4-Color to 35-Millimeter: Batman (1989) and Batman Returns

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Twenty years after the cancellation of the Adam West Batman TV series, Tim Burton and Michael Keaton got together to reinterpret Batman, giving us two historic bat-bilms. The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch looks at the 1989 Batman and Batman Returns.

An excerpt:

I won’t say Jack Nicholson is a total disaster, because his Jack Napier is actually very effective. But once he falls into the vat and becomes the Joker, he’s just mugging for the camera. It’s a surface performance of prancing about and acting doofy and just not being very interesting. Some of his line deliveries are great (the script provides him with some superb one-liners that he nails), but the role is ultimately little more than that. There’s no sense of character, of menace. Cesar Romero before him and Heath Ledger and especially the brilliant Mark Hamill after him did far more, much more effectively with the part.

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talkin’ Star Trek Discovery on WBAI’s Hour of the Wolf

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Hour of the Wolf is a science fiction radio show that has been airing on WBAI here in New York since 1972. Originally hosted by the late great Margot Adler, Jim Freund has been hosting it since 1974, and these days it goes live on 99.5 FM here in NYC from 1-3am every Wednesday night/Thursday morning.

Last night, Jim was joined by me, movie critic Dan Persons, former Trek fiction editor John J. Ordover, and editor/fan/pundit Wrenn Simms to discuss Star Trek Discovery in the wake of its first two episodes. It was a fun, freewheeling discussion that covered a variety of topics, and it’s been archived on the world wide webby thing for those of you who missed it (or want to hear it again).

Outside In Makes It So goes on sale tomorrow

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Tomorrow is the on-sale date for Outside In Makes It So: 174 New Perspectives on 174 Star Trek: The Next Generation Stories by 174 Writers, edited by Robert Smith? and published by ATB Publishing. You can order the book at this link.

ATB has released the full table of contents:

Season One:

“The Trial Never Ends” by Robert Smith? (“All Good Things”)

“Q’s Clues” by Pam Bridgeo (“Encounter at Farpoint”)

“Fully Functional” by Urban Gmur (“The Naked Now”)

“Lutan Clan” by Rich Handley (“Code of Honor”)

“Size 7” by Nick May (“The Last Outpost”)

“Tests on New Galaxy-Class Starship Go ‘Disastrously’ Wrong” by Kenyon Wallace (“Where No One Has Gone Before”)

“When Just Okay is Actually Great” by Wesley Osam (“Lonely Among Us”)

“Findings of the Special Tribunal of Enquiry Into the Rubicon III Incident” by Steve Hatcher (“Justice”)

“What the Bok?” by Neil A. Hogan (“The Battle”)

“Trelane’s Game” by Jim Beard (“Hide and Q”)

“A Glimmer of Hope” by R. Alan Siler (“Haven”)

“A Hard Rain” by Keith R.A. DeCandido (“The Big Goodbye”)

“My Diary, So There” by Jennifer Adams Kelley (“Datalore”)

“Planet of the Throwbacks” by Finn Clark (“Angel One”)

“The Holodeck in Theory and Practice” by Ashley Heaton (“11001001”)

“A Public Little War” by Don Klees (“Too Short a Season”)

“Assistance Without Domination” by Sasha Chemey (“When the Bough Breaks”)

“UBOMW” by Josee Mcormond (“Home Soil”)

“Psych Out” by Bill Evenson (“Coming of Age”)

“We Are, After All, Brothers Lost Among Infidels” by Eric Briggs (“Heart of Glory”)

“Kid Friendly” by Adam Hunault (“The Arsenal of Freedom”)

“Just Say No” by Jack Graham (“Symbiosis”)

“My She Was Yar” by Alan J. Porter (“Skin of Evil”)

“Galaxy’s Greatest Scientist Leaves It All Behind” by Erika Ensign (“We’ll Always Have Paris”)

“The ‘Conspiracy’ Conspiracy” by Andy Hicks (“Conspiracy”)

“Welcome to the 24th Century” by Patrick Imbeau (“The Neutral Zone”)

Season Two:

“Here Come the Nice” by Fiona Moore (“The Child”)

“Assembly Line” by Rob Tymec (“Where Silence Has Lease”)

“One Good Genre Deserves Another” by Jessica C. Clark (“Elementary, Dear Data”)

