Monday, January 28, 2013

Crossing Over

From my War of the Worlds reimagining:  Here's a scene with Ashley before she becomes human size.  

On midsummer’s eve I stood on the central toadstool, my toes gripping the bumpy surface.  The moist air from the humus below clung to my bare skin, the warm mugginess attacking the elaborate curls I had styled in my hair for the occasion.  It broke my concentration to feel one ringlet after another go flat and slither down my cheek or neck. 

Fairies can cross over at other seasons, but because of the crucial nature of the crossing, the most reliable time is chosen—when the boundaries between the two realms are thinnest.  And so in Faerie, for the last time, I stood in the midst of a fairy ring.  Any botanist can tell you that spores from a fungus spread naturally, but the name has remained through all this time, from how my people cavort around the circle of mushrooms. 

The night glowed, awaiting the prolonged descent of twilight this time of year.  Off to one side a butterfly flitted between tree trunks, rivaling my size.  Yellow flowers  and fronds bigger than I towered over my head, but these familiar sights felt distant.  I was leaving for the human realm.  Fairies and pixies freely visit between the two realms, but this crossing would permanently change me.  I would never be able to return.  

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Holy Price Tag, Batman!

The actual Batmobile from the original Batman TV series sold for over $4 million this week. 

Below is my photo of that same vehicle, when it was displayed at a science fiction convention.  (Sorry for the blurry image.) 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Best Novel of 2013

The Lost Stars: Tarnished Knight by Jack Campbell. 

Whether or not you’ve read Campbell’s Fleet series, The Lost Stars: Tarnished Knight is a gripping read of flawed characters who battle to do what’s best for their world while watching out for themselves.

The cover does justice to the main male character—the art looks vaguely Russian to me.  Remember the chaos when the former Soviet Union broke up?  When the empire that has oppressed them for generations collapses, Midway star system gets their chance to become independent—if they can fight their way to it.

Artur Drakon commands ground forces loyal to him, and he has to root out the ruthless agents of the collapsing empire—fittingly called “snakes”—who are not above slaughtering civilians on a massive scale to keep themselves in power.  Can he do the tricky job of eliminating them while preventing anarchy spreading among citizens who are suddenly free?

Gwen Iceni commands one of the cruisers of the Midway system, and she has to persuade as many of the other ships to come over to their side as possible, as well as gearing up for battle against the ships that remain loyal to the crumbling empire.  If she fails, their world will be bombarded into submission from space.

For those of you who have enjoyed the Fleet series, each of these leaders is a contrast to the noble Fleet Captain Geary.  Both Drakon and Iceni have survived by long years of paranoia, and they have to constantly suspect their subordinates of treason, as well as wondering if they will have to move against each other.  They are flawed or “tarnished” characters, but no other people could have risen to power and have the cynical know-how to battle an authoritarian government from inside.

The tension is extreme, whether in claustrophobic fight scenes in buildings on the ground, or in the high-speed maneuvering of ships in the vastness of space to intercept each other.  And much of the tension revolves around Drakon’s and Iceni’s forces misinterpreting each other as they try to do what’s best for their world, with each move seen by the other group as a possible prelude to betrayal.  

Again, readers who are not familiar with the previous series can enjoy Tarnished Knight, but those who have will be amused that Geary has left in his wake the image of a larger-than-life figure.  Either way, the story is an enjoyable read.

Jack Campbell is the pen name of John Hemry, whom I have met at conventions a few times.  My picture with him is from this post.  It’s fascinating to hear him speak on a range of subjects.  

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Deleted Pages

I decided to scrap 1½ chapters from my current work, a mashup of The War of the Worlds.  The writing was pretty good, but not great. 

This is the part of the story where I departed from my outline.  I knew it at the time, but my writing was flowing, so I decided to go with it.  But one of the main characters was becoming unsympathetic, and the images in my mind from the outline kept bugging me.  No great lessons here; sometimes the outline has to be shrugged off, sometimes it’s better to stay with it. 

This reminds me of my hearing the lovely E.J. Swift say she cut 40,000 words from one of her manuscripts.  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Best Non-Fiction of 2012

I’ve already reviewed Kevin Sorbo’s autobiography, True Strength, so this is an excuse to show the cover that so many people seem to enjoy. 

Kevin Sorbo suffered three strokes, so you can show off that you’re reading a book about persevering through suffering. 

Second place goes to Argo, which I reviewed here.  I strongly recommend you either see the movie (and yes, Ben Affleck got robbed at the Oscars) or read the book. 

The funny thing is, the American edition has a cover with generic silhouettes on it.  To get the cover with Ben Affleck, you have to order the British edition, though he is less well-known over there.  It’s one of the vagaries of the publishing business. 

Cannibalism, Headhunting and Human Sacrifice in North America by George Franklin Feldman. 

As the subtitle states, this is a history forgotten. Various Native Americans practiced cannibalism in ritual child sacrifice, the sacrifice of slaves, and in highly ritualized attempts to emulate cannibal gods.  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Flashback: Battlestar Galactica

About a year ago on January 8, 2012 I posted on my visit to the Science Fiction Museum in Seattle, where they were having the Battlestar Galactica exhibit. 

This the actual Lee Adama viper.  Notice the word “Apollo” stenciled on it.  See my original post here.  

Why am I taking this trip to yesteryear?  Fel Wetzig is hosting his Peasants Revolt Flashback.  Find a blog post or other writing from a year ago and post it. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Favorite Movies of 2012

Best non-fiction movie was Argo.  I never did write a review of the movie, but for my review of the book, look here

My personal favorite was Pitch Perfect, a musical comedy that left me light-hearted when I left the theater.  My review of it is here

However, Pitch Perfect’s movie poster is the worst of the year.  The star, Anna Kendrick (third from right), is the least prominent person in the poster.  And why is it so dark?  This looks like an ad for a slasher movie, the kind where we’re supposed to wonder who will survive the killer on campus. 

More objectively, I would say the best movie I saw was Total Recall.  I cannot believe how many people did not like it, saying it “was not like the original.”  That’s right—this is a reimagining.  How can anyone say that the 1990 version, with Arnold Schwarzenegger mugging for the camera, was better?  My review is here

As you can see, they had a decent poster.  A different take on the poster was shown in Asia: 

My favorite “message” movie was Atlas Shrugged: Part II.  It has a completely different cast and director from the first movie, and it’s easily understandable without seeing Part I, which apparently had lower production values.  I do not agree with all of the philosophy in the movie, but it is worth seeing how people react to economic tyranny. 

My favorite art movie was Sound of My Voice, written by and starring that young genius Brit Marling.  This is a quiet, artistic movie about how a young couple go undercover to investigate a cult.  Any more description would give away too much.  

And finally, some of you are probably planning on shooting arrows at me for not saying that The Hunger Games was my favorite movie.  Well, it would have been if there hadn’t been these other fine movies that came along.  See my insightful review here

Giant outdoors poster

The news is out:  The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is due in theaters November 22, 2013.  


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