August 5, 2016
August 3, 2016
So I caught up on this recent sword-and-sandals flick starring the guy who plays Jaime on Game of Thrones and Gerard Butler with his Scottish accent. It got a lot of flack when it came out for borrowing a lot of Egyptian mythology without actually bothering to learn anything about Egyptian culture and casting all white people. And then the director threw a tantrum about the criticism, which made me sad because it’s the same guy who directed The Crow and Dark City, which is one of my favorite movies, and he should really know better.
The whitewashing was not as bad as I was expecting — not as bad as Noah, for example, which did not have a single person of color in the entire thing, not even in crowd scenes, which it seems to me you’d have to really work at. On the other hand, it turns out to be pretty striking when you’ve set a movie in Egypt, cast white actors in the leading roles and then populated many of the secondary, red shirt, and exotic love-interest roles with actors of color. It’s like, obvious. I’ll go back to The Force Awakens as at least a start of how to do things right: variety in lead actors/characters is the goal, here. Something different, something inclusive. It’s not hard.
BUT HOW IS THE MOVIE, CARRIE?
It’s strange. It’s just completely strange. Because there were parts that were really totally endearing. (Scarab beetle chariot!) The whole thing was actually goofy, and seemed to be goofy on purpose. A little weird, having a Horus who in full god mode looked like a proof-of-concept for a live-action Silverhawks movie. (Dear Hollywood: please never do a live-action Silverhawks movie.) It went on maybe forty minutes too long. And I think I would have liked the whole movie better without that mortal kid hero guy thing. God, he annoyed the hell out of me.
But now I want to write a story about a bunch of gods just, like, doing stuff. I dunno what. I’ll figure that out later.
August 1, 2016
I’m going to be spending a big chunk of August on the road, so my posts might start getting a bit light for a couple of weeks. Worldcon is in Kansas City, MO, and I’ve decided to DRIVE there! I may yet regret that decision, but I think it’ll be fun and different. I’ve already got a list of books to pick up in the dealer’s room, since with a car I can actually bring home a ton of books. I’m hoping to get my schedule soon so I can post it, so those of you going to the con can find me.
For SCA peeps: I’m also going to Pennsic for the first time in a dozen years. I plan on having a bunch of fun with my new decked-out canvas tent and mostly just relaxing and enjoying the environment. I’m trying to work out a specific time when I’ll be hanging out with a friend at Merchant’s Row where people can find me if they want to come say hi. More details later if I can work out the details.
In the meantime…ADVENTURE HO! I hope to come back with many fine stories.
July 29, 2016
My copies of Amaryllis and Other Stories have arrived! YOUR copies should be shipping in a couple of weeks, assuming you pre-ordered!
Another thing that dropped this week that you should check out: Urban Allies, edited by Joseph Nassise. You know how people are always saying that I should collaborate with [insert name of popular urban fantasy author here] so that we can write a team-up between Kitty and [author’s famous character]? You don’t know? Well, it’s actually a really common thing that people ask about, that in most cases just isn’t feasible. But Joe’s put together a whole anthology of team-ups. I wrote a story with Diana Rowland, teaming Kitty up with her White-Trash Zombie character Angel Crawford. If this idea intrigues you you should definitely check it out.
Sneak preview: I’m in Joe’s next anthology, which is a whole book of stories told from the point of view of various urban fantasy authors’ villains. And yes, I’m writing a story about Roman…
July 27, 2016
A travel pic from a few . years ago.
I know it totally doesn’t look like much. But you see that grayish square building just left of center? That’s Alexander Hamilton’s birthplace, on the island of Nevis. Still can’t see it? IT’S RIGHT THERE!
Hamilton is SO COOL RIGHT now, I just had to brag a little.
July 25, 2016
That was a lot of fun, and something of a huge relief that the new incarnation no longer seems determined to rehash previous plot bunnies to death. I understand new writers and a new director are to be credited. Huzzah! So what we get with this movie ends up being something unusual after fifty years of Star Trek: not just a new story, but a kind of story that Star Trek hasn’t really done before. Which was very cool I must say!
One of my friends was unhappy with the promotional images for Star Trek Beyond because they show the Enterprise getting destroyed. It isn’t that he hates seeing the Enterprise getting destroyed — it’s just that it’s been done so often by now, and what was spectacular and horrifying at the end of The Search for Spock is now just the thing that Star Trek does to try to shock people, which isn’t actually shocking anymore.
So the movie starts and things happen and the Enterprise is destroyed — in the very first act. And it’s spectacular. And we all think, “Holy cow, now what?” Now what is Star Trek without the Enterprise. The crew has all survived via escape pod and are now scattered on the planet below, being hunted by the alien baddy. (Who is actually the weakest part of the whole story. There’s a baddy, there’s an alien Macguffin Device of sorts that the baddy is after, and it might have been the two margaritas I had beforehand but none of this was entirely clear to me. Partly because none of it mattered. It was just a necessary obstacle to provide the crew with the excuse they needed to be awesome.)
This was actually a great setup for a Star Trek story. Uhura and Sulu get captured by the bad guy and do what they need to to hold the line and take care of the rest of the captured crew. McCoy is marooned with a rather severely injured Spock, and they banter, as one expects. Kirk and Chekov do the bulk of the adventuring, in tracking down the others. Scotty meets the alien refugee who’d previously been marooned on the planet, and who has discovered the still-functioning wreckage of an earlier crash, an older Starfleet vessel that our lovely crew can now get up and running again in order to save the day.
This all gave us something that had been missing from the previous two films: a crew, working together. This isn’t the Kirk Angst Show. This isn’t the non-stop Kirk-Spock buddy action drama. This is a movie about the whole crew, about Starfleet, about their mission, about the good they can do.
Star Trek movies have tended to be big, to justify their existences on the big screen. Giant existential threats against the whole of the Federation, Starfleet, whatever. The two Abrams movies seemed to need to double down on that — altering timelines, destroying planets, etc. This movie really felt like it just wanted to celebrate the little things that have always made Star Trek great: very cool space stations. Making friends with aliens. (I must say, I loved kick-ass alien Jaylah in spite of myself. She was kind of a big ol’ trope, but she was super-earnest. And she seemed really excited about being invited to enter Starfleet Academy, which I just had to love.) Each person on the crew having a job and being awesome, and not just being a satellite for Kirk. The idea that Starfleet wins fights against power-hungry bad guys because of community and optimism.
The layer of meta: in-universe, we learn that Ambassador Spock has died. This felt important, because in the Next Gen timeline, he never died, he moved to Romulus and that was the last we heard of him. So this was really the death of that character, the beloved old timeline character, which was a little strange to think of. This was, in fact, a memorial to Leonard Nimoy, and it was gently done, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. They only had time to add a “For Anton” in the credits for Anton Yelchin. But for me, I think I cried a little bit every time he appeared on screen.
As has been said elsewhere, this isn’t the best Star Trek movie. But it’s a good one, and is a good sign for more to come.