“A Long Time Ago…” by Sarah Baum (“The Outrageous Okona”)

“The Signs of Silence” by Dave Galanter (“Loud as a Whisper”)

“Afterlife” by Grant Kien (“The Schizoid Man”)

“Better With Age?” by Brian May (“Unnatural Selection”)

“How To Be as Manly as Riker” by Crystal Hollis (“A Matter of Honor”)

“The Adoration of Commander Data” by David Hirsch (“The Measure of a Man”)

“Saint Wesley of Enterprise” by Matthew Kilburn (“The Dauphin”)

“A Final Unity” by Adam Michael Gobeski (“Contagion”)

“Shiver with Antici–” by Michele Hartman (“The Royale”)

“An Enigma of — Send Help, I’m Trapped in the Title! — an Episode” by Richard Salter (“Time Squared”)

“Space Junk” by Paul Robinson (“The Icarus Factor”)

“Is Anybody Out There?” by Lance Sibley (“Pen Pals”)

“Fade to Black” by Paul Simpson (“Q Who”)

“Smart Plan Make Us Go” by Tony Contento (“Samaritan Snare”)

“An Abstract on the Absurd” by Dave Barsky (“Up the Long Ladder”)

“Ensign Friend” by Nate Ragolia (“Manhunt”)

“Wearing Her Skin” by Colleen Hillerup (“The Emissary”)

“Strategies and Feints” by John O’Connor (“Peak Performance”)

“50 Ways to Read Your Riker” by Cameron Dixon (“Shades of Gray”)

Season Three:

“Packed with Potential” by Rosanne Welch (“Evolution”)

“Not Lost in Translation” by Kelli Fitzpatrick (“The Ensigns of Command”)

“We Need to Talk About Kevin” by Anthony Wilson (“The Survivors”)

“Typecasting a Landscape” by Lisa MacDonald (“Who Watches the Watchers?”)

“Freeze-Frame” by Liu Yin (“The Bonding”)

“Like a Bat Out of Hell” by Leslie McMurtry (“Booby Trap”)

“Midnight in the Garden of Good and Badass” by Andrew Flint (“The Enemy”)

“God Forbid I Should Miss My First Look at the Wormhole” by David Black (“The Price”)

“Of Queens and Tallywackers” by David Loan (“The Vengeance Factor”)

“Stubble, Stubble, Toil, and Trouble” by Christopher Cowan (“The Defector”)

“The Domino Effect” by Mark S. Williams (“The Hunted”)

“Listen Up!” by Rigel Ailur (“The High Ground”)

“The Corbin Maneuver” by Chip Sudderth (“Déjà Q”)

“Riker Behaving Badly” by Scot Clarke (“A Matter of Perspective”)

“Today’s Memory, Tomorrow’s Dream” by Graeme Burk (“Yesterday’s Enterprise“)

“There’s Too Much Paperwork” by Christian Kent (“The Offspring”)

“Drinking and Singing with Klingons” by Rich Schepis (“Sins of the Father”)

“What’s It Take to Get a Mutiny on the Enterprise?” by Matthew Kresal (“Allegiance”)

“Romancing the Horga’hn” by Lori Steuart (“Captain’s Holiday”)

“These Are the Voyages of the Bioship Gomtuu” by Jason Snell (“Tin Man”)

“It’s Not Easy Being Broccoli” by Derek Attico (“Hollow Pursuits”)

“Breaking Things” by Melissa Beattie (“The Most Toys”)

“Dear Dad” by Laura Ware (“Sarek”)

“Warp Nine” by Sean Twist (“Ménage à Troi”)

“How to Bake a Roddenberry Pie” by Andrew McCaffrey (“Transfigurations”)

“To Be Continued…” by Arnold T. Blumberg (“The Best of Both Worlds”)

Season Four:

“The Past is Prologue” by Shaun Lyon (“Family”)

“Behind Yellow Eyes” by Jameson Lee (“Brothers”)

“Even Aliens Know Their ABCs” by Julie Chaston (“Suddenly Human”)

“Almost Total Recall” by Ian Farrington (“Remember Me”)

“Deal Me In” by Heather Berberet (“Legacy”)

“Power, Politics, Poison, and Picard” by Warren Frey (“Reunion”)

“Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” by Thomas Cookson (“Future Imperfect”)

