Monday, June 24, 2013


Hello, gentle readers! This morning (it's not noon here yet!) I've decided to be naughty and tease you all with a brief excerpt from my current work-in-progress, Dawnwind: Resurrection.  Enjoy and let the speculation begin! ^_^

* * * * *

"You’ve become something of a celebrity, Seventh," murmured Upio. The corner of his mouth twitched as he tried not to smile.
Hysa snorted. "I don’t know why everyone is reading such significance into it," she complained. "Sweet pantheon! It wasn’t a date, it was just drinks in the crew hall!"
"Drinks with the First," said Upio. "A man who, by all accounts, has never expressed any particular romantic interest in anyone until right now. Until you." He gave up any pretense of disinterest and grinned at her. "That makes it significant."
She scowled. "All we did was talk about work."
Hysa frowned. "Well, mostly."
"What else did you talk about?"
She shrugged. "The usual things. Where we grew up and how we wound up joining the Guard. That sort of stuff."
Upio leaned forward, curious. "He told you about his homeworld?"
"No," admitted Hysa. "Not really. I mean, he talked about things, but only in general and, well, I didn’t want to push, given his history. So. . . ."
Upio sighed and shook his head. "You do realize that you’ve just described a pretty ordinary first date. Don’t you?"
She stared at him as if he had suddenly grown a third eye.
"Isolate me," she muttered. "It was a date, wasn’t it?"
Hysa felt her fingertips throb with blood. She curled them, clutching at the fabric of her shipsuit. "I didn’t really think. . . ."
"Did you have a nice time?" asked Upio, quietly.
"I . . . I suppose I did," said Hysa. "What if he asks me out again?"
"What if he does? Say yes. Say no. It’s up to you."
Hysa lowered her voice, felt her fingers continue to throb. " would be the second date, Upio."
"Ah," said Upio, suddenly grasping her meaning. "Speak first, kiss later. Yes?"
She nodded, clenching her fists.
"Perhaps," suggested Upio, quietly, "you should speak with the First Medic."
"About what?"
"Things? What things?" There was a hint of alarm in Hysa’s voice.
"About . . . compatability," said Upio.
Hysa frowned, perplexed for a moment, before realizing what the Third Officer was referring to so obliquely.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Man of Steel, Feet of Clay

I just saw Man of Steel and I can’t decide if I like it or not. Going into the movie, I didn’t have a lot of enthusiasm to see it. Odd, I know, considering the fact that I work in a comic shop surrounded by people who can’t stop talking about this particular movie. Honestly, I didn’t plan on seeing it in the theater at all. I was going to wait for it to come out on video, because I just didn’t care that much about it.

Having seen the movie, I have to admit that my ambivalence for the film remains firmly in place. Don’t get me wrong. The movie is engaging. It’s a long movie but it doesn’t feel like a long movie. The pacing is fine.

Director Zach Snyder’s imprint is apparent throughout the film. It is not The Dark Knight but the film feels somber. This is only enhanced by the starkness of the cinematography; colors are muted and washed out, there is a preponderance of black and white in the pallette. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the scenes of Metropolis and Krypton. These two locales appear to be grim, joyless places. Overall, visually, I found the movie dull and flat.

The story is interesting. The plot is cohesive. Scenes are engaging. I felt that the performances, though, were uneven.

Henry Cavill portrays Superman/Clark Kent as the outsider and he does this very well. However, there is a rigid plasticity to his performance that I felt did not jibe with the character.

Lois Lane, in this movie, actually has a brain. Amy Adams does an admirable job of bringing the character to life. However, I think Adams is still too much the ingenue to really portray Lane accurately. She’s a little too wide eyed, a little too accepting of Superman and she falls for him far too quickly.

Michael Shannon’s General Zod is written as a complex character and Shannon’s performance, I think, stands out in this film as superior to his co-stars. As the villain of the piece he could have taken Zod completely over the top, but that does not happen until the last part of the film, when it felt appropriate.

The movie is full of action and if I have a major critique of that, it is that the ultimate battle between Superman and General Zod is shot too quickly. It all just happens in a blur of CGI fisticuffs.

Overall, the movie felt very slick. However, I think it lacks depth. As a foundation movie for a trilogy, I can see it working. As a stepping stone to a Cinematic DCU, I think it will accomplish that goal admirably.

