Tuesday January 28, 2014
I've reviewed the first two books in Myke Cole's Shadow Ops series. I love the universe, and Myke did a great job populating it with humans and reality and all the important things.
Shadow Ops: Breach Zone is the third and final book in the Shadow Ops series, which I now know to be a trilogy. This is the book where Myke puts paid on all the promises he's made to the reader. This is the book where he sticks the landing.
This is the book where he leaves us with the big question: "what is Myke's next project, and where can we buy it?"
Friday January 24, 2014
I, Frankenstein was very pretty, and featured some great acting talent. To say, however, that it "had some problems" would be to risk understating the matter a bit.
Hey, I had fun, but the movie knocked me right out of the story over and over by doing ridiculously dumb things. Usually the dumb things had to do with character motivations, but the mythos called attention to itself in bad ways, and the "science" failed to clear the already-low bar that Hollywood sets for genre fiction.
About halfway through the first big battle scene I found myself with action movie fatigue, characterized by the realization that I don't really care much who wins this fight. Better movies solve this problem by making sure I care (Pacific Rim did this well in spite of its handicaps) and by breaking up the action with something else that is satisfying (HULK SIDEPUNCH THOR from The Avengers is one of the best examples of this I can think of.)
I, Frankenstein is from the folks who brought us Underworld, and it does not live up to that promise, the awesome Bill Nighy notwithstanding. It's the first film I've seen in theaters this year, so it comes in at #1 as of this writing, but by the end of the year it will be pretty far down the list, just above the Threshold of Disappointment. My stake, it is in the ground.
EDIT: Actually, no.This is the second film I've seen this year. Apparently when I wrote this review I was very effectively repressing my Legend of Hercules experience. Wow.
Tuesday January 14, 2014
I'll be attending Legendary ConFusion this weekend in Dearborn, Michigan, and Sandra is coming with me!
The big draw for me was an invitation from Myke Cole and Peter Brett to join them at the Author D&D table on Saturday morning. One thing led to another during our brainstorming: as of this writing I have painted miniatures for each of the player characters, some of the key monsters, and I'll be co-Dungeon-Mastering with Peat, who is building the adventure and will be driving the "physics engine" of the whole shebang.
I've been assured that a photographer and a live-action cameraman will be on-hand to capture the nerdy joy. Meanwhile, here's a picture of the adventuring party preparing to have a final dusting of matte finish sprayed on them:
(I'm not posting a picture of the monsters because spoilers.)
Author D&D is not the only thing going on during the weekend. The full program can be found here, and here's a quick list of the events I'm on:
8:00pm, Southfield: Reading with Ron Collins and Howard Tayler
9:00am until noon, Great Room: Author D&D, with Peter Brett, Wesley Chu, Kelley Armstrong, Sam Sykes, Myke Cole, Cherie Priest, and the Worldbuilders Auction Winner
10:00am, I'll still be at Author D&D even though they have me listed on the "Worst. Advice. Ever." panel.
1:00pm, Southfield: Hybrid Publishing, with Sandra Tayler, John Klima, Lucy A. Snyder and Tobias Buckell.
3:00pm, Dearborn: Whose Cartoon is it Anyway? The audience gives suggestions, and they get drawn by Ben Rodriguez, Kurt Erichson, Matt Feazell, Michael Marcus, and Rich Morris. I'm moderating this one, but don't you think for one minute that will prevent me from grabbing a pen...
4:00pm, Huron-Ontario-Erie: Mass Autograph Session 2 -- this is where you want to find me in order to have me sketch in your books. Don't miss out!
9:00pm, Warren: Things That Go Bump in the Night, with Benjamin Rodriguez, J.C. Daniels, and Justin Landon
10:00am, Rotunda: Fixing Inconsistencies in Your Own Works, with Kameron Hurley, Ron Collins, Janet Harriett, Catherine Shaffer, and Christine Purcell
11:00am, Rotunda: The Writing Family, with Ron Collins, Brigid Collins, and Sandra Tayler.