“Indispensable” by James F. Boyd (“Final Mission”)

“The Impotence of Being Earnest” by Trey Korte (“The Loss”)

“The Collector Gene” by Ian McCann (“Data’s Day”)

“Spoon Heads to the Rescue” by John Kilfeather (“The Wounded”)

“Three Acts of Deceit” by Jon Arnold (“Devil’s Due”)

“The Wrath of Conn” by Nathan Bottomley (“Clues”)

“Seashore to Seashore” by Joseph Dilworth Jr. (“First Contact”)

“La Forge Flambé” by Lindsey Mayers (“Galaxy’s Child”)

“A Cold and Lonely Corner of Hell” by Lars Pearson (“Night Terrors”)

“Love Sick” by M.W. Tice (“Identity Crisis”)

“The Uncommon Man” by Ivy Glennon (“The Nth Degree”)

“Brought to You by the Letter Q” by Christa Dickson (“QPid”)

“In (Conspiracy) Theory” by William Leisner (“The Drumhead”)

“The Resolution Will Not Be Televised” by Heather Murray (“Half a Life”)

“It’s What’s on the Inside that Counts” by Kristine Larsen (“The Host”)

“Who’s the Fairest of Them All?” by Nick Seidler (“The Mind’s Eye”)

“Women are from Kronos…” by Leslie McIntee (“In Theory”)

“The Many Civil Wars” by Matt Smith (“Redemption”)

Season Five:

“When the Walls Fell” by Laura Gillespie (“Darmok”)

“The Mysterious Case of Ro Laren’s Earring” by Michel “Siskoid” Albert (“Ensign Ro”)

“The Grass is Always Hornier on the Other Side” by Dan Kukwa (“Silicon Avatar”)

“All Hail Marissa Flores!” by John Seavey (“Disaster”)

“Law #46” by Shawn Means (“The Game”)

“Of Coming and Goings, Of Partings and Unification” by Robert Greenberger (“Unification”)

“Sign Up Now, and Get a Time-Decoder Ring” by Kathy Sullivan (“A Matter of Time”)

“The Keatons Take Off” by Jez Cartner (“New Ground”)

“The One When He Died” by Jeffrey Wolf (“Hero Worship”)

“Dirty Words Painted Gray” by Joe Briggs-Ritchie (“Violations”)

“How Do You Solve a Problem Like Utopia?” by Ben Greet (“The Masterpiece Society”)

“Basic Instincts” by Si Hunt (“Conundrum”)

“Corporeal Punishment” by David A. McIntee (“Power Play”)

“How I Learned About Assisted Suicide” by Derreck Mayer (“Ethics”)

“It’s Complicated” by Caitlin Walsh (“The Outcast”)

“After Moore” by Piers Beckley (“Cause and Effect”)

“Quit Being Mean to Your Cadets On Purpose, and Start Teaching Them Stuff” by Eric Pelot (“The First Duty”)

“Wild, Sad, Happy, Inventive, and Dancing” by Carrie Herndon (“Cost of Living”)

“How to Please Your Space Man” by Jan Fennick (“The Perfect Mate”)

“Clara’s Best Friend” by Jill Sherwin (“Imaginary Friend”)

“One Hour ‘Til Persephone” by Daniel Zimmerman (“I, Borg”)

“The Undiscovered Country” by Gregory Long (“The Next Phase”)

“Eyes Only” by Peter McAlpine (“The Inner Light”)

“I Might Be .004% Out of Phase with Plato” by Anne McClane (“Time’s Arrow”)

Season Six:

“The Gloopy Rest of the Rebarc” by Alex Kennard (“Realm of Fear”)

“Shouldn’t, Can’t, and Wouldn’t” by Jarrah Hodge (“Man of the People”)

“Scotch on the Rocks” by Stuart Douglas (“Relics”)

“The Gendered Approach to Trauma” by Amy Imhoff (“Schisms”)

“Q as Folk” by Nicole Carlson (“True Q”)

“To Boldly File” by Chris Arnsby (“Rascals”)

“The Bastard Child of Westerns, Sci-Fi, and a 1960s Acid Trip” by Marcus Harmes (“A Fistful of Datas”)

“Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations” by Mick Schubert (“The Quality of Life”)

“Torturous” by Brandon Griffis (“Chain of Command”)