But, on a purely personal level, Man of Steel lacks heart. It is entirely two-dimensional. You don’t care about any of the characters, not because they are unlikable, or because the actors in the roles do bad jobs, but because the characters remain two-dimensional.

And that, I think, may be Man of Steel’s greatest weakness. It’s a visually impressive movie, but it takes more than special effects to make a good Superman movie. It takes heart and soul and a sense of wonder that, I think, is lacking in this film.  It uses big budget CGI fights to conceal the fact that Man of Steel is a joyless experience and one that I have no desire to repeat.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Haunted House Hunters

"Now this home," said Robin Foster, pushing open the front door and waving her clients inside, "is a three-bedroom ranch with two full baths, a two-car garage and a fenced back yard."

"Nice," said the Husband. He was late twenties, early thirties.

Still wearing his hair long, thought Robin, but starting to realize it makes him look like a hipster asshole.

"And the . . . history?" asked the Wife.

She was young, pale and fat.

Like a bloated corpse squished into a designer label, little black dress, thought Robin, a tad unkindly. She could already tell the Wife would have the final say in the sale.

"The history is bloody," said Robin. She consulted her file. "The original owners died in their sleep, but the second owners were killed during a home invasion."

"And they’re still here?" asked the Husband.

"Yes," said Robin. "On the Barrett-Bender Scale the entities are class three."

Strong enough to do party tricks, thought Robin, but not strong enough to suck anyone into a hell dimension.

"The house certainly has a strange atmosphere," murmured the Husband.

He was walking around the foyer, peering into corners. Robin had to fight the urge to smack the back of his head. Instead, she smiled and gave them the tour and the usual spiel.

In the formal dining room, the Wife paused. She tilted her head to one side, dog-like, and frowned.

"Do you hear that?"

"What, dear?" asked the Husband.

"I’m not sure," said the Wife. "I. . . ."

Suddenly, the woman went as stiff as a board. Her eyes gaped wide, her mouth opened and she made a long, gasping noise.

"Honey?" The Husband’s eyes were wide and pale.

Oh crap, thought Robin.

"Your wife’s a Medium, isn’t she?"

"What?" The Husband’s eyes darted here and there, as if looking for a way out. "Don’t be ridiculous!"

"Then how do you explain that?" said Robin.

The Wife was rising from the authentic hardwood floor of the formal dining room, drifting toward the plaster ceiling with the faux wrought iron chandelier.

"Oh hell," muttered the Husband. "How do we get her down?"

With a sigh, Robin dug a vial of holy water out of her purse and sprinkled some on the Wife’s designer knock-off footwear. Trembling, the possessed woman dropped to the floor with a weighty thud.

The Husband swept in and wrapped his arms around her.

"Darling, are you all right?"

"What a rush!" said the Wife, eyes open, pupils blown. "We have to buy this house, darling! You have to feel what I felt!"

"I’m sorry, but that’s not going to happen," said Robin, coldly.

"What?" The Wife struggled to her feet. "Why?"

"I can’t sell a haunted house to a Medium," said Robin. "It’s against the law."

"Only if you report me," said the Wife. "If you don’t, you make the sale, your commission and a little extra on the side."

"Yes," said Robin. "And when you open a gateway to the Other Side and legions of angry ghosts descend on this neighborhood, I lose my licence and maybe go to jail as an accessory after the fact." She shook her head. "That is not going to happen."

She tucked her folder under her arm and gave the couple a withering look.

"You’ll have to find something on the mundane market."

"Surely we can work something out, Miss Foster," wheedled the Husband.

This time, Robin did smack him.

Author's Notes:
My life tends to inform what I write about and, since I've been looking for a house, this is the second short-fiction that I've written involving real estate.  Heaven help us if I ever decide to go on a diet.

Monday, June 10, 2013

What I'm Reading and What I'm Writing....

