The Lego Movie

Let's get this out of the way: this film is going to sell a lot of Legos

I'm okay with that. I had a great time at the show. The animation was wonderful, the story was the sort of over-the-top goofy/awesome stuff that you'd expect from the mind of a clever 10-year-old, and they hung a lantern on that. Liam Neeson and Morgan Freeman were voicing caricatures of some of their most memorable parts, and they did so with scenery-chewing abandon. 

There were jokes meant for the grown-ups (or at least for those with a couple of decades of pop-culture immersion) and there were moments meant for the kids. And the ultimate peril these Legos face, well... it's perilous, and believable in spite of all the silly. 

It's a Warner Brothers feature, so Lego Batman gets plenty of screen time while Lego Star Wars only gets a cameo, but you probably wouldn't notice the IP ownership boundaries without someone calling attention to them. 

The Lego Movie holds my #1 slot for the (admittedly quite young) year. Convention travel makes it unlikely I'll be able to see it again with my 10-year-old, and that's going to save me a ton of money on popcorn and bricks.


Belatedly, I figured out how to articulate something important: I'm okay with this movie as a commercial for Legos, because it was also sort of a Public Service Announcement for Legos. Sure, there's product placement, but there's also a whole lot of message about why this toy is such an important part of so many people's lives. That may sound heavy, I know, but it's definitely in there, and I'm definitely okay with that.

See Me at RadCon 6B

I'll be attending RadCon 6B next weekend, February 14-16 at the Red Lion in Pasco Washington. Since I'm their Artist Guest of Honor I got to do a bunch of original work just for the convention, including art for the badges, some single-panel gags for the convention book, the tee-shirt art, and of course the cover for the convention booklet.

The theme they asked me to work within was "Science Fiction vs. Science Fact." Here is the raw cover art I came up with. 

I call it "I've Got This, Guys."

There's lots of blank space here for the convention to put words and stuff, so I'm excited to see what the final booklet looks like. The convention begins in about a week, and if you're in the area you should come see me! And not just me, US! The Writer Guest of Honor is Mike Resnick, the Music Guest is The Great Luke Ski, and the list of visiting professionals scrolls for quite a while.

(Note: I don't know what the "6B" means, but I'm pretty sure it's not hexadecimal, since 107 is a big number of times for a convention.)

Promise of Blood

I've read several debut novels over the years, most by authors who've gone on to do quite well for themselves, and I can confidently state that Promise of Blood, by Brian McClellan, is the best of them. 

By the end of the first chapter I was hooked. By the third point-of-view switch I was amazed. McClellan was juggling characters like an old hand, and this was supposedly his first book. He was drawing me into his mythos and world without lengthy exposition, moving seamlessly from action to dialog and back, teaching me what to expect from this world he created, and I never felt "taught." Only entertained. 

That takes real chops, that does. Many writers don't develop that level of skill until their five millionth word, if ever. And McClellan does it straight out of the gate.

Also, he created a fantasy world with gunpowder, magic, and "powder mages." It's right there on the cover. Setting is not story, of course, but McClellan hooked me with both.

So... go get the book

Funny story, now: I was at Legendary ConFusion, and Brian McClellan was one of the authors with whom I was hanging out. The others, including Myke Cole and Peter Brett, were talking up Brian's book, which was (and still is, as of this writing) on sale. So I snagged it for $2 thinking "what the heck?" 

Then I saw Brian in the Reddit Room, and he had a mousepad I recognized. It was ancient, with the wrist-grime of ages upon it, and it didn't take me much mental math to figure out that Brian had been a Schlock Mercenary fan since long before he was published. 

Let me be up front about something: if you like my work, that's no guarantee that I'll like yours, let alone blog about it this gushingly. But when I dove into Promise of Blood I realized that this was epic fantasy written straight at my particular tastes. And you, fair reader, should take careful note of this, because if you like the things that I make (a fair bet, considering you were here on the site, and found this blog post) I think you're extremely likely to enjoy what Brian McClellan has written. And will yet write. 

Two bucks, folks. It's still on sale, and I think you should get in on the ground floor. 

Shadow Ops: Breach Zone

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?"

I, Frankenstein

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.

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