I’ve seen it twice now. I liked it even better the second time, mostly because now that the structure was familiar I could pay more attention to content. This film is 4 acts plus an epilogue. We’ve never had a four-act Star Wars movie. It’s unbalancing. There’s a lot crammed in here.

Here’s everything I’ve been thinking about, in bullet points:

  • As an old-school Rogue Squadron fan I keep trying to bond with the pilots. This is such a big mistake in this movie. TALLIE, NO!!!!
  • Does Paige use the Force to grab that detonator? Maybe.
  • Headcanon: That white-haired soldier who steps out of the trench on Crait? I think he was at Hoth. He was a young Rebel then, that was his first battle. By now, he’s seen it all, and he’s going to step up and face those walkers because he’s done it before. He’s a legend among Resistance ground troops, I’m sure of it.
  • Second time around, I realized Luke has his old lightsaber at the end. The blue one. This is another one of those really obvious clues that I nevertheless missed the first time. That scene is full of them.
  • Hux is a caricature of Tarkin, Snoke is a caricature of Palpatine, and Kylo is a caricature of Vader. They’re supposed to be. That’s the point.
  • Just like the Resistance is full of people who know how to be Rebels, and nothing else. As Leia says, it’s a movement full of dead heroes, that needs leaders if it’s actually going to turn into something stable. That’s also the point.
  • So it’s like Johnson took all that stuff that Abrams threw at the wall in TFA and actually made it mean something.
  • I love that Snoke is dead dead dead. Such a boring uninteresting character. Having him gone just clears the air. I love it.
  • That throne room scene. That whole thing. I could write an essay on it. Gah. Don’t focus on what’s the same as the scene in Return of the Jedi. Focus on what’s different. Snoke thinking he knows Kylo. Kylo proving otherwise.  Rey coming into the situation with ulterior motives — turn Kylo to save the Resistance — where Luke came into that situation with only love for his father. It starts the same as previous scene, and goes someplace completely different. THAT FIGHT OMG. I think Kylo did turn to the light, briefly. When he asks Rey to join him so they can abandon the past and clean up all this mess — I think he’s doing that from a place of light, however misguided. But when Rey rejects him — that’s when he turns to the dark. Not that she could have or should have done anything differently. Like I said, there’s really a lot going on here.
  • I love Rey. I was trying to explain to someone what I love about her, especially in this movie. She’s young, earnest, scared, and has this balance of idealistic and practical. That smile she gets when she feels the rain. That she cries all the time. That she starts out completely unsure of everything and ends up in a place of power and confidence.”Lifting rocks. Huh.” Yeah.
  • Rey spent two movies looking for a mentor. Han tried. Luke refused. And finally she comes to Leia. Rey is Leia’s heir. And she doesn’t have to be a princess to be that.
  • I bought a stuffed porg. I actually bought a frakking porg.

Okay I’ll stop now.

 

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2017 in review

December 20, 2017

What ho, it’s that time of year again when I list all the stuff I did this year, for easy reference. Once again, I’ve been busy:

Novels

Martians Abroad. I consider this YA even if it wasn’t technically published that way. From Tor Books, January 2017.

Bannerless. From Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, July 2017. The sequel, The Wild Dead, will be out in July 2018.

Refuge of Dragons. The e-book sequel to Voices of Dragons, published March 2017.

Novelettes

“A Big Break in the Small Time,” as part of Wild Cards: Mississippi Roll, from Tor Books, December 2017.

Short Stories

“Dead Men in Central City, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Sept/Oct. 2017

“The Evening of Their Span of Days,” Infinity Wars, ed. Jonathan Strahan, Solaris Books, September 2017.

“Bellum Romanum,” Urban Enemies, ed. Joseph Nassise, Gallery Books, August 1, 2017.

“I Have Been Drowned in Rain”, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, April 2017.

“Alchemy,” Tor.com, March 2017, as part of the Nevertheless, She Persisted compilation.

“Redcap,” Nightmare Magazine, January 2017.

A special and entirely self-serving note in regard to anyone using this list to help with award nominations:  This year’s Hugo Awards will once again include a Best Series Hugo. There are some pretty specific requirements for a series to be eligible, including one that there be a new installment in the series that year. The Kitty Norville Series wasn’t eligible last year because I wrapped up the novels the year before. I admit, I was kind of bummed.

This year, however, I have two short stories set in the world:  “Dead Men in Central City” is about vampire Rick, and “Bellum Romanum” is the origin story of Kitty’s long-time nemesis, Roman. So the series is eligible this year. Just sayin’.

