A Bit of Short Fiction

Do you ever have a stray thought that leads to a story seed, and then suddenly there's a whole story there and it's in the way of your day? So you write it as quickly as possible, and move on?

"Who Was That One Guy in That One Movie?"


Redshirts Expansion, Now With 100% More Me

My friend Jonathan "Skippy" Schwartz is Kickstarting the expansion to his super-successful Redshirts card game, and I'll just show you my favorite card now before saying anything else.

Redshirts has a great game mechanic. The object is to kill off your own crew members. If they actually succeed in their missions and return healthy, you've clearly done something wrong. It's fun, it's funny, and it's pretty easy to pick up. David Reddick's art is perfect for it, and I've been led to understand that in this expansion I'm not the only creator of things to be garbed in ominous red and sent doomward repeatedly.

Check it out, folks.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service falls short of "summer blockbuster" status by virtue of more than just its February release. Its R-rating is earned, at least in part, through some spectacularly violent moments whose absence, were they to be edited out for broader audience appeal, would leave the movie bland. For genre fans like me it's way better than the usual February fare, but I can see why 20th Century Fox opted out of a spring or summer release.

This film is a rags-to-riches super-spy mashup that nods to its forebears with all the subtlety of an exploding head. So, brief nod, then ASPLODEYGOO! Its core premise is no more or less absurd than the ones found in the usual "save the world" superhero films, and the dastardly plot is a blend of chilling "what if" and brow-lifting "WTF."

In short, it's spot-on. If you loved the action scenes in The Matrix trilogy, and have a soft spot for dapper do-gooders for whom "good" means "over the top awesome," you'll enjoy Kingsman: The Secret Service.  I did, and as of this writing it's #1 for me for the year.

There's still a lot of year left, though. This clears my Threshold of Awesome, but may drop a dozen notches before the year is out.

(cross-posted from howardtayler.com)

LTUE 2015: My Busy Schedule

I'll be at LTUE this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in the Provo Marriott.  I'm doing quite a bit of programming, and I'll also have a table there. It's not a huge event, though (between 1500 and 2,000 attendees), so I should be pretty easy to find. That said, here's my schedule:


  • 10amWriting and Mental Health: Howard Tayler, David Powers King
  • 12pm:  Comic Books: Writing vs Art: Maxwell Drake, Brittany Heiner, Howard Tayler, James A. Owen, Jess Smart Smiley
  • 3pmLiving with mental illness: James A. Owen, Bryan Beus, Bobbie Berendson W., Jennifer Wardell, Howard Tayler
  • 5pmThe Artistic Road to Fame: Bill Galvan, Bryan Beus, Jessica Douglas, Aneeka Richins, Howard Tayler


  • 9amGood Omens by Gaiman and Pratchett– Making Fun of the Apocalypse: Howard Tayler, Jenniffer Wardell, Candace Thomas, Mikki Kells, Daniel Coleman
  • 11amRules for Writing Magic: Michaelbrent Collings, L.E. Modesitt Jr., Eric James Stone, Howard Tayler Eric Swedin
  • 12pmMartian ‘r’ Us: Howard Tayler, Aaron Johnston, Derrick Dalton, Renee Collins, David Baxter
  • 5pmThe Culture of Immortality: Howard Tayler, Tracy Hickman, Virginia Baker, Paul Genesse


  • 9amPractice Trumps Talent: Howard Tayler
  • 12pmSchlock Mercenary: RPG Creation: Howard Tayler, Alan Bahr, Steven Diamond, Alicia McIntire
  • 3pmPutting Technology Ramifications into your World Building: L.E. Modesitt Jr., Howard Tayler, Dan Wells, Roger White, W. Daniel Willis
  • 5pmCharacter Redesign: Keliana Tayler, Jess Smart Smiley, Bill Galvan, Howard Tayler

(cross-posted from howardtayler.com)

Jupiter Ascending

It's got some Wachowski-sized holes in its world-building, and it feels too long to sit through, but Jupiter Ascending has some of the very best sci-fi action scenes I've ever had the pleasure to watch. The running, the flying, the shooting, the fighting... all of it hung together in ways that made sense, and the directors luxuriated in slow motion for some of the best bits. If you want to go to the movies to watch people do cool things with toys we don't have, Jupiter Ascending is a good choice.

But the plot holes? Ugh. Look, if you decide to see it, I recommend the brain-armor: anytime a non-Earthling says "DNA," pretend they're saying "magical soulprint," because whatever they're talking about has as much in common with actual DNA as pixie dust or midichlorians.

To my even-more-critical eye, the film looks like it suffered from a re-shoot, late story edits, and then a throwing up of the hands by the director, who then went on to say "there's no more money and no more time, and the producer is done chasing sunk costs, so we're releasing in February."

Have I made it sound like I hated it? No. I loved the baroque BDO visuals, the ship designs, and most especially those action scenes, which bought the rest of the movie for me. I just hope that whoever is out there in Hollywood writing a really GOOD space opera can hit the same level of visual awesome that Jupiter Ascending did.

(cross-posted from howardtayler.com)

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