Monday, May 21, 2018

New Indiana Jones Movie

Disney announced a fifth Indiana Jones movie will star Harrison Ford once again. Harrison Ford is 75 years old.

No title has been announced yet.

My suggested title: Raiders of the Lost AARP.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

R. Lee Ermey Passed Away

The great R. Lee Ermey passed away. He served for several years as a Marine drill instructor, then went into his second career as an actor.

This particular clip has two great features: 1) It’s the start of a science fiction series, Space Above and Beyond, and 2) Since it was a TV show, there’s no swearing.

The first four minutes are worth watching.


Saturday, April 21, 2018

Norwescon Blog III—A Wrinkle in Time

On one panel, YA authors Tina Connolly and Fonda Lee surprised me by both expressing their admiration for A Wrinkle in Time. This was part of a theme of stories in which children and teens did not rebel against their parents—surprise! Parents or parent-substitutes are supportive in some stories. Sometimes a child has to rescue a parent. A Wrinkle in Time shows both.

 Moderator Lish McBride, with Tiny Connolly and Fonda Lee

When news of the movie came out, I decided to read A Wrinkle in Time. I couldn’t get through it. Yes, I realized it’s a children’s story. I read Peter Pan as an adult, and reread 101 Dalmatians as an adult. But A Wrinkle in Time didn’t work for me.

I didn’t see the movie, for the reasons the critics gave it a thumbs down for. But there’s this wonderful 90-second version. The movie cost one hundred millions dollars. I would be surprised if this version cost more than ten bucks.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Norwescon Blog II—Supplemental

I was determined to see Carrie Vaughn. I had spoken to her at the 2011 Worldcon in Reno, Nevada. My novel manuscript Dust after Slaying features a unique main character for an urban fantasy—a married woman.

Just about all urban fantasies with a female protagonist highlight her as very single, at least at the start of a series. That way she can fall in love with a good guy, or more commonly some bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Sometimes the good guy is the bad boy. And there was at least one urban fantasy where the female protagonist had three different guys of three very different ages interested in her.

So I had asked Carrie Vaughn if she knew of any urban fantasies where the woman starts out married. She did not, and she said her own character of Kitty only got married in the fifth book of the series. But she encouraged me in my efforts, saying I should write something different in the field.

She did a reading at this year’s Norwescon, and I managed to thank her at the end for her encouragement. She looked gratified—I didn’t realize how much an established writer would enjoy seeing her effect on an aspiring one.

I was going to ask her for an autograph on her young adult novel Martians Abroad, but there really wasn’t time.

The cover art is especially good. Polly was raised on Mars, which has one-third the gravity of Earth. Notice how elongated her torso and limbs are.

But obviously, I have to use this entry to post an excerpt from Dust after Slaying. Dee is talking on the phone to her best friend, Hope. Dee’s younger brother is Jeremy. As a married urban fantasy character, she has to deal with a real difficulty: babysitting. 

“Okay, we strike back twice as hard. We strike at Issaquah this afternoon. If you’re too distraught to make it, let me know.”
“I’ll be there.” Hope’s voice was convincing. “Childcare?”
“I can’t raise my parents on the phone for some reason. Since Jeremy’s already there with you, and if we can use your SUV for any unforeseen rough travel, you can bring him over with your kids to babysit both yours and mine, then we take off in the SUV.”
“Someday, we’re going to get confused and have your mother babysit my kids at Doctor Teutonicus’ office. Implements?”
That was their term for weapons. Dee glanced around. For this conversation, she knew it paid to make sure neither child popped up beside her like mushrooms after a rain. Nathan was taking a nap, after some scrubbing had finally managed to get the gooey smell of butterscotch off his fingers. Miriam was busy drawing a salmon based on her own observations, to compare with the same from the Lewis and Clark expedition. “Bring sharpened garden stakes. Road flares. Garbage bags, in case we have to be neat.”
“Okay. Abel and Seth, garden supplies, car safety implements, and garbage bags to be tidy. Did I forget anything? Oh yeah. Jeremy. Did you want to say something to your sister?”
His voice came on, resigned. “Wherever you go, there you are.”
“Thank you, Thomas √† Kempis.”

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Norwescon Blog 1—Supplemental

This weekend I attended Norwescon, the largest science fiction/fantasy convention in the Pacific Northwest. I’ll have a couple of things to say about authors, but first let’s have some pictures:

The background is somewhat complicated, but I hope you can see the bow in her right hand and the quiver behind her right shoulder. It was the authenticity of the arrows that caught my eye. I didn’t think at the time to ask if she was a female Green Arrow, so I don’t know.

Here are some volunteers waiting to learn the art of Norse fighting. The woman at the left came in her own chain mail, which impressed the instructor.

Harley Quinn. That’s a very large hammer.

