my review of Marvel’s Luke Cage season 2 episodes 1-4

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Themes of family and parenting and the past coming back to haunt you run through the first four episodes of the latest Netflix MCU season, with a big dollop of hubris to go with it. My take on the first third of Marvel’s Luke Cage season 2 over on Tor.com!

An excerpt:

[Misty Knight] also does physical therapy work with [Claire] Temple and training with Colleen Wing. After the latter, they go out for drinks and get into a bar fight, which is the single greatest scene in the history of the universe. (They released it on YouTube as a teaser for this season ahead of time. “I don’t look down before I flush.” Beautiful.) Wing insists that she can still be a badass—right after tossing her to the mat—and when a guy in the bar recognizes her as the cop who put his brother away, she gets to prove it. The fight is glorious, and Wing doesn’t get involved until she has to, letting Knight prove herself first. (Later, Wing and Danny Rand—who is mentioned but not seen, which is the best way to feature the MCU’s Iron Fist—send her the schematics of a bionic arm as developed by Rand Enterprises. This will probably be important later.)

Authors Day at the Star Trek Original Series Set Tour

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Pictured above: authors in the transporter! L-r: Peter David, me, Scott Pearson, Robert Greenberger. (Dave Galanter was elsewhere.)

 

We had an absolutely wonderful time at the Star Trek Original Series Set Tour in Ticonderoga, New York. Hosted by James Cawley and his amazing staff, folks who bought the tour of the painstakingly re-created set also got to meet five authors: me, Peter David, Robert Greenberger, Dave Galanter, and Scott Pearson. All of us had books and things to sell, and we each gave a talk as well.

 

Pictured above: the facade of the set tour and the city hall where the individual author talks took place.

 

Just as when a bunch of us went last year, we all nerded out so much when touring the sets, which had more stuff than last year — sickbay now has the decompression chamber from “Space Seed,” and engineering has the big piece of machinery on the side where Kirk and Finney fought in “Court Martial.” The bridge is now a full circle, and they have some more props and things.

 

Pictured above: me in the captain’s chair looking solemn and serious, like I’d be for the first 55 minutes or so of the episode, then laughing as I would in the last five minutes as someone makes a stupid joke and we all have a good laugh over the executive producer credit.

 

It was especially fun to see Peter, his wife Kathleen, his daughter Caroline, and Scott’s daughter Ella — who, unlike the rest of us, had never been to the set tour before — completely nerd the fuck out over the set.

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Pictured above: Peter David in the captain’s chair, his wife Kathleen O. David standing behind him.

 

There were a steady stream of people throughout the day. Some were there to see us, some were just there to tour the set and got bonus authors. We each gave our talk at a nearby hall, and all of us had capacity seating. (Don’t be too impressed — there were only about a dozen seats. But they were filled, dammit!)

Pictured above: Robert Greenberger’s books, Dave Galanter with his wife Simantha Galanter and Dave’s books, me with my books, Peter David and Kathleen O. David with Peter’s books (they were looking down at their phones, and I said, “Look up!” and they took me literally), and Scott Pearson with his books.

 

As much fun as it was to be at the tour and to sell books and to meet fans and to do podcast interviews (I did two), the best thing about the weekend was getting to hang out with the other authors, who are all also dear friends. We got to have breakfast and dinner and dessert together, and just spend time chatting about life, the universe, and everything. Usually we only see each other at conventions, and such opportunities are few and far between. The lighter atmosphere of this event (only one day, not much programming) was much more conducive to socializing, and it was very welcome.

 

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Pictured above: the gang at dinner. L-r: Robert Greenberger, Mike Rizzo (one of the staff at the set tour), me, Wrenn Simms, Simantha Galanter, Dave Galanter, Ella Pearson, Scott Pearson, Caroline David, Kathleen O. David, and Peter David. (Not pictured: Marybeth Ritkouski, another of the staff at the set tour, mostly because she was actually taking the picture.)

