Tuesday September 29, 2020
Schlock Mercenary in Print — Fifteen and Counting
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Off to the printer

Big Dumb Objects has been sent to the printer.

And it’s about time. Big Dumb time, even.

Cover image for BIG DUMB OBJECTS, Schlock Mercenary Book 16

The cover inset art was done a year ago, and the principal art and story was done five years ago. It was the bonus story which hung us up, and a lot of things went wrong during 2019 and 2020 (including the flooding of my office, and several productivity-impacting health problems), but we finally got that last piece finished a week and a half ago.

From there all I needed to do was assemble the cover, with all the circuits and stuff, write the back cover copy, and clean up some of the interior marginalia. I did all that last week, between December 28th and 30th, and then Sandra assembled the final files for the printer and sent it away.

It feels nice to be finished with that.

Sandra has promised me that on Monday she will unearth the sketches I’ve forgotten about drawing, the ones which outline the covers for books 17 through 20, and I guess it was nice having a two day vacation.

 

SOUL

Movie poster for SOUL, man and cat walking down a fanciful staircase made of piano keys.

I loved Soul.

LOVED. IT.

The mythos was fun, the music was amazing, and the story had more heart in it—more truth in it—than anything in recent memory.

As an added bonus, if you like jazz, this movie has some amazing things to offer.

It’s easily worth a Disney+ subscription. Easily.

Yes, it has death, and after-life, and lots of emotions in it. But one of those emotions is joy, and there’s a lot of it to be found, and if ever there was an on-point metaphor for the film, it’s that the joy is easily worth the price of subscribing to the less joyful emotions.

 

Wonder Woman 1984

The up-front summary: I enjoyed Wonder Woman 1984 but I was disappointed. I don’t regret signing up for HBOMax¹, because #WW84 was worth the $15 (cheaper and safer than going to the theater) but I really do wish the film had been… y’know… better.

WW84 movie poster featuring Gal Gadot in the golden helmet and armor.

The good: there were lots of fun moments in the film, and everyone turned in great performances. It was fun seeing Chris Pine again, and Pedro Pascal chewed scenery like a guy who spent his last big feature hidden behind a helmet.

The bad: the 1980’s-ish visuals (especially the titling and the credits) did not evoke nostalgia, and the metallic-neon-rainbow palette felt out of place. It felt to me like someone said “I want it to look like Thor: Ragnarok meets Stranger Things” without considering that the palette and the cultural touchstones were not actually what made those two things successful.

And that means that the central conceit of the film—it’s a prequel, set in a glitzy-because-we-don’t-know-it’s-trash-yet version of 1980’s USA—was baggage rather than a selling point. It was something the film needed to buy, rather than currency it could use to sell me other stuff.

I can’t talk more about the things I did or did not love without spoiling stuff, so I’ll leave it at this (which I first shared in a tweet.)

WW84 was a big can of trail mix, with some amazing bits, some ordinary bits, and some rancid nuts, and then you stand back and ask “why am I eating trail mix?”

¹ HBO Max, as a streaming service, has gotten some really scathing reviews. It worked fine for us, but we’re running gigabit Ethernet cable straight to our Roku box. The HBO Max app has crashed me out to the Roku home screen twice in as many days, but that hasn’t yet happened during a program.