“The Fish that John West Rejected” by Paul Deuis (Deep Space Nine‘s “Emissary”)

“People for the Ethical Treatment of Holograms” by Clare Moseley (“Ship in a Bottle”)

“SF Cupid: Where You Can Find Someone to Boldly Go With You” by Evelyn Lamb (“Aquiel”)

“A Second Late, a Second Ending…” by Graham Howard (“Face of the Enemy”)

“This Universe is Badly Designed” by Paul Booth (“Tapestry”)

“The Diverse-Less Generation” by Emilya Piansay (“Birthright”)

“A Sad Day to Die Hard” by Steven Schapansky (“Starship Mine”)

“Out of the Frying Pan…” by Lily Mitchell (“Lessons”)

“Conversations that Never Happened” by Jason A. Miller (“The Chase”)

“Couch Surfing” by Michael Rees (“Frame of Mind”)

“???” by Ryan O’Neill (“Suspicions”)

“(Don’t) Give Me that Old-Time Religion” by Howard Mesick (“Rightful Heir”)

“An Embarrassment of Rikers” by Andy Wixon (“Second Chances”)

“Creating a Temporal Anomaly by Way of Embryonic Stem Cells” by Amy Windham (“Timescape”)

“Two Datas on the Rocks, Please” by Constantin P. Hubert (“Descent”)

Season Seven:

“Gaslight Diplomacy” by Derek Kompare (“Liaisons”)

“A Letter from Home” by Chris Kocher (“Interface”)

“Exit Interview” by Susan Stanton (“Gambit”)

“The Federation and Its Discontents” by Stephen Maslin (“Phantasms”)

“A Mother, a Daughter, a Mindscape” by Nicholas Zacharewicz (“Dark Page”)

“Kes Me, Jean-Luc” by Crissy Calhoun (“Attached”)

“Felix Sapiens” by Lene Taylor (“Force of Nature”)

“Like Mother, Like Son” by Sophia Revelis (“Inheritance”)

“Universes Times Seven” by Becky Iverson (“Parallels”)

“If Starships were Unmanned and Didn’t Go Anywhere, They’d be Perfect” by Barbara Whillock (“The Pegasus“)

“The Stinker that Sets the Standard” by Sarah Winwood (Enterprise‘s “These are the Voyages…”)

“I’m Just a Soul Whose Intentions are Good” by Ari Lipsey (“Homeward”)

Masterpiece Theater Presents…” by Sarah Goerner (“Sub Rosa”)

Je Suis Sito Jaxa” by Grant Watson (“Lower Decks”)

“Androids Anonymous” by Les Zig (“Thine Own Self”)

“A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder Floating in a Space-Time Rift” by Matthew Harris (“Masks”)

“Know What You Have to Do” by Drew Meyer (“Eye of the Beholder”)

Enterprise Dogs” by George Kovacs (“Genesis”)

“The Problem with Aliens in Brownface” by Cait Coker (“Journey’s End”)

“Past Accounts” by Campbell Hardie (“Firstborn”)

“Genetic Opera” by Zoë Tulip (“Bloodlines”)

“Fusion” by Josh Marsfelder (“Emergence”)

“Her Father Has Many Faces” by J. Allan Morlan (“Preemptive Strike”)

“Five Card Stud, Nothing Wild” by Robert Smith? (“All Good Things…”)

Movies:

“Flashes Before Your Eyes” by Scott Collura (Generations)

“I Never Met Him” by Zaki Hasan (First Contact)

“Boothby’s New Tree” by Derek J. Wilson (Insurrection)

“Time and Again” by Colin Wilson (Nemesis)

The future:

“The Chicken and the Egg” by Robert Smith? (“All Good Things…”)

 

Pretty impressive lineup, huh? I’m especially pleased to be between the covers along with some good friends and colleagues of mine: Rigel Ailur, Derek Attico, Jim Beard, Arnold T. Blumberg, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Dave Galanter, Robert Greenberger, Rich Handley, Amy Imhoff, William Leisner, David A. McIntee, Clare Moseley, Alan J. Porter, Jill Sherwin, Lance Sibley, and Paul Simpson.

 

Star Trek Discovery: “The Vulcan Hello” and “Battle at the Binary Stars”

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My review of the first two episodes of Star Trek Discovery is live on Tor.com! I’ll be reviewing the series as each episode comes out for the site, so check it out…..