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

December 18, 2017

I spent part of yesterday digging out and then reading part of the manuscript for my second trunk novel. I have some thoughts about that — like, the prose is actually pretty dang good, it’s the story and tropes and ideas that are weak, and at some point I want to talk about that and what it means about being a better writer and so on.  Anyway, the reason I was looking at it in the first place is that there’s this storyline in The Last Jedi that really got to me, like really, like my id was on fire and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Two days later I realized it’s because it’s very similar to a storyline in that old novel manuscript of mine. How weird is that?

Oh, and I’m now a Kylo – Rey shipper, and no one is more surprised by that than me.

What else to say that isn’t spoilers? Lots of commentary online already, some of it good and some of it off the mark, I think. Like The Force Awakens, there are scenes that harken back to the first trilogy, right down to the framing. But while in TFA those scenes had the feeling of fan service (“Look, it’s Star Wars! Turned to 11!”), The Last Jedi is doing something different.  A suggestion:  don’t look at how those scenes are similar to the earlier ones. Look at the differences, because unlike with TFA, TLJ is messing with us. It’s playing on our expectations, and then subverting them. Luke says to Rey early on, “This isn’t going to go the way you think.” He’s talking to us as much as to her.

I think this will either drive you bonkers, or you’ll love it.

I thought it was wonderful.

On a more technical level, it runs a bit long, there’s a lot crammed in and a couple of the plot lines are kind of a mess. There’s a lot going on, but it all looks like Star Wars, and the characters are just great.

Especially Kylo and Rey.

HEART.

 

The Shape of Water

December 15, 2017

So The Shape of Water finished up right around the same time as a showing of The Last Jedi right across the hall, and everyone came out of that looking so somber I’m actually kind of worried now.

I’m seeing that one tonight. Fingers crossed.

The Shape of Water was really nice. I mean, it’s Guillermo del Toro, it’s horror. But it’s also a really pointed deconstruction of the entire genre of 1950’s government scientist monster movie. The villain is basically toxic masculinity, which the movie demonstrates doesn’t mean that “men are toxic,” but rather it’s what happens when some men are so determined to appear powerful and so afraid of appearing weak that they won’t acknowledge when their own body parts are rotting away.  Like, that’s clearly some gangrene going on there.  Ew.

It’s also a romance.

I have more to say, but I’ll likely be reviewing this for Lightspeed and will save it for that.

And if you’ve already seen this and like lead actress Sally Hawkins, I highly recommend the 2007 BBC production of Persuasion, in which she plays Anne Elliot.

 

MarsCon!

December 13, 2017

Reminder!  I’ll be the Author Guest of Honor at MarsCon in Williamsburg, Virginia, January 12-14. See, I do make it out to the East Coast every now and then!  I hope to see some of you there!

 

two weeks…

December 11, 2017

I thought I was doing okay but I just checked and there’s just two weeks until Christmas and there are still some people I need to get gifts for, but at least I think the post office run is ready to go, I’ll do that this week. (I try to only go to the post office once in December, ideally before that last week. And bring a book while I’m waiting in line…)

And all the movies. So many movies coming out over the next couple of weeks. Like, oh, Star Wars? Will Poe and Finn get their buddy caper story? What’s up with Rey and Ren? It still feels like such an embarrassment of riches, three new Star Wars movies three years in a row. Who would have thought? Who ever would have thought?

My niece called me last week to tell me all about Return of the Jedi, which she had just seen. So she’s now got the original trilogy under her belt. I asked, and yes, she likes Ewoks, so we’ll have to sit down and watch the Ewok movies soon. OH YES WE WILL. Yub nub!

And now I go back to work. A bunch of stuff I need to update on my website. Lots of events coming up. Barreling into the new year already, peeps…

 

So there’s this scene, right before Charles Dickens’ dark night of the soul, where he and his agent go on a bender at a low-class pub. They stumble out, and Charles gets maudlin.

Charles:  “Kate [his wife] doesn’t understand me!”

Forester: “I’ve got news for you, Charles. No one understands you. You’re a freak of nature.”

At this point one of my friends reached over and patted me.

Was he trying to tell me something?

***

This is a light and lovely movie that hits most of the usual movie-about-writers tropes. I kind of want to talk about movie-about-writer tropes, but I’m still getting my thoughts together. Charles Dickens is one of my favorite writers, I love London, and ever since Legion I’m a big fan of Dan Stevens. So yeah, I was inclined to like it.

And Christopher Plummer’s Scrooge is really terribly scary. So good.

A Christmas Carol really is one of the greatest books ever. If you’ve only ever seen movie versions and have never read it, go ahead and read it. It’s short. You won’t regret it.

 

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