There will be Schlock Mercenary books in the Dealer's Room, but that's not where I'm spending my time. As you can see by the booked-solid-Saturday, I'll be doing panels, and between panels I'll be hanging out with friends. But don't be shy! Come on up and say hello!
Sunday January 12, 2014
Hugo nominations are now open to all members of the World Science Fiction Convention. If there are works or people you'd like to see appear on the ballot, you have from now until March 14th to cast it. If you're not attending WorldCon but want to nominate things and vote, a voting membership can be purchased here for $50, but you need to do that by January 31st. Full details are here.
Here's a short list of the things I did in 2013 which are eligible for nomination:
No, Schlock Mercenary isn't eligible this year. There's a little-known clause that says after works in a series have been nominated five years running HAH! -- No there's no such clause. Broken Wind didn't finish in 2013. It'll be eligible in 2014.
You may be looking for other graphic stories to nominate (you should be looking for those ANYWAY since you can nominate up to five entries in each category) so here are some eligible titles for your consideration:
Of course, by "consideration" I mean "you should read these!" Nominating them is fine, assuming you've read them and find them worthy of that slot on your ballot, but if there's one thing the creative professional craves more than a ballot slot it's an audience.
Thank you, incidentally, for being a part of mine.
Friday January 10, 2014
The Fandango trailer for The Legend of Hercules promised a mashup of Samson, Spartacus, Jesus, and He-Man. Missing completely: any of the twelve labors.
The film itself was less fun than that mashup suggested. On the "twelve labors" or "dodekathlon" angle there was, in fact, a lion, though it looked a little like Aslan so I wasn't sure it would stay dead after Hercules killed it. Also, one of the gladiator villians had his hair braided up in a manner reminescent of Medusa, but she's not even one of the labors. Maybe it was a hydra? So, two?
I suppose a proper deconstruction of this film would call out the elements from the trailer's mashups, identify their commonalities, and attempt to tie all that together with an exploration of how the Campbellian monomyth could have been better applied and/or better left alone by this film. This, however, is not a proper deconstruction. It's my first film review of the year, and I have a zillion other things to get to, so I'm going to fall back to my usual position and answer the question: "how much fun did I have at the theater?"
Not nearly enough.
Oh, hey! The fight scenes were brilliantly choreographed and were filmed and edited beautifully. If you're hankering for nothing more than watching athletic actor/models and stunt men perform close-combat, this film delivers that. Unfortunately, between the cool fighting there are going to be scenes where people talk, and some of them are going to attempt to emote. Watching one of the brawlers take a Herculean uppercut to the crotch is actually LESS sympathetically painful than sitting through some of the dialog, and it was a very powerfully delivered uppercut. In heroic slo-mo, even.
The emoting was bad enough that I didn't care who won the fights. That trims the last of the tasty, meaty bits from a meal of battling beefcake, leaving nothing but indigestible gristle. It's pretty gristle, but okay this metaphor has ruined my appetite. I'd start over but I've got other things on the to-do list.
In years past my first films of the season have gotten numbers. I felt no shame in starting the list below #1 for Legion (2010, #a jillionty-five) and Wolverine (summer 2009, #6), nor in giving Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters the #1 slot (2013, and yes, this kind of floored me. Also I love the H&G:WH soundtrack a lot.) This year, however, I'm just going to say no. There's no #1 yet, and I'm too brain-fogged to attempt to assign an arbitrary "FUN" value to a film during which I thought to myself on at least 5 occasions "I'd rather be playing XCOM."
And honestly, if I were going to allow myself to play XCOM (I'm 25% into "The Enemy Within" DLC) before my work was done this evening, I would have walked out of the theater about 40 minutes into the 99. Those 99 minutes felt like 130.
Technical note: I saw the 3D. Some of the effects were absolutely gorgeous. Some were cheesy (lighting IN YOUR FACE!) But in a lot of places the 3D was broken, with reflections on the surface of the water (for instance) jumping out in front of the characters who were standing above it.