The Incredibles 2

July 16, 2018

So, it was nice, I guess? The animation was beautiful — you can see the technological development of the software/techniques/style over the last 14 years.

Trouble is, I think it was a mistake picking up the story immediately where the previous one left off. Because the superhero film genre itself has undergone a pretty radical evolution over the last decade and a half. The Incredibles was subversive. It showed us a story we hadn’t really seen before — wholly character driven, a bit of meta commentary, the superhero in middle age, in a suburban setting, with the tropes of both those genres crashing together in exactly the right way.

Incredibles 2 doesn’t cover any new ground thematically. The plot is almost the same — the hero who misses the action-packed life leaves the family and gets duped by a shadowy, technologically advanced entity who has a pathological issue with superheroes. The kids come to the rescue even after they were supposed to stay home, and everybody grows and changes, yadda yadda. The action, the quips, the baby, are all fun to watch. (And it’s clear this film takes place immediately after the first so we could have lots more Jack Jack. That may be the only reason.) But as I’ve been saying for awhile, the quality bar is really really high on superhero movies right now. That wasn’t true when the first one came out. So the story that was amazing then. . . well, it’s been done already. A lot more has been done since. I wanted more.

I consider myself something of an expert on writing stories about superhero families that combine action with domestic angst. (I’m always pleased when After the Golden Age lands on lists of “best superhero novels.”) And there’s a reason I set Dreams of the Golden Age twenty years after the first Golden Age novel. Because I didn’t want to cover the same ground. Because the questions raised at the end of the first book could only be answered years later. Because there’s more than one story that fits into this trope and setting.  What happens after the adventure where the characters have all learned who and what they really are? What do they do with that information?

If the Parr family had really learned anything in the first film, the second should have been different.



Friday update

June 29, 2018

Trying to get back to work, but it’s been a distracting week. We’re also in the middle of a heat wave, which is making everything move just a little slower.

Meantime, I’ve got my eye on a couple Families Belong Together events for tomorrow. Time to hit the streets again.


I survived the 10-day extravaganza! Barely…I think I came down with some kind of bug in the middle of it, so I’m happy to be home where I can nap a bit and drink my tea with honey.

Meanwhile, I’m already gearing up for the next thing, which is the release of THE WILD DEAD, the sequel to the award-winning BANNERLESS. July 17 is the day. Reviews are starting to come in, and they’re lookin’ good!

Library Journal gives the novel a starred a review! The rest of that list is fine company to be in — I’m reading Novik’s new novel Spinning Silver (I scored an ARC), and it’s just as amazing as Uprooted was.

This thoughtful analysis by Nick Mamatas as part of his Books I Like series makes me seem much smarter than I feel most of the time.

Bonus picture from the trip:  Sunday at Denver Comic Con, I cosplayed with my niece. She was Hei Hei, I was Lisa Hayes from Robotech. We had a great time!

Denver Comic Con

June 13, 2018

Denver Comic Con starts Friday! I’ve got panels and signings on Friday and Saturday. Here’s the whole schedule for the Book/Authors track. Lots of good stuff!

And here’s my schedule:

12:30: Panel: Who Run the World? Girls!
3:00: Panel: Writing Women in Sci Fi/Fantasy
4:00: Signing Books at Tattered Cover Location B

12:30 Panel: I Need My Space!
2:30: Panel: Real Science in Science Fiction
3:30: Signing Books at Author Booth 1

See you there!

And I suddenly realized late last night that over 10 days I have two conventions and I’m teaching at Taos Toolbox and family is visiting. Wow, everything got crammed in there…




June 8, 2018

Spent the morning setting up the new monitor I got yesterday. It took so long because I couldn’t convince the computer that the new monitor was really there and talking to the right driver, so it did that thing where it was trying to fit a square image on a wide screen… and well anyway it’s all good now. Whoa, everything is so clear…

I finished and submitted a bunch of work this week, which means the only thing left to revise really is…the 100k word novel. Which it looks like I’m going to rewrite most of the second act on. I am daunted. But I’ve made a start. *rolls up sleeves*

And I am in mourning for Anthony Bourdain. He changed what travel and food shows ought to look like. He was also a really good writer — I’ve used passages from Kitchen Confidential in workshops. Watch his shows, yes. But read his books too.

This current world is making it harder for people who are on the edge to keep going. Hold on, peeps. We need you.


Since I’m suddenly facing buying a new computer monitor (seriously, since I can’t remember when I got the current monitor — 15 years ago maybe? — it’s totally time for something new and shiny), I leave you with the burning question that confronted me last night:

Is Paul Bettany this generation’s Peter Cushing?


this book argh!

June 4, 2018

I had a moment this weekend. I’m revising this thing, turning this stalled novel into a novella, and it’s totally the right thing to do. And, wow. I had the moment this weekend. That moment. Where it all comes together and I figured out what was wrong and all the pieces line up and BOOM it’s a story.

That never happened when I was trying to make it a novel. In fact, I appeared to be literally writing in circles, characters going back and forth between a couple of locations, continually asking, “What’s going on? What’s happening?”

In hindsight, I was writing this during The Year of Stalled Projects, and I think I must have known deep down this wasn’t going anywhere as a novel. I stopped working on it entirely when I left my old agent and got my new agent. It’s really frustrating and illuminating looking back on that time through the lens of this mess of a manuscript. I knew, but kept charging ahead anyway.

Guys, I cut over 20,000 words from this in basically one pass. 20k useless words of me spinning my wheels. I’m so, so, so glad this never saw the light of day back when I was working on it before. It was so broken.

And now it’s not. Fingers crossed.