Good morning, gentle readers.  It's Monday morning and here I sit, eating an iced Honey Bun, sipping a Coca-Cola and finishing up a short story involving time travel.
The story is called Tempus Necat and I'm submitting it to 365Tomorrows.
In other news, this month marks the one year anniversary of the release of my first book, Dawnwind: Last Man Standing.  I had hoped to have the sequel, Dawnwind: Resurrection, finished and ready to publish by the end of this month, but, alas, circumstances have conspired against me.  I'm roughly halfway through Resurrection but the going is slow.  I have a full-time job now and am house-hunting.  When I get home, all I want to do is sit down, have a drink and sleep. 
Still, I persevere, ladies and gentlemen. I keep at it.  Some progress, after all, is better than none.
An odd thing about Resurrection is that the story hasn't twisted on me.  Usually, when I write, I start off with one story but, about a quarter of the way in, the narrative will twist and I'll find myself writing another story entirely.  That hasn't really happened with the current book, which is odd and somewhat alarming.  I don't think this has ever happened to me before, and so I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.
I suppose only time and the reviews will tell.
In other news, I have managed to read a few things.  I just finished Gregory Maguire's What-the-dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy.  It's one of Maguire's lesser-known books and, even though it was interesting, I thought it lacked the polish of his other works.  Honestly, my biggest complaint about the story would be the framing device he used, telling one story within another.  Other than that, it was a decent read.  On a scale of 1 to 5, I'd probably give it a three.
I've also returned, after a long pause, to Catherynne M. Valente's The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There.  It's a sequel to her previous book, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making.  Cumbersome titles, I'm sure you'll agree, but entertaining reads.  Ms. Valente is very imaginative and you get a very clear sense of her main character, September.
And, finally, the other day, I picked up a new book, Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig.  Wendig is a great author whose previous books, Blackbird and Mockingbird, I thoroughly enjoyed.  Those were gritty, urban fantasies starring a rather unlovable protagonist.  Blue Blazes is another urban fantasy, set in a criminal underworld that knocks up against a supernatural Underworld.  I'm only a few chapters in so far, but it's a damn fun read mainly because Mr. Wendig does a great job making his main character, Mookie Pearl, sympathetic.  If you're looking for a good read and urban fantasy is your thing, you could do worse than picking up this book.
I'm off now, to work on Resurrection
And maybe have a Fuzzy Navel.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The More Things Change...

Twenty years from now...

Gwen knows there’s going to be fireworks the minute Mia shuts the car door. She can tell by the slight furrowing of her partner’s brow, the pursing of auburn-painted lips. As soon as the door shuts, Mia draws a deep breath.

Wait for it, thinks Gwen.

"Is that guy fucking serious?"

"Mia. . . ."

"I mean, really! Really?"

Mia waves a well-manicured hand at the house they came to see. It’s a turn of the century ranch. Brick exterior. Black shutters. Nicely raked front yard. Ornamental stones places here and there, to break up the sandy lot.


Mia huffs, winds down, her venom spent.

"I liked it," says Gwen.

"Why?" Mia looks at her as if she’d admitted to liking gum surgery.

"I don’t know. It’s cozy."

"It’s dumb as a box of hair. Not even a real AI! My phone is smarter than that place!"

"Why do we need a smart house?"

"Why do we need indoor plumbing?" scoffs Mia. "Or electric lights? Because it makes life better!"

"No," says Gwen, starting the car. "It just makes things easier. Easier isn’t always better."

"Look, sweety. . . ."

"No," says Gwen. She grips the steering wheel tight; she hates confrontation. "You look. You said you were tired of living in apartments and you didn’t want to get a condo. You said you wanted a house. Well, Mia, this house is what we can afford."

"We can do better than a dumb box," protests Mia.

"Smart houses cost money," says Gwen. "More money than I’m willing to pay just so some overblown computer can start the coffee maker in the morning and screen our phone calls."

"It’s not just your decision, Gwen."

"I never said it was."

Mia huffs, sits back, crosses her arms. "Are we going anywhere or are we just going to sit here and kill the batteries?"

Gwen hits her turn signal and pulls away from the curb. She guides the car down the street, passing boxy brick houses sitting in manicured, sandy lots. In the rearview mirror, she watches the house they came to see, getting smaller and smaller.

The perfect metaphor for my life, thinks Gwen. Everything I want gets smaller and smaller until it vanishes and I’m left with nothing.

She glances at Mia, still pouting, head turned, glaring at the passing street.

Well, thinks Gwen, almost nothing.