 

We also got to spend time with our dear friend Carol, who lives up there, and also eat yummy food and go to Wind Chill for ice cream (which we always make sure to do when we’re up there because they have really yummy ice cream) and go to the Burleigh Luncheonette because it’s a delightful 50s throwback. We did not get to the used bookstore, sadly.

It was tremendous fun, and while we won’t be able to get back up there for Trekconderoga in August (it’s too close to Dragon Con), we’re looking forward to going back some time soon.

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Pictured above: Captain Bob!!!!!

4-Color to 35-Millimeter: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

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The second FF movie (well, third, technically) captures all its title characters perfectly. Unfortunately, it fails with its villains, as both Victor von Doom and Galactus are a total disaster–as is the ridiculous plot, as they take one of the greatest comic book stories of all time and botch it. The great superhero movie rewatch gazes upon Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

An excerpt:

So many things here don’t make sense, starting with how, exactly, the U.S. Army is able to run operations on foreign soil like the UK, Germany, and especially Russia without any kind of presence from local military forces. (Apparently, early drafts of the script had Nick Fury in the role that eventually became Hager. This would’ve worked way better with S.H.I.E.L.D. than it does with the Army.) How does the Fantasti-Car get literally halfway around the world in ten minutes? How does Johnny exchanging powers with anyone he touches translate to him getting everyone’s powers at the end, which is contradictory to how it worked in the movie up to that point? (At the very least, his flame powers and ability to fly should have been transferred to one of the other three.) How does the Surfer actually stop Galactus? (He just sorta flies into him and Galactus collapses in on itself, and that’s it, and holy shit is it anticlimactic.)

see me in Ticonderoga this weekend for Star Trek Author’s Day

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On Saturday the 23rd of June — this Saturday — it will be “Author’s Day” at the Star Trek Original Series Set Tour in Ticonderoga, New York. This tour is a painstaking, and amazing, re-creation of the studio set from the original Star Trek in the 1960s. In addition to the tour, on Saturday you can also meet a bunch of nifty Trek authors. We’ll not only be signing and selling books, but we’ll each be giving a talk:

  • 11am: Dave Galanter (Crisis of Consciousness, Troublesome Minds) and Scott Pearson (The More Things Change, Honor in the Night)
  • 12pm: Keith R.A. DeCandido (Articles of the Federation, Q & A)
  • 2pm: Peter David (New Frontier, Imzadi)
  • 3pm: Robert Greenberger (A Time to Love, A Time to Hate)

So come up and see us!

 

Othello in Central Park

OTHELLO Written by William Shakespeare Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson Featuring Kevin Rico Angulo, Christopher Cassarino, Peter Jay Fernandez, Motell Foster, Andrew Hovelson, Chukwudi Iwuji, David Kenner, Heather Lind, Tim Nicolai, Flor De Liz Perez,

Yesterday was a lot of fun. Wrenn and I had lunch with friends then hung out on the standby line in Central Park for Othello, which starred Chukwudi Iwuji in the title role (he was in John Wick 2 and also the impossible astronaut two-parter on Doctor Who), Corey Stoll as Iago (he was Yellowjacket in Ant-Man), Heather Lind as Desdemona (she was one of the stars of Turn: Washington’s Spies), and Alison Wright as Emilia (a regular on The Americans). All four were superb, and the production was very well directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson (whom folks probably know best as an actor playing Captain Montgomery on Castle; as a playwright as the author of Lackawanna Blues; and as a theatre director for his recent revival of August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson).

This is the second time I’ve seen Othello as part of Shakespeare in the Park, the ongoing free productions of Shakespeare in Central Park’s Delacorte Theatre that have been going on since the 1950s, and which I’ve been attending for as long as I’ve been alive. (In fact, some of my earliest memories of childhood are sitting on the Great Lawn waiting for tickets while some dude wandered around peddling sangria.) The last production of Othello I saw was in 1991, and starred Raul Julia as a big bombastic Othello and Christopher Walken as, basically, Iago from Brooklyn. It was glorious.