An excerpt:

What I especially love is that we see the clash of cultures. Humans unwilling to fire first, but willing to fight back if attacked. Klingons who view “we come in peace” as an insult and a lie, for whom battle is all important, and to sue for peace the way of cowards and fools. Vulcans who let logic and science dictate their actions, and who view emotionalism as something to be overcome. That clash is what leads to a state of war at the end of “Battle at the Binary Stars,” as Georgiou’s human peace offering, Burnham’s Vulcan approach of firing first based on past evidence, and T’Kuvma’s personal mission of redemption-through-war all crash into each other and explode.

Friday fanfare: “Cadillac Ranch”

My grandfather always owned Cadillacs. When one broke down, he went out and bought another one. He was a construction worker, but he viewed his car as a status symbol, and he thought Cadillacs were the classy cars to have. Grandpa always used to sneak me Juicy Fruits because he knew I liked to chew gum, but he also knew that my mother, his daughter, only allowed me to chew sugarless gum. But he’d give them to me anyhow, and say, “Don’t tell your mother.”

I was there when he died in 1976, suffering a heart attack while at a friend’s house. Four years later, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band released a great two-LP set called The River, which included a song called “Cadillac Ranch.” I have always and will always think of that song as a tribute to my grandfather.

Here’s the original:

Here’s a live version from 2016, with some great solos by Bruce, Nils Lofgren, Little Steven, and Soozie Tyrell.

 

I never could get the hang of Thursdays

Being sick sucks.

It has one advantage: I have a wife who takes good care of me. Tuesday, despite being sick, I had to be at the dojo for three hours to run the desk. (The woman who runs the desk is a full-time college student — the desk has to be managed in the late afternoon/early evening during the week and on Saturday mornings, so it’s perfect for a student. However, this semester, she has a class right during her hours on Tuesday, so from September to December, I’ll be covering her shift at the desk on Tuesdays.) While I was there, Wrenn went ahead and made a batch of chicken soup, based on my own recipe.

Now you should understand that my chicken soup is magnificent. I don’t just say that to be egotistical, I have testimonials from many folks that it helps make you feel better when you’re sick. Wrenn herself was skeptical of the magical powers of my soup until the first time she got sick after we started dating and she had some soup and she felt better.

Her version of the soup is slightly different from mine (the spice mix was off, partly due to my own addled brain forgetting thyme and allspice when she texted me asking what spices went in it, plus she added grains of paradise), but it still has the magic. I’ve been guzzling it for two days now.

Anyhow, as of this fine Thursday morning, I feel almost lifelike (which puts me one up on yesterday when I, um, didn’t). I need to get back to work, as A Furnace Sealed isn’t going to finish itself. I got some good work done on it on the train trips to and from Rochester last weekend, and I want to keep going, especially since I’m about to dive into the Bronx history part of the story…..

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I also have a meeting tonight with Tom Daly, as now that Mine! has been funded, we need to plot out our story for it. (The basics were done, but we were both too busy to sit down and plot it out in depth.)

To work!

 

4-Color to 35-Millimeter: Swamp Thing and The Return of Swamp Thing

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Created by the great Len Wein & Bernie Wrightson, Swamp Thing was turned into a film by Wes Craven in 1982, revived as a comic the same year, and became the book that put Alan Moore on the map. Then they did a sequel in 1989 that ignored what Moore did in favor of hokiness. The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch slogs through the much with Swamp Thing and The Return of Swamp Thing.

An excerpt:

Swamp Thing is much more fun to watch, mainly because for most of the movie, it isn’t really about Alec Holland or Swamp Thing, it’s about Adrienne Barbeau’s Alice Cable, who is awesome. She holds her own and more with the dumbass men around her (who either drool over her or dismiss her), she manages to stay ahead of Arcane for much of the film, and she frees herself from Arcane’s clutches without help.

Which is why it’s so annoying that she is suddenly and unconvincingly turned into the damsel in distress once Swamp Thing kills Ferret and she faints. First of all, the fainting is just ridiculous. She’s seen much scarier stuff just in this movie, including a crapton of dead bodies in the compound after Arcane attacked it. But once she faints, she stops having any agency or action, being captured in a net, tied to a chair, chained to a wall, and stabbed while standing around like an idiot while Arcane and Swamp Thing fight.