Thursday, April 25, 2019

Norwescon III Supplemental

So as promised, here is the most beautiful cosplayer at Norwescon.

This is Torrey Stenmark. I’ve somehow become a fan along the way. Here she is as Captain Marvel.

[click to enlarge]

I was surprised she was able to make the costume so quickly after the Captain Marvel movie. She was on a panel in which she spoke quite conversationally about the Marvel Universe and costuming, despite being in such a heavy-duty outfit.

The next day, I saw a woman in an intriguing costume, complete with helmet. I asked if I could take a picture, and she immediately went into a pose.

Later, I realized they’re the SAME PERSON. It was Torrey again. This happened to me last year, when I took pictures of her as Power Girl, and I didn’t recognize her.

So I knew ahead of time she was going to appear as Galadriel this year. Still, I was stunned when she debuted.

She knows how to pose with gestures appropriate for the character.

This view from the back shows the elaborate work involved. Keep in mind, she makes the costumes herself.

Here she is, breaking character to show off her 1st Place award. And no one can deny she earned it.

[Permission granted to use any photo on this post, so long as it is labeled “Photo by Mark Murata”]

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Norwescon II Supplemental

As promised, here are some of the cosplayers from Norwescon.

We’ll start with a fairy.

[click to enlarge]

At least, that’s what she resembles. I assume she’s some sort of magical being.

Now we have someone who was all armored up.

Keep in mind, it’s not a real gun. Some attendees do bring edged weapons, and those are peace-bonded, using the same thick plastic used in plastic handcuffs.

Now we have a winged being.

I’m not going to assume this is a fairy. Use some imagination.

I’ll pause from the amusing narrative. Some of these folks work all year on their costumes. The attention to detail is impressive. If you attend a convention like this, the polite thing to do is ask permission to take a picture, then show it to the person after it’s snapped.           

I asked, but the I took this picture when her eyes were shut. (I actually kind of like it.)

Thanks to the miracle of smart phones, I could quickly see my error and take another one.

She was a good sport.

And here is the Star Trek couple.

They were as cute as they look.

Here we have an elegant woman.

I’m guessing such outfits are incredibly hot after a while.

This is a member of the sheriff’s office. For real. She was patrolling in the hotel.

They say they get mistaken for cosplayers.

She could always protect us from the Dalek.

It actually moved around at a good rate.

So tomorrow, I’ll have the most beautiful cosplayer.

[Permission granted to use any photo on this post, so long as it is labeled “Photo by Mark Murata”]

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Norwescon I Supplemental

Norwescon is an annual science fiction and fantasy convention held in SeaTac (to the south of Seattle) each year. If you’ve never been to one, it’s a lot like other business conventions (except for cosplayers—more on that later).

For instance, there are many booths on the floor.

This one was for the Renaissance Faire.

And there are panels. This was one was on YA (young adult) writing. I don’t write that, but I like to go to such panels because the writers are so dynamic.

Fonda Lee, G.S. (Gabrielle) Prendergast, Marta Murvosh, and Brenna Clarke Gray. Marta Murvosh is asking aspiring writers to raise their hands. I couldn’t because, you know, camera. Apologies to Spencer Ellsworth, whom I couldn’t include in the shot.

Brenna Clarke Gray explained to me afterwards that YA has a maximum age of eighteen for protagonists. A protagonist age twenty to twenty-two would not work.

Novels with protagonists in their early to mid-twenties are called NA (new adult) by some. There is an expectation of a certain amount of sexuality, and if not, some discussion as to why there is no sexual activity.

Another panelist was Cat Rambo.

She emphasized that all writers need agents to read and understand the publishers’ contracts. Publishing houses try to get all the rights they can from the writer—for instance, rights to audiobooks. But if that publishing house has no history of doing audiobooks, the author needs to retain those rights or have the publishing house spell out in detail how an audiobook of the novel is going to be made.

But writers need to learn about contracts. Also, writers need to understand the agents’ contracts. Ultimately, it is the writer who signs the contracts and is responsible.

Rhiannon Held was also there.

She’s a professional archaeologist known for urban fantasy. Now she’s starting to do space opera.

The Artist Guest of Honor was Tran Nguyen.

Look at her art and be astounded. 