What I particularly liked about this version of Othello is that among most of the characters there is genuine affection. Far too often, whoever is playing Othello is so focused on the obsessive flame of jealousy that Iago stokes that his love for Desdemona never comes through. It’s a tough role to play because Iago plays him like a two-dollar banjo, and it’s very easy for Othello to come across as an idiot.

Iwuji threads that needle nicely: his Othello is a man of passion, but never does he lose sight of the fact that he loves Desdemona, even in the final scene where he strangles her in their bed (always a brutal scene to watch, and this one was particularly nasty, as Lind is flailing as she tries and fails to keep breathing).

But the standout here is Stoll. If you’d told me that the guy who was so incredibly uninteresting as Yellowjacket (just one of a multitude of things wrong with Ant-Man) would make a great Iago, I’d have laughed in your face, but Stoll is simply brilliant here. He modulates so cunningly into the different modes he needs to be in: solicitous friend to Desdemona, loyal friend to Othello who is reluctant to give him ill news, devil in the ear of Roderigo, faithful comrade to Cassio, disdainful husband to Emilia, and then in his many asides, his true face of loathing toward the Moor. Stoll keeps the character’s racism subtle, which in 2018 may not have been the best approach (subtlety is for when racists aren’t feeling emboldened), but it’s still an incredibly effective performance.

Stoll is also the only one who has no love in his heart. Every other actor in this film shows love for their fellow, whether it’s Desdemona’s father for her (though, like Othello’s, his is twisted, in this case by his racism), Emilia’s for Iago (which the man himself drains out of her) and Desdemona, Othello’s for Iago, Cassio’s for pretty much everyone. That love, that passion, informs all the characters’ actions (or, in Iago’s case, the passionate hatred), and it makes everyone’s performance better, particularly those of Lind and Wright. Lind really sells Desdemona’s utter confusion; Wright does likewise for Emilia’s conflict between marital duty and moral outrage.

Unusually for the Public Theatre, whose bread and butter is doing variations (whether it was last year’s Julius Caesar, where Caesar was played as a thinly disguised Trump or 1990’s The Taming of the Shrew, which was re-set as a Western), this version of Othello was completely straight, with the costumes and settings exactly right for the 14th-century Italy setting of the play.

Just an excellent production that sadly is only running for a couple more days, so if you want to go see it, gotta do it today, tomorrow, or over the weekend. Information on how to get tickets here.

Cloak & Dagger‘s changes from the source material

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On Tor.com, I take a look at the changes that FreeForm made to Cloak & Dagger from the comic book version.

An excerpt:

In the comics, Tyrone and Tandy were among the many runaways who were swooped down and preyed upon by minions of drug kingpins who needed human test subjects. They were trying to design a drug themselves in order to control the flow of it, and avoid exorbitant import costs. The experiment failed, and all of the subjects died, except for Tyrone and Tandy. (At one point, they were thought to be mutants, and the experiments unleashed their latent powers, but that was retconned later.) In their very first appearance, they were seen to be taking revenge against the drug lords who accidentally created them.

About the only aspect of their origin that the show keeps is the presence of water. In the comics, the experiments were being held on Ellis Island (which, when the comic was written in 1983, was closed to the public), and they escaped by swimming in the Hudson River. On the show, they get their powers much younger, as little kids. Tyrone dives into the Gulf of Mexico after Billy is shot and falls in, and Nathan Bowen is driving his daughter home when his car crashes into the river. An accident on a Roxxon oil rig (still unexplained as of episode three) seems to be the catalyst for Tandy and Tyrone’s link and their light-and-dark powers. But those powers don’t manifest until years later.

new on Patreon: Doctor Who, “Chaos Theory,” vignettes, cat pics, and more!

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Here’s what’s gone up this month on Patreon: