean, the creatures were kind of cool, and I liked Queenie, who in many scenes was literally the only spot of color in the entire thing.
Except. Except. . . this movie has the wrong main character. The main character is Jacob, not Newt. The movie should have started with him and ended with him. The very best parts were about this hapless Muggle (or No-maj if you prefer, which I don’t) who stumbles into the wizarding world — and is completely charmed by it, and open to the possibilities of magic, and embraces it, and does his best to help. And then has to give it all up in order to protect that same world. But maybe there’s a hint that he doesn’t, after all. He’s an everyman, yeah, but there’s an actual story there.
Instead, the film piled on a couple of other plotlines that made the whole thing a crowded, chaotic mess. I would have completely done away with the entire plot line involving some evil wizard dude causing trouble while disguised as a trusted wizard authority figure BECAUSE IT’S NOT LIKE WE’VE EVER SEEN THAT TROPE BEFORE IN A HARRY POTTER-WORLD STORY. Seriously, you’d think they’d develop a “disguised evil wizard detector” and place it in every single doorway like we do with metal detectors, as often as this sort of thing happens.
I’m also just plain angry about the handling of Creedence’s storyline. The New Salem whatever was kind of interesting — until it just vanished, and really it had no real connection to the rest of the story. And Creedence could have been an amazing rescue/redemption arc there. (Maybe Jacob, unconstrained by the usual rules of the magical world, reaches out to him? Maybe the bakery needs an assistant?) But he really was just a Macguffin the entire time. Too bad, so sad.
Yeah, I don’t think I’ll be seeing the rest of these. (They’re planning how many? Good lord.)
November 14, 2016
I’m writing a long-form review of Arrival for Lightspeed next month and so will save the bulk of my thoughts for that. But if you love science fiction, you must see this film. It’s an heir to one of my favorite, favorite sub-genres of SF film: the intellectual, peaceful first-contact movie. The Day the Earth Stood Still (the original, naturally), Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Contact… and now this.
It successfully adapted the unadaptable short story, Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life.” Just go see it.