So my next entry will have cosplayers.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Conan Meets the Wizard of Oz

I was watching the movie Conan the Destroyer (not the first one, the reprehensible Conan the Barbarian), when I realized it had strong similarities to The Wizard of Oz. This might sound insane at first, but as I watched it again, the similar plot points were astonishing. Note that characters slide around, e.g., sometimes Conan is Dorothy, sometimes the Princess is. See if you think this is just coincidental. (The first few comparisons may seem unremarkable, but the whole is greater than the parts. And obviously, these are spoilers.)  

The Wizard of Oz starts with Dorothy running on a road.
Conan the Destroyer starts with soldiers galloping on horseback.

Dorothy descends from a tornado.
Soldiers on horseback descend on Conan in a plain.

Dorothy sings of over the rainbow (out of sequence)
Witch-Queen promises Conan to bring back the dead Valeria.

Dorothy greeted enthusiastically by Munchkins.
Conan greeted enthusiastically by crowd.

Evil Witch threatens Dorothy.
Witch-Queen plots to sacrifice Princess.

Good Witch sends Dorothy on her way.
Witch-Queen sends Conan and Princess on their way.

Dorothy acquires three companions: Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion.
Conan acquires three companions: Thief = Cowardly Lion, Wizard = Scarecrow, Female Warrior = Tin Man.

Dorothy falls into a perilous sleep.
Princess falls asleep and is snatched away.

Confrontation with high gatekeeper of Oz.
Confrontation with wizard in high castle.

Dorothy and companions get spiffed up.
Princess and companions tend to each other’s wounds.

Dorothy meets the great big fiery head of the Wizard of Oz.
Princess walks into a great big mouth through blazing fire.

Attack of the flying monkeys.
Attack of the guardians of the horn.

Funny pratfall by Lion (out of sequence)
Funny battle of wizards.

Dorothy taken.
Princess taken.

Companions go after Dorothy.
Companions go after Princess.

Evil Witch prepares for Dorothy’s death using a red hourglass.
Witch-Queen prepares Princess for sacrifice using red wine.

Sneaking into the castle.
Sneaking into the palace.

Castle battle.
Palace battle.

Evil Witch killed abruptly.
Witch-Queen killed abruptly.

Dorothy brings Evil Witch’s broom to Wizard of Oz; confrontation with the Wizard.
Princess brings horn to evil god (out of sequence); Conan battles evil god.

Wizard gives gifts to each companion.
Princess invites each companion into her service.

Wizard tries to take Dorothy home by balloon; Dorothy steps out of carriage.
Princess asks Conan to rule with her; Conan goes off to find his own kingdom.

Dorothy returns home.
Conan eventually gains his own kingdom.

Obviously, Conan the Destroyer is its own story, with needless violence every so often. And the character of Bombaata, who betrays them, is unique to that movie. But do I think this proves the writers used The Wizard of Oz for their basic plot? Perhaps, perhaps not. At the least, it shows the lack of originality in Hollywood.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Astronaut Suit Does not Fit

Okay, March 29 was supposed to be a historic moment in space: the first all-female spacewalk. Astronauts Christina Koch and Anne McClain were scheduled to go out of the International Space Station—not as a stunt; it just so happened with the crew rotation that it would be two women and no man.

But Anne McClain decided to pass. She felt uncomfortable wearing the large spacesuit, and they only had one medium spacesuit, which Christina Koch would wear. See the account here.

Generic Spacesuit
photo by Adam Jones

One day they probably will have an all-female spacewalk—but not for the sake of being all-female. Whatever is practical.

So I’m going to use this as a lead-in for an excerpt from my novel manuscript, Alpha Shift. Christina has been badly hurt, but she has to pull on a flexible spacesuit.


Undressing was not difficult. Dressing was hard. The exo suit was a one-piece, bulky with compressed air on the back, that had to go on properly. A sloppy job would still be airtight, but it would crimp and pull tightly in the most private parts.

The most expedient thing to do was lie down on the deck. That eased her back while leaving her particularly vulnerable. Then there was the long effort to pull the thing on left-handed while twinging her tailbone and jarring the hot-and-cold packs on her right elbow and shoulder enough to pepper her vision with red spots of pain. Try as she might, she couldn’t help huffing and moaning with the effort.

In the end Christina  stood, reeking of bitter sweat, panting, suit not quite closed.


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