At a glance, you can tell she’s from the mirror universe of Star Trek. (My apologies to her dark-haired friend. Her picture didn’t come out.)

This young guy has a mechanical right hand that is highly articulated—think of certain scenes from the Terminator movies. he could actually close the fingers.

Power Girl wowed everyone with her barbells. But is there something familiar about her?

Yes, I’m sure I’ve seen her before.

This is kind embarrassing. There’s this one person, Torrey Stenmark, who teaches organic chemistry and who was Ms. Marvel a couple years ago.

There’s this other person, Tereshkova, who has dressed up as Padm√© Amidala and as Star Trek characters.

They’re the SAME PERSON! I’ve been so fooled by wigs.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Stephen Hawking: There are no black holes

Stephen Hawking recently passed away. I’ll repeat below my post from 2014, then add a comment.

Stephen Hawking is one of the creators of black hole theory using relativistic physics. (Actually, it would have been possible to come up with a black hole theory using the old Newtonian physics, but nobody ever bothered to.) Hawking has actually become quite the celebrity from his work, and he even appeared in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. He’s one of the most easily recognized scientists in the world.

photo by Doug Wheller

Now Hawking has rethought it and declared black holes do not exist. A standard feature of science fiction has vanished, as if it had fallen into . . . well, we’ll think of something. Easy for Hawking to say—sorry I was wrong about what’s made me famous over the past few decades, next I’ll invent some other impossible things for you yokels to believe in.


Telling some people who are really into black hole cosmology that black holes do not exist is like telling a child that Santa Claus does not exist. Or like having the projector fail during a Star Wars premier before an audience full of geeks.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Apocalypse Now?

First, Elon Musk came up with easy-to-use flamethrowers.


photo by Nike Scream 

Okay, she doesn’t work for Elon Musk, but just look up “Mary Elizabeth Winstead,” “flamethrower,” and “images” and have a blast. 

Then Costco came up with food kits for emergencies or natural disasters that can feed a family of four for a whole year right here, that will have a shelf life of twenty-five years. Delivery time varies.

photo by Nandaro

And now it turns out that certain towns in Georgia require gun ownership. That’s right—they don’t ban gun ownership, they require it.

Here and here.

So, what do they know that we don’t, huh? Is something approaching? If you don’t like guns, look up one of those flamethrowers on eBay.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Young Adult and AR-15

I don’t normally make it all the way though a YA novel. Partly it’s because of the lack of detail in the scene descriptions compared to a novel for adults. But mainly it’s because I never felt the same angst when I was a teen that the main characters feel all the time. It’s portrayed as normal, and it just reads as foreign to me. But I did read three all the way through.

Alive by Scott Sigler was fascinating. A teenager is horrified to wake up and find herself in what seems to be a coffin. She has no idea how she ended up there. She struggles free of the bonds keeping her in place, pushes open the lid, and climbs out. She’s dressed nicely, including a tie, which doesn’t make sense.

Then she sees she’s in a room filled with similar coffins, which are actually metal containers. She helps other teens get out of theirs. Learning that her first initial is M., she goes by the name Em for much of the story. A number of these teenagers band together and try to find their parents. But the long corridor they walk in keeps going up and up for what seems to be an impossible length. Are they underground? What is this place?

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey features an unusual attack sequence by aliens. Instead of destroying humanity all at once, they use wave attacks composed of an electromagnetic pulse, an earthquake, and a plague. Perhaps they don’t want to damage the Earth too much before taking it over? Cassie, a teenage girl who is one of the survivors, doesn’t know.

Cassie is on the run from beings who look human, but who are picking off the last survivors. Wounded, she meets a young man who helps her recover, but can she trust him?

When the movie came out, I was surprised that the critics panned it, because the trailer looked so great. I recently saw it on TV, and I was shocked at how closely it followed the book. I think I know why the critics didn’t like it: The young people in it become comfortable using guns, which gave the critics an eek reaction.

If you don’t want to see Cassie with an AR-15, don’t watch this trailer. But realistically, what else is she supposed to do?

I also read all the way through The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

I already reviewed the movie version here. Both are interesting, with the movie making the actions scenes much bigger.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Short Story Submissions

Yesterday, I submitted a mashed-up fairy tale short story that I first wrote in 2006 to an online magazine. Today, I submitted a science fiction short story that mainly involves two characters that I first wrote in 2011 to another magazine. I had previously submitted them all over the place years ago. This year I looked them over, making some parts more terse or more detailed, but no real changes to the plot or characters.

Why did I think of them? In the TV show The Sarah Connor Chronicles, John Connor said a good piece of code is like a song—you can’t get it out of your head. That’s what writing a good story is like. Of course, my writing won’t bring about the end civilization. Or will it?

On a related concept, I can highly recommend the short story “The Rescue of the Renegat” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch in the January/February issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction. In the short form, she can really deliver a punch